Placentophagia in naïve adults, new fathers, and new mothers in the biparental dwarf hamster, Phodopus campbelli.
Placentophagia in mammals typically occurs only in females during the birth. Male hamsters, Phodopus campbelli, with an extensive paternal behavior repertoire eat placenta during the birth and as alloparental juveniles. Two fresh placentae were presented to sexually naïve males and females covering the developmental range from puberty through reproductive maturity and into senescence. Expectant parents and new mothers were also tested. Placentophagia occurred in both sexes at all developmental stages and was higher in reproductive than in naïve hamsters. Placentophagia declined with increasing age in females, but not males. Liver was readily accepted, but acceptance did not decline with age in females, and was not low in juvenile males, confirming that animals distinguished between the two tissues. Senescent females consumed both tissues willingly. In these paternal males, which do not experience pregnancy or parturition, and in naïve females that selectively refuse placenta, the stimuli influencing placentophagia remain unknown.