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Physiol Behav. 2004 Jun;81(4):629-38.

Recognition of competitors by male golden hamsters.

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Department of Psychology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA.


Golden hamsters, like many animals, form dominant/subordinate relationships after aggressive encounters. We examined whether behavioral responses by males that won or lost fights would differ toward familiar and unfamiliar male stimulus animals. In Experiment 1, male winners or losers of fights explored an arena containing a confined stimulus animal that was either familiar or novel and had either won or lost a fight. Compared to dominant males, losers spent less time in proximity to stimulus males and investigated them less. Losers also displayed higher levels of stretch-attend postures (indicative of risk assessment) than winners, and they showed more escape and locomotion in response to familiar winners than to unfamiliar winners, indicating recognition of the male that they had lost to. In Experiment 2, losers scent marked less to the odors of a familiar winner than to those of an unfamiliar winner. Thus, male hamsters appear to use familiarity with a former opponent's odors to adaptively regulate their responses to variations in social threat.

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