The Mongolian gerbil (Meriones unguiculatus) has been an important model system in auditory physiology, but its natural sounds are not well known. Vocalizations produced by colonies of adult gerbils were recorded during various social interactions in a standard laboratory animal-rearing facility. Sound recordings were made continuously for 24 h. This species exhibited a rich repertoire of vocalizations that varied in spectrotemporal structure. Calls were classified into 13 distinct syllable types. These syllables were further categorized into eight simple syllables and five composite syllables, which could be described by combinations of two to three simple syllables. The durations of individual syllables ranged from 30 to 330 ms with fundamental frequencies of 5 to 50 kHz. Those with lower fundamental frequencies typically contained more harmonic components (up to nine). Analysis of syllable sequences indicated that syllables may be combined into three types of simple phrases. These results provide a basis for future studies not only of the behavioral significance of vocalization, but also of the neural basis of vocal communication in the Mongolian gerbil.

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