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New Experimental Observations of Infanticide and Cannibalism in Northern Tree Shrew Tupaia belangeri

New Experimental Observations of Infanticide and Cannibalism in Northern Tree Shrew Tupaia belangeri

Dong-Min Hou, Hong-bi Peng, Wan-Long Zhu* and Zheng-Kun Wang*

Key Laboratory of Ecological Adaptive Evolution and Conservation on Animals-Plants in Southwest Mountain Ecosystem of Yunnan, School of Life Sciences, Yunnan Normal University, Kunming, Yunnan 650500, China.

 
* Corresponding author: zwl_8307@163.com, wangzk_123@163.com

ABSTRACT

Maternal infanticide and cannibalism, wherein mothers kill and consume their offspring, commonly occur in various animal taxa. The extent of its occurrence in Tupaia belangeri remains unclear given the difficulty of observing infanticidal and cannibalistic behaviors. Here, we report observations of maternal infanticide and cannibalism in two female T. belangeri in two laboratory experiments. Our footage provides the first video documentation of infanticide, cannibalism, and parental care behavior in T. belangeri. Analysis of the video data indicated that the observations were related to nutrition hypothesis, hormone level hypothesis and stress hypothesis. We also suggest that the infanticidal and cannibalistic behaviors of tree shrews might be related to their dietary habits. Although reactions to infants are doubtless affected by the psychological and physiological status of tree shrew mothers as well as the environment, additional work is needed to clarify the relative roles of various factors in shaping maternal behavior post-parturition.

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Pakistan Journal of Zoology

December

Vol. 54, Iss. 6, Pages 2501-3000

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