Are There Preexisting Behavioral Characteristics That Predict the Dominant Status of Male NIH Swiss Mice ( )?
AbstractThe behavior of isolated Cr:NIH(S) mice ( ) was studied in a holeboard test of exploration, in a plus-maze test of anxiety, in the resident-intruder paradigm of aggression, and in the swim test. Thereafter, mice that were matched for body weight were housed together in groups of 4–5. Within a week, 1 mouse per cage (the alpha) had attacked all its subordinate cagemates but lacked any signs of attack itself. Subordinate mice had bite marks on their tails and backs. When mice were isolated, no differences were found between the behavior of those that later became alphas and those that became subordinates. In contrast, after the establishment of the social hierarchy, alpha mice spent less time immobile in the swim test and had higher locomotor activities than did the subordinate mice. The results suggest that the differences in behavior between the alpha and subordinate mice result from aggressive social interactions in the home cage.