In order to ensure better survival, the ferret gives birth to its offspring at the same time: within the colony, the birth of pregnant females usually takes place at the same time in one night. This makes it impossible for the animals to recognize their young animal.
The result: all mothers take care of all the boys, as researchers from the British universities of Exeter and Roehampton do in the journal. “Nature Connections” to report. With this “veil of ignorance” a just society arises, experts write. Ferrets are a group of mammals, the most famous of which are meerkats and mongooses.
In their study, researchers fed half of pregnant females in wild groups in Uganda additional food. As a result, their young animals weighed much more at birth. But their mothers then took special care of the less nutritious offspring of the other females, so that soon the weight would be adjusted.
“Most of the time, fathers prefer their children,” said Harry Marshall of the University of Roehampton. However, in the case of ferrets, mothers do not know which young animals they belong to. Therefore, they cannot take special care of them. “Our study shows that this ignorance leads to a fairer distribution of resources – and ultimately a fairer society,” Marshall said.