giant african pouched rat olfaction
why are pouched rats excellent 'sniffers'?
In January 2017 I started working as a postdoctoral fellow at Cornell with Dr. Alex Ophir. My work here focuses on the olfactory capabilities of the giant pouched rat (Cricteomys ansorgei).
Currently we are asking questions about social scent preferences, search patterns and strategies and what physiological, anatomical, and behavioral traits enable effective olfaction in this species. In addition to behavioral work, with our collaborator Dr. Michael Sheehan (Cornell), we are examining genetic and genomic aspects of olfaction in this species.
So far, we have found that male pouched rats are most likely to scent mark (with urine) in unfamiliar environments, which may advertise to other individuals (Freeman and Ophir, 2018, Journal of Mammalogy).
Furthermore, we have determined that male pouched rats that are highly masculinized show an enhanced preference for reproductively available females (based on interest in female scent) (Freeman, Sheehan, and Ophir, 2019, Animal Behaviour).