May 22, 2013

Litter size determines circadian periodicity of nursing in rabbits

Chronobiology International
Gabriela González-MariscalRaúl Aguilar-Roblero


Nursing in rabbits occurs inside the nest with circadian periodicity. To determine the contribution of suckling stimulation in regulating such periodicity, we varied the size of the litters provided (1, 2, 4, or 6-8 pups). Nursing does, kept under a 14:10 (L:D) photoperiod, were continuously videotaped from parturition into lactation day 15. Although parturitions occurred throughout the day, a significant negative linear correlation (p < 0.0001; r = -0.68) was evident between time of delivery and time of nursing on lactation day 1, regardless of newborn number: longer intervals between these two events were seen in does delivering in the early morning than in those that gave birth late in the day. In rabbits suckling 6-8 pups, a Rayleigh analysis revealed that the population vector best describing their nursing pattern (across lactation days 1-15) had a phase angle = 58° (corresponding to solar time 0352 h and rho = 0.78; p < 0.001). In contrast, the nursing pattern of does nursing litters smaller than 6 pups did not show circadian periodicity; rather, mothers showed multiple entrances into the nest box throughout the day. Cluster analysis revealed that the main equilibrium point of intervals between suckling bouts shifted from...Continue Reading

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Mentioned in this Paper

Behavior, Animal
Litter Size
Lactation, Prolonged
Breast Feeding
Animals, Suckling
Water Consumption

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