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Behaviour of golden hamsters ( Mesocricetus auratus ) kept in four different cage sizes

By K. Fischer, S. G. Gebhardt-Henrich, A. Steiger

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Abstract

Cages for laboratory and pet hamsters are usually small. Using video recordings, the behaviour of sixty female golden hamsters (Mesocricetus auratus), housed individually in four different cage sizes, was compared in order to draw conclusions about their welfare. The cage sizes were 1,800 cm2, 2,500 cm2, 5,000 cm2, and 10,000 cm2. Enrichment items and litter depth were standardised and all cages were equipped with a running-wheel (30 cm diameter). Stereotypic wire-gnawing, usage of the provided space, weight gain, and reactions to mild husbandry stressors were used as welfare indicators. Stereotypic wire-gnawing was observed in all cage sizes, but hamsters in small cages gnawed significantly longer and more frequently. There were no significant differences in running-wheel activity. In small cages hamsters made use of the roof of their wooden shelters as an additional platform more often than in big cages, which could suggest that they needed more space. Therefore, the welfare of pet golden hamsters in cages with a minimal ground floor area of 10,000 cm2 seemed to be enhanced compared with smaller cages.

Date 2007
Publication Title Animal Welfare
Volume 16
Issue 1
Pages 85-93
ISBN/ISSN 0962-7286
Language English
Author Address Fasanenstrasse 22, CH-4402 Frenkendorf, Switzerland. sabine.gebhardt@itz.unibe.ch
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Tags
  1. Animal husbandry
  2. Animal models
  3. Animal rights
  4. Animal welfare
  5. Automation
  6. Cages
  7. Enrichment
  8. Hamsters
  9. Husbandry
  10. Indicators
  11. Mammals
  12. models
  13. Parasites
  14. peer-reviewed
  15. Pets and companion animals
  16. Rodents
  17. shelters
  18. video recordings
  19. Weight
Badges
  1. peer-reviewed