Arkansas, mammals, fluorescence, ultraviolet, opossum, mole, weasel, rabbit


The adaptive value of fluorescence among the vertebrates has been studied most in fishes and birds, and only a few observations have been published regarding fluorescence in the pelage of mammals. Recently, reports of fluorescence in some marsupials, the platypus, and in flying squirrels have become available. We report the occurrence of fluorescent properties in some mammals from Arkansas. Most carnivores, bats, and rodents did not exhibit the property when viewed under UV light. However, opossums, rabbits, a weasel, muskrats, and moles showed substantial UV response, and a few other mammals showed minor fluorescence. Colors fluoresced included pink, green, and light cyan. Most species exhibited only one color, but the opossum responded with 2 colors. Potential explanations for positive responses to UV light include species signaling, mate assessment, predator avoidance, or prey location. Alternatively, the response may be an artifact without adaptive significance.