Evaluating Leopard Gecko Enrichment: What is Preferred?
Animal welfare, defined as “the state of the animal as it attempts to cope with it’s environment” (Broom, 1988), has been shown to be improved by increasing naturalness, (Fraser, 2009 & Shepherdson, 2010), complexity, control, and choice (Buchanan-Smith & Badihi, 2012). Environmental enrichment has been proven to enhance complexity and add choice to the animals’ environment (Buchanan-Smith & Badihi, 2012), and has shown to improve welfare in leopard geckos (Bashaw et al., 2014). Preference testing has been a reliable measure of optimizing welfare (Blom et al., 1995 & Kirkden 2006), yet there is a lack of research on reptile preference testing. This study uses previously tested enrichment categories on leopard geckos in combination with preference testing in an aim to identify whether a consistent, quantifiable hierarchy of enrichment categories is preferred by this reptilian species. It was hypothesized that feeding and bridge enrichment would be preferred over visual, olfactory, and object enrichment because they provide affordances for behaviors that are critical for survival, while the latter are only novel stimuli. It was found that the enrichment categories that afforded behavior critical to survival were preferred, however visual enrichment was found to afford for these behaviors as well and was also preferred. Enrichment’s effect on welfare leads the belief that different enrichments will affect leopard geckos in different ways, and will afford different behaviors
Franklin and Marshall College Archives, Undergraduate Honors Thesis 2015
- F&M Theses Collection