EFFECTS OF FREQUENCY AND LENGTH OF SEPARATION BOUTS BETWEEN MOTHER AND OFFSPRING ON LATER EXPLORATIVE BEHAVIOUR OF YOUNG GUINEA-PIGS (CAVIA APEREA F.PORCELLUS)

in Behaviour
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Abstract

Previous studies have shown that maternal behaviour is correlated with later explorative behaviour of the young. Exploring the eventual effects of maternal behaviour on the explorative behaviour of young guinea pigs, we examined the effects of frequency and length of separation bouts between mother and offspring. For 39 pups daily duration of contact with the mother was kept constant (17 hours) but the frequency of daily contact (and thus the length of the separation bouts) varied. Using a split-litter design three groups were created that were separated from the mother 3, 6 or 9 times each day from day 3 until day 20. Several precautions were taken to avoid distress of the pups during separation caused by heat loss, social isolation or unfamiliarity with the separation cage. The development of the explorative behaviour was assessed by means of a series of tests representing several aspects of explorative behaviour. All groups showed equal growth during the treatment period. It is shown that the group separated 3 times for a long period scored higher in explorative behaviour than the other groups that were separated more often but for shorter periods. In particular walking, duration of presence, and sniffing in the novel environment were increased compared to the groups separated 6 or 9 times but were also increased when compared to average scores of a previous study. It could be shown that individuals were persistent in time with regard to the maximum distance they entered into a novel environment.

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