Tetracycline hydrochloride (TC)-treated peanut butter or rodent chow baits were distributed during March 1990, on separate 0.53 ha sites in Oglethorpe County, Georgia (USA). Rodents were trapped on a control site prior to bait distribution and on two baited sites 6 days post-distribution. Cleaned skulls from euthanized mammals were grossly examined for TC florescence using an ultraviolet (UV) light. Mandibles were sectioned and examined for TC fluorescence using an ultraviolet light microscope. All 21 cotton rats (Sigmodon hispidus), four eastern harvest mice (Rithrodontomys humulis), and two golden mice (Ochrotomys nuttalli) captured on the control site were negative for TC fluorescence. On the peanut butter bait site, mandible sections from 29 of 32 (91%) cotton rats, three of three (100%) eastern harvest mice, two of three (66%) golden mice, zero of five (0%) white-footed mice (Peromyscus leucopus), one of three (33%) short-tailed shrews (Blarina brevicauda), and zero of two (0%) least shrews (Cryptotis parva) were positive for TC. Results from the rodent chow bait site indicated that 18 of 25 (72%) cotton rats, zero of three (0%) eastern harvest mice, two of seven (29%) golden mice, zero of four (0%) white-footed mice, and zero of four (0%) least shrews were positive for TC fluorescence in mandible sections. These results suggest that a large portion of a free-ranging small rodent population can be administered biological markers or vaccines using baits.
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Vol. 34 • No. 2