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Food distribution effects on the behaviour of captive common marmosets, Callithrix jacchus

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Common marmosets, Callithrix jacchus, are widely used by research laboratories and are commonly provided with food in bowls. These centralised, unchallenging sources of food result in high foraging success for low foraging effort. Foraging devices, which require more skill and effort for foraging success, may broaden the behavioural profiles of marmosets by including more elements of their natural ethogram, reflecting improved welfare. The behaviour of eight female common marmosets was examined as a function of four different food distributions: food centrally located in a stationary bowl; food in a bowl that changed location each day; food centrally located in a stationary bowl, in addition to hidden food in a clustered food source (cluster feeder) or hidden food in dispersed food sources (dispersed feeders). Both the cluster and dispersed feeder distributions increased foraging, and there was a trend for reduced scratching and grooming in the presence of the feeders compared with the bowl-only treatments. The cluster feeder increased the amount of time a marmoset spent in a large room annexed to the home rooms more than the dispersed feeders, and this effect was sustained throughout the day after the feeders had been removed. Both feeders increased activity and movements within all areas of the annexed room compared with the bowl-only treatments; therefore, both feeder types improved the welfare of the captive marmosets more than the provision of food bowls.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2006-05-01

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