|Title||Influence of maternal diet and perishability on caching and consumption behavior of juvenile eastern woodrats|
|Publication Type||Journal Article|
|Year of Publication||1998|
|Authors||Post, DM, McDonald, MW, Reichman, OJ|
|Journal||Journal of Mammalogy|
|Keywords||caching, diet, juveniles, learning, Neotoma floridana, woodrats|
We tested the hypotheses that juvenile eastern woodrats (Neotoma floridana) learned to select appropriate foods to cache by cues from the maternal diet and that the effect of perishability affected caching and consumption behavior of juvenile woodrats. In May 1993, female woodrats were mated and placed on a diet of garlic-flavored chow. Females in group A were fed garlic-flavored chow until offspring were weaned. Females in group B were fed garlic-flavored chow until parturition and then were placed on a diet of standard laboratory chow. All offspring were weaned at 45 days postpartum and maintained on a diet of standard laboratory chow. In October and November 1993, juveniles were tested to determine their preference for caching and consumption of garlic-flavored chow or a novel (mint) flavored chow. Juveniles in group A cached more garlic-flavored chow than juveniles in group B (P = 0.04). There was no difference between groups in the amount of garlic chow consumed (P = 0.5). Naive juveniles preferred to cache dry apple (P = 0.01) but preferred to consume fresh apple (P = 0.01). The outcome of our experiments suggests that maternal diet influences the cache-food selection of naive woodrats. Further, naive juvenile woodrats treat perishable and non-perishable foods in a manner similar to adults suggesting that their response to such foods is not learned.