Domestication and diversification: A comparative analysis of the play fighting of the brown norway, sprague-dawley, and wistar laboratory strains of (rattus norvegicus).

Journal of comparative psychology (Washington, D.C. : 1983)

PubMedID: 24749500

Himmler SM, Modlinska K, Stryjek R, Himmler BT, Pisula W, Pellis SM. Domestication and diversification: A comparative analysis of the play fighting of the brown norway, sprague-dawley, and wistar laboratory strains of (rattus norvegicus). J Comp Psychol. 2014;.
Laboratory strains of rats are a commonly used subject to study play behavior. Recent research has shown that play in one laboratory strain of rat (e.g., Long-Evans hooded) differs in a number of ways from its wild counterparts. These findings suggest that domestication affects some aspects of play behavior. However, there are multiple strains of laboratory rats, which have been domesticated through different lineages all derived from wild rats and it cannot be assumed that all domestic strains are identical in their play. Therefore, the aim of this study was to compare the play behavior of three other strains of laboratory rats (e.g., Wistar, Sprague-Dawley, and Brown Norway). All strains were similar to each other as they all engaged in high frequencies of play, tolerated similar interanimal distances before initiating playful defense and displayed similar acrobatic capacities, suggesting domestication produces some common changes in play and other factors that influence play. However, strains differed significantly from one another in the use of tactics that promote bodily contact during play. Indeed, in this regard, some strains were more similar to wild rats than others, suggesting that some domestication-induced changes are either unique or more prominent in some laboratory strains than others. Such a mosaic pattern of transformation not only offers the possibility of using strain differences to characterize the genetic factors contributing to different facets of play, but also cautions researchers from making rat-general conclusions from studies on any one strain. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved).