Uterine positions and schedules of urination: Correlates of differential maternal anogenital stimulation
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Lactating Mongolian gerbils, like lactating Norway rats, reliably lick some pups in their litters more than they lick others. Male gerbil pups are licked more by their dams than are their sisters and some males and some females within each litter are licked more often than are their sibs of the same sex. In the present article, we explore the characteristics of same-sex littermates that are correlated with elicitation of extreme amounts of maternal anogenital licking. We found that both the male pup and the female pup in a litter of gerbils that received the most maternal anogenital licking: (1) released greater quantities of urine and (2) exhibited longer latencies to begin to urinate in response to artificial anogenital stimulation than did the male pup and the female pup in a litter that received the least amount of maternal anogenital licking. We also found that foster mothers rearing Caesarean-delivered litters spent more time licking the anogenital areas of: (1) those male pups that, as fetuses, had occupied uterine locations adjacent to relatively few females and (2) those female pups that, as fetuses, had occupied uterine locations adjacent to relatively many males. We discuss implications of these findings for understanding of how maternal behavior may mediate hormonal effects on the development of young gerbils.
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