Rabbit pups raised by mothers fed different diets during pregnancy and lactation show
a clear preference for the diet of their mother at weaning. By supplementing does'
lab chow diet with aromatic juniper berries, the present study aimed to investigate
the relative importance of 1) fecal pellets deposited by the mother in the nest, 2)
prenatal experience in utero, and 3) contact with the mother during nursing in determining
pups' later food preference. The three means of transmission were found to be equally
effective. Thus, pups from normally fed does raised with fecal pellets from juniper-fed
mothers, pups from juniper-fed mothers cross-fostered to normally fed does immediately
after birth, and pups of normally fed mothers nursed by juniper-fed does all showed
as strong a preference for juniper as pups raised by juniper-fed mothers exclusively.
Such apparent redundancy may not only help insure that less aromatic substances or
substances transmitted differentially by these routes are learned, but also that pups
can acquire a preference for a variety of foods eaten by their mother at different