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Mice Reared With Rats: Effects of Preweaning and Postweaning Social Interactions Upon Adult Behaviour

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The effects of social interactions upon adult behaviour patterns of C57BL/10 mice were studied by manipulating: (i) the type of mother (rat or mouse) which reared the mice ; (2) the composition of the preweaning peer group (rats, mice, or no peers) ; and (3) the composition of the postweaning peer group (rats, mice, or no peers). All three social variables were found to have dramatic effects on both the expression of adult behaviours and the physiological development of mice. Infantile mortality. A higher mortality rate was recorded for rat-reared than for mouse-reared mice. Body weight. Whereas rat-reared mice were heavier than mouse-reared mice at weaning, they were lighter by 77 days of age. Mice reared without littermates before weaning were heavier than group-reared mice between 36 and 49 days of age. And mice housed with other mice after weaning weighed less from 43 through 77 days than those housed either with rats or in isolation. Open-field behaviour. Mouse-reared mice were more active and had shorter latencies than rat-reared mice. Mice housed with rats after weaning were less active, defecated more and had longer latencies than those housed with mice or no peers. Social pref erence. Experimental mice were placed in an apparatus where they could spend time in front of a rat stimulus or a mouse stimulus. The preference for the rat stimulus was stronger in those groups of mice housed with rats after weaning than in those housed with other mice or without peers. Fighting behaviour. More fighting was found in mouse-reared mice than in rat-reared mice; more in mice reared without littermates before weaning than in mice reared with other mice in the litter; and more in mice housed with other mice than those housed with rats or without peers after weaning. The highest rate of fighting was found in mice reared without littermates before weaning but housed with other mice after weaning.

Affiliations: 1: (Departments of Psychology and Biological Sciences, Purdue University, Lafayette, Ind., USA

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