Responses to Domestic Cat Chemical Signals in the House Mouse Are Modulated by Early Olfactory Experience
Many studies suggest that prey can distinguish predator species by detecting a carnivore signal or odor. The domestic cat is the most specialized predator to the house mouse. We examined the influence of the species-specific compound from the cat urine l-felinine on the investigatory behavior and neuroendocrine response of mice, and how those responses can be modulated by a mouse’s early olfactory experience with that compound. Patterns of investigatory and avoidance behavior were analyzed using an open field paradigm. Plasma corticosterone was monitored using an ELISA technique. We found that mice exposed to chemical cues of cats during their critical period for odor sensitization (14–28 days after birth) significantly elevated investigatory activity and suppressed patterns of avoidance behavior to cat odors during the open field test. At the same time corticosterone response of the mouse did not change, suggesting an innate corticosterone response to cat odors.
KeywordsHouse Mouse Predator Odor Neonatal Exposure Investigatory Activity Corticosterone Response
Research was supported by Russian Foundation for Basic Research # 14-04-05011 to V.V.V.
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