Young mammals spend a considerable amount of time engaged in activities which are called "play". The ethological literature contains much controversy concerning the definition and adaptive significance of play. Fagen (1974) characterizes playas active, oriented behavior with a highly variable structure, which apparently lacks immediate purpose, and which is often accompanied by specific signal patterns. He also notes that in playful behavior the adult sequences of behavior break down. Behavioral components such as threats, grooming and sexual posturing are performed in novel and rapidly changing sequences that would be nonadaptive in the serious contexts of adult life. Play in young mammals has been described by several authors (e.g. Ewer, 1966; Poole, 1966; Schenkel, 1966; Muller-Schwarze, 1968; Fedigan, 1972; Steiner, 1971). However, literature on play in wild rodents is sparse. The objectives of this study of juvenile thirteen-lined ground squirrels (Spermophilus tridecernlineatus) were to describe common play patterns and to determine if they showed sequential ordering.
Melville, M. 1976. Analysis of four common play patterns in juvenile thirteen-lined ground squirrels (Spermophilus tridecemlineatus). Field Station Bulletin 9(2): 8-15.