Header

UZH-Logo

Maintenance Infos

Feeding enrichment in an opportunistic carnivore: the red fox


Kistler, C; Hegglin, D; Würbel, H; König, B (2009). Feeding enrichment in an opportunistic carnivore: the red fox. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 116(2-4):260-265.

Abstract

In captive carnivores, species-specific behaviour is often restricted by inadequate feeding regimens. Feeding live prey is not feasible in most places and food delivery is often highly predictable in space and time which is considerably different from the situation in the wild. As a result, captive carnivores are often inactive, show little behavioural diversity and are prone to behavioural problems such as stereotypic pacing. Using artificial feeding devices to substitute for natural food resources is a way to address these problems. In a group of four red fox (Vulpes vulpes), we compared a conventional feeding method to four different methods through the use of feeding enrichment that were based on natural foraging strategies of opportunistic carnivores. Feeding enrichments consisted of electronic feeders delivering food unpredictable in time which were successively combined with one of three additional treatments: a self-service food box (allowing control over access
to food), manually scattering food (unpredictable in space), and an electronic dispenser delivering food unpredictably both in space and time. The aim of administering feeding enrichment in this study was to stimulate appetitive (food searching) behaviour and to increase time spent feeding. Compared to conventional feeding, diversity of behaviour and overall activity were significantly enhanced in the presence of electronic feeders in all four foxes (EF > CON1=CON2, EF+SF > CON1=CON2, EF+MS > CON1 CON2, EF+ED > CON1=CON2). Behavioural diversity was highest when the foxes had control over access to food (EF+SF), while the manual scattering of food (EF+MS) and the electronic dispenser (EF+ED) enhanced food searching behaviour. These results indicate that in opportunistic carnivores natural foraging and feeding behaviour can be stimulated by simple feeding enrichment strategies, and that foraging behaviour is stimulated most when food delivery is unpredictable both in space a
nd time.

Abstract

In captive carnivores, species-specific behaviour is often restricted by inadequate feeding regimens. Feeding live prey is not feasible in most places and food delivery is often highly predictable in space and time which is considerably different from the situation in the wild. As a result, captive carnivores are often inactive, show little behavioural diversity and are prone to behavioural problems such as stereotypic pacing. Using artificial feeding devices to substitute for natural food resources is a way to address these problems. In a group of four red fox (Vulpes vulpes), we compared a conventional feeding method to four different methods through the use of feeding enrichment that were based on natural foraging strategies of opportunistic carnivores. Feeding enrichments consisted of electronic feeders delivering food unpredictable in time which were successively combined with one of three additional treatments: a self-service food box (allowing control over access
to food), manually scattering food (unpredictable in space), and an electronic dispenser delivering food unpredictably both in space and time. The aim of administering feeding enrichment in this study was to stimulate appetitive (food searching) behaviour and to increase time spent feeding. Compared to conventional feeding, diversity of behaviour and overall activity were significantly enhanced in the presence of electronic feeders in all four foxes (EF > CON1=CON2, EF+SF > CON1=CON2, EF+MS > CON1 CON2, EF+ED > CON1=CON2). Behavioural diversity was highest when the foxes had control over access to food (EF+SF), while the manual scattering of food (EF+MS) and the electronic dispenser (EF+ED) enhanced food searching behaviour. These results indicate that in opportunistic carnivores natural foraging and feeding behaviour can be stimulated by simple feeding enrichment strategies, and that foraging behaviour is stimulated most when food delivery is unpredictable both in space a
nd time.

Statistics

Citations

16 citations in Web of Science®
20 citations in Scopus®
Google Scholar™

Altmetrics

Downloads

4 downloads since deposited on 13 Mar 2009
0 downloads since 12 months
Detailed statistics

Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Uncontrolled Keywords:environmental enrichment, feeding enrichment, foraging, red fox, Vulpes vulpes, animal welfare, behavioural diversity, zoo
Language:English
Date:31 January 2009
Deposited On:13 Mar 2009 09:23
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 13:06
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0168-1591
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.applanim.2008.09.004

Download