Understanding the Preference of Citrus Food among Free-ranging Dogs

Pal, Tuhin Subhra (2022) Understanding the Preference of Citrus Food among Free-ranging Dogs. Masters thesis, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research Kolkata.

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Free-ranging dogs are primarily scavengers, and they maintain an omnivorous diet. In India, these dogs are exposed to a carbohydrate-rich diet, due to the food habits of the human population. However, they follow a rule of thumb – “if it smells like meat, eat it”, to locate and feed on animal proteins in any form, which enables them to maximize their protein intake. Free-ranging dogs rely on human-generated waste from garbage and dustbins. They mostly rely on their strong sense of smell to locate preferred food from a lot of inedible material. It has been seen that pet dogs do not like citrus fruits like lemons. Pet dogs depend on their owners for food, and are not provided unpalatable food items by their owners. Citrus fruits are sometimes used as sources of vitamins for pet dogs, in processed food, which eliminates the unpalatable taste and smell, if any. In India, lemon is a very common part of the diet of humans, being used raw on the side, and lemon juice is also used in many cooked food items. Hence free-ranging dogs often encounter lemon peels, pulp and juice in the garbage while scavenging. In fact, many of the food items that are edible for free-ranging dogs, might contain lemon juice. Our study aims to investigate whether free-ranging dogs actively avoid lemon while scavenging, and if the mixing of different parts of lemon makes their preferred food unpalatable to them. We carried out two experiments with a large number of randomly chosen free-ranging adult dogs. We found that the dogs avoided lemon when given a choice between a piece of biscuit and half a lemon. However, when they were provided small pieces of chicken with the juice, pulp and rind of lemon, they readily ate the chicken pieces presented with the lemon rind and pulp. They did not seem to prefer the chicken when it was covered by lemon juice, but did not reject these completely. Hence, the dogs clearly disliked chicken laced with lemon. However, they showed a highly efficient scavenging strategy by preferentially eating the chicken pieces that could be separated from the lemon parts mostly easily, and had the least contamination from lemon, but not completely rejecting the pieces that could not be separated from the lemon juice.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Additional Information: Supervisor: Dr. Anindita Bhadra
Uncontrolled Keywords: Animal Behaviour; Citrus Food; Free-ranging Dogs
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
Divisions: Department of Biological Sciences
Depositing User: IISER Kolkata Librarian
Date Deposited: 15 Sep 2023 06:51
Last Modified: 15 Sep 2023 06:51
URI: http://eprints.iiserkol.ac.in/id/eprint/1337

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