Working out mink logistics

24 11 2014

Maria, Andrea and I spent the last week choosing room layouts and mink for the next experiments. The feeding height study is now over, and more than half the mink had to be killed (it’s that or return them to the farm, which only postpones the inevitable), so that the rest could be single-housed for Maria’s next experiment on living space height (options to choose between all laid out beautifully below), and the first experiment of Andrea’s masters.

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We kill our mink ourselves because MSU uses CO2 (rather than CO as on a commercial farm), and it’s inhumane; we therefore intervene to knock our animals out with isofluorane before they’re exposed to the aversive killing gas: a technique Maria worked out some years ago. This year there were some nasty teething problems with both the anesthetic and the gas, but all went OK in the end.

This followed some meticulous selection of animals, with Maria needing 32 active males and females who are likely to be attracted to enrichments (which we think means low in stereotypic behaviour: stereotypic mink don’t use enrichments much), and Andrea needing as many male stereotypers as possible. This worked out very well, and also resulted in a new surreal email of the week: “That smoke monster is freaking handsome. I must have a thing for bad boys”.