Study of copulatory behaviour in old male rabbits


  • Pedro Jiménez Universidad Autónoma de Tlaxcala
  • Evelia Cuamatzi Universidad Autónoma de Tlaxcala
  • Gabriela González-Mariscal Universidad Autónoma de Tlaxcala



sexual satiety, copulation, ageing, scent-marking, ejaculation, rabbits


Male rabbit sexual behaviour consists of a single mount followed immediately by ejaculation. In young bucks this pattern changes gradually as they reach sexual satiety in a day and sexual exhaustion after several daily tests. Little is known about the characteristics of sexual behaviour in old rabbits (aged 48-54 mo) within a day and across daily tests leading to sexual exhaustion. By using sexually receptive(young) females, changed within a session to maximise copulation, we found that: a) the inter-ejaculatory interval increased between the first and last days of testing; b) test duration was 3.1 h on day 1 and 0.5 h on day 15; c) the “miss rate” (i.e., mounts not accompanied by ejaculation) significantly increased from the first to the last day of testing, regardless of when this occurred in each individual buck; d) the total number of ejaculations displayed in a session significantly decreased between the first and the last day of testing in all males; e) scent-marking (“chinning”) frequency significantly decreased after copulation to satiety, relative to that quantified at baseline, and was restored the following day. Compared with young bucks our results indicate quantitative, rather than qualitative, differences in sexual behaviour associated with age in rabbits. Specifically, on day 1 old bucks spent a shorter time engaged in copulation and displayed a lower number of ejaculations before reaching satiety than young males. In contrast, the interval between ejaculatory events and the “miss rate” increased across test days in both old and young rabbits. These results merit investigating the neuroendocrine mechanisms underlying the display of such an active sexual behaviour by old rabbit bucks.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biographies

Pedro Jiménez, Universidad Autónoma de Tlaxcala

Centro de Investigación en Reproducción Animal CINVESTAV

Evelia Cuamatzi, Universidad Autónoma de Tlaxcala

Centro de Investigación en Reproducción Animal CINVESTAV

Gabriela González-Mariscal, Universidad Autónoma de Tlaxcala

Centro de Investigación en Reproducción Animal CINVESTAV


Agmo A., Contreras J.L. Paredes R. 1991. Sexual behavior and copulatory thrusting patterns in male rabbits treated with GABA transaminase inhibitors. Physiol. Behav., 49: 73-78.

Agmo A., Paredes R., Contreras J.L. 1994. Opioids and sexual behavior in the male rabbit. The role of central and peripheral opioid receptors. J. Neural Transm., 97: 211-223.

Agmo A., Paredes R., Ramos J.I., Contreras J.L. 1996. Dopamine and sexual behavior in the male rabbit. Pharmacol. Biochem. Behav., 55: 289-295.

Beyer C., Velazquez J., Larsson K., Contreras J.L. 1980. Androgen regulation of the motor copulatory pattern in the male New Zealand white rabbit. Horm. Behav., 14: 179-190.

Bhanmeechao C., Srisuwatanasagul S., Prapaiwan N., Ponglowhapan S. 2018. Reproductive aging in male dogs: the epididymal sperm defects and expression of androgen receptor in reproductive tissues. Theriogenology, 108: 74-80.

Bishop M.W. 1970. Ageing and reproduction in the male. J. Reprod. Fertil. Suppl., 12: 65-87. Brito M.M., Angriman D.S.R., Lucio C.F., Vannucchi C.I. 2018. A case trial study of the effect of ageing on fresh and post-thaw sperm in dogs. Andrologia, 50: e13123.

Castellini C., Lattarioli P., Cardinali R., Dal Bosco A. 2006. Effect of collection rhythm on spermatozoa and droplet concentration of rabbit semen. World Rabbit Sci. 14: 101-106.

Craigen W., Bronson F.H. 1982. Deterioration of the capacity for sexual arousal in aged male mice. Biol. Reprod. 26: 869-874.

Chambers K.C., Phoenix C.H. 1982. Sexual-Behavior in Old Male Rhesus-Monkeys - Influence of Familiarity and Age of Female Partners. Arch. Sexual Behav., 11: 299-308.

Chambers K.C., Phoenix C.H. 1984. Testosterone and the decline of sexual behavior in aging male rats. Behav. Neural Biol., 40: 87-97.

Fernández-Guasti A., Rodríguez-Manzo G. 1997. 8-OH-DPAT and male rat sexual behavior: partial blockade by noradrenergic lesion and sexual exhaustion. Pharmacol. Biochem. Behav., 56: 111-116.

Fernández-Guasti A., Rodríguez-Manzo G. 2003. Pharmacological and physiological aspects of sexual exhaustion in male rats. Scand. J. Psychol., 44: 257-263.

Frankel A.I. 1984. Plasma testosterone levels are higher in old mating rats than in old non-mating rats. Exp. Gerontol., 19: 345-348.

Fuentes V.O., Villagran C., Navarro J., Fuentes P.I. 2005. Effect of small doses of naloxone on sexual exhaustion in White New Zealand male rabbits. Anim. Reprod. Sci., 90: 341-346.

González-Mariscal G., Albonetti M.E., Cuamatzi E., Beyer C. 1997. Transitory inhibition of scent marking by copulation in male and female rabbits. Anim. Behav., 53: 323-333.

González-Mariscal, G., Melo, A.I., Zavala, A., Chirino, R., Beyer, C. 1993. Sex steroid regulation of chin-marking behavior in male New Zealand rabbits. Physiol. Behav., 54: 1035-1040.

González-Mariscal G., Sisto Burt A., Nowak, R. 2017. Behavioral and neuroendocrine indicators of well-being in farm and laboratory mammals. In: Pfaff, D., Joëlls, M. (eds.). Hormones, Brain and Behavior, 3d ed. Elsevier, San Diego. 453-485.

Huber M.H., Bronson F.H., Desjardins, C. 1980. Sexual activity of aged male mice: correlation with level of arousal, physical endurance, pathological status, and ejaculatory capacity. Biol. Reprod., 23: 305-316.

Hull E.M., Rodríguez-Manzo G. 2019. Male sexual behavior. In: D. Pfaff, M. Joëlls (eds.). Hormones, Brain, and Behavior, 3d Ed. 1-58.

Jiménez P., Serrano-Meneses M., Cuamatzi E., González-Mariscal G. 2012. Analysis of sexual behavior in male rabbits across successive tests leading to sexual exhaustion. World Rabbit Sci., 20: 13-23.

Larsson K. 1957. Conditioning and sexual behavior in the male albino rat. Stockholm, Almquist and Wiksell. Larsson K. 1958. Sexual activity in senile male rats. J. Gerontol. 13: 136-139.

Larsson K. 1979. Features of the neuroendocrine regulation of masculine sexual behavior. In: Beyer C. (ed.). Endocrine control of sexual behavior. New York, Raven Press. 77-163.

Leatham J.H. 1977. Aging and the testis. In: Johnson A.D., Gomes W. R and Van Demarsh N. L (eds.). Testis, Vol. 4. New York, Academic Press. 744-752.

Lucio R.A., Tlachi-López J.L., Eguíbar J.R. Agmo A. 2013. Sperm count and sperm motility decrease in old rats. Physiol. Behav., 110: 73-79.

Mednikova Yu S., Kopytova F.V. 1994. Some physiological characteristics of motor cortex neurons of aged rabbits. Neuroscience, 63: 611-615.

Meites J., Steger R.W., Huang H.H. 1980. Relation of neuroendocrine system to the reproductive decline in aging rats and human subjects. Fed. Proc., 39: 3168-3172.

Melin P., Kihlstrom J.E. 1963. Influence of oxytocin on sexual behavior in male rabbits. Endocrinology, 73: 433-435.

Miller R.L., Baum M.J. 1987. Naloxone inhibits mating and conditioned place preference for an estrous female in male rats soon after castration. Pharmacol. Biochem. Behav., 26: 781-789.

Minniek R.S., Warden C.J., Arieti, S. 1949. The effect of sex hormones on the copulatory behavior of senile white rats. Science, 103: 749.

Nizza A., Di Meo C., Taranto S., Stanco G. 2002. Effect of collection frequency on rabbit semen production. World Rabbit Sci., 10: 49-52.

Pfaus J.G., Gorzalka B.B. 1987. Opioids and sexual behavior. Neurosci. Biobehav. Rev., 11: 1-34.

Phoenix C.H., Chambers K.C. 1986. Aging and primate male sexual behavior. Proc. Soc. Exp. Biol. Med., 183: 151-162.

Phoenix C.H., Chambers K.C. 1990. Sexual performance of old and young male rhesus macaques following treatment with GnRH. Physiol. Behav., 47: 513-517.

Ratcliffe H.L. 1949. Spontaneous diseases of the laboratory rat. In: Griffith J.Q. and Farris E. J. (ed.). The Rat in Laboratory Investigation. Philadelphia, Lippincott.

Rodriguez-Manzo G. 1999 Blockade of the establishment of the sexual inhibition resulting from sexual exhaustion by the Coolidge effect. Behav. Brain Res., 100: 245-254.

Rubin H.B., Azrin N.H. 1967. Temporal patterns of sexual behavior in rabbits as determined by an automatic recording technique. J. Exp. Anal. Behav. 10: 219-231.

Slonaker J.R. 1935. Sex-drive in rats. Am. J. Physiol., 122: 176-181.

Smith E.R., Stefanick M.L., Clark J.T., Davidson J.M. 1992. Hormones and sexual behavior in relationship to aging in male rats. Horm. Behav., 26: 110-135.

Spruijt B.M., Meyerson B.J., Hoglund U. 1989. Aging and sociosexual behavior in the male rat. Behav. Brain Res., 32: 51-61.

Syntin, P., Robaire, B. 2001. Sperm structural and motility changes druing aging in the brown Norway rat. J. Androl., 22: 235-244.

Villagran C., Navarro J., Fuentes V.O. 2003. Sexual exhaustion in White New Zealand male rabbits of different ages. Anim. Reprod. Sci., 76: 251-255.

Wei X.C., Li C.J., Zhang Q.Y., Chen W.Y. 2009. [Age-related biomechanical properties of chondrocytes in rabbit knee articular cartilage]. Zhonghua Yi Xue Za Zhi 89: 2360-2363.

Wilson J.R., Kuehn R.E., Beach F.A. 1963. Modification in the sexual behavior of male rats produced by changing the stimulus female. J. Comp. Physiol. Psychol., 56: 636-644.

Wu D., Lin G., Gore A.C. 2009. Age-related changes in hypothalamic androgen receptor and estrogen receptor alpha in male rats. J. Comp. Neurol., 512: 688-701.

Zang Z.J., Ji S.Y., Dong W., Zhang Y.N., Zhang E.H., Bin, Z. 2015. A herbal medicine, saikokaryukotsuboreito, improves serum testosterone levels and affects sexual behavior in old male mice. Aging Male, 18: 106-111.

Zang Z.J., Tang H.F., Tuo Y., Xing W.J., Ji S.Y., Gao Y., Deng C.H. 2016. Effects of velvet antler polypeptide on sexual behavior and testosterone synthesis in aging male mice. Asian J. Androl., 18: 613-619.