Displays of paternal mouse pup retrieval following communicative interaction with maternal mates

Nat Commun. 2013;4:1346. doi: 10.1038/ncomms2336.


Compared with the knowledge of maternal care, much less is known about the factors required for paternal parental care. Here we report that new sires of laboratory mice, though not spontaneously parental, can be induced to show maternal-like parental care (pup retrieval) using signals from dams separated from their pups. During this interaction, the maternal mates emit 38-kHz ultrasonic vocalizations to their male partners, which are equivalent to vocalizations that occur following pheromone stimulation. Without these signals or in the absence of maternal mates, the sires do not retrieve their pups within 5 min. These results show that, in mice, the maternal parent communicates to the paternal parent to encourage pup care. This new paradigm may be useful in the analysis of the parental brain during paternal care induced by interactive communication.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Auditory Perception / physiology
  • Cues
  • Female
  • Male
  • Maternal Behavior
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred ICR
  • Olfactory Perception / physiology
  • Sexual Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Social Behavior*
  • Ultrasonics
  • Vocalization, Animal / physiology*