Fluoxetine Does Not Prevent Interspecific Mating Between Two Hamster Species

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Publication Title

Physiology and Behavior

Publication Date



In a recent study we showed that female Syrian hamsters (Mesocricetus auratus) from a laboratory stock readily mated with male Turkish hamsters (M. brandti). We hypothesized that captivity and/or unconscious selection of the most receptive females by researchers or animal caretakers results in heightened female sexual receptivity and reduces the tendency to reject heterospecific males. To test this hypothesis, we decided to decrease female receptivity by injection of fluoxetine, which increases the levels of serotonin in a number of brain loci, including areas involved in mediating sexual behavior, and determine whether such a decrease in receptivity would result in better discrimination of heterospecific males and rejection of such males as mates. We treated estrous female Syrian hamsters with 20 mg/kg fluoxetine or vehicle and paired them with both a conspecific and a heterospecific male (Turkish hamster) in two sequential tests. All females showed similar behavior — they exhibited lordosis toward both conspecific and heterospecific males. We did not observe any sign of aggression. Latency to display lordosis and the duration of lordosis were not affected by fluoxetine. Fluoxetine thus did not have an effect on the behavior of females toward conspecific or heterospecific males. Independent of treatment (fluoxetine or vehicle injection), females did display lordosis significantly faster and for a longer duration in the presence of a conspecific male, even though these differences were small.

Funding Source

This work was supported by National Institute of Mental Health grant NIMH 5 R01 MHO58001-08 and National Science Foundation grant IBN-0318073 to R. E. Johnston.


This article was originally published as delBarco-Trillo, J. and Johnston, R.E. (2010) Fluoxetine does not prevent interspecific mating between two hamster species. Physiology & Behavior. 99: 684-686. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.physbeh.2010.02.003.