Abstract. The socio-sexual factors mediating the inhibition of pup-killing in previously infanticidal Swiss Webster male mice (Mus domesticus) were examined. As reported in other studies, postmating co-habitation (i.e., physical contact) with a female during pregnancy suppress pup-killing but the present experiments also showed that several factors are implicated in this phenomenon, namely: 1) Postcopulatory sensory contact (i.e., behind a wire-mesh partition) with the pregnant mate was sufficient to inhibit infanticide virtually in all the subjects. Copulation seems to function as a "primer," but cues, most likely of an olfactory nature, emitted by pregnant mate induce paternal behavior in the stud male. In fact, either copulation followed by sensory contact with a nonpregnant mate (abortion was induced) or sensory contact without copulation with a pregnant female did not suppress pup-killing in the majority of cases. 2) Mating, per se, is capable of inhibiting infanticide in a minority of males. 3) Physical contact with a parturient female (impregnated by another male) at the time of pup delivery inhibited infanticide in approximately 40-50% of males. The data essentially show that, in a house mouse population, there is a behavioral polymorphism in response to the coexisting multiple mechanisms which mediate the inhibition of infanticide.
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