From scientific findings, there is proof that rat dams react differently when their babies are around. They used the scientist to conduct fear conditioning on the rat dams and pups. Rat dams are what they call the female rats that have babies or that are about to. All of the fear conditioning was conducted in a dark room with night vision cameras. Then they did an odor test with a peppermint smell which was in a light room. When rats meet any kind of fear, threat, or smell with their babies they stop and freeze.
When rats meet any kind of fear, threat, or smell when they are alone there is no sign of freezing. When the rat’s babies are too small to leave their nest and a threat appears the rat dams attack aggressively instead of freezing to protect their pups. Pups are rats that are babies. When the rat dams increase how much they are around the pups it keeps the pups safe because they won’t try to go out on their hunting for mothers.
There is a study that uses oxytocin to stop reactions like freezing. Oxytocin is a hormone released by the pituitary gland that causes more contractions in the uterus during labor.
The study shows that this has to happen for the mothers to defend their pups if they are both in danger. The mothers produce oxytocin when in danger which stops them from freezing but allows them to be aggressive to the threat.
The study also provides that when the rat dams have many interactions with their pups it allows the pups to learn how to act and defend themselves during any kind of fear or threat. Their findings were shown that mothers defend their offspring and that teach their pups how to do the same for themselves. I did not know how the rat dams react to different types of threats towards their babies like freezing if the pups are older and attacking if the pups don’t have any mobility. I was surprised to learn that rat dams have a fear of a peppermint smell and how they react to that certain smell. It is amazing to know if the rat dams do not have any interactions with their pups then their pups do not learn how to defend themselves as they grow but if the rat dams show a lot of attention to their pups they learn the behavior to defend themselves and how to freeze or attack when needed to.