Reproductive behaviour of free-ringing rural dogs in West Bengal, India
Reproductive behaviour of free-ranging dogs Canis familiaris Linnaeus, 1758 was studied in a village in the state of West Bengal, India. Increased synchronized breeding was the most striking feature of this study. October (late monsoon) represented the peak period of mating for the feral dogs. Of all courting males, only 41% were observed to mount and copulate. On average, each male mounted 5.47 ± 2.49 (mean ± SD) times per hour. Of all mountings, only 10% were successful matings, ie copulatory ties. There was a negative correlation between the number of courting males and the number of successful copulations. The average duration of copulatory tie was 15.73 ± 7.75 min. Several factors interrupting the duration of copulatory ties were identified. December was the peak period of pup rearing. Mean litter size was 5.70 ± 2.03 with a male-biased sex ratio 1.41:1. Only a single annual breeding cycle recorded here differed from the previous studies on European and American dogs. Mothers spent most of the time with their pups at the dens during the early stage of rearing. The duration of time spent at dens by mothers was minimum when the pups were highly mobile at the age of 10 weeks. The lactating mothers were observed to be more aggressive immediately following litter production. Typically, an old adult male remained near the den as a 'guard'.
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