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Gerbils fostered to rat mothers : effects on adult behavior Bols, Rosemary Jean

Abstract

At 72 hrs after birth gerbil litters were divided and half the pups fostered to lactating mother rats whose own pups were removed. Remaining pups were returned to their natural mothers. Rat-reared gerbils had a higher mortality rate than control gerbils but weighed more at weaning. At 60 days control gerbils weighed more and at 100 days there was no difference in weight. When tested in the open-field from Day 128 to Day 135, rat-reared gerbils were found to locomote and rear less than control subjects. There was no difference in defecation or in the tendency to enter the central squares as a result of fostering. The paper shredding and territorial marking activity of the subjects were also measured but no clear cut effects of fostering emerged on these tests. The results were discussed in relation to those obtained with rat-reared mice and it was suggested that species differences in maternal behavior, especially handling and retrieving of pups, may be the crucial factor responsible for fostering effects.

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