psych 335 paper - Running Head Scent and Cannibalism...

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Running Head: Scent and Cannibalism Zelikov Introduction Hamsters are rodents that are easily kept and breed. The most common hamster is the Mesocricetus auratus, or teddy bear hamster, which was originally found in the north western steppes of Syria. They were brought to the United States and the United Kingdom in the 1930s for laboratory use and later used as pets as early as 1945 (Wikipedia 2006). A common behavior displayed by this hamster is the cannibalism of pups by the mother. Researchers have speculated the cause of cannibalism of pups by the mother, but a specific reason cannot be determined. Studies involving rodents including those of Day at al, Fleming, and Andersen, has pointed to litter size, scent, and disturbance from outside sources as all valid reasons for pup cannibalism. It is believed that scent of a pup alone should cause aggressive behavior from the mother. Therefore, a female hamster should act more aggressively toward her pups with a strong foreign scent then pups with a more familiar scent, approaching pups with a foreign scent more quickly. Methods In order to begin the experiment, obtain a mother teddy bear hamster and her pups with ages of three of six days. To test the hypothesis that scent will cause a mother to act more aggressively toward her pups, various precautions must be used. To prevent any harm to the pups by the mother if she does act aggressively, the mother will be placed in a bare aquarium with a floor dimension of 3’ x 2’ and tethered. The tether will be loosely around the neck with translucent, plastic fishing line with a length of 2’ 10’’. The fishing line will be attached to a plastic rod with a length of 5 inches which is fastened to the aquarium floor by a nail driven through the bottom of the tank and the rod. A circle with 1
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Running Head: Scent and Cannibalism Zelikov a diameter of 2” will be marked on the opposite end of the cage where each pup will be placed individually. Between testing, the circle will be wiped by a Puff’s Cleanex to reduce any odor from lingering in the pup area.
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