Mimicking natural nursing conditions promotes early pup survival in domestic rabbits

Citation
G. Coureaud et al., Mimicking natural nursing conditions promotes early pup survival in domestic rabbits, ETHOLOGY, 106(3), 2000, pp. 207-225
Citations number
50
Language
INGLESE
art.tipo
Article
Categorie Soggetti
Animal Sciences","Neurosciences & Behavoir
Journal title
ETHOLOGY
ISSN journal
0179-1613 → ACNP
Volume
106
Issue
3
Year of publication
2000
Pages
207 - 225
Database
ISI
SICI code
0179-1613(200003)106:3<207:MNNCPE>2.0.ZU;2-L
Abstract
In the wild rabbit, Oryctolagus cuniculus, mother-young relationships are b ased on restricted, once-per-day nursing interactions. Correspondingly, pup s have evolved an efficient strategy of energy saving. Here we investigate under breeding conditions, whether matching or not, the once-daily nursing visit by the rabbit females has an effect on pup survival and growth. Two n ursing regimen were applied to 89 primiparous (P) and to 78 multiparous (M) does: (a) one that matched the once daily nursing pattern (closed nest-box during the whole day except for a few minutes devoted to nursing) and (b) one that did not match it (24 h free nest access). In P females, the contro lled nest access resulted in lower mortality between birth and weaning (8.1 %) as compared to the free nest-access (18%). This effect was recorded from postnatal d 3-4 onwards. Both treatments induced different death causes (s tarvation (63%) in controlled-access regimen, and wounds and nest-soiling ( 29%) in free-access regimen). While both experimental nest-access regimens differentially affected pup survival in P or M females, they were without i nfluence on pup growth rate in does of either parity. It is concluded that repeated nest visits by the female increase risks of injury to pups, and of out-of-time pup activation or sucking, and that, more generally, it plays against the ethophysiologigal strategy of biomass conservation evolved by r abbit newborns. The fact that the nest-access regimen no longer affected pu p survival from the second parity suggests that the behaviour of multiparou s does more adequately models the offspring demands.