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Dev Psychobiol. 2005 Mar;46(2):75-85.

Ontogeny of the transition from killer to caregiver in dwarf hamsters (Phodopus campbelli) with biparental care.

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Department of Biology, Queen's University, Kingston Ontario, Canada K7L 3N6.


Biparental Phodopus campbelli and uniparental P. sungorus juvenile litters (2 males, 2 females) both consumed amniotic fluid and placenta during the birth of younger siblings. Three days later, P. campbelli juveniles were most responsive to a displaced younger sibling. Thus, P. campbelli are responsive to pups as juvenile alloparents and as new parents; however, at intervening ages, infanticidal attack (bite) was seen. At 5, 7, 9, 11, or 13 weeks of age, male and female P. campbelli were given a 5-min test with an unrelated, 3-day-old, anesthetized pup. Females attacked more often than males, yet pup-retrieval rates did not differ. Female aggression increased with age and was replaced by retrieval behavior 3 days after parturition. Male attack ceased after a birth, but parental behavior did not increase, remaining below the rate for new fathers tested with their own awake pup. Over repeated testing, behavior in one test did not predict behavior in another. Transitions from caregiving alloparent to infanticidal adult and back to parental care were clear in females, but less discrete with this stimulus paradigm in these highly paternal males.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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