Cookie use on MRCVSonline
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive all cookies.
If you would like to forward this story on to a friend, simply fill in the form below and click send.

Your friend's email:
Your email:
Your name:
 
 
Send Cancel

Wild dog packs 'use sneezes to vote'
African wild dogs uses sneezes to vote on when the pack will move on.

Scientists record ‘social rallies’ of wild dogs in Botswana

Wild dogs use sneezes to vote on when the pack will move on and begin hunting, according to new research.

Published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, the study suggests that African wild dogs hold high energy greeting ceremonies called ‘social rallies’ after periods of rest before they move off together again.

The more sneezes that occur during these rallies, the more likely it is that the pack will leave.

The behaviour was observed by an international team of scientists while studying African wild dogs in Botswana.

Senior author Dr Neil Jordan, a research fellow at the University of New South Wales, said: “I wanted to better understand this collective behaviour and noticed the dogs were sneezing while preparing to go.

“We recorded details of 68 social rallies from five African wild dog packs living in the Okavango Delta in Botswana, and couldn’t quite believe it when our analysis confirmed our suspicions.”

But there is a further twist to the tail, as the study’s first author Reena Walker of Brown University in the USA, explained:

“We found that when the dominant male and female were involved in the rally, the pack only had to sneeze a few times before they would move off. However, if the dominant pair were not engaged, more sneezes were needed - approximately 10 - before the pack would move off”.

It was previously thought that the dogs were just clearing their airways when they sneezed.

Dr Andrew King of Swansea University and co-author of the study said: “The sneezes act as a type of quorum, and the sneezes have to reach a certain threshold before the group changes activity.

“Quorums are also used by other social carnivores like meerkats, but our finding that the quorum member of sneezes changes, based on who’s involved in the rally, indicates each dog’s vote in not equal”.

Image (C) Amanda Black.

Become a member or log in to add this story to your CPD history

Vets save premature penguin chick

News Story 1
 Vets have saved a tiny Humboldt penguin chick after her egg was accidentally broken by her parents. Keepers at ZSL London Zoo were shocked to find the chick, named Rainbow, still alive and rushed her straight to the Zoo’s on-site veterinary clinic.

It was a little way to go until the chick should have hatched, so the process was touch and go. Vets removed bits of shell from around the chick with tweezers until she could be lifted out and placed in a makeshift nest.

Rainbow is now in a custom-built incubation room where she spends her days cuddled up to a toy penguin. Keepers will hand-fed Rainbow for the next 10 weeks until she is healthy enough to move to the penguin nursery.  

Click here for more...
News Shorts
BVA infographic to help shoppers understand farm assurance schemes

An infographic to help members of the public understand farm assurance schemes has been produced by the BVA. The infographic outlines BVA’s priorities for animal welfare and shows whether or not the schemes address these priorities in their standards.

BVA president John Fishwick said: “The infographic is not intended to be a league table but to allow people to understand what aspects of animal health and welfare are addressed by assurance schemes so that they can decide which scheme best aligns with their own individual preferences and priorities."