Inter- and intra-individual variability in black rat’s climbing behavior

Published: 05-01-2021| Version 1 | DOI: 10.17632/stbscwxtsr.1


This dataset was generated during behavioral testing of the black rat Rattus rattus. Our first aim was to test whether black rats can differentiate between open field arenas solely based on the height the arena is in. Our second aim was to assess the repeatability of climbing behavior. The experiment consisted of 12 testing days divided into four three-day blocks separated by a three-day break. During each block, a subject was tested once in each cubic arenas. The arenas differed only in their position and are referred to as the bottom (B), middle (M), and top (T) cube. We noted 12 behaviors and analysed them using linear mixed-effects models (LME). The effect of day proved significant in most variables, with an overall trend of decreasing locomotion and rearing and increasing immobility on later days. The effect of cube proved significant in only two behaviors and we concluded there was no overall effect of the cube. Further, we computed repeatability (adjusted for a day) of each behavior. The estimated values ranged from 0.218 to 0.519, with repeatabilities of vertical behavior (i.e. jumping and climbing related behavior) being generally higher. We concluded that vertical and climbing behavior was stable over time similarly to other types of explorative behavior. Further, vertical and climbing behavior was the main source of variability between black rat individuals which corresponds to their semi-arboreal ecology.