Article

Fur-chewing and other abnormal repetitive behaviors in chinchillas (Chinchilla lanigera), under commercial fur-farming conditions

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Abstract

Fur chewing is a behavioral disorder frequently reported in chinchillas kept for fur-farming purposes. Rodents kept in barren cages usually develop some form of abnormal repetitive behavior, which can indicate a past or present welfare problem. Fur chewing may not be the only form of abnormal repetitive behavior present but is the one reported because of its direct repercussion on fur production. The aim ofthis study was to describe the frequency of occurrence of fur chewing and the distribution of time dedicated to it in chinchillas diagnosed as presenting this behavior. A secondary aim was to determine the presentation of other abnormal repetitive behaviors. Ten chinchillas, 5 fur chewers and 5 controls, were video recorded for 24hours with an infrared camera. Behavioral analysis was done with The Observer XT from Noldus (The Netherlands). Focal sampling and continual recording were used, the 24-hour time budget was calculated, and abnormal repetitive behaviors were analyzed in terms of time dedication and frequency of presentation. A paired t test was used to compare differences in the amount of nocturnal versus daytime abnormal behavior. When normality was not met, a 2-sample t test and randomization test were used to compare data between treatments. No differences were observed between the time budgets of fur-chewing and control chinchillas, and all individuals exhibited more than one abnormal repetitive behavior. The amount of time devoted to abnormal repetitive behaviors was significantly higher during night in both groups and reached its lowest level between 13:00 and 17:00hours. Fur chewing is not the only abnormal repetitive behavior developed by chinchillas in fur-farming systems, although it is the only one reported by the producer. The presence of bar chewing, cage scratching, and backflipping should also be welfare concerns. The higher presentation of abnormal repetitive behaviors at night may be associated with the lack of recognition by the producer, especially because these abnormal behaviors do not result in direct product loss as does fur chewing.

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... Besides, the impact on both the owners and the animal quality of life can lead to euthanasia. 1 1 1 2 1 2 2 2 2 2 0 2 2 19 2 1 0 2 1 2 2 2 2 1 1 2 2 18 3 1 1 1 0 1 2 2 2 0 0 1 2 13 4 1 1 0 0 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 1 17 5 1 0 0 1 0 2 2 2 1 2 0 1 12 6 1 0 0 1 2 1 2 2 2 1 2 2 16 7 1 0 2 0 0 2 2 2 2 0 2 2 15 8 1 0 0 1 0 2 2 2 2 0 2 2 14 9 1 1 2 0 2 1 2 2 2 1 1 2 17 10 1 0 2 0 2 2 2 2 0 2 1 2 16 11 1 0 2 0 2 2 2 2 1 1 1 2 16 12 1 1 2 1 2 0 2 2 0 2 1 1 15 13 1 1 2 0 2 2 2 2 2 0 2 2 The organization and the regulation of grooming in cats is thought to be under the control of a central mechanism (20). In other species, it has been shown that this control could be deregulated by poor welfare (19) and leads to abnormal repetitive behaviors like fur chewing (19). In internal medicine, it is now well recognized that stress induced by environment has a strong influence in the aetiopathogenesis of idiopathic cystitis (33). ...
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To determine the factors that cause the development of stereotypic digging, features in the captive environment of young Mongolian gerbils, Meriones unguiculatus , were varied. It was hypothesized that stereotypic digging develops because stimuli that control digging motivation are lacking. A regulatory model of motivation was used to examine whether digging motivation is decreased by the performance of the motor pattern `digging' or by the consequences of digging. Young gerbils that could dig in a sand area developed stereotypic digging. In contrast, young gerbils that could not dig in sand but had access to an artifical burrow, which was presumed to be the consequence of digging, showed less non-stereotypic digging than gerbils from the sand treatment and did not develop stereotypic digging. Therefore, the mere perception of the stimulus `burrow' by a retreating animal decreased digging motivation. The complexity of the artifical burrow was reduced to a few elements to analyse in detail the stimuli that control digging motivation. A dark and narrow chamber at the end of a tube connected to the cage provided the stimuli that elicited retreating and prevented the development of stereotypic digging. The tube was a necessary feature: a chamber alone did not prevent the development of stereotypic digging. Such a stimulus situation seems to match the stimuli of a natural burrow which is built to buffer climatic fluctuations and to provide shelter from predators. The results show that stereotypic digging develops when a young gerbil cannot achieve a stimulus situation that is efficient in decreasing digging motivation.
Article
We estimate that stereotypies are currently displayed by over 85 million farm, laboratory and zoo animals worldwide. This paper investigates their reliability as welfare indicators, by surveying studies relating stereotypy to other welfare measures and by analysing the mechanisms underlying this behaviour. Where data exist, most (approximately 68%) situations that cause/increase stereotypies also decrease welfare. Stereotypy-eliciting situations are thus likely to be poor for welfare, although exceptions exist. Within such an environment, however, most (approximately 60%) accounts link individual stereotypy performance with improved welfare (cf approximately 20% linking it with reduced welfare). Thus, in a sub-optimal environment, non-stereotyping or low-stereotyping individuals could well have the poorest welfare, although again exceptions exist. Examining the mechanisms underlying stereotypy performance, we discuss four processes that could account for these complex links between stereotypy and welfare. Beneficial consequences from performing the specific source-behaviour of the stereotypy ('do-it-yourself enrichment'), or arising from repetition per se ('mantra effects'), may ameliorate welfare in poor environments. In addition, stereotypies that have become centrally controlled (habit-like), or that arise from autistic-like changes in the control of all behaviour (perseveration), are likely to be unreliable indicators of current state because they can be elicited by, or persist in, circumstances that improve welfare. To refine the role of stereotypy in welfare assessment, we suggest the collection of specific additional data to reveal when any of these four processes is acting. Until such research increases our understanding, stereotypies should always be taken seriously as a warning sign of potential suffering, but never used as the sole index of welfare; non-stereotyping or low-stereotyping individuals should not be overlooked or assumed to be faring well; simple measures of frequency should not be used to compare stereotypies that differ in age, form, or the biological or experiential characteristics of the performing animal; enrichments that do not immediately reduce stereotypies should not be assumed failures with respect to welfare; and finally, stereotypies should not be reduced by means other than tackling their underlying motivations.
Article
Chinchilla lanigera intensive breeding programmes are affected by an abnormal repetitive behaviour called 'fur-chewing', yet the aetiology is still unknown and little scientific work has been published on this condition. Recent studies have supported the idea that fur-chewing is a stress-related behaviour. In the present study, we used a questionnaire survey in order to: 1) describe general aspects on the epidemiology of fur-chewing in Argentinian farms, and 2) identify which management and/or environmental factors within the breeding facilities may be influencing the occurrence of fur-chewing. The survey consisted of 28 questions focused on farm characteristics, environmental variables and husbandry routines, and was distributed to Argentinian chinchilla farmers. All quantitative variables were tested in a multiple logistic regression model. The mean incidence of fur-chewing was 4.32 ± 0.37% (n = 107 farms). Variables negatively related to fur-chewing were the breeder experience in the activity, the total volume of the facility, and the number of wood shaving changes per week. Positive relationships were found for space index, number of rooms in the facility and presence of different rooms for fur production and reproduction. Other tendencies suggested that farms with the presence of external sound disturbance nearby had higher incidence levels. Also, we detected a tendency towards lower numbers of affected animals with an increment in the provision of dusting baths per week. Finally, results suggested a female prevalence in the development of the behaviour.
Article
Abstract— Three conditions affecting the skin and fur of Chinchilla lanigera, and the pockets of the breeders of these animals, namely fur-slip, fur fungus, and fur-chewing are considered. The aetiology, pathology, clinical picture, and treatment of all three are discussed in detail and the picture of recent research into the causation and treatment of fur-chewing presented.
Article
Traditionally farmed silver fox cubs are raised after weaning either in pairs or singly in a traditional fox cage (1.2 m 2). However, this way of housing foxes has been criticised because the foxes may have limited chance to exercise and to show social behaviour. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to evaluate the effects of different social and spatial conditions on the welfare of silver fox cubs. The cubs were housed singly, in pairs or in quartets with space allocation of either 0.6 or 1.2 m 2 per animal. Behavioural, physiological and production-related welfare parameters were assessed. The results revealed that space allocation had only minor effects on the measured welfare related param-eters. With regard to social conditions, the results showed that the possibility for social behaviour is important for the welfare of young cubs. However, the welfare of the cubs may be jeopardised if they are kept in quartets beyond their natural dispersal time. Therefore, the welfare of silver fox cubs could be enhanced by allowing the cubs to enjoy of social companionship during the first months of their lives and by separating them into pairs in later autumn.
Article
Due to its complexity, in combination with a lack of scientific reports, fur-chewing became one of the most challenging behavioral problems common to captive chinchillas. In the last years, the hypothesis that fur-chewing is an abnormal repetitive behavior and that stress plays a role in its development and performance has arisen. Here, we investigated whether a relationship existed between the expression and intensity of fur-chewing behavior, elevated urinary cortisol excretion and anxiety-related behaviors. Specifically, we evaluated the following parameters in behaviorally normal and fur-chewing animals of both sexes: (1) mean concentrations of urinary cortisol metabolites and (2) anxiety-like behavior in an elevated plus-maze test. Urinary cortisol metabolites were higher only in females that expressed the most severe form of the fur-chewing behavior (P≤0.05). Likewise, only fur-chewing females exhibited increased (P≤0.05) anxiety-like behaviors associated with the elevated plus-maze test. Overall, these data provided additional evidence to support the concept that fur-chewing is a manifestation of physiological stress in chinchilla, and that a female sex bias exists in the development of this abnormal behavior.
Article
Stereotypies are repetitive, invariant behaviour patterns with no obvious goal or function. They seem to be restricted to captive animals, mentally ill or handicapped humans, and subjects given stimulant drugs. In this respect they are abnormal, although possibly the product of normal behavioural processes. Stereotypies are often associated with past or present sub-optimal aspects of the environment, and have been used as a welfare indicator. It has been hypothesized that stereotypies have beneficial consequences which reinforce their performance, although other means, such as positive feedback, may equally explain their persistence. Empirical evidence links them with lowered awareness of external events, and reduced arousal and distress. However, as most of this evidence is correlational it remains uncertain that the stereotypies are themselves the cause of coping. Furthermore, they are heterogeneous in source of origin, proximate causation and physical characteristics, and they change over time in important respects, becoming more readily elicited by a wider range of circumstances. Therefore the properties of one stereotypy are not necessarily those of another.
Article
Artificial weaning in laboratory mice elicits increased levels of exploratory and escape behaviour. Under barren housing conditions patterns of exploration and escape subsequently develop into stereotypic behaviour. Weaning weight in wild house mice,Mus musculus domesticus, is known to affect offspring fitness, thus reduced weaning weight represents a risk to fitness. In male ICR-mice,Mus musculus, precocious weaning 3 days prior to standard weaning age tended to decrease growth rate in the long term, and differences in weaning weight of mice weaned at the standard age persisted into adulthood. Both plasma corticosterone levels 48 h after weaning and adult stereotypy levels were higher in precociously weaned mice, but also in animals weaned at the usual age but at a low weight. These results suggest that potential costs in terms of fitness may affect stress levels at the onset of stereotypy development and predispose ICR-mice to perform stereotypies at a high level when adult.
Article
Stereotypies are repetitive, unvarying, apparently purposeless behavioural patterns. They develop in animals kept in barren environments and are highly prevalent in laboratory mice (Mus musculus), yet their underlying mechanisms have remained elusive. In humans, stereotypies are associated with several psychiatric disorders and are thought to reflect dysfunction of inhibition of motor programs mediated by the corticostriatal circuitry, resulting in recurrent perseveration (=inappropriate repetition of behavioural responses). Several studies in captive animals of different species have reported a correlation between stereotypy performance and perseverative behaviour, indicating a similar dysfunction. To examine whether stereotypies in mice correlate with recurrent perseveration and whether they are causally related, we raised 40 female ICR CD-1 mice in either barren or enriched cages from three to either six or 16 weeks of age (2 × 2 factorial design) and assessed stereotypic behaviour in the home cage and recurrent perseveration on a two-choice guessing task. Enrichment significantly reduced stereotypic behaviour both at six and 16 weeks of age and recurrent perseveration increased with age. Although enriched housing reduced the number of repetitions in the guessing task significantly, there was no clear evidence for an effect on recurrent perseveration, and recurrent perseveration did not correlate positively with stereotypy level. These findings indicate either that this test did not measure recurrent perseveration or that cage stereotypies in these mice do not reflect behavioural disinhibition as measured by recurrent perseveration.
Article
Female mink pups were weaned at 6, 8 or 10 weeks of age and subjected to two different housing conditions. They were either kept together with a single male sibling in traditional mink cages (30x45x90 cm) or housed socially with all litter-mates in an alternative system consisting of three adjoining traditional cages (90x45x90 cm). All cages were supplied with nest boxes. At 5 months of age, the siblings were removed leaving the females socially isolated in the two different cage systems. Females' stereotypies were quantified by repeated scanning observations under the social housing conditions immediately before removal of the siblings, and again at the age of 7 and 9 months, when the animals had stayed solitary in the two systems for 2 and 4 months. Solitary females showed significantly more stereotypies than females under social housing conditions in both cage systems. Stereotypies were more frequent in the smaller traditional cages. Stereotypies declined from 7 to 9 months of age among solitary animals in traditional cages but not in alternative cages. Early-weaned solitary females in traditional cages showed more stereotypies than later-weaned animals, but only when measured at the age of 7 months. It is suggested that early weaning, individual housing and small cages promote the development of stereotypies in farmed mink. The influence of early weaning on stereotypies seems to decline with age, while effects related to individual housing and small cages appear to be more persistent.
Article
Normal behavior plays a key role in facilitating homeostasis, especially by allowing the animal to control and modify its environment. Captive environments may interfere with these behavioral responses, and the resulting stress may alter many physiological parameters. Abnormal behaviors indicate that an animal is unable to adjust behaviorally to the captive environment and, hence, may be expressing abnormal physiology. Therefore, captive environments may affect the following aspects of an experiment: validity, by introducing abnormal animals into experiments; reliability, by increasing interindividual variation through the introduction of such individuals; and replicability, by altering the number and type of such individuals between laboratories. Thus, far from increasing variability, enrichment may actually improve validity, reliability, and replicability by reducing the number of abnormal animals introduced into experiments. In this article, the specific example of abnormal repetitive behaviors (ARBs) is explored. ARBs in captive animals appear to involve the same mechanisms as ARBs in human psychiatry, which reflect underlying abnormalities of brain function. ARBs are also correlated with a wide range of behavioral changes that affect experimental outcomes. Thus, ARBs in laboratory animals may compromise validity, reliability, and replicability, especially in behavioral experiments; and enrichments that prevent ARB may enhance validity, reliability, and replicability. Although many links in this argument have been tested experimentally, key issues still remain in the interpretation of these data. In particular, it is currently unclear (1) whether or not the differences in brain function seen in animals performing ARB are abnormal, (2) which common behavioral paradigms are affected by ARB, and (3) whether enrichment does indeed improve the quality of behavioral data. Ongoing and future work addressing these issues is outlined.
Article
Horses displaying an oral stereotypy were tested on an instrumental choice paradigm to examine differences in learning from non-stereotypic counterparts. Stereotypic horses are known to have dysfunction of the dorsomedial striatum, and lesion studies have shown that this region may mediate response-outcome learning. The paradigm was specifically applied in order to examine learning that requires maintenance of response-outcome judgements. The non-stereotypic horses learned, over three sessions, to choose a more immediate reinforcer, whereas the stereotypic horses failed to do so. This suggests an initial behavioural correlate for dorsomedial striatum dysregulation in the stereotypy phenotype.
La chinchilla, su crianza en todos los climas
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