Abstract # 63:

Scheduled for Thursday, August 17, 2006 07:00 PM-09:00 PM: Session 8 (Regency West 1/3 ) Poster Presentation


C. Kenney, G. Ruppenthal, M. Novak and S. Suomi
Laboratory of Comparative Ethology, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, NIH Animal Center, Poolesville, MD 20837, USA
     Giving laboratory animals a measure of control over their caging environments is one of the central themes in the enrichment literature. We developed an animal-operated foldable perch, called “the Ruperch”. This perching device folds flat against the cage wall and can be pulled down to a horizontal position, providing a ledge in which to sit or stand. Ruperches were presented to rhesus macaques housed in single-cages, pair-cages, gang cages/open field environments, most with stationary perches already present. Animals were exposed to the Ruperch during the middle four weeks in an eight-week study. Behavioral data, frequency and duration of perch use were recorded on each animal (each perch during the field portion) for five minutes during morning, noon, and evening time blocks, twice a week before, during and after Ruperches were attached to their cages. Results indicate individual differences in both behavior change and usage. In addition to using the Ruperch [t(10)=4.715, P<0.001], most singly/paired cage animals increased their use of the already present stationary perches when the Ruperch was present; and some continued to use permanent perches at increased levels during the two weeks after the Ruperches were removed. These data demonstrate a variety of practical benefits from using Ruperches in addition to or instead of traditional stationary perches. This research was supported by the intramural research program of the NICHD at the NIH.