Comparative analysis of stereotypical behavior with hunting in small mammals as an example



Comparative analysis of stereotypical behavioral patterns including elements of flexible behavior is presented, with hunting behavior of small mammals as an example. Reactions towards live prey (cockroaches) were investigated in rodents possessing different feeding specialization, in comparison with the insectivorous common shrew. Quantitative analysis was used, and Markov chains were constructed to generate schemes of stereotypes of hunting behavior in different species. The characteristic feature of hunting stereotypes in rodents is that after seizing an insect with teeth, they seize and hold it with their forepaws. This is the more evolutionary progressive feature than seizing the prey with teeth only, like shrews do. As schemes of stereotypes and tactics of hunting appeared to be similar in herbivorous narrow-headed voles and granivorous striped field mice, one can assume that these rodents possess specific adaptations to carnivorous life style. Norway rats display the less specialized hunting stereotypes. The studied rodent species demonstrate more primitive hunting stereotypes than specialized hunting rodents; however, their hunting stereotype is rather specific, and this can be considered behavioral adaptation allowing rodents to broaden feeding resources by the use of active hunting towards insects. A suggested scheme of comparative analysis of stereotypical behavior can be used in ethological and psychological studies. The study was supported by the Russian Science Foundation (grant No. 14-14-00603).

General Information

Keywords: comparative psychology, stereotypical behavior, behavioral patterns, hunting behavior, rodents

Journal rubric: Evolutionary and Comparative Psychology

Article type: scientific article


For citation: Levenets Y.V., Panteleeva S.N., Reznikova J.I. Comparative analysis of stereotypical behavior with hunting in small mammals as an example. Eksperimental'naâ psihologiâ = Experimental Psychology (Russia), 2016. Vol. 9, no. 4, pp. 68–78. DOI: 10.17759/exppsy.2016090407. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)


  1. Bateson P., Gluckman P. Plasticity,  Robustness,  Development  and  Evolution. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011. 166 p. doi: 10.1093/ije/dyr240
  2. Berrios G.E. Psychiatry and its objects. Revista  de  Psiquiatria  y  Salud  Mental, 2011, vol. 4, no. 4, pp. 179–182. doi: 10.1016/j.rpsmen.2011.09.001
  3. Bishop S.L., Richler J., Lord C. Association between restricted and repetitive behaviors and nonverbal IQ in children with autism spectrum disorders. Child Neuropsychology, 2006, vol. 12, no. 4–5, pp. 247–267. doi: 10.1080/09297040600630288
  4. Broom D.M., Johnson K.G. Stress and Animal Welfare. Dordrecht: Kluwer (Chapman and Hall), 1993. 211 p. doi: 10.1007/978-94-024-0980-2
  5. Casarrubea M., Sorbera F., Crescimanno G. Multivariate analysis of the modifications induced by an environmental acoustic cue on rat exploratory behavior. Physiology & Behavior, 2008, vol. 93, no. 4, pp. 687–696. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2007.11.010
  6. Down J.L. On some of the mental affections of childhood and youth: Being the Lettsomian lectures delivered before the Medical society of London in 1887, together with other papers. London, UK: Churchill, 1887. 259 p.
  7. Eisenberg J.F., Leyhausen P. The Phylogenesis of Predatory Behavior in Mammals. Zeitschrift für Tierpsychologie, 1972, vol. 30, no. 1, pp. 59–93. doi: 10.1111/j.1439-0310.1972.tb00844.x
  8. Francis D.D., Szegda K., Campbell G., Martin W.D., Inse T.R. Epigenetic sources of behavioral differences in mice. Nature Neuroscience, 2003, vol. 6, pp. 445–446. doi: 10.1038/nn1038
  9. Gottlieb G. Experiential canalization of behavioral development: theory. Developmental psychology, 1991, vol. 27, no. 1, pp. 4–13. doi: 10.1037/0012-1649.27.1.4
  10. Holt B.E. Animal Drive and the Learning Process. An Essay Toward Radical Empiricism. The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 1933, vol. 78, no. 5, pp. 554.
  11. Konczal M., Koteja P., Orlowska-Feuer P., Radwan J., Sadowska E.T., Babik W. Genomic Response to Selection for Predatory Behavior in a Mammalian Model of Adaptive Radiation. Molecular Biology and Evolution, 2016, pp. 1–27. doi: 10.1093/molbev/msw121
  12. Langley W.M. Comparison of predatory behaviors of deer mice (Peromyscus maniculatus) and grasshopper mice (Onychomys leucogaster). Journal of Comparative Psychology, 1994, vol. 108, no. 4, pp. 394–400. doi: 10.1037/0735-7036.108.4.394
  13. Mason G.J. Stereotypies: a critical review. Animal Behaviour, 1991, vol. 41, pp. 1015–1037. doi:10.1016/ S0003-3472(05)80640-2
  14. Panteleeva S., Reznikova Z., Vygonyailova O. Quantity judgments in the context of risk/reward decision making in striped field mice: first «count,» then hunt. Frontiers in Psychology, 2013, vol. 4, pp. 45. doi:   10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00053
  15. Panteleeva S.N., Danzanov Zh. A., Reznikova Zh.I. Otsenka slozhnosti povedencheskikh stereotipov u murav’ev na primere analiza okhotnich’ego povedeniya Myrmica rubra (Hymenoptera, Formicidae) [Assessment of behavioral complexity in ants on the example of hunting behavior Myrmica rubra (Hymenoptera, Formicidae)]. Zoologicheskii zhurnal [Russian Journal of Zoology], 2010, no. 12, pp. 500–509. (In Russ.).
  16. Reznikova Zh., Panteleeva S., Danzanov Zh. A new method for evaluating the complexity of animal behavioral patterns based on the notion of Kolmogorov complexity, with ants’ hunting behavior as an example. Neurocomputing, 2012, vol. 84, pp. 58–64. doi: 10.1016/j.neucom.2011.12.019
  17. Reznikova Zh.I. Ekologiya, etologiya, evolyutsiya. Mezhvidovye otnosheniya zhivotnykh: v 2t [Ecology, ethology, evolution. Interspecies relationships of animals: in 2 volumes]. Moscow: «Yurait» Publ., 2016. 262 p. (In Russ.).
  18. Reznikova Zh.I., Panteleeva S.N. Vozmozhnye evolyutsionnye mekhanizmy «kul’tury» u zhivotnykh: gipoteza raspredelennogo sotsial’nogo obucheniya [Possible evolutionary mechanisms of ‘culture’ in animals: The hypothesis of distributed social learning]. Zhurnal obshchei biologii [Biology Bulletin Reviews], 2015, vol. 76, no. 4, pp. 295–309 (In Russ.).
  19. Reznikova Zh.I., Panteleeva S.N., Levenets Y.V. Analiz povedencheskikh stereotipov na osnove idei Kolmogorovskoi slozhnosti: poisk obshchego metodicheskogo podkhoda v etologii i psikhologii [Analysis of behavioral patterns based on the ideas of Kolmogorov complexity: a search for a common methodological approach in ethology and psychology]. Eksperimental’naya psikhologiya [Experimental Psychology (Russia)]. 2014, vol. 7, no. 3, pp. 112–125 (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.).
  20. Sarko D.K., Leitch D.B., Girard I., Sikes R.S., Catania K.C. Organization of somatosensory cortex in the Northern grasshopper mouse (Onychomys leucogaster), a predatory rodent. Journal of Comparative Neurology, 2011, vol. 519, no. 1, pp. 64–74. doi: 10.1002/cne.22504
  21. Timberlake W., Washburn D.L. Feeding ecology and laboratory predatory behavior toward live and artificial moving prey in seven rodent species. Animal Learning & Behavior, 1989, vol. 17, no. 1, pp. 2–11. doi: 10.3758/BF03205206
  22. Waddington C.H. Canalization of development and the inheritance of acquired characters. Nature, 1942, vol. 150, no. 3811, pp. 563–565.
  23. Waddington C.H. The basic ideas of biology. Theoretical Biology, Scotland, International Union of Biological Sciences & Edinburgh University Press, 1968. P. 1–32.
  24. Zorina Z.A., Poletaeva I.I., Reznikova Zh.I. Osnovy etologii i genetiki povedeniya [Essential in ethology and behavior genetics]. Moscow: Moscow University Press Publ., 2013. 384 p. (In Russ.).

Information About the Authors

Yan V. Levenets, Postgraduate Student, Institute of Animal Systematics and Ecology, SB RAS, Novosibirsk, Russia, e-mail:

Sofia N. Panteleeva, PhD in Biology, Senior Research Associate, Institute of Animal Systematics and Ecology, SB RAS, Novosibirsk State University, Novosibirsk, Russia, e-mail:

Janna I. Reznikova, Doctor of Biology, Professor, Senior Research Associate, Institute of Animal Systematics and Ecology, SB RAS, Novosibirsk State University, Novosibirsk, Russia, e-mail:



Total: 2185
Previous month: 7
Current month: 2


Total: 805
Previous month: 7
Current month: 1