Feeding Strategies for Captive Asian Small-Clawed Otters (Aonyx cinereus, Illiger, 1815): What Works to reduce Repetitive Feeding Anticipatory Activity in the Cold Season?

Jacob Harrop, Mirela Cuculescu-Santana*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle

Abstract

This case-study analysed the behaviour and enclosure use of a pair of Asian small-clawed otters to investigate the impact of changes in feeding strategy on repetitive behaviours associated with feeding anticipation, in the context of the influence of seasonal changes in temperature on these tropical mammals.
The otters displayed less swimming and resting/sleeping and more begging, vocalisations and overall vigilance in winter compared to summer, suggesting more hunger due to increased energetic demands for thermoregulation.
The introduction of an additional mid-morning feed in winter without increasing the total amount of food per day was only partly effective on the targeted behaviours. The overall vigilance displays and vocalisations increased significantly, resting and sleeping decreased, but begging did not change compared to previous winter and summer values. Begging before the feed at 14:00 hours was less frequent, suggesting less hunger at this time, but increased to higher values later in the afternoon.
An increase in the total amount of food per day from 20% to 30% of otter body weight in January 2019, with return to 3 feeds/day, was more effective at reducing the targeted behaviours. There were decreases in overall vigilance displays and in the frequencies of begging and short calls and increases in play behaviours, social affiliative interactions and resting and sleeping, suggesting a reduction in levels of hunger and related stress.
This study emphasized the importance of considering how local climate affects enclosure conditions when assessing the nutritional, enrichment and climatisation needs of Asian small-clawed otters.

Original languageEnglish
Pages228-248
Number of pages21
Volume38
No.4
Specialist publicationIUCN/SCC Otter Specialist Group Bulletin
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Feeding Strategies for Captive Asian Small-Clawed Otters (Aonyx cinereus, Illiger, 1815): What Works to reduce Repetitive Feeding Anticipatory Activity in the Cold Season?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this