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Behavioral ecology of captive species: using bibliographic information to assess pet suitability of mammal species

By P. Koene, R. M. de Mol, B. Ipema

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Abstract

Which mammal species are suitable to be kept as pet? For answering this question many factors have to be considered. Animals have many adaptations to their natural environment in which they have evolved that may cause adaptation problems and/or risks in captivity. Problems may be visible in behavior, welfare, health, and/or human-animal interaction, resulting, for example, in stereotypies, disease, and fear. A framework is developed in which bibliographic information of mammal species from the wild and captive environment is collected and assessed by three teams of animal scientists. Oneliners from literature about behavioral ecology, health, and welfare and human-animal relationship of 90 mammal species are collected by team 1 in a database and strength of behavioral needs and risks is assessed by team 2. Based on summaries of those strengths the suitability of the mammal species is assessed by team 3. Involvement of stakeholders for supplying bibliographic information and assessments was propagated. Combining the individual and subjective assessments of the scientists using statistical methods makes the final assessment of a rank order of suitability as pet of those species less biased and more objective. The framework is dynamic and produces an initial rank ordered list of the pet suitability of 90 mammal species, methods to add new mammal species to the list or remove animals from the list and a method to incorporate stakeholder assessments. A model is developed that allows for provisional classification of pet suitability. Periodical update of the pet suitability framework is expected to produce an updated list with increased reliability and accuracy. Furthermore, the framework could be further developed to assess the pet suitability of additional species of other animal groups, e.g., birds, reptiles, and amphibians.

Publication Title Frontiers in Veterinary Science
Volume 3
Issue May
Pages 35
ISBN/ISSN 2297-1769
Language English
Author Address Animal Welfare, Wageningen Livestock Research, Wageningen University and Research, Wageningen, Netherlands.paul.koene@wur.nl
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Tags
  1. Animal ecology
  2. Animals
  3. Birds
  4. Classification
  5. Companion
  6. Data collection
  7. Documentation
  8. Ecology
  9. Health
  10. Libraries
  11. Mathematics and statistics
  12. Methodologies
  13. Pets and companion animals
  14. Reptiles
  15. stakeholders
  16. statistical analysis
  17. Techniques
  18. technology
  19. vertebrates
  20. Zoology