Low capture rates are a persistent problem in field studies of small rodents in Central Africa. This study aims to improve trapping efficacy by comparing the effectiveness of three types of bait placed in Sherman live traps: the traditionally used fresh manioc, palm nut and bait composed of peanut butter mixed with corn flakes. Trapping sites were located in the buffer zones of a total of five forest national parks in Gabon and Cameroon. Traps lines were placed in a variety of forest and savanna habitats and were alternately baited with the three different bait types. Statistical analyses were performed using the R software. A total of 212 individuals were trapped (during 3000 trap/night) from five species: Nannomys minutoides, Lemniscomys striatus, Hylomyscus alleni, Hylomyscus walterverheyeni and Praomys misonnei. Traps baited with peanut butter-corn flakes (PbCf) captured significantly more rodents (n=125, Trap success Ts=12.25%) than either manioc (n=31, Ts=3.23%; P <0.001) or palm nut (n=56, Ts=5.49%; P <0.001) for four of the five species. This finding was consistent across all sampled habitats and for both sexes. Taken together, these findings strongly indicate that baiting with PbCf is likely to enhance the effectiveness of studies of small rodent fauna in Central Africa.
Key words: Bait, Muridae, Sherman traps, Gabon, Cameroon, field sampling.
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