Eyes in the sky (well… ceiling)

11 03 2015

Maria‘s running her next cage height experiment now. We’ve shown that mink prefer low ceilings when it comes to feeding, but would they prefer higher ceilings for all other activities? After all, legislation in Europe decrees that mink should have enough vertical space to stand up on their hind legs, so is this really what they want?IMG_9500

To find out, Maria has ripped apart each of the enriched compartments that mink reach via a tunnel, de-attaching their ceilings and making them moveable. Half the mink now have very high ceilings, half very low, and over the coming months each will have its ceiling respectively steadily lowered or raised, so we can see how this affects each animal’s use of its enriched compartment. Maria will also record posture, so we can see whether heights that allow standing up also suddenly make the compartments more popular.

We both loathe video as a means of capturing animals’ behaviour: it turns every task into a never-ending marathon of tedium. But we need to validate whether her watching the mink live during the day really does capture 24 h use, so she has attached videos to the ceiling of the room for the best aerial views (using duct tape: the researcher’s friend). Fingers crossed the data render these cameras redundant…