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CHEMOECOLOGY

, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 169–174 | Cite as

Convergent changes in the maternal emission and pup reception of the rabbit mammary pheromone

  • Gérard CoureaudEmail author
  • Dominique Langlois
  • Guy Perrier
  • Benoist Schaal
Original Paper

Summary.

Lactating rabbit females emit volatile odour cues that trigger specialized motor actions leading to sucking. But the activity of these cues may change with advancing lactation. Here, we tested this possibility in three experiments. In Exp. 1, we assessed whether 2-day-old pups respond differently to the odour of milk from females in early (day 2) as compared to late (day 23) lactation. In Exp. 2, a compound bearing pheromonal properties, the Mammary Pheromone (MP), was dosed in these milks to assess whether its concentration is correlated with behavioural activity. In Exp. 3, the responsiveness to a constant level of MP was compared in d2 versus d23-pups. Run on 240 pups, the assays showed that a) the milk activity declines between d2 and d23 of lactation; b) during this same period, the concentration of the MP decreases in milk; c) the MP itself becomes less active to elicit oral grasping in pre-weaning pups than in newborns. These results indicate that the MP is active during the period when pups are exclusively dependent on milk. The convergent changes in emission and reception of this pheromone may sequentially warrant that pups are first attracted to the mammae, and then that they progressively disinvest the mother as they begin to eat solid food and to be attracted by other conspecifics.

Keywords.

Rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus mother-infant interaction chemical communication sucking pheromone development 

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Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag, Basel 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gérard Coureaud
    • 1
    Email author
  • Dominique Langlois
    • 2
  • Guy Perrier
    • 3
  • Benoist Schaal
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre des Sciences du Goût, Ethology and Sensory Psychobiology GroupUMR 5170 CNRS/UB/InraDijonFrance
  2. 2.FLAVIC UnitInra, DijonFrance
  3. 3.ENESADDijonFrance

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