Overview and Meaning

Mice are a altricial species. During the first few weeks of life they rely on their mother's milk as a source of food and as a way to learn about the food eaten by their mother. The amount of milk received can affect a pup's adult weight and aggressiveness. Therefore, weaning weight of male pups can have long term effects on their ability to become dominant adults (Latham & Mason, 2004).

If several females are housed together they build and keep their pups in a communal nest in which they may also share the nursing. Studies in the laboratory and under semi-natural conditions have shown the the pups benefit from such communal nursing in terms of increased growth and survival (Weber & Olsson, 2008).

A dam will spend the bulk of her time in the nest on top of her pups to keep them warm and to allow them to nurse at her teats.


The dam adopts a nursing posture (see variants); while the pups perform sucking movements of the jaw, while positioned at the dam's teats.


Maternal Behavior




Active Nursing

  1. Nursing - High Kyphosis
  2. Nursing - Low Kyphosis
  3. Nursing - Partial Kyphosis
  4. Nursing - Dog - Partial Kyphosis
  5. Nursing - Bear Nursing
  6. Nursing - Sit - Split Nursing

Passive Nursing

  1. Nursing - Dog Nursing
  2. Nursing - Prone Nursing
  3. Nursing - Pig Nursing