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Self-biting in caged macaques: cause, effect, and treatment

By V. Reinhardt, M. Rossell

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Injurious self-biting is one of the most serious problems in primate colonies (Niemeyer, Gray, & Stephen, 1996). "Approximately 10% of captive, individually-housed monkeys engage in the disturbing phenomenon of self-injurious behavior (SIB). To date, no adequate explanation or effective therapy has been developed for this disorder" (Jorgensen, Novak, Kinsey, Tiefenbacher, & Meyer, 1996; cf. Novak, Kinsey, Jorgensen, & Hazen, 1998). In rhesus macaques-the predominant species found in laboratories-the incidence of self-biting may be as high as 14% (recorded in a colony of 188 single-caged males; Jorgensen, Kinsey, & Novak, 1998). Individuals affected with this "behavioral pathology" (Erwin & Deni, 1979, p. 4) repeatedly bite parts of their own bodies (see Figure 1) while intermittently showing signs of intense excitation such as threatening, trembling, head jerking, and piloerection (Reinhardt, 1999; Tinklepaugh, 1928).

Publication Title Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science
Volume 4
Issue 4
Pages 285-294
ISBN/ISSN 1088-8705
Publisher Taylor & Francis
DOI 10.1207/S15327604JAWS0404_05
Language English
Author Address Animal Welfare Institute, Washington, Dist. of Columbia,
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Abnormal behavior
  2. Animal behavior
  3. Animal diseases
  4. Animal health and hygiene
  5. Animal rights
  6. Animal roles
  7. Animals
  8. Animal welfare
  9. Behavior and behavior mechanisms
  10. Cages
  11. Deviant behavior
  12. Health protection
  13. Macaques
  14. Mammals
  15. Monkeys
  16. mutilation
  17. peer-reviewed
  18. Primates
  19. therapeutics
  20. therapy
  21. vertebrates
  22. Zoo and captive wild animals
  1. peer-reviewed