A comparative analysis of non-offspring nursing


Journal Article

Information on the incidence of non-offspring nursing in 100 mammalian species was assembled from the literature and from a questionnaire survey. A comparative analysis of these data revealed several factors that influence the occurrence of non-offspring nursing across species. The incidence of nonoffspring nursing is increased by captivity. In field studies, it is more common in species that have larger litters and there are several important differences in the context of non-offspring nursing between monotocous taxa (where females typically give birth to a single young) and polytocous taxa (where females routinely give birth to multiple young). In monotocous species, non-offspring nursing is associated with high levels of 'milk theft' by parasitic infants; and is more common in species where females continue nursing after they have lost their own young. In polytocous species, non-offspring nursing is not associated with 'milk theft' and is most common in species that live in small groups. These results are discussed in terms of the costs to females of tolerating non-offspring nursing. © 1992 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Packer, C; Lewis, S; Pusey, A

Published Date

  • January 1, 1992

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 43 / 2

Start / End Page

  • 265 - 281

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0003-3472

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/S0003-3472(05)80222-2

Citation Source

  • Scopus