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Is behavioural enrichment always a success? Comparing food presentation strategies in an insectivorous lizard (Plica plica)

By Inez Sukuna Januszczak, Zoe Bryant, Benjamin Tapley, Iri Gill, Luke Harding, Christopher John Michaels

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Abstract

Staggering food availability through a delivery device is a common way of providing behavioural enrichment as it is usually thought to increase the amount of natural behaviour due to the unpredictability of the food source. Tree-runner lizards (Plica plica) are a Neotropical, scansorial, insectivorous species. We provided these lizards with an enrichment device that slowly released insect prey and tested its effect on the activity and frequency of a number of behaviours in comparison with a scatter control (where prey items were broadcast in the enclosure; standard food presentation for captive insectivorous lizards) and a non-feeding control. Both types of food increased activity and counts of several behaviours in comparison with the non-feeding control. However, we found the provision of the behavioural enrichment device led to a significantly lower frequency of almost all analysed behaviours in comparison with scatter control trials, mainly in behaviours associated with activity (unsuccessful strikes (=unsuccessful capture of prey) (p=0.004), locomotion (p=0.004), alertness (p=0.004) and the number of times a boundary in the enclosure was crossed ie. activity (p=

Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 183
Pages 95-103
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
DOI https://doi.org/10.1016/j.applanim.2016.07.009
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Tags
  1. Activity
  2. Behavior and behavior mechanisms
  3. Enrichment
  4. Lizards
  5. Reptiles