Does the provision of environmental enrichment affect the behaviour and welfare of captive snakes?

Hoehfurtner, Tatjana, Wilkinson, Anna, Nagabaskaran, Gokulan and Burman, Oliver (2021) Does the provision of environmental enrichment affect the behaviour and welfare of captive snakes? Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 239 . p. 105324. ISSN 0168-1591

Full content URL: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.applanim.2021.105324

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Abstract

There is a wealth of evidence demonstrating the benefits of environmental enrichment across a range of different animal species. However, there is comparatively little such research into the effect of enrichment provision on captive reptiles. The aim of this study was therefore to ascertain if an increase in environmental complexity was beneficial to the behaviour and welfare of corn snakes (Pantherophis guttatus). The study used a combination of behavioural observations in the home enclosure, behavioural tests of anxiety, and a preference test. The snakes used the enrichment when it was available to them and enriched snakes showed changes in general behaviour reflective of improved welfare. However, the anxiety tests revealed few effects of enrichment provision on performance. In contrast, the snakes exhibited a strong preference for the enriched enclosure when given a choice. These findings suggest that the provision of environmental complexity to the enclosure was beneficial to the behaviour and welfare of captive corn snakes. We therefore recommend enrichment should be used when keeping captive snakes.

Keywords:Animal Welfare, Reptile behaviour, Environmental Enrichment
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C120 Behavioural Biology
C Biological Sciences > C110 Applied Biology
C Biological Sciences > C310 Applied Zoology
D Veterinary Sciences, Agriculture and related subjects > D328 Animal Welfare
Divisions:College of Science > School of Life Sciences
ID Code:44837
Deposited On:23 Sep 2021 10:05

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