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Pheromone Odor Preferences

In a number of mammalian species, mothers recognize their own young by the olfactory sense. This is true for laboratory rats (Bach and Jaynes 1956; Meyer 1964), mouon (0v1's aries musimon) (Tschanz 1...

In a number of mammalian species, mothers recognize their own young by the olfactory sense. This is true for laboratory rats (Bach and Jaynes 1956; Meyer 1964), mouon (0v1's aries musimon) (Tschanz 1962), sheep (Smith 1965), black-tailed deer (0d0c0z'leus heminous columbianus) (Mi'1ller- Schwarze, unpublished), and rabbits (Mykytowycz 1972). Goats recognize their own young by olfaction and taste (Klopfer and Gamble 1966). _

 In rats, the retrieving response was used to demonstrate discrimination between own and alien young. Own young are retrieved sooner than strange ones (Beach and J aynes 1956). Olfaction is important in this discrimination. Rats will kill their own young, if they are sealed in polyethylene bags or masked with articial odors (Meyer 1964). Mouon and black-tailed deer recognize their young by sniffing the anal and tail region. In both species the bleating of the young activates the mother, but does not serve in individual recognition. When mouon lambs wore small plastic pants over their anal area, their mothers did not recognize them. On the other hand, application of tail scent of her own lamb to a strange one would convince a mouon mother to accept it as her own (Tschanz 1962). In domestic sheep, a ewe will smell the hind quarters or anks of a lamb before accepting it. Lindsay and Fletcher (1968) found that ewes recognized their lambs by visual cues, but expected smell to be important in allowing a lamb to suckle. In rabbits a mother will recognize her young after smelling them at the rear and head areas. She will attack her own young if they have been smeared with secretion from inguinal glands of a strange female. Anal gland secretion does not release this effect (Mykytowycz and Dudzinski 1972). The reverse has also been demonstrated. Sha- piro and Salas (1970) showed that rat pups recognize the odor of their mother. When exposed to the maternal odor, the locomotor activity of the pups is inhibited. Similarly, cat kittens, when displaced before the age of eye opening, use olfactory stimuli emanating from their nest for finding their way back home. They crawl toward their nest if displaced but cease locomotion when placed in the nest area (Rosenblatt et a1. 1969) according to

The establishment of pheromone odor preferences or ‘olfactory imprinting’ has been investigated experimentally in only a few cases. In altricial mammals, early olfacto- ry stimulation has profound effects on later social behavior. Marr and Gardner ( 1965) rubbed pups of laboratory rats daily with cologne odor or methyl salicylate from birth to four weeks of age. The cologne-treated rats later preferred cologne- smelling rats. The rats treated with methyl salicylate did not show any preferences. Female mice (Mus musculus) are imprinted by their fathers (Mainardi 1963). Mai- nardi et al. (1965) sprayed mice parents with perfume. This treatment, or absence of the father in early infancy led to lack of sex discrimination in the adult. Quadag- no and Banks (1970) conrmed that female mice learn species recognition in the nest, but males do not. Among mice reared with their mother and three siblings of the same sex, males at weaning age preferred the odor of males while females spent more time at odor of females of another strain. When adult, the males preferred female odorArticle Search, while estrous females preferred odor of males of another strain. An- estrous females showed no preference (Landauer and Banks 1972). Fox and Him- wich (1965) treated the mammae of lactating bitches with aniseed oil and found that the pups then made positive response to aniseed oil from birth to five days of age.

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Alexander P is a blogger that studies pheromones.

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