Parasite-altered behaviour: is the effect of Toxoplasma gondii on Rattus norvegicus specific?
Berdoy M., Webster JP., Macdonald DW.
The effect of Toxoplasma gondii on rat behaviour was assessed in a colony of 36 free-ranging wild/laboratory hybrid rats allowed to compete freely for food and mates in a (100 m2) outdoor naturalistic enclosure. T. gondii infection had no effect on social status or mating success, both the product of costly and competitive activities. However, the propensity to explore novel stimuli in their environment was higher in infected than uninfected individuals. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that T. gondii only affects the behavioural traits which selectively benefit the parasite, rather than causing a general alteration of rat behaviour.