Tiger Poo Apparently Effective at Warding Off Pests

Photo: Todd Ryburn / CC

What could strike fear in a pesky invasive pest as much as a hungry tiger on the prowl? Well, its poo, apparently. One researcher working on a natural way of warding off animals in Australia discovered that the big cat's droppings proved an effective deterrent which could help steer pests away from roads and croplands.When Peter Murray, from Australia's University of Queensland, set out to find a more effective way to ward of pests like feral deer, goats, and kangaroos, he tried to consider smells that weren't just offensive to the animals' noses, but to their delicate sensibilities.

For example, Murray found that goats were understandably repelled from an area when a rotting goat carcass was set out nearby -- the only problem was that the smell was making the researchers sick too. So Murray then tried using the dropping of a tiger from a nearby zoo and found that it worked just as well at keeping pests away.

"We know there is an evolutionary relationship between the animals ... and there's a signal in the feces the animal recognizes as a predator," Murray told the Gold Coast.

Surely enough, in the course of his research, Murray found that the targeted animals are more frightened of some types of tiger poo more than others -- particularly when they sense their own kind was on the big cat's menu.

"There's not only a chemical signal in the feces that says 'Hooly dooley, this is a dangerous animal', it's 'Hooly dooley, this is a dangerous animal that's been eating my friends'," Murray told the AFP.

With the advent of a more effective repellent, the relationship between humans and feral animals in Australia could greatly improve as goats and deer become less apt to wander in roadways or munch on farmers' crops. Murray says he hopes to find more funding for his research into creating a type of synthetic tiger feces, which could be effective in warding off a host of other animals as well.

And who knows, maybe with a growing market for big cat feces, some endangered tiger species, too, will reap some benefit from the backend.

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More on Tigers
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Tags: Australia | Endangered Species | Pesticides

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