Exploratory behavior of two species of murid rodents, Acomys cahirinus and Mus musculus: a comparative study

Behav Neural Biol. 1985 Mar;43(2):143-61. doi: 10.1016/s0163-1047(85)91337-8.


The exploratory behavior of two species of murid rodents, Acomys cahirinus and Mus musculus, was compared in four experiments: In the first, the responses of the two species to a novel arena were studied. Mus was found to take longer to enter the arena, and to spend more time in the relatively familiar or safer start box, than was Acomys. The results suggest that Acomys may persevere longer in exploring particular areas, whereas Mus appear to explore in the open arena by using frequent shifts of attention. The second experiment investigated species differences in response to the addition of a small novel object. Although the species did respond differently, the major species differences seemed to be related more to the open arena than to the object. The third experiment tested the hypothesis that both species would explore more if there was somewhere to hide (e.g., an artificial burrow) than if there was not. It was found that Acomys treated the available artificial burrow as another novel object, while Mus, as predicted, spent more time hiding inside it than did Acomys. The fourth experiment investigated burrow use when a model "predator" was introduced: Both species increased their use of the burrow but some species differences were found. Mus responded to the model more by freezing, or running immediately into the burrow; Acomys responded more by fleeing.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Exploratory Behavior / physiology*
  • Genetics, Behavioral
  • Mice
  • Muridae*
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Species Specificity