Food stealing by young Norway rats (Rattus norvegicus).
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Six experiments were undertaken to explore factors affecting young rats' (Rattus norvegicus) frequencies of stealing food from conspecifics when identical food is available in surplus. It was found that (a) rats would walk across a bed of pellets to steal the particular pellet a peer was eating, (b) frequency of stealing within a pair did not decrease over days, (c) rats stole unfamiliar foods more frequently than familiar foods, (d) younger rats stole from older rats more frequently than older rats stole from younger ones, (e) hungry rats stole more frequently than replete rats, and (f) rats that had stolen a pellet of unfamiliar food from an anesthetized conspecific subsequently exhibited an enhanced preference for that food. Results suggest that food stealing is a mode of active seeking of information about what foods to eat.
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