Role of residual olfactory cues in the determination of feeding site selection and exploration patterns of domestic rats.
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Weanling domestic rat pups feed and explore in areas containing residual olfactory cues deposited by conspecific adults in preference to clean areas. Both nulliparous and lactating Long-Evans female rats deposit residual cues in an area that induce pups to explore and feed in it. Residual cues continue to affect the feeding and exploratory behavior of pups to maturity. Discrepancies between results obtained in the olfactory discrimination apparatus used by Leon and Moltz and those of the present experiments are resolved, and evidence is presented for the existence of residual cues not contained in anal excreta, which are attractive to pups. It is suggested that residual cues deposited by adult rats can play a role in directing weanlings to their first meals of solid food in the natural environment.
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