Effects of mother-litter separation on later maternal responsiveness in the hamster

Harold I. Siegel, Gilbert S. Greenwald

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Primiparous hamsters were permitted either 1,24, or 48 hr of contact with their own litters beginning at parturition followed by varying periods of separation from pups. A different subgroup in each of these 3 conditions was tested for maternal behavior each day starting 24 hr after litter removal. Testing for the display of retrieving and the adoption of the nursing posture using 1-2 day old foster pups continued for each condition until 2 subgroups failed to behave maternally on 2 consecutive days. Nulliparous females were similarly exposed to foster pups and tested at selected intervals; regardless of initial exposure, only 4 of 24 nulliparous animals ultimately displayed maternal behavior. Different primiparous subgroups given 1 hr of exposure were maternal on Days 2-4 postpartum but not on Days 5 or 6 while females in the 24 hr group were maternal on Days 3-5 but not on Days 7 or 8. Groups permitted 48 hr of litter stimulation were maternal through Day 15 postpartum demonstrating that the initial 24-48 hr of pup contact is essential for the development of a long-term mother-young bond.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)147-149
Number of pages3
JournalPhysiology and Behavior
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1978
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


  • Female hamster
  • Maternal behavior
  • Mother-young bond
  • Mother-young separation
  • Pup stimulation


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