Maternal behaviour and neonatal development in three species of Namib Desert rodents

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Abstract

Gerhillurus paeba paeba, G. tytonis and Pelromyscus collinus inhabit arid areas of southern Africa. Several litters of each species were bred in the laboratory; aspects of maternal behaviour and development of neonates are reported. Pelromyscus collinus has a smaller litter size and the young are less altricial at birth than young of G. paeba or G. tytonis. Gerhillurus tytonis young have the slowest rate of physical and behavioural development, while P. collinus young develop most rapidly. Young of P. collinus nipple-cling from birth, but those of G. paeba and G. tytonis do not. This dichotomy may be related to phylogeny, mode of locomotion, and/or nesting habits.

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