Welcome to biology-online.org! Please login to access all site features. Create an account.
Log me on automatically each visit
Biology Articles » Zoology » Mammalogy » How Mammals Learn To Recognise Their Mother
Experiments with guinea pigs which grew up in isolation with a lifeless
object as their surrogate mother showed that the young guinea pigs were
not attached to the object. They were not distressed when separated from
it, nor did they prefer their "own" object to a novel one. Guinea pigs of a
few days old did not distinguish between their actual mother and other
The researchers then took baby rats which are blind for the first 12 days
and reared them with their mother but separately from other adults.
Between 10 and 30 days, the baby rats were required to repeatedly choose
between wire cages containing the mother, another lactating female, a
lactating female of a different colour, a non-lactating female, a male rat, or
an empty cage.
The young rats chose other lactating females just as frequently as their
actual mother but they went to the lactating females more frequently than
to the female without milk. They preferred the latter to the male and the
male to the empty cage. It would appear that young rats react to the scent
of lactating females but do not yet recognise their mother. Fear of rats
other than their own mother seems not to play a role because otherwise
they would avoid unknown animals and prefer the empty cage.
Because most mammal mothers make a clear distinction between their
own progeny and those of other mothers, it is vital for the young to learn
which particular animal is their mother. In an environment where more
than one mother is present, they have to learn this very quickly. Instinct
alone is insufficient. The learning process presumably is based on trial
Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research. August 1998.
rating: 3.00 from 3 votes | updated on: 16 Jul 2008 | views: 1967 |
share this article | email to friends
suggest a revision
print this page
© Biology-Online.org. All Rights Reserved. Register | Login | About Us | Contact Us | Link to Us | Disclaimer & Privacy