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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Female and male Wistar rats (Rattus norvegicus) discriminate diets according to energetic quantity


The food choice of animals is influenced by several factors including the quantity and nutrients available. It is not known, however, whether faced with alternatives that present the same amount of food, with similar flavor and obtained with the same response cost, rats would discriminate between diets with different energetic quantities. The aim was to verify whether female and male Wistar rats ( Rattus norvegicus ) discriminate between three types of food that differ in their energetic content (whether or not they prefer one) and whether the flavor could affect the choice between two diets with equal energetic quantities. Twelve Wistar rats (six of each sex) underwent tests of choice between pairs of diets of different energetic values. After the tests, the animals had at their disposal, in the home cage, two diets with the same energetic content, which differed in flavor (one contained sucrose) - Flavor test. The consumption of each diet was measured for five consecutive days. All the subjects demonstrated a preference for the more energetic alternative, regardless of the combination of diets presented. In the Flavor test the animals did not show significant preference for any diet, i.e., the consumption of both the S and N diets were statistically equal for all subjects. It was concluded that the animals, regardless of sex, discriminated between the diets with different energetic values and that the flavor did not seem to be a determinant variable in the food choice.


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