Effect of Male House Mouse Pheromone Components on Behavioral Responses of Mice in Laboratory and Field Experiments

J Chem Ecol. 2017 Mar;43(3):215-224. doi: 10.1007/s10886-017-0819-y. Epub 2017 Jan 27.


Urine of male house mice, Mus musculus, is known to have primer pheromone effects on the reproductive physiology of female mice. Urine-mediated releaser pheromone effects that trigger certain behavioral responses are much less understood, and no field studies have investigated whether urine deposits by male or female mice, or synthetic mouse pheromone, increase trap captures of mice. In field experiments, we baited traps with bedding soiled with urine and feces of caged female or male mice, and recorded captures of mice in these and in control traps containing clean bedding. Traps baited with female bedding preferentially captured adult males, whereas traps baited with male bedding preferentially captured juvenile and adult females, indicating the presence of male- and female-specific sex pheromones in soiled bedding. Analyses of headspace volatiles emanating from soiled bedding by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry revealed that 3,4-dehydro-exo-brevicomin (DEB) was seven times more prevalent in male bedding and that 2-sec-butyl-4,5-dihydrothiazole (DHT) was male-specific. In a follow-up field experiment, traps baited with DEB and DHT captured 4 times more female mice than corresponding control traps, thus indicating that DEB and DHT are sex attractant pheromone components of house mouse males. Our study provides impetus to identify the sex attractant pheromone of female mice, and to develop synthetic mouse pheromone as a lure to enhance the efficacy of trapping programs for mouse control.

Keywords: Field experiment; House mice; Mouse control; Mus musculus; Sex attractant pheromone components.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bedding and Linens
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects*
  • Biological Assay*
  • Female
  • Laboratories*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Odorants / analysis
  • Sex Attractants / chemistry
  • Sex Attractants / pharmacology*


  • Sex Attractants