Resource partitioning during reproduction in the Norway rat

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Science  02 Jan 1981:
Vol. 211, Issue 4477, pp. 76-77
DOI: 10.1126/science.7444451


Rat pups nursed by pregnant dams grow as fast as pups reared by dams that are not pregnant. Moreover, litters that were in utero during a lactation are as numerous at birth and grow as fast as pups developing in a nonlactating, pregnant mother. These litters continue to grow as fast as pups born to nonlactating dams whether or not the first litter remains after the birth of the second litter. When pregnant and lactating dams have a restricted food supply, some dams are capable of extending the duration of their pregnancies by over 2 weeks past that of nonlactating, pregnant dams. This facultative prolongation of pregnancy apparently allows females to carry normal litters to term.

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