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Dispersal Tendencies and Social Behaviour of Young Chinese Hamsters (Cricetulus Griseus)

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1. The dispersal behaviour of young individuals of Cricetulus griseus was observed under semi-natural conditions; choice experiments assessed their preferences for nest sites occupied by adults of either sex. 2. Juvenile males preferred an empty nest site to a site occupied by an adult male or female, whereas juvenile females seemed to have little preference between the nest site of an adult male and an empty site. They avoided nest sites of adult females. 3. Young females, during their first pregnancy, became aggressive towards any resident adult male of litter mate and forced them out of the nest so far shared, where they subsequently gave birth to their litter. 4. Adult females changed their nest sites between successive litters. They never tolerated older pups or strange young near their new nest sites. 5. The spatial and temporal organization of a population of C. griseus as realized in the laboratory seems, in essence, to be based on the behaviour of the females, which, in turn, is closely related to their reproductive state.

Affiliations: 1: Ethology & Wildlife Research, Institute of Zoology, University of Zurich, Switzerland

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