ABS 2022
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Mother-offspring interaction in the domestic rabbit – via feces?
Rodrigo Barrios Montiel1, María de Lourdes Arteaga2, Robyn Hudson 3. 1Postgraduate in Biological Sciences, UATx, Tlaxcala, Tlaxcala, Mexico; 2Tlaxcala Center for Behavioral Biology, UATx, Tlaxcala, Tlaxcala, Mexico; 3Institute of Biomedical Research, UNAM, Ciudad de México, Ciudad de México, Mexico

The European rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus, shows coprophagia (voluntary ingestion of feces), benefiting the assimilation of nutrients present in the feces and synthesis of hormones and neurotransmitters. In nature and in the lab, after giving birth in a plant-lined nest, rabbit mothers leave the young, returning once a day to briefly nurse. They also deposit fecal pellets in the nest. In a systematic study of this, we have presently recorded the behavior of mothers and young of 14 litters. We found that mothers start to deposit feces in the nest 3–5 days before parturition and cease between PD10­–13. From PD11–14, pups begin to nibble the feces and nest material, which largely disappear by the time the pups leave the nest shortly before weaning around PD25. Additionally, we confirmed the consumption of plant fiber by pups from microscopic examination of the content of their feces. The pattern of feces deposition was similar in primiparous and multiparous females, suggesting it to be largely independent of maternal experience. We are presently examining the possible short-and long-term effects of the presence or absence of fecal pellets in the nest on the development of the young.
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