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The influence of handling and exposure to a ferret on body temperature and running wheel activity of golden hamsters (Mesocricetus auratus)

By Patrizia Eberli, Sabine G. Gebhardt-Henrich, Andreas Steiger

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Abstract

In order to determine a stress response, two groups of twenty male golden hamsters were either exposed to a ferret or handled by a human. The hamsters’ body temperature and running wheel activity were measured as stress correlates. Half of the hamsters’ cages were equipped with a functional running wheel to determine whether the presence of a running wheel might reduce stress. Exposure to the ferret was followed by a significant increase in body temperature and running wheel revolutions; however, running wheel activity did not change after handling. Body temperature increased less after handling in hamsters living in a cage with a functional running wheel than in those with a non-revolving running wheel. This suggests that hamsters with a functional running wheel reacted less strongly to acute stress caused by handling. On the other hand, temperature increase after the exposure to a ferret was not affected by the presence of a running wheel. Both exposure to a ferret and handling caused stress in golden hamsters, as demonstrated by an increase in body temperature (emotional fever). Stress caused by handling was much milder than stress caused by the ferret.

Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 131
Issue 3
Pages 131-137
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
DOI 10.1016/j.applanim.2011.02.006
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Tags
  1. Ferrets
  2. Fever
  3. Hamsters
  4. Handling
  5. running
  6. Stress