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Individual variation in the stereotypies of caged mink.

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Title: Individual variation in the stereotypies of caged mink.
Author: Mason, G.J.
Abstract: One hundred and five individually housed adult female mink, fed once daily, were observed over 3 weeks. A stereotypy was defined as a rhythmic behaviour pattern with no apparent goal or function. Mink stereotypies are principally locomotory and vary in form and rigidity. One hundred and two animals performed them in the 8 h pre-feeding; individual scores ranged from 0 to 78% observations (mean = 48.1%). For 41 animals re-watched 1 year later, there was a strong correlation between 1988 and 1989 scores (Z=4.38; P<0.001). Sixty three animals, tending to be those with high pre-feeding levels, showed stereotypy after feeding. There is no relationship between pre- or post-feeding stereotypy and reproductive success or body weight (corrected for frame size); nor likelihood of vocalising at human disturbance; nor apparent hunger, as reflected in eating the bulk of food within a few hours of delivery. There was no clear relationship between stereotypy and forms of self-mutilation. According to these measures, highly stereotypic animals appear to be no less stressed or better in condition than other mink. This may mean that frequency is not the best measure of stereotypy; that stereotypy is not a coping response; that its causal factors are not seriously detrimental; that animals with low levels have alternative coping mechanisms; or that high stereotypers are more sensitive to begin with but fare as well as low stereotypers by using stereotypy as an "antidote".
Date: 1991
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Related Publications: G.J. Mason (1991). Individual variation in the stereotypies of caged mink. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 28: 300 - 301.

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