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J Comp Psychol. 1987 Jun;101(2):169-77.

The biparental care system of the California mouse, Peromyscus californicus.


Most knowledge of parent-offspring relations in mammals is derived from studies of mother-infant interactions. Male parental care has been less well studied. We explored maternal and paternal behavior of the California mouse, Peromyscus californicus. Six pairs of parents and their young were videotaped continuously for 12 hours/day, on alternate days from Days 1 to 31 postpartum. Males exhibit all parental activities and to the same extent as displayed by mothers, except lactation. Male parental behavior begins on the day of birth. Mothers and fathers spend substantial and equivalent amounts of time in the nest and in physical contact with pups throughout lactation. Males devote more time than females to licking pups, although females engage in more pup anogenital licking. Mothers nurse for at least 4 weeks, and fathers and mothers both build nests and carry young. The biparental care system of Peromyscus californicus affords an opportunity to develop a broader, more complete view of parent-offspring relations.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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