Rodents Prefer Going Downhill All the Way (Gravitaxis) Instead of Taking an Uphill Task

Yehonatan Ben-Shaul, Zohar Hagbi, Alex Dorfman, Pazit Zadicario, David Eilam*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We directly tested whether, when given the choice to ascend or descend, rodents would favor traveling downwards or upwards. The test incorporated different rodent species that dwell in different habitats and display different life and motor styles. Testing was performed in a three-dimensional Y-maze in which the basis was horizontal and, by rotating it, one arm of the maze could be pointing upwards at a certain angle and the other arm pointed downwards at the same angle. All the tested species displayed a general preference for descent, with rodents from complex habitats being less affected by inclination compared with rodents from flatlands. Unlike laboratory rats, wild species traveled greater distances along the lower compared to the upper maze arm. All the rodents initially tended to travel the entire length of the inclined maze arms, but such complete trips decreased with the increase in inclination. When introduced into the maze from top or bottom, flatland dwellers traveled mainly in the entry arm. Overall, when given the choice to ascend or descend, all the tested species displayed a preference to descend, perhaps as attraction to the ground, where they usually have their burrows.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1090
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2022


  • exploration
  • jirds
  • rats
  • sand rats
  • spiny mice


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