University of Tasmania
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Aspects of the behaviour of the red-bellied pademelon Thylogale billardierii (Desmarest 1822) in captivity

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posted on 2023-05-27, 12:23 authored by Clancy, TF
Aspects of the behaviour of a captive group of red-bellied pademelons (Thylogale billardierii), were investigated, concentrating on three main areas, viz. diel activity-patterns, sexual interactions and agonistic interactions. Some data pertaining to mother-offspring relationships were also collected. T. billardierii exhibited a marked peak in feeding at around sunset, with other conspicuous peaks occurring late at night and in the early morning. Conversely, peaks of resting behaviour occurred mainly at midday and, in general, two distinct peaks were evident during the night. Locomotory activities were most frequent during the period immediately preceding dawn. Grooming behaviour was performed at relatively constant diel levels; however, there was evidence of this activity occurring at greater frequencies before and after rest periods. Although patterns of the various diel activities were generally similar in all of the subjects studied, there were some disparities in the times of performance of certain behaviours between individual subjects, possibly related to the social structure of the group. The results are discussed in relation to what is known of the activity patterns of free-ranging T. billardierii and those of other macropod species. As well as indications of temporal variations in behaviour patterns, there was evidence of spatial-temporal stratification of certain behaviours, notably resting activities. Quantitative data were collected on sexual interactions. Males were the active participants in these, both in terms of initiating such interactions and performing specific and distinctive behaviours within bouts of sexual interactions. Analyses of behavioural events occurring in the context of anoestrous courting yielded consistent trends with respect to the temporal ordering of activities. Male T. billardierii did not distribute their attentions equally among potentially available females but evidenced definite preferences for certain individuals. Observed instances of copulation are described and compared with previous descriptive accounts of the behaviour in this species and in other species of macropods. There was some evidence that access to oestrous females was determined aprioristically, by the dominancestatus of males. The agonistic behaviour of T. billardierii was also investigated. Generally, linear hierarchies existed within each monosexual group. However, when all subjects were considered together a non-linear organization was noted to occur. Position in the individual hierarchies was related to weight but, at least in the case of female subjects, this was shown not to be the only factor involved. A relatively low level of aggression occurred between female subjects and also in male-female interactions. Given the relative stability of the social positions of individuals and low observed frequencies of dominancereversals, it is suggested that individual recognition (possibly based on olfactory cues gained by nose-sniffing behaviour) plays a prominent role in the maintenance of consistent social relationships in captive T. billardierii. Ritualized fighting behaviour of male T. billardierii is described, and its possible function is discussed. Grass-pulling and other visual displays which occur in the context of male-male interactions are described and their relationship with similar displays occurring in other macropods is considered. In mother-offspring interactions it was found that the young was primarily responsible for the maintenance of proximity, but that the mother played a greater role in maintaining proximity at larger distances.


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Copyright 1982 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s). Page 68 not included in original pagination

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