The ontogeny of independent ingestion in mice: or, why won't infant mice feed?
Unlike infant rats, which show deprivation-related ingestion in several different test situations, infant mice appeared to be relatively unwilling to feed independently of suckling until 12 days of age. We tested mouse pups that were deprived (of food, water, suckling, and maternal care) for 1, 7, or 24 hr in ingestive tests in which a milk diet was spread on the floor of their test container (Experiment 1). Pups at 3, 6, and 9 days of age consumed small amounts of the diet and showed little increase in intake when deprivation was increased. In contrast (and like rat pups of all ages), mouse pups 12 and 15 days of age actively ingested the diet and increased their intake with increased deprivation. Six-day-old mouse pups were similarly unwilling to ingest a 5% sucrose solution, though 12-day-old pups showed deprivation-related intake (Experiment 2). Cellular dehydration (produced by hypertonic saline injection), a potent stimulus for ingestion in infant rats, did not stimulate ingestion in mice younger than 12 days of age (Experiment 3). Finally, when ingestion was tested with diet infusions made through oral cannulas, mouse pups at 6 and 9 days of age showed only a slight increase in intake with increased deprivation. However, by 12 days of age, pups' ingestion increased markedly with deprivation (Experiment 4). Thus, mouse pups seem to be very different from rat pups with respect to the early existence of ingestive systems. The neural substrates for the ingestive responses that subserve independent ingestion are only minimally present in infant mice or are somehow inhibited.
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