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Exp Anim. 2003 Jan;52(1):17-24.

Age-related changes on marking, marking-like behavior and the scent gland in adult Mongolian gerbils (Meriones unguiculatus).

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Division of Laboratory Animal Science, Nippon Veterinary and Animal Science University, 1-7-1 Kyonan-cho, Musashino-shi, Tokyo 180-8602, Japan.


Marking behavior, marking-like behavior [3], and changes of the scent glands were observed in aged Mongolian gerbils. In Experiment 1, changes in the marking and marking-like behavior with aging were evaluated in adult male and female Mongolian gerbils of an inbred strain aged 6 to 36 months. The frequency of marking behavior in males was significantly higher than females throughout the observation period except at 36 months of age. On the other hand, frequency of marking-like behavior in males, but not in females decreased with aging, significantly. In Experiment 2, changes of the scent gland in adult males and females aged 6 to 36 months were morphologically evaluated. Macroscopic examination revealed an increase in the size length and width of the glands of males aged 12 months and females aged 6 months. Histologically the glands of all the males and females aged 6 months developed moderately or well. Some of the 12-month-old males and females showed acinar atrophy of the glands, and all the females aged 18 months or more had highly atrophied scent glands. From these results, we concluded that there is no relationship between the changes of marking behavior and those of the scent glands in aged male Mongolian gerbils, and assume that marking behavior in aged animals does not have an important meaning as marking. In Experiment 3, marking and marking-like behavior in castrated adult Mongolian gerbils aged 16 weeks were observed. The result showed that marking behavior, not marking-like behavior was inhibited after castration. From these findings, we consider that generally marking behavior in Mongolian gerbils consists of androgen-dependent marking behavior and androgen-independent marking behavior (marking-like behavior).

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