NOV 19, 2018 5:43 AM PST

Communal Rearing Better Prepares Mice for the Real World, Study Finds

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

Researchers have long understood early-life experiences to influence actions and behavior later in life for humans, but can be same be said about animals?

Curious researchers from the University of Liverpool wanted to find out, and so they conducted an intensive rearing study involving mice to learn more. The fruits of their work have been published this week in the journal Scientific Reports.

Mice that have it harder while growing up fare better later in life, study reveals.

Image Credit: Pixabay

Upon performing a controlled experiment in which house mice were brought up under differing circumstances, the researchers learned that communally-reared male mice were more likely to exhibit competitive behavior toward unrelated mice than their single-reared male counterparts.

As it would seem, scent played an instrumental role in this behavior. Communally-reared male mice differentiated between the odors of related and unrelated mice, while single-reared male mice did not; the former also marked territory with their scent more often than the latter.\

The research also denoted the elevated sense of bravery of communally-reared male mice; they were more willing to explore unexplored territory than single-reared male mice, underscoring their readiness to take more risks for survival.

"Female house mice pursue two flexible social strategies, either raising their offspring in communal or single nests. This makes them an ideal model species to study how these different approaches shape future development," explained Dr. Stefan Fischer, the lead author of the paper.

"Since exploration tendencies and discrimination between kin and non-kin are likely to be advantageous when dispersing from the natal territory or in a high-density population, our findings suggest that communal rearing prepares male house mice for a competitive social environment."

Related: Reversing symptoms of aging in mice inspires anti-aging drugs

The findings validate the notion that communally-reared mice have the edge later in life. The authors conclude that being raised in this manner teaches the mice essential lessons early in life that help them cope with dynamic environments when they grow up and wander away from relatives.

"Our results add to growing evidence that the early social environment influences the development of important behavioral competencies to cope with social challenges later in life," added Prof. Paula Stockley, a co-author of the study.

Related: Watch a monkey save a mouse from a snake

Future studies could help researchers discern whether this behavior is unique to house mice or replicable in other species. Furthermore, it should be interesting to see whether other animals exhibit comparable behavior in similar rearing circumstances.

Source: University of Liverpool, Scientific Reports

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
NOV 16, 2021
Plants & Animals
Climate Change is Affecting the Shape and Size of Amazon Birds
NOV 16, 2021
Climate Change is Affecting the Shape and Size of Amazon Birds
The Amazon Rainforest is one of the most biodiverse locations on Earth, home to more than 3 million different species. I ...
DEC 20, 2021
Plants & Animals
At Least 15 Animal Species in the US Have Contracted COVID-19 So Far
DEC 20, 2021
At Least 15 Animal Species in the US Have Contracted COVID-19 So Far
We’re almost 2 years into the COVID-19 pandemic, and we’ve learned a lot about how the virus works. This und ...
DEC 17, 2021
Genetics & Genomics
A Preference For Coffee is in the Genes, But it Goes Beyond Taste
DEC 17, 2021
A Preference For Coffee is in the Genes, But it Goes Beyond Taste
Research has indicated that a preference for certain tastes can be traced back to genes, but there's more to it than jus ...
DEC 30, 2021
Earth & The Environment
Ghost Gear is Haunting Marine Life
DEC 30, 2021
Ghost Gear is Haunting Marine Life
Fishing gear is the most prevalent pollution in the oceans. It makes up nearly 50% of the floating garbage in the Great ...
DEC 31, 2021
Earth & The Environment
Light Pollution - Visible and Invisible Effects on Us and Our Environment
DEC 31, 2021
Light Pollution - Visible and Invisible Effects on Us and Our Environment
Light pollution is a newly recognized source of pollution with many complexities. What is light pollution to one person ...
JAN 11, 2022
Chemistry & Physics
Fire Retardant Coating Inspired by Molten Lava
JAN 11, 2022
Fire Retardant Coating Inspired by Molten Lava
While residential fires have declined over the recent decades, the uncontrollable blazes can still wreak havoc, as the r ...
Loading Comments...