IJERPH, Vol. 16, Pages 1824: Influence of Pre-Weaning Social Isolation on Post-Weaning Emotion Tendency and Mother-Infant Interactions in Infant Octodon Degus (International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health)
Our previous research using Octodon degus (degus) revealed that preweaning social isolation negatively affected object exploratory behavior. However, it remains unknown how social isolation affects animal psychology and other behaviors. The present study examined the effects of neonatal social isolation on degu emotion and mother–infant interactions before and after weaning. Because degus have a complex social repertoire, we predicted that they would be sensitive to social isolation and show similarities with humans in their social interaction. Pups in the isolation group were separated from their family seven times for 30 min a day from 8 to 15 days post-birth. Pups in the nonisolation group were reared with their family. At 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 weeks of age, pups underwent a zero-maze test to measure anxiety and a mother–infant interaction test to assess mother–infant attachment. Isolated pups showed more activity in the zero-maze test than nonisolated pups at 3 weeks of age. We found no significant effects of social isolation on mother–infant interactions. These results suggest that while neonatal social isolation might affect emotion during weaning, it does not influence mother–infant relationships.