Different levels of complexity in the play fighting by muroid rodents appear to result from different levels of intensity of attack and defense

play fighting in deer mice, Peromyscus maniculatus bairdii, prairie voles, Microtus ochrogaster, and montane voles, M. Montanus, was compared to that of laboratory rats, Rattus norvegicus. Play in rats appears more complex for two reasons: 1) more of the playful contacts elicit defensive behaviors, and 2) more of these defenses lead to counterattacks, and hence, role reversals between attackers and defenders. Neither high levels of defense, as shown by montane voles, nor high levels of counterattack, as shown by prairie voles, produce rat?like play fighting. This only occurs when high rates of defense involving turning to face the attacker and counterattack are combined, as in rats. These two components are rarely combined together by deer mice, and so this species rarely exhibits rat-like play fighting. Furthermore, playful counterattack appears to arise from playful attack, and not from an escalation of defense. These data suggest that the more complex forms of social play, such as play fighting, have evolved, in part, via the escalation of defense in response to playful attack. Copyright © 1989 Wiley?Liss, Inc., A Wiley Company

play fighting in deer mice, Peromyscus maniculatus bairdii, prairie voles, Microtus ochrogaster, and montane voles, M. Montanus, was compared to that of laboratory rats, Rattus norvegicus. Play in rats appears more complex for two reasons: 1) more of the playful contacts elicit defensive behaviors, and 2) more of these defenses lead to counterattacks, and hence, role reversals between attackers and defenders. Neither high levels of defense, as shown by montane voles, nor high levels of counterattack, as shown by prairie voles, produce rat?like play fighting. This only occurs when high rates of defense involving turning to face the attacker and counterattack are combined, as in rats. These two components are rarely combined together by deer mice, and so this species rarely exhibits rat-like play fighting. Furthermore, playful counterattack appears to arise from playful attack, and not from an escalation of defense. These data suggest that the more complex forms of social play, such as play fighting, have evolved, in part, via the escalation of defense in response to playful attack. Copyright © 1989 Wiley?Liss, Inc., A Wiley Company

Search