The influence of litter size and parental behaviour on the development of Mongolian gerbil pups


Undisturbed pairs of Mongolian gerbils were observed rearing litters of one, three or five pups. Pup behaviour and physical development were also monitored. Activities of both parents are influenced by litter size; some activities, e.g. sniff pups, being performed the most with large litters but others, e.g. nest-build, being performed the most with small litters. Pups from litters of three show the fastest behavioural and physical development. The presence of the male influences female activities and offspring development. Females nest-build less and sniff the pups less when the male is present. Pups reared with their father, however, open their eyes earlier and are behaviourally more advanced than are pups reared by the mother alone. © 1978.