EVIDENCE FOR THE EXISTENCE OF MOTHERING STYLES IN GUINEA PIGS (CAVIA APEREA F. PORCELLUS)

in Behaviour
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Abstract

Mothering styles are generally assumed to exist, in particular in the case of primates. However, an experimental procedure to ensure this assumption has been lacking and, moreover, mothering style was always defined post hoc . The short inter-birth interval and the possibility to cross-foster make the guinea pig a suitable species that has an advantage over primates for this type of study. The maternal behaviour of ten subjects was registered during mothering of four subsequent litters. To challenge a possible consistency of maternal behaviour two variables were manipulated: parentage (own young or adopted young) and the condition of the mothers (pregnant or non-pregnant). The concordances found suggest that behavioural parameters necessary to characterize a mothering style in guinea pigs should contain either locomotor, affiliative or aggressive behaviour. Other behavioural parameters were not found adequate for characterizing mothering styles. As significant concordances of maternal behaviour were found, in spite of the challenges offered, we conclude that guinea-pig mothers consistently differ from each other and hence that 'mothering styles' exist in guinea pigs.

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