Mouse Ethogram mousebehavior.org



Exploration


Overview and Meaning

Exploration is performed to provide the animal with information from its surroundings, or to locate particular items (e.g. food) or individuals (e.g. mates or competitors) in the environment.

Behaviors

Exploration is a top-level classification, reflecting a Behavior chain of individual goal-directed behaviors, which typically occur in the following sequence:

  1. Search
  2. Attend
  3. Approach
  4. Investigate

Classification

General Activity

Contexts

Exploration occurs in three main contexts, Social, Food, and Environmental. However, the context is not normally apparent until the Investigate stage of the behavior chain. Furthermore, unless food is dispersed on the cage floor (as might be provided for enrichment), this context is rarely observed in a mouse cage.

Variants

Variants in the chain typically involve skipping elements in the chain - for instance, an animal exploring a potentially dangerous area will not start searching the area, but will first start with Investigate - stretched attend postures (a misnamed variant of Investigate behaviors) from a safe location into the dangerous location.

Exploration is typically a very fluid behavior, especially in the confines of a mouse cage, and animals will switch back and forth between behaviors in the chain very quickly, in a variety of permutations.

 

 

Stanford Medicine Resources: