NOV 19, 2018 05:43 AM PST

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

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
SEP 24, 2018
Plants & Animals
SEP 24, 2018
All-Female Termite Colonies Observed for the First Time
In the case of most animal species, it takes both a male and a female for reproduction to take place. But a few exceptions to this rule do indeed exist, pa...
OCT 17, 2018
Plants & Animals
OCT 17, 2018
Will Vaquitas Get Another Chance to Rebound?
Native to the Gulf of California, the vaquita (Phocoena sinus) is one of the most elusive porpoises alive today. Not only does the International Union for...
NOV 06, 2018
Plants & Animals
NOV 06, 2018
How do Moths Avoid Being Eaten by Bats? The Secret Might Lie in Their 'Fur'
It’s no secret that bats enjoy munching on moths when they’re feeling a bit hungry, but one thing that has always captivated scientists is how...
NOV 21, 2018
Cannabis Sciences
NOV 21, 2018
Intro to Phytocannabinoids
With the surge in public interest in marijuana due to state-by-state marijuana legislature reform have come two new chemical substances that have entered p...
DEC 09, 2018
Drug Discovery
DEC 09, 2018
Insect Venom Can Someday Combat Antibiotic-Resistant Infections
Insect venom, such as those secreted by wasps and bees, are considered an insect’s immune system defense because of its richness in bacterial killing...
DEC 11, 2018
Plants & Animals
DEC 11, 2018
Geckos Can Run Across Water, New Study Investigates How
Geckos are agile small reptiles that, with the help of their grippy little feet, sport the innate ability to scale vertical walls and perform incredible gl...
Loading Comments...