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Fresh insights into guinea pig social behaviour
They found that females tended to flee from each other during fertile periods, but otherwise would risk confrontation.

Females risk confrontation outside of fertile periods 

New research has shed light on how a female guinea pig’s sexual cycle could impact their social behaviour.

Guinea pigs use their intuition to decide whether to compete or escape, in order to maintain a hierarchy in which dominant animals take advantage.

Researchers from the University of Vienna analysed social behaviours and hormone levels to find out the effect of the oestrus cycle during encounters between females.

They found that females tended to flee from each other during fertile periods, but otherwise would risk confrontation. In animals that were not ready to mate, the stress hormone level increased and physical contact between the two females was more frequent.

There has so far been limited research on how the sexual cycle may shape female social behaviour in animals.

Lead author Lisa-Maria Glenk, commented: “These rodents live in social hierarchies, similar to many other mammals. Such hierarchies are established through confrontations between conspecifics.

"Animals with a good intuition of when to compete or withdraw are more successful and better integrated.”

Photo © Lisa Glenk/Vetmeduni Vienna

 

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Nominations for 2019 RSPCA Honours Awards now open

News Story 1
 People across the UK are being urged to nominate a standout animal champion for the 2019 RSPCA Honours Awards.

The awards recognise those who have worked tirelessly to improve animal welfare, campaigned on behalf of animals, or shown true bravery. Previous winners include comedian John Bishop, who was awarded Celebrity Animal Champion of the Year, and 11-year-old Lobby Cantwell, who raised more than £1,000 for the charity through mountain climbs and bike rides.

To submit a nomination or find out more about the awards visit the RSPCA website. Nominations will remain open until 4 pm on Friday, March 15.  

Click here for more...
News Shorts
New £1m project to investigate dairy cow lameness

Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) is leading a new £1 million research project to investigate the causes of lameness in dairy cows.

One in three dairy cows are affected by lameness every day in the UK, costing the industry an estimated £250 milion annually.

The project will take three years to complete and is due to finish by November 2021.

Professor Georgios Banos of SRUC commented: “In addition to pain and discomfort to the animal, lameness is associated with decreased milk production and inflated farm costs.

“Among cows raised in the same environment, some become lame while others do not. Understanding the reasons behind this will help us develop targeted preventive practices contributing to enhanced animal welfare and farm profitability.”