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Open Access Types and Functions of Ultrasonic Vocalizations in Laboratory Rats and Mice

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Many laboratory rodents emit ultrasonic vocalizations. The purpose of this review is to highlight the types and functions of ultrasonic vocalizations emitted by laboratory rats and mice. Rats emit 3 types of ultrasonic vocalizations, depending on the animal's age, its environmental conditions, and its affective state. Rat pups emit a 40-kHz vocalization when they are separated from their mothers. Adult rats emit a 22-kHz vocalization in anticipation of inescapable aversive stimuli. These two types of vocalizations reflect a negative affective state of the animal. Rats produce a 50-kHz vocalization under nonaversive conditions, and these vocalizations reflect a positive affective state of the animal. Adult mice produce several different types of ultrasonic calls that can be classified as different syllables. Mice produce ultrasonic vocalizations during nonaggressive interactions, particularly during mating behaviors, but these vocalizations are not indicators of negative or positive affect. Therefore, the function of ultrasonic vocalizations in adult mice is likely only to facilitate or inhibit social interactions. Understanding the types and functions of ultrasonic vocalizations emitted by laboratory rodents may enable researchers and animal care personnel to use vocalizations as an indicator of an animal's behavior and affect.

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Document Type: Miscellaneous

Publication date: January 1, 2007

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  • The Journal of the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (JAALAS) serves as an official communication vehicle for the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS). The journal includes a section of refereed articles and a section of AALAS association news. The mission of the refereed section of the journal is to disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed information on animal biology, technology, facility operations, management, and compliance as relevant to the AALAS membership. JAALAS accepts research reports (data-based) or scholarly reports (literature-based), with the caveat that all articles, including solicited manuscripts, must include appropriate references and must undergo peer review.

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