Abstract # 123:

Scheduled for Friday, June 22, 2007 05:00 PM-07:00 PM: Session 14 (South Main Hall) Poster Presentation

Microcebus murinus Nesting Material Preferences at the Duke Lemur Center

M. Shrum
Duke Lemur Center, 3705 Erwin Rd, Durham, NC 27705, USA
     Sleeping sites are a significant resource for wild Microcebus murinus (gray mouse lemurs) for thermoregulation and safety (Radespiel et al., 1998). As one of the ultimate goals in husbandry is to recreate natural behaviors through environment, it is important to consider nesting materials for Microcebus in captivity. Martin (1972) noted Microcebus use of leaf nests in the wild but veterinary concerns prohibit leaf use in gray mouse lemur cages at the Duke Lemur Center. Therefore trials of different pre-approved nest materials were conducted. The expectation was that Microcebus would utilize natural materials like pine and bamboo before cotton and paper products. Three separate trials each employing three different nest materials were presented to five different individuals over five day periods. To remove any potential location bias, identical sleep containers were placed adjacently and the nest material order was random. In all trials, Microcebus murinus made a significant number of non-random choices, preferring paper products to other materials offered [c2, a=0.05]. There was no significant correlation between nest choice and container location. One possible explanation for their choice is the similarity in texture of the paper products to that of dried leaves. The selection of paper products contradicts the hypothesis of natural material choice. This result should be taken into account in captive situations with not only Microcebus but other species that use materials in their sleep sites.