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HomeScienceAnimal behaviour: Feminine mice launch banana-scented urine when pregnant to discourage males

Animal behaviour: Feminine mice launch banana-scented urine when pregnant to discourage males


Pregnant and lactating feminine mice launch a banana-smelling chemical of their urine that’s thought to emphasize out males in order that they don’t commit infanticide


20 Might 2022

Harvest mice (Micromys minutus)

A pregnant harvest mouse (Micromys minutus) and a pup: females will struggle to guard their younger, and use their urine to remind males of the actual fact

Klein and Hubert/NaturePL

Feminine mice which are closely pregnant or have lately given delivery produce a banana-smelling chemical of their urine that stresses out males, probably to cease them from killing their pups.

Jeffrey Mogil at McGill College in Montreal and his colleagues found this behaviour by chance. “We have been doing experiments with pregnant feminine mice and seen that male mice that have been getting used for different experiments in the identical room have been performing a bit loopy,” he says.

To discover additional, they examined the stress ranges of male mice once they have been positioned in a cage close to that of one other male mouse or a feminine that was both not pregnant, newly pregnant, closely pregnant, had lately given delivery and was lactating, or had given delivery previously and was not lactating.

The male mice confirmed diminished ache sensitivity and elevated corticosteroid ranges – that are each indicators of stress – once they have been caged close to feminine mice that have been closely pregnant or lactating, however not once they have been close to the opposite mice.

The researchers found that this was as a result of closely pregnant and lactating females produced a chemical of their urine referred to as amyl acetate, which smells of bananas. This wafted into the males’ close by cages and made them careworn once they sniffed it.

Simply exposing the males to this chemical alone made them careworn, even when there have been no pregnant or lactating females round.

Females in all probability launch this chemical when they’re about to have pups or have simply had them to let males know, “when you come any nearer, I’ll beat the crap out of you”, says Mogil.

It’s because male mice attempt to kill pups which were fathered by different males, he says.

Consistent with this, pregnant and lactating females left extra urine marks once they have been uncovered to stranger males than once they have been uncovered to the daddy of their pups.

“Females are recognized to unleash critical aggression if males attempt to assault their pups so we predict that when males odor this chemical of their urine, the prospect that there could be a struggle causes their stress response,” says Mogil.

The researchers didn’t take a look at if sniffing this chemical did in truth cease males from killing pups as a result of it will be unethical to conduct that form of experiment, says Mogil.

The findings have implications for different mouse analysis since some scientists could unwittingly be utilizing careworn mice of their experiments in the event that they home male mice close to pregnant females, says Mogil. This might be one motive why totally different labs typically get totally different outcomes from the identical experiments, he says. “It’s one thing we have to pay extra consideration to.”

Journal reference: Science Advances, DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abi9366

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