OJAS  Vol.5 No.2 , April 2015
A Study on Multi-Enriched Housing Environment in Blue Foxes
Abstract: A traditional fox cage was furnished with both activating environmental enrichments (EE) (a bone, a scratching plate, a hockey buck, a ceiling rope and a wall rope and straw) and EEs enabling resting or observation (a wire-mesh platform and a top nest box). The aim was to find out to which extent blue foxes (Vulpes lagopus) utilized these EEs, and to collect practical experiences of the EEs. The experimental animals were 12 adult blue fox vixens that had been housed in cages furnished with a platform and a bone for about 1.5 years before they were transferred to the multi-enriched cages. The frequency and duration of the active contacts with the EEs were measured with continuous recording on Days 1, 2, 7 and 16 after the transfer, with three hours (13:30 - 14:30, 18:00 - 19:00 and 2:00 - 3:00) on each day. The total use of the EEs was 15 times per hour and more than 20% of the time. For most EEs both the time spent in contact and the frequency of contacts with the EEs declined steeply after Day 1, reflecting a novelty effect of the EEs. This decline was not so evident for the platform, top nest box and wall rope. These three EEs were also the ones used the most by the foxes. The ropes were badly damaged during the experiments, whereas other EEs remained in good condition. Explorativity markedly increased when animals were transferred from home cage to enriched cages. Explorativity remained high during entire study period when foxes were kept in enriched enrichment. Furthermore, it remained high also after transferring of animals back to home cages. Capture reaction was quite similar in home and enriched cages. The amount of stereotypy varied among recording days (P < 0.05). When foxes were transferred from home cages to multi-enriched cages, no change was found in the amount stereotypy during Days 1 and 2. Thereafter, the amount of stereotypy showed a declined trend. Stereotypy tended to increase when foxes were transferred back to home cages. Our results indicated that foxes used readily the opportunities for more diverse behaviours.
Cite this paper: Korhonen, H. and Eskeli, P. (2015) A Study on Multi-Enriched Housing Environment in Blue Foxes. Open Journal of Animal Sciences, 5, 77-85. doi: 10.4236/ojas.2015.52010.

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