The development of juvenile-typical patterns of play fighting in juvenile rats does not depend on peer-peer play experience in the peri-weaning period
Himmler, Brett T.
Himmler, Stephanie M.
Pellis, Sergio M.
eScholarship Publishing, University of California
Play fighting in rats involves attack and defense of the nape. To protect the nape, rats use a variety of defensive tactics, with different strains having specific preferences. Targeting of the nape is established before weaning and defense matures over the course of the week preceding and the week proceeding weaning. Thus, it is possible that experience from engaging in immature forms of play is needed to consolidate the nape as the playful target and for the development of the juvenile-typical pattern of defense. Two experiments were conducted to evaluate this possibility. For the first experiment, male rats were reared over the week post-weaning in either pairs or alone, and their play tested with unfamiliar partners when juveniles (31-34 days). For the second experiment, during the week preceding weaning, male and female rats were placed into one of three conditions: (1) with the mother and no peers, (2) with same-sex siblings but no mother, or (3) with both the mother and same-sex siblings. The subjects were tested in same-sex, samecondition pairs when juveniles (31-34 days). Rats from all conditions, in both experiments, attacked the nape during play fighting and developed the same juvenile-typical patterns of playful defense. This suggests that the experience of peer-peer play in the peri-weaning period is not necessary for the development of the attack and defense components of juvenile-typical play.
Open access article. Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0) applies
Play fighting in rats , Defensive action , Peer-peer play , Playful attack , Juvenile rats , Peri-weaning , Juvenile-typical play
Himmler, B. T., Himmler, S. M., Stryjek, R., Modlinska, K., Pisula, W., & Pellis, S. M. (2015). The development of juvenile-typical patterns of play fighting in juvenile rats does not depend on peer-peer play experience in the peri-weaning period. International Journal of Comparative Psychology, 28(1). https://escholarship.org/uc/item/9wh1h32n