A Descriptive Analysis of Nursing Behavior in the Guinea Pig (Cavia porcellus)

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Earlier studies have clarified the sequence and control of behavioral interactions during nursing in the rat. For comparison, we analyzed nursing behavior in the precocial guinea pig (Cavia porcellus). The behaviors of 6 dams with litters of 3 pups were videotaped under undisturbed conditions during both phases of the light–dark cycle and after reunion during the light phase on Days 1, 2, 3, 6, and 13 postpartum. More time was spent nursing in the light than in the dark and in the 1st week than on Day 13. Pup licking was not required for nipple attachment to occur even on Day 1. Dams displayed a crouched nursing posture accompanied by 120 s or more of body plus head immobility, similar to the crouched stance in the rat; body plus head immobility was rarely seen in females not in a crouched stance.



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