Growth and behavioural development of the fawn-footed mosaic-tailed rat (Melomys cervinipes)

Rowell, Misha K., and Rymer, Tasmin L. (2021) Growth and behavioural development of the fawn-footed mosaic-tailed rat (Melomys cervinipes). Australian Mammalogy. (In Press)

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Abstract

The fawn-footed mosaic-tailed rat (Melomys cervinipes) is a common Australian rainforest rodent; however, little is known about the growth or behavioural development of individuals of this species. We raised mosaic-tailed rats in captivity to assess the growth and behavioural development of pups from birth until weaning. Pups developed quickly compared with some other Australian species, and there were no significant differences in growth between males and females, except for anogenital distance. The auditory meatus was open by Postnatal Day 5, and eyes were fully opened by Postnatal Day 9. All behaviours, including righting, locomotion, negative geotaxis, climbing and grip reflex, were fully developed by Postnatal Day 6. These results suggest that mosaic-tailed rats are semiprecocial in their physical and behavioural development compared with some native Australian rodent species that are found in arid environments. As females produce few, relatively well-developed young, the population has a low intrinsic rate of natural increase. This may, however, be offset by mosaic-tailed rats producing more litters per year. Understanding the biology of mosaic-tailed rats in general could provide insights into how rarer precocial species might struggle to increase in population size under increasing disturbances.

Item ID: 64950
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1836-7402
Keywords: Australian rodent, behavioural development, fawn-footed mosaic-tailed rat, growth, Melomys cervinipes, ontogeny, precocial
Funders: Australian Government (AG), James Cook University, Australasian Society for the Study of Animal Behaviour, Skyrail Rainforest Foundation
Projects and Grants: AG Research Training Program Scholarship
Date Deposited: 04 Nov 2020 07:41
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3109 Zoology > 310901 Animal behaviour @ 50%
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3109 Zoology > 310903 Animal developmental and reproductive biology @ 50%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 100%
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