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maternal behaviour


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An aspect of parental care, confined (by convention) to female mammals that suckle their young from specially developed mammary glands. Maternal behaviour is that behaviour, exhibited by mothers towards their young, which is presumed to aid the young in their survival, growth, and development, both physically and behaviourally. The specific maternal behaviour exhibited by the different species of mammal is quite varied. The three main types of maternal behaviour are: (1) that shown by mothers of altricial young that are helpless at birth; examples are found among dogs (Caninae) and rodents; (2) that shown by mothers of precocial young that can see and hear, thermoregulate, and walk soon after birth; examples are found among sheep (Ovis), deer (Cervidae), and cattle (Bovidae); and (3) that shown by mothers of semi-helpless young that cling to their mother's fur; examples are found amongst the primates.

(1) that shown by mothers of altricial young that are helpless at birth; examples are found among dogs (Caninae) and rodents; (2) that shown by mothers of precocial young that can see and hear, thermoregulate, and walk soon after birth; examples are found among sheep (Ovis), deer (Cervidae), and cattle (Bovidae); and (3) that shown by mothers of semi-helpless young that cling to their mother's fur; examples are found amongst the primates.

Subjects: Zoology and Animal Sciences.


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