Food preferences and seed selection in two species of Australian desert rodents

C S I R O Publications
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Wildlife Research, 1994, 21 (6), pp. 647 - 655
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Food preferences of two species of Australian desert rodents, the spinifex hopping-mouse (Notomys alaexis) and the sandy inland mouse (Pseudomys hermannsburgenis), were investigated in cafeteria trials. Both species showed strong preference for inverterbrate material (a beetle, Tenebrio molitor) over the seeds and stems of spinifex (Triodia basedowii), and fungus (Tulostoma sp.). This contrasts with previous reports that these rodents are granivores, and suggests instead that they may be omnivorous. Further investigation of the basis for food choice was carried out in a series of seed prefernce trials, and provided some indication that theater content of food items may underlie diet selection. We suggest that the ability of native rodents to eat a broad range of food types, particularly inverterbrates, has promoted survival in arid regions that have been subjected to disturbance since European settlement.
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