Attractant: camera

Camera traps are ethically superior to all survey techniques that require the capture of animals. ‘Black light’ or ‘no glow’ advertisement slogans for infra-red night vision cameras even claim that these ‘candid cameras’ stay hidden for the target species.  Paul Meek’s presentation at the AWMS Conference in Perth in 2015 dispelled those hopes.
Evaluation of behavioural responses of mammalian predators to cameras concluded that cats, foxes and wild dogs  detected the presence of camera traps and reacted to them. A negative reaction such as retreat or being startled  was more prevalent than a positive reaction such as attraction and curiosity.
Even though there was no consistent response within species and individuals of the same species reacted differently, cats were more likely to be attracted while foxes  and even more so dogs reacted startled and showed avoidance behaviour. (Meek et al, 2015)

foxIn our own experience, all animals apart from humans detect a camera –the illumination and/or the sound.  
However, it was cats that showed long-term avoidance behaviour. Once camera-trapped an individual was unlikely to be seen again or only a tiny fragment was caught when the cat swished through. They never looked straight at a camera or came close to investigate.

Foxes neither reacted startled nor repelled. Mature foxes seemed to keep their distance from a  camera until they got used to its presence. If a camera was kept at one spot  for several months, foxes ignored them. Young animals were however clearly attracted and curious.

The dogs that were sighted on camera all ignored them from the start, but they were all domestic dogs not wild ones.





Kangaroos are the most curious of species and at times pressed
their noses into the camera.




Ringtail and brushtail possums tend to stare into the camera and sometimes then jump into it when the illumination happens. Ringtails seem more startled than brushtails.

brushtail and ringtail possumsPhascogale and rats seem to pause and look but neither react startled nor attracted.

rat and phascogale

rabbit selfie





Even rabbits seem to come to have a selfie taken






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