Open Access Establishment of a Deer Mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus rufinus) Breeding Colony from Wild-caught Founders: Comparison of Reproductive Performance of Wild-Caught and Laboratory-Reared Pairs

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The deer mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus) is a natural reservoir for several human pathogens, but little is known about the mechanisms by which such pathogens are maintained in nature. As a first step toward developing a colony of deer mice that were permissive for infection with Sin Nombre (SN) hantavirus, we collected 68 wild P. maniculatus rufinus from central New Mexico. Mice from this cohort were used to establish 26 breeding pairs, of which 85% were fertile. In subsequent generations, fertility decreased slightly to 73% (N = 59) in laboratory-reared F1 and F2 pairs. Wild-caught females delivered 7.2 litters on average (range, 1 to18), whereas laboratory-reared pairs delivered 5.5 (range, 1 to 13). The average time between pairing and first litter was 106 days for wild-caught animals, whereas that for laboratory-reared pairs was 71 days. None of the pairs displayed a seasonal breeding preference. Cannibalistic behavior increased from 5% in founders to 26% in laboratory-reared pairs. Mean litter size for wild-caught females was 4.3, whereas that for laboratory-reared dams was 4. Founding animals have been maintained in captivity for longer than 2 years, with only 2 deaths (4.8%). Our colony is competent for infection with SN virus. Thus, it should be useful for testing of models for maintenance of SN virus in wild rodents, and other aspects of the virus-host relationship.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Biology, and University of New Mexico, 915 Camino de Salud North East, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87131

Publication date: August 1, 2001

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  • Comparative Medicine (CM), an international journal of comparative and experimental medicine, is the leading English-language publication in the field and is ranked by the Science Citation Index in the upper third of all scientific journals. The mission of CM is to disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed information that expands biomedical knowledge and promotes human and animal health through the study of laboratory animal disease, animal models of disease, and basic biologic mechanisms related to disease in people and animals.

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