Camel Calves as Opportunistic Milk Thefts? The First Description of Allosuckling in Domestic Bactrian Camel (Camelus bactrianus)
|Kateg. publikace||Vědecké publikace impaktované|
Allosuckling is a situation when a female nurses a non-filial offspring. It was described in various ungulate species; however for camels this is the first description of this behaviour. The aim of the study was to assess the occurrence of allosuckling in captive camels (Camelus bactrianus) and to test whether it can be explained as a ‘milk-theft’ (opportunistic behaviour of calves) or alternatively as an altruistic behaviour of females. During 2005 and 2007, nine camel females and ten calves in four zoological gardens in the Czech Republic were observed. In total, 373 sucking bouts were recorded, from which 32 were non-filial (the calf sucked from the non-maternal female). Allosuckling regularly appeared in captive camel herds. As predicted for the milk-theft explanation, the non-filial calves sucked more often in the lateral position and even did not suck in the antiparallel position at all. The non-filial calves preferably joined the filial calf when sucking but in five cases (15.6% of non-filial sucking bouts) the calves sucked from non-maternal dam without the presence of filial calf. We then expected the differences in terminations of sucking bouts by females but did not find any difference in sucking terminations for filial and non-filial calves. As the calves were getting older, the incidence of allosucking increased. This was probably because skills of the calf to outwit the non-maternal dam increased and/or the older calves might be more motivated for allosucking due to the weaning process. Finally, duration of a sucking bout was shorter with non-filial than filial calves. The results of the study support the hypothesis of ‘milk theft’, being mostly performed by calves behaving as opportunistic parasites, but we cannot reject certain level of altruism from the allonursing females or their increased degree of tolerance to non-filial calves.
|Projekt||Udržitelný rozvoj chovu hospodářských zvířat v evropském modelu multifunkčního zemědělství|
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