Preliminary observation of genital secretions, growth rate and behaviour of caged cane rats
Cane rats are large terrestial rodents which have the potential to increase animal protein intake. There is paucity of information on the genital secretions and growth rate of caged cane rats. This study observed the genital secretions, growth rate, feeds, feeding and the behaviour of caged cane rats. When animals adjusted to cage conditions, they received feed (sugar cane) directly orally. Some of the cane rats captured around the stream did not adjust to the cage as they died 10 days after capture from the wild. The doe attained puberty at age 11weeks (2months 3weeks). At this age, reproductive activities commenced in the doe with a slight opening of the vulva and the presence of colourless mucous fluid in the vagina. At 11weeks, the vulva was opened for 3weeks plus 6days and by the 4th week the crust had covered the vulva. The vulva opened for a minimum of 1 week and maximum of 4 weeks. The vulva closed for a minimum of 3 weeks and maximum of 4½ weeks. During the intermittent opening between closures, there were always colourless mucous secretions or sometimes thick yellowish mucous and the buck did not chase the doe for mating. The buck withdrew completely from the doe. When the vulva opened and the vagina was dried, the buck made a chase of the doe. Environmental influences (rain splashes) do not affect the opening and closing activities of the vulva in the doe. At between 18 - 27 weeks, the doe had a better growth rate in cage and had gained 0.5kg. This study has revealed that cane rat has an estrous period hence it is a break through for the cane rat breeders and farmers. Breeders/farmers need not to keep the buck with the doe until it kits thus they would be able to maximize the useage of their breeding buck to serve many doe. This also calls for other studies on the physiological variations to be carried out in the intra and inter populations of cane rat.
Key words: cane rat, feeding, mucous, vulva, vagina