The attacks by resident lactating Wistar rats on sexually naive conspecifics of both sexes were examined. Male and female intruders were equally attacked in terms of frequency and number of bites, but the topographies of biting seen in these encounters were different. Similarly to male-male agonistic interactions, females were attacked in a fashion which avoided bites to the head and snout (“offensive” attack), whereas males were frequently bitten on such vulnerable regions (“defensive” attack). This dichotomy in bite pattern suggests that different motivations and functions underlay maternal aggression in these situations. The defensive attack on males may be a deterrent to infanticide since only male intruders counterattack lactating females and kill their pups. The attack on females may be concerned with resource competition.
Offensive and defensive bite-target topographies in attacks by lactating rats / SGOIFO A.; STILLI D.; MUSSO E.; MAINARDI D.; PARMIGIANI S. - In: AGGRESSIVE BEHAVIOR. - ISSN 0096-140X. - 18:1(1992), pp. 47-52. [10.1002/1098-2337(1992)18:1<47::AID-AB2480180106>3.0.CO;2-#]