The ontogeny of seismic communication during dispersal in the blind mole rat

R. Rado*, Z. Wollberg, J. Terkel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


The shift in the mode of communication from the vocal to the vibratory channel in the blind mole rat, Spalax ehrenbergi, a solitary subterranean rodent, was examined in relation to the animal's development and its dispersal as it reached independence. Young mole rats dispersed from the mother's territory by digging their own tunnels as extensions of the maternal tunnel. From birth until the age of 7 weeks the pups were social, sharing the maternal tunnel system with mother and siblings. Their preferred channel of communication with unfamilar adults of the opposite sex during this period was vocal. During a transitional period (age 7-11 weeks), they began to dig their own tunnel system, gradually tending towards a solitary lifestyle. At this stage the offsprings' tunnel systems were still connected to the maternal tunnel and while vibratory communication was initiated, the main channel of communication with adults remained the vocal one. After sealing off the connection to the maternal tunnel (age over 12 weeks), the young became fully independent and solitary. The vocal channel became ineffective for use between separate tunnel systems and communication shifted to mainly seismic. This trend continued into adulthood, when communication was exclusively seismic.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-21
Number of pages7
JournalAnimal Behaviour
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1991


FundersFunder number
German-Israeli Foundation for Scientific Research and Development1-81-075.1/88
United States-Israel Binational Science Foundation333/~7


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