Skip to main content

Table 1 Behavioral elements, listed in their behavioral systems, and their definitions

From: Does the early social environment prepare individuals for the future? A match-mismatch experiment in female wild cavies

Behavioral element Definition
Social orientation behavior:
Naso-nasal sniffing The focal animal moves its nose towards the nasal region of another animal and sniffs, licks and/or nuzzles. The distance is less than one snout-width.
Naso-anal sniffing The focal animal moves its nose towards the ano-genital region of another animal and sniffs, licks and/or nuzzles. The distance is less than one snout-width.
Sociopositive behavior:
Resting with bodily contact Two animals are sitting or lying side by side and none of them shows any movements for at least 5 s. The nearest parts of the animals’ bodies have direct contact. The behavior stops if one of them moves continuously for more than 5 s.
Courtship & sexual behavior:
Rumba The focal animal moves slowly towards another animal and steps rhythmically from one hind leg to the other. The head can be lowered and held parallel to the ground. The body of the focal animal can show a curve when it approaches the other animal. Rumba can also be shown without a forward movement but a continuous stepping in place of the hind legs with a shift from one hind leg to the other.
Mounting The focal animal moves the upper part of its body onto another animal’s back from behind.
Agonistic behavior:
Fixation The focal animal actively turns its head towards the other one. This does not result from the current general body movement.
Head-up The distance between the animals is less than one body length. The focal animal lifts its mouth quickly upwards.
Chase The focal animal follows another animal over a distance of at least one body length. This happens with high velocity. During this interaction, the distance between both animals never exceeds two body lengths. Chasing is terminated if the distance between the animals exceeds two body lengths for more than 3 s.
Retreat The focal animal increases its distance to another animal to more than one body length. This happens either after an interaction of the animals or after an approach by the other animal.
Head-thrust/bite The focal animal jabs its head quickly towards the other one. The other animal can be touched by this movement. The head is usually directed forward, but the animal may also direct the head sideways.
Curved body posture The focal animal moves its head as well as its hindquarters towards the other one. The whole body shows a bended line. Both animals are oriented sideways to each other.
Attack-lunge The focal animal quickly jumps towards another animal with its whole body. Both animals may display this behavior simultaneously. This movement may lead to bodily contact.
Brawl Two animals scuffle with one another and try to twist the opponent to its side or onto its back. The animals may also try to bite one another. The behavior is finished if there is no longer body contact between the two.
Play behavior:
Frisky hops The focal animal makes one or a series of upward leaps and turns the head or foreparts sharply while in air.
Run off The focal animal starts with a short and fast run, then suddenly stops and changes the direction.
Attentive behavior:
Rearing The focal animal lifts the fore part of its body so that the forelegs do not touch the floor anymore. It may touch the walls of the enclosure with its forelegs.
Other:
Digging The focal animal moves its forepaws jerkily over the bedding and may in consequence shift bedding. The behavior stops when the focal animal does not show it again within 3 s.
  1. All behavioral parameters were scored as frequencies with the exception of resting with bodily contact, which was recorded as duration. Definitions were based on previous work by [30, 31, 44]