Preference for and use of oral enrichment objects in juvenile silver foxes (Vulpes vulpes)

  • Published source details Hovland A.L., Rød A.M.S., Koistinen T. & Ahola L. (2016) Preference for and use of oral enrichment objects in juvenile silver foxes (Vulpes vulpes). Zoo Biology, 180, 122-129.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Carnivores: Provide bones, hides or partial carcasses

Action Link
Management of Captive Animals
  1. Carnivores: Provide bones, hides or partial carcasses

    A replicated, before-and-after study in 2013 of red foxes Vulpes vulpes in a research facility in Norway, found that presenting a cattle bone increased time interaction/manipulation time and reduced latency to contact than presenting foxes with a pulling device, straw, rawhide bone or a plastic cube. Within the first hour of presentation, foxes spent more time (1751 seconds/hour) manipulating the cattle bone and the latency to contact was shorter (mean values not reported) compared to a pulling device (62.4 s/hour), straw (31 s/hour), rawhide bone (313 s/hour) and cubes (24 s/hour). On the second day, time spent in manipulation was higher for the cattle bone (70.7 s/hour) than the other objects (0-21.7 s/hour), except for the rawhide (111.9 s/hour), and was again highest for the cattle bone on the fourth day (152.3 s/hour). Thirty juvenile foxes were individually housed and fed a food paste daily as desired. Enrichment objects included a pulling device (metal wire and plastic tubes), straws, pressed rawhide dog bone, cattle femur bone, and plastic cube. The experiment included an adjustment, habituation, deprivation, and reintroduction period. All objects were made available to the foxes at the same time. Continuous sampling was used for the first hour in the reintroduction period and then for one hour after access on the second and fourth day.

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