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The effect of early environment on neophobia in orange-winged Amazon parrots ( Amazona amazonica )

By R. A. Fox, J. R. Millam

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Abstract

Early experience is often a significant factor in shaping animals' later behaviour. Early maternal separation is associated with negative behavioral outcomes, such as increased fearfulness in rats, while higher levels of maternal grooming during the neonatal period are associated with decreased fearfulness and increased exploratory behaviour. This finding may have implications for the welfare of captive parrots, many of which are hand-reared for the pet trade. We investigated the effects of three different rearing conditions on the neophobia of juvenile orange-winged Amazon parrots (Amazona amazonica). Hand-reared (H, N=6), parent-reared/human-handled (birds which were handled five times/week for 20 min/session between 2 and 8 weeks of age, PH, N=6), and parent-reared without handling (P, N=7) parrots were tested for neophobia between the ages of 4.5 and 6 months of age by measuring their latency to feed in the presence of five different novel objects. The parrots' neophobia was assessed again at 12 months of age by measuring their response to a novel object hung in their home cage. Although PH birds were groomed by their parents significantly more than P birds (F2,16=6.21, P=0.01), there was no significant difference in neophobia between the two groups (F1,11=0.41, P=0.53, 1 d.f.). H birds were significantly less neophobic than P and PH birds until 6 months of age (F1,17=9.25, P=0.007, 1 d.f.). At 1 year of age, P, PH, and H birds exhibited comparable levels of neophobia. Our results suggest that the development of neophobia in orange-winged Amazons is not related to parental care, but may be related to the level of novelty that the chicks experience during early life.

Date 2004
Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 89
Issue 1/2
Pages 117-129
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
Language English
Author Address Department of Animal Science, University of California, One Shields Avenue, Davis, CA 95616, USA.rafox@ucdavis.edu
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Tags
  1. Abnormal behavior
  2. Adaptation
  3. Amazon
  4. Animal behavior
  5. Animal husbandry
  6. Animal nutrition
  7. Animal physiology
  8. Animal rights
  9. Animal roles
  10. Animal welfare
  11. Appetite
  12. Birds
  13. Deviant behavior
  14. Eating disorders
  15. Environment
  16. Exotic animals
  17. Feeding behavior
  18. Introduced species
  19. Pets and companion animals
  20. Physical environment
  21. Reproduction
  22. Stress
  23. Stress response
  24. Wild animals
  25. Zoo and captive wild animals