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Providing evidence to improve practice

Action: Carnivores: Provide live invertebrate prey, including in feeding devices Management of Captive Animals

Key messages

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  • One replicated study in the USA found that provision of live prey increased explorative behaviours in fennec foxes compared to other types of enrichment.

Supporting evidence from individual studies


A small replicated study in 1986 of fennec foxes Fennecus zerda in a zoo in the USA found that feeding live crickets increased explorative behaviours compared to meat being cut into smaller pieces, extra sand in the enclosure and less noise during cleaning. When fed live crickets, explorative behaviours increased (80 minutes/day) compared to the median of other conditions (40 minutes/day). Four fennec foxes housed in pairs were fed daily at 13:30 h on a commercial diet, fruit, eggs, fish bones and mealworms (only the two males’ data statistically analysed). Behaviours were assessed based on 24 hour video recordings during five to eight 10-day periods. The conditions included: 1) added sand, 2) provision of live crickets, 3) meat was cut into smaller pieces, and 4) no excessive noise made during cleaning. Behavioural categories included pacing, digging, exploring, burying food and resting/sleeping.

Referenced papers

Please cite as:

Jonas, C.S., Timbrell, L.L., Young, F., Petrovan, S.O., Bowkett, A.E. & Smith, R.K. (2019) Management of Captive Animals. Pages 539-567 in: W.J. Sutherland, L.V. Dicks, N. Ockendon, S.O. Petrovan & R.K. Smith (eds) What Works in Conservation 2019. Open Book Publishers, Cambridge, UK.