Abstract # 159:

Scheduled for Friday, August 18, 2006 07:00 PM-09:00 PM: Session 17 (Regency West 1/3 ) Poster Presentation

An Assessment of Temperament and Behavior in Rhesus Macaques with Alopecia

R. Ellison, T. Hobbs, A. Maier and K. Coleman
Oregon National Primate Research Center, 505 NW 185th Rd., Beaverton, Oregon 97006, USA
     Alopecia, or hair loss, is common among rhesus monkeys in research facilities. There are multiple etiologies for the condition, including behavioral, clinical and environmental factors. Additionally, there are multiple patterns of alopecia, including “bald” (near-complete alopecia), “patchy” (restricted to forelimbs), and variations of relatively minor alopecia (e.g., thinning hair). While alopecia is often treated the same regardless of pattern, it is possible that different phenotypes are associated with different underlying factors and require unique treatments. In this study, we examined temperament and self-epilating behavior among monkeys with different alopecia patterns. Subjects were 89 randomly selected singly- or pair-housed, adult female rhesus macaques. Temperament was assessed by measuring latency to inspect a novel object placed on the cage. Monkeys with “bald” or “patchy” patterns (n=46) inspected the object sooner than other phenotypes (p<0.03), suggesting temperament may be another factor underlying alopecia. Additionally, we assessed 24-hour videos of 14 “bald” or “patchy” monkeys and found three distinct self-epilating behaviors: “pulling” (subject self-epilates fistfuls of hair), “plucking” (subject removes single hairs in a rapid, repetitive motion) and “over-grooming” (autogrooming in excess). Bald monkeys were more likely to “pull” than engage in other self-epilating behavior, while patchy monkeys were more likely to “pluck” (p<0.03), suggesting behavioral differences between these phenotypes. More work is needed to determine if discrete alopecia patterns respond differently to various clinical treatments or behavioral therapies.