The responses of 2-day-old spiny mouse (Acomys cahirinus) pups to chemical cues produced by conspecifics and by a foster species (Mus musculus) were assessed in a series of three experiments. The major results are as follows: (1) Acomys pups reared with their biological mothers preferred bedding soiled by a lactating Mus female (plus her suckling litter) over bedding soiled by an adult male or nonlactating female of that same species; (2) pups that were fostered onto a Mus female and litter subsequently showed a preference for Mus as compared to Acomys soiled bedding, while pups fostered onto conspecifics preferred Acomys soiled bedding. It was concluded that responsiveness to chemical cues produced by the "mother" may result from early experience with those stimuli. Furthermore, since maternal pheromones may be dietary dependent, the artificially comparable diets of the two species may account for the responsiveness of the Acomys pups to odors produced by lactating Mus females in the first experiment.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
research project reported in this paper was supported by NICHHD Grant No.