Mother-young Relationships in Captive Ungulates: Behavioral Changes over Time

Authors

  • Katherine Ralls,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Zoological Research, National Zoological Park, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC
      Department of Zoological Research, National Zoological Park, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC 20008, U.S.A.
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  • Barbara Lundrigan,

    1. Department of Zoological Research, National Zoological Park, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC
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  • Karl Kranz

    1. Department of Zoological Research, National Zoological Park, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC
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Department of Zoological Research, National Zoological Park, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC 20008, U.S.A.

Abstract

Ungulates are frequently classified into two groups: the “followers”, in which young initially stay close to their mother and the “hiders”, in which young remain at some distance from their mother, often concealed in vegetation. To examine differences in mother-young behavior between the follower and hider groups and among species within these groups, we studied 63 mother-young pairs, representing 22 ungulate species, for 7 weeks after birth of the young. The follower group had consistently higher scores than the hider group on measures of mother-young association, and lower scores on the percentage of time the young spent lying; however, there was considerable variation within each group.

In follower species, two measures of mother and young association decreased over time. In hiders, contact between mother and young did not increase over time although the distance between them, while both were lying, decreased. This reduction in the resting distance between mother and young did not always coincide with other changes possibly indicative of the end of the hiding period. The amount of time young hiders spent lying decreased over time.

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