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Reproduction and marking behavior of the great gerbils rhombomys opimus kept in captivity

Reproduction and marking behavior of the great gerbils rhombomys opimus kept in captivity

Zoologicheskii Zhurnal 60(3): 432-437

The reproduction, intergroup relations and marking behavior of great gerbils were studied under laboratory conditions. The intensity of reproduction in these conditions changes in the same manner as in nature but begins a month earlier than in nature. The success of reproduction depends on the composition of the family group, time of separation of young individuals, time of formation of a mating pair and age of the animals. The presence of 2 or more males in a family group inhibits reproduction. The reproduction of individual females kept in a group with one male proceeds at different times and with different intensities. The interrelations in a group were aggravated during the period of birth, when mothers display antagonistic behavior to other members of the group. The elements of marking behavior are observed from the moment of transition of the young animals to independent feeding. The adult males with sexual experience mark territory the most actively. The marking activity of sexually immature males and males having no sexual experience is low (only somewhat higher than that of females). The marking of territory is observed for all animals over a month of age, regardless of sex and age, which suggests that the smell marks contain information that plays an important role in migration and the protection of habitats.

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