Patterns of urination of a blind subterranean rodent, Spalax ehrenbergi

Giora Heth, Josephine Todrank

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Urination patterns of blind mole rats of the Spalax ehrenbergi superspecies of Israel were investigated in the laboratory under various conditions in various types of simulated tunnel systems. Behavioral responses to urine in these systems were observed. The results suggest that mole rats do not mark their tunnels or novel areas, either along the tunnel floor by dropping a urine-trail or at the peripheral ends of the tunnel systems. Urination is not a fear response, and the urine does not contain a chemosensory releaser. Intruders respond (e.g. by sniffing, running away, aggressive threat displays etc.) to occupant's urine in a previously occupied system, and some occupants urinate at a border in 'no-contact' encounters with a potential intruder. Male and female mole rats seem to use urine to advertise their ownership of resources by placing their sanitation areas in the vicinity of the nest and food store and may advertise their identity and occupancy at borders when there is potential contact with intruders. Likely similarities between urination patterns in the laboratory and in nature are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)138-148
Number of pages11
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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