, Volume 51, Issue 4, pp 411–413 | Cite as

Individual recognition and incest avoidance in eusocial common mole-rats rather than reproductive suppression by parents

  • H. Burda
Research Articles


Non-reproductive females in families of eusocial common mole-rats (Cryptomys sp., Rodentia) are not suppressed by their mother, (either behaviourally or pheromonally) as is generally assumed. They do not mate with their father and brothers simply because they are not sexually attractive for them (and vice versa). The incest avoidance is based on the capability to recognize (and keep in memory for up to three weeks) each family member individually. A ‘sterile’ daughter may conceive and deliver young in her parental family if given the opportunity to mate with an unfamiliar mate in a separate cage. In this way, two females may breed side by side in one family.

Key words

Eusociality reproductive suppression incest avoidance individual recognition monogamy memory subterranean rodent mole-rat Cryptomys Heterocephalus 


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Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag Basel 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. Burda
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of MorphologyJ. W. Goethe UniversityFrankfurt am MainGermany

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