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Behaviour of silver foxes in traditional breeding boxes and in boxes with an entrance tunnel

By B. O. Braastad

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The periparturient behaviour of silver-fox females inside traditional and modified breeding boxes was recorded on video tape from 24 h before to 72 h after parturition for 3 diurnal periods. 20 litters had the traditional simple breeding box, 14 litters had a box with a narrow entrance tunnel. Compared to females in traditional boxes, females in tunnel boxes spent more time sleeping inside the box both before and after parturition, cleaning newborn cubs and grooming cubs while lying down, but less time looking out of the box. Excavation performed on the floor before parturition was performed equally often in both box types. The differences between box types were particularly pronounced for primiparous vixens. During the 3 days after parturition most differences in behaviour between box types were only found during working hours (08.00-15.00h). At this time females in non-tunnel boxes spent considerably less time sleeping and more time moving within the box, looking out of the box, walking into or out of the box, standing partly out of the box, or staying out of the box, than females in tunnel boxes. Cub mortality was lower in tunnel boxes than in non-tunnel boxes. The results indicate that females in tunnel boxes had a more relaxed behaviour and were able to nurse their offspring more effectively. They did not watch their surroundings as frequently as females in traditional breeding boxes. Giving silver foxes a breeding box with an entrance tunnel may improve the welfare of both female and offspring.

Date 1996
Publication Title Animal Welfare
Volume 5
Issue 2
Pages 155-166
ISBN/ISSN 0962-7286
Language English
Author Address Department of Animal Science, Agricultural University of Norway, PO Box 5025, N-1432 As, Norway.
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal behavior
  2. Animal housing
  3. Animal reproduction
  4. Animal rights
  5. Animal welfare
  6. Developed countries
  7. Europe
  8. Fertility.
  9. Foxes
  10. Mammals
  11. Maternal behavior
  12. mortality
  13. nesting
  14. Norway
  15. OECD countries
  16. peer-reviewed
  17. Scandinavia
  1. peer-reviewed