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Open Access Enriched Open Field Facilitates Exercise and Social Interaction in 2 Strains of Guinea Pigs (Cavia porcellus)

Current housing guidelines for laboratory rodents include recommendations for enrichment. Working with guinea pigs, we have developed an open-field enrichment paradigm that provides several aspects of this species' natural environment. These naturalistic aspects include access to increased space for exploration, access to western timothy (Phleum pratense L.) hay, and grouping as a herd to facilitate social interaction. To determine the immediate effect on behavior from access to the enriched environment, female guinea pigs from 2 strains, IAF Hairless and NIH Hartley, were observed in both standard home cages and an open-field enriched environment. Subjects were housed with cagemates in pairs for the home-cage observation and were grouped as a herd when in the open-field arena. Behaviors were videorecorded for 1 h and then scored. Salivary cortisol levels were measured both prior to and immediately after behavioral observations. Analyses revealed higher levels of activity and social interaction in the open-field arena compared with the home cage, with no significant change in salivary cortisol levels. These results suggest that exposure to the open-field environment provide increased opportunities for exercise and social enrichment. Although additional studies are needed to determine long-term effects on experimental outcomes, the open-field configuration holds promise as a laboratory enrichment paradigm for guinea pigs.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Psychology, Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio, USA; Boonshoft School of Medicine, Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio, USA 2: Department of Psychology, Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio, USA; Center for Population Health & Clinical Epidemiology, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, USA 3: Department of Psychology, Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio, USA

Publication date: July 1, 2014

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  • The Journal of the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (JAALAS) serves as an official communication vehicle for the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS). The journal includes a section of refereed articles and a section of AALAS association news. The mission of the refereed section of the journal is to disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed information on animal biology, technology, facility operations, management, and compliance as relevant to the AALAS membership. JAALAS accepts research reports (data-based) or scholarly reports (literature-based), with the caveat that all articles, including solicited manuscripts, must include appropriate references and must undergo peer review.

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