Food restricting young hamsters (Mesocricetus auratus) affects sex ratio and growth of subsequent offspring

Biol Reprod. 1986 Oct;35(3):592-8. doi: 10.1095/biolreprod35.3.592.


Trivers and Willard (1973) predicted that stressed adult female mammals may enhance their fitness by skewing offspring sex ratios and maternal investment to favor daughters. The present study investigated whether stressing young hamsters might also influence sex ratio and growth of subsequent offspring. Control females received food ad libitum (A) on Days 1-50 postpartum (AA). Experimental females were food-restricted (R) either on Days 1-25 (RA), Days 26-50 (AR), or Days 1-50 (RR) postpartum. Subjects were mated when 91-95 days old. Litter sizes and survivorship (= % litters within a treatment that contained at least one pup), sex ratio (= % males), and pup weights in the next generation were recorded every fifth day from parturition until Day 25 postpartum. Control litters contained significantly more offspring at birth than did RR litters. Sex ratio was significantly higher at birth for AA litters than for the other treatments. Postpartum sex ratio within each group remained similar to that recorded at birth. RR litters contained significantly fewer pups compared to the other three treatments from Days 5-25. RR female pups weighed significantly more at birth than their counterparts in the other treatments. Weights of males at birth were similar in all treatments. By Day 25, both male and female RR pups weighed significantly less than control, AR, and RA pups. Food restriction early in life may have long-term consequences on sex ratio and pup growth in golden hamsters.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn / growth & development*
  • Body Weight
  • Cricetinae
  • Female
  • Food Deprivation*
  • Male
  • Mesocricetus
  • Sex Ratio*