Silent or Vocalizing Rats Copulate in a Similar Manner
Both male and female rats produce 50 kHz ultrasonic vocalizations (USVs) in the presence of a sexual partner and during copulation. Previous studies showed that USVs have no incentive value for rats. In this study, we evaluated the role of USVs in behavior during copulation. Three groups of rats were used: sham males paired with sham females, devocalized females paired with sham males, and sham females paired with devocalized males. During the copulation test, the USVs emitted by the sham rat were recorded and the sexual behavior of both the male and the female were observed. The results revealed that devocalized and sham females showed similar patterns of sexual behavior and no difference was found in the copulatory behavior of devocalized and sham males. Also the behavior of the partner of a sham rat was comparable to the partner of a devocalized rat. In addition, almost no changes in USVs emission were found in the 5 seconds before and/or after a copulatory behavior. It can be concluded that USVs play no important role in rat copulatory behavior at least in sexually naïve rats.
Published version. Source at http://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0144164.