The Case of Communal Rearing of a Foal by Two Mares (Equus caballus)

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The adoption of nonfilial offspring is a rare phenomenon in animals, especially in equines. The case in the study is a spontaneous adoption of a foal by hucul mare in a herd held in natural conditions. The uniqueness of this case is derived from the fact that the foal was accorded maternal care by two mares, the mother and the wet nurse (allosuckler), throughout the rearing period. Suckling frequency for the privileged foal was less than for other foals in the early rearing period. This was, however, higher from the third month with the differences being statistically significant (P < .001). It was observed that the privileged foal was suckled more often by the wet nurse (allosuckler) between the third and fifth month. Parenting care involved the two mares remaining within close proximity of the foal, which resulted in its lack of integration and play behaviors with other members of the herd.

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