Sex ratio and cub growth and behaviour were examined in 28 litters from multiparous silver fox vixens that had been given a titbit twice a week during pregnancy (G1) or received the same amount of human contact without any titbit (G2). Cub activity (number of grid lines crossed [Lc] during 3 min) was tested in an open field (1.15 x 1.15 m divided into a 5 x 5 square grid) at 30 days of age. There was no difference between treatments in number of cubs born or cubs weaned at 49 days (4.9+or-0.3 and 4.8+or-0.5 cubs born and 4.1+or-0.4 and 3.8+or-0.4 cubs weaned for G1 and G2, respectively). However, G1 vixens delivered a higher proportion of male cubs than G2 vixens (64 and 51% respectively; P<0.05). Female cubs from G1 vixens were more active in the open field test (51.4+or-4.8 and 34.2+or-4.7 Lc for G1 and G2 respectively; P<0.05) and were heavier at 49 day of age (1660+or-42 and 1491+or-40 g respectively; P<0.01) than the female G2 cubs. No significant differences in activity or body weight were found for male cubs (activity, 46.4+or-3.4 and 37.1+or-4.3 LC; weight at 49 days, 1716+or-29 and 1729+or-37 g for G1 and G2 respectively).
|Publication Title||Applied Animal Behaviour Science|
|Author Address||Department of Animal Science, Agricultural University of Norway, P.O. Box 5025, N-1432 As, Norway.|
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