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Stereotypic behaviour is genetically transmitted in the African striped mouse Rhabdomys pumilio

By U. Schwaibold, N. Pillay

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The development of stereotypic behaviour was studied in captive striped mice, Rhabdomys pumilio. Based on the findings of previous studies, it was hypothesized that there is a genetic basis of stereotypy in striped mice. Breeding and cross-fostering experiments were used to test this hypothesis. Two treatments were performed per experiment, involving pairings of: (1) twenty stereotypic females and non-stereotypic males; and (2) 19 non-stereotypic females and non-stereotypic males. In breeding experiments, the incidences of stereotypy were approximately four times more common in the offspring of stereotypic females than in those of non-stereotypic females. Cross-fostering of young between treatments (stereotypic and non-stereotypic females) or within treatments (control experiments) did not influence the patterns of transmission of stereotypy. The data indicate that the development of stereotypy in captive R. pumilio is strongly related to its occurrence in the biological mother. However, there was no congruence between the type of stereotypies displayed by mothers and offspring, with almost all stereotypic offspring displaying one type of stereotypy (cage-lid climbing and back-flipping). The results show that there is a strong genetic basis for the development of stereotypy in striped mice, while social influences appear to be minimal.

Date 2001
Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 74
Issue 4
Pages 273-280
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
DOI 10.1016/S0168-1591(01)00169-1
Language English
Author Address Behaviour and Ecology Research Programme, Department of Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Private Bag 3, WITS 2050, Johannesburg, South Africa.
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal behavior
  2. Animal genetics
  3. Behavior and behavior mechanisms
  4. Genetics
  5. Heritability
  6. Mammals
  7. Mice
  8. peer-reviewed
  9. Rodents
  10. stereotypes
  1. peer-reviewed