Effects of laboratory housing on exploratory behaviour, novelty discrimination and spatial reference memory in a subterranean, solitary rodent, the Cape mole-rat (Georychus capensis)

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dc.contributor.author Oosthuizen, Maria Kathleen
dc.contributor.author Scheibler, Anne-Gita
dc.contributor.author Bennett, Nigel C., 1961-
dc.contributor.author Amrein, Irmgard
dc.contributor.editor Burne, Thomas
dc.date.accessioned 2014-02-20T07:57:52Z
dc.date.available 2014-02-20T07:57:52Z
dc.date.issued 2013-09-11
dc.description.abstract A large number of laboratory and field based studies are being carried out on mole-rats, both in our research group and others. Several studies have highlighted the development of adverse behaviours in laboratory animals and have emphasised the importance of enrichment for captive animals. Hence we were interested in evaluating how laboratory housing would affect behavioural performance in mole-rats. We investigated exploratory behaviour, the ability to discriminate between novel and familiar environments and reference memory in the solitary Cape mole-rat (Georychus capensis). Our data showed that both wild and captive animals readily explore open spaces and tunnels. Wild animals were however more active than their captive counterparts. In the Y maze two trial discrimination task, wild animals failed to discriminate between novel and familiar environments, while laboratory housed mole-rats showed preferential spatial discrimination in terms of the length of time spent in the novel arm. The performance of the laboratory and wild animals were similar when tested for reference memory in the Y maze, both groups showed a significant improvement compared to the first day, from the 3rd day onwards. Wild animals made more mistakes whereas laboratory animals were slower in completing the task. The difference in performance between wild and laboratory animals in the Y-maze may be as a result of the lower activity of the laboratory animals. Laboratory maintained Cape mole-rats show classic behaviours resulting from a lack of stimulation such as reduced activity and increased aggression. However, they do display an improved novelty discrimination compared to the wild animals. Slower locomotion rate of the laboratory animals may increase the integration time of stimuli, hence result in a more thorough inspection of the surroundings. Unlike the captive animals, wild animals show flexibility in their responses to unpredictable events, which is an important requirement under natural living conditions. en
dc.description.librarian am2014 en
dc.description.librarian ab2014
dc.description.sponsorship South African Research Chair of Mammal Behavioural Ecology and Physiology (MKO & NCB) and the Swiss South African Joint Research Programme SSRJRP 09. en
dc.description.uri http://www.plosone.org en
dc.identifier.citation Oosthuizen MK, Scheibler A-G, Charles Bennett N, Amrein I (2013) Effects of Laboratory Housing on Exploratory Behaviour, Novelty Discrimination and Spatial Reference Memory in a Subterranean, Solitary Rodent, the Cape Mole-Rat (Georychus capensis). PLoS ONE 8(9): e75863. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0075863 en
dc.identifier.issn 1932-6203
dc.identifier.other 10.1371/journal.pone.0075863
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/2263/33543
dc.language.iso en en
dc.publisher Public Library of Science en
dc.rights © 2013 Oosthuizen et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License en
dc.subject Exploratory behaviour en
dc.subject Cape mole-rat (Georychus capensis) en
dc.subject Captive animals en
dc.subject Mole-rats, African en
dc.subject Georychus capensis en
dc.subject.lcsh Bathyergidae -- Behavior en
dc.subject.lcsh Animal behavior en
dc.subject.lcsh Laboratory animals en
dc.title Effects of laboratory housing on exploratory behaviour, novelty discrimination and spatial reference memory in a subterranean, solitary rodent, the Cape mole-rat (Georychus capensis) en
dc.type Article en


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