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Producing timed-pregnant Mongolian gerbils for developmental studies


The developing fetus is differentially susceptible to chemicals and pathogens depending on the stage of its development. In developmental studies, embryos or fetuses therefore must be exposed to experimental interventions at the same gestational stage. Acquiring sufficient numbers of embryos of the same developmental stage requires the use of timed-pregnant animals. Timed-pregnant Mongolian gerbils currently are not available for purchase. The authors developed a novel method for timed mating of virgin female gerbils. Female gerbils were housed in the same cage as males, but physically separated by a partition, for 3 d in order to expose the females to the males' pheromones before they were allowed to interact. Females were monitored for lordosis to determine sexual receptivity. Lordosis was observed in 10 of 15 females (67%), and 9 of these females (90%) became pregnant. When lordosis was not observed, none of the females became pregnant. These results demonstrate that the timed mating method produces a high rate of mating success and indicate that lordosis is a reliable predictor of sexual receptivity and subsequent successful mating in the Mongolian gerbil.

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We thank the staff of Charles River Laboratories for the initial breeding efforts and their suggestions for breeding success. We thank the staff of the Life Sciences Animal Facility at the University of Georgia for assisting in the care of the animals. Funding for the L. monocytogenes dose-response project in which the animals of this study were used was provided by the US Food and Drug Administration (10223SOL00303).

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Correspondence to Mary Alice Smith.

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Roulo, R., Fishburn, J., Alworth, L. et al. Producing timed-pregnant Mongolian gerbils for developmental studies. Lab Anim 42, 380–383 (2013).

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