Transmission of food preference in the rabbit: The means of information transfer

Ágnes Bilkó, Vilmos Altbäcker, Robyn Hudson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

138 Citations (Scopus)


Rabbit pups raised by mothers fed different diets during pregnancy and lactation show a clear preference for the diet of their mother at weaning. By supplementing does' lab chow diet with aromatic juniper berries, the present study aimed to investigate the relative importance of 1) fecal pellets deposited by the mother in the nest, 2) prenatal experience in utero, and 3) contact with the mother during nursing in determining pups' later food preference. The three means of transmission were found to be equally effective. Thus, pups from normally fed does raised with fecal pellets from juniper-fed mothers, pups from juniper-fed mothers cross-fostered to normally fed does immediately after birth, and pups of normally fed mothers nursed by juniper-fed does all showed as strong a preference for juniper as pups raised by juniper-fed mothers exclusively. Such apparent redundancy may not only help insure that less aromatic substances or substances transmitted differentially by these routs are learned, but also that pups can acquire a preference for a variety of foods eaten by their mother at different times.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)907-912
Number of pages6
JournalPhysiology and Behavior
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1994



  • Food preference
  • Maternal feces
  • Nursing
  • Prenatal learning
  • Rabbit
  • Social transmission

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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