The Neo-tropical red squirrel (Sciurus granatensis) as a pest of cacao (Theobroma cacao L.) in the International Cacao Genebank, Trinidad; Trinidad. (149)
Keywords:Squirrel, Cacao pod, Damage, Pod hardness, pod length
AbstractSurveys were conducted at the International Cacao Genebank, Trinidad to investigate the damage done to cacao pods by the Neotropical Red Squirrel (Sciurus granatensis). The ratio of ripe cacao pods to the number of pods with signs of squirrel attack was determined. The rodents were found to attack the pod on its abaxial surface, by nibbling oval holes through the pod wall to extract the beans and feed on the pulp. The majority of damaged pods was located in areas of the fields where ripe pods were densely distributed. The total number of ripe pods bore a significant correlation to the number attacked by squirrels (P<0.0001). Correlations between the percentage of squirrel attack and ripe pod hardness, and pod length as an indicator of size, respectively were not significant. There was no relationship between the percentage of pod damage due to squirrel attack and the genetic grouping of the surveyed accessions, and pod wall colour, respectively.