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Physiol Behav. 2003 Oct;80(1):155-62.

Sexual and olfactory preference in noncopulating male rats.

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Instituto de Neurobiologi;a, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Apartado Postal 1-1141, Qro. 76001, Querétaro, México.


In some species including rats, mice, gerbils, and rams, apparently normal males fail to copulate when repeatedly tested with receptive females. These animals are called "noncopulators (NC)," and the cause of this behavioral deficit is unknown. It has been shown that NC rats do not have hormonal alterations or deficits in the mechanisms that control penile function. The present study was designed to examine (Experiment 1) whether NC male rats prefer receptive females to sexually active males. In addition, the olfactory preference for bedding soiled from estrous or for anestrous bedding was investigated. These tests were performed in NC and copulating (C) male rats when the subjects were intact, gonadectomized (GDX), or GDX and treated with high doses of testosterone propionate (TP). Our results demonstrate that NC rats do not display sexual behavior even after high TP treatment. While C male rats have a clear preference for receptive females as opposed to a sexually active male, NC rats do not. In all hormonal conditions, the preference shown by NC rats for estrous bedding was significantly reduced in comparison to that seen in C rats. TP treatment in NC rats did not modify either partner or odor preference. In Experiment 2, we evaluated if NC rats are feminized and if it could be easier to induce feminine-like behavior by hormone treatment with estradiol benzoate (EB) or with EB plus progesterone (P) (EB+P). Odor preference for estrous or male bedding under these hormonal conditions was also compared. No differences between NC and C rats were found in feminine sexual behavior. In the olfactory test, we found that NC rats prefer odors from receptive females as opposed to male odors, but this preference is reduced compared to that of C rats. Males treated with EB or EB+P show no preference for female odors. These results demonstrate that treatment with EB or EB+P does not increase feminine sexual behavior in NC rats.

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