The effect of randomly altering the time and location of feeding on the behaviour of captive coyotes
Captive carnivores appear highly susceptible to the negative effects of predictable feeding routines. Current research and reviews suggest feeding unpredictably may increase species typical behaviour, but ...
positive results have been limited to a few species. Our objectives were to determine whether randomly altering the time and location of feeding increased species typical behaviour, or affected the temporal distribution of captive coyote (Canis latrans) behaviour. We assigned 12 coyotes individually to either a predictable or an unpredictable (in time and location) feeding condition and measured behaviours in the morning and evening. Overall, mean time spent foraging, travelling, resting or standing was similar in both conditions, but coyotes in the unpredictable condition marked (118 vs. 42; P = 0.01, one-tailed) and howled (81 vs. 24; P = 0.05, one-tailed) significantly more than coyotes in the predictable condition. There were also significant temporal differences (a.m. vs. p.m.) in behaviour between conditions. Specifically, coyotes fed predictably foraged (P = 0.03) and travelled (P = 0.03) more in the morning and rested (P = 0.03) more in the evening, whereas coyotes fed unpredictably howled (62 vs. 19; P = 0.03) and stood (P = 0.05) more in the morning and foraged (P = 0.03) more in the evening. Optimum predictability for captive carnivores should be based on species-specific captive study results and relevant ecological data. Our results suggest coyote feeding regimes may be improved by including unpredictable elements nested within a predictable framework to mirror seasonal fluctuations in resources and increase species-specific behaviour in captivity.
Title: The effect of randomly altering the time and location of feeding on the behaviour of captive coyotes (Canis latrans)
Authors: Lynne B. Gilbert-Norton, Lisa A. Leaver and John A. Shivik
Source: Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 2009, volume 120, issue 3-4