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Some Observations of the Caravaning Behavior in the Musk Shrew (Suncus Murinus)

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Observations of caravaning were made on the domesticated musk shrew (Suncus murinus) with particular reference to its developmental aspects. In a rearing box (Experiment I), caravaning appeared from 10 to 22 days of age, peaking at 16 days. In the open-field test (Experiment II), it occurred over a range from 5 to 22 days, with its peak at around 13 days. Its formation patterns also changed with age of days; five patterns were identified in this situation. Another type of test (encounter test; Experiment III) showed a sensitive period similar to that obtained in Experiment II. Caravaning peaked at a period shifting from the mother-initiative stage to the young-initiative stage in the mother-offspring relation. Inanimated model released caravaning, as was expected (Experiment IV). It occurred for the same period, peaking at the same age of days, although on closer examination it was found that the smaller peak obtained in Experiment II disappeared. The findings of the present study suggest that caravaning plays an important role in the mother-offspring relation of this species. Developmental changes in caravaning seem to reflect the maturation process of sensory functions. Possibilities of releasers in caravan formation were discussed by referring to histological and electrophysiological investigations.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Psychology, Nagoya University, Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture, Japan


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