Feeding enrichment in an opportunistic carnivore: the red fox

  • Published source details Kistler C., Hegglin D. , Wu¨rbel H. & Ko¨nig B. (2009) Feeding enrichment in an opportunistic carnivore: the red fox. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 116, 260-265.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Carnivores: Provide food on a random temporal schedule

Action Link
Management of Captive Animals
  1. Carnivores: Provide food on a random temporal schedule

    A small before-and-after study in 2005 of red foxes Vulpes vulpes in a wildlife park in Switzerland [3] found that when foxes were provided with unpredictable automated feeds, behavioural diversity and activity increased compared to scheduled feeding but not in relation to other feeding enrichment methods. Behavioural diversity (Shannon index: 2) and time spent in active behaviours (45%) increased when fed unpredictably, compared to predictable feeds before (Shannon index: 1.5; activity: 14%) and after (Shannon index: 1.8; activity: 26%) enrichment was presented. Activity was defined as all behaviours except resting and sleeping. Four adult foxes, housed together, were fed daily except Saturdays, on 400 g of meat, 200 g of fruits and 200 g of dried dog food, raisins, sunflower seeds and nuts. Behaviour was observed for one-hour sessions four times a day. During each observation hour, each fox was continuously observed for 15 minutes to assess behavioural diversity while instantaneous scan sampling at 2.5 minute intervals was used to assess general activity. Data were collected for five days in six conditions: 1) scheduled feeding times; 2) electronic feeders, each randomly dispensing 1/3 of all meat feed between 10:00 h and 18:00 h; 3) electronic feeders and a self-service food box; 4) electronic feeders plus scattered and hidden food; 5) electronic feeders and an electronic dispenser which dispersed food around the enclosure; and 6) a second period of scheduled feeding times

Output references
What Works 2021 cover

What Works in Conservation

What Works in Conservation provides expert assessments of the effectiveness of actions, based on summarised evidence, in synopses. Subjects covered so far include amphibians, birds, mammals, forests, peatland and control of freshwater invasive species. More are in progress.

More about What Works in Conservation

Download free PDF or purchase
The Conservation Evidence Journal

The Conservation Evidence Journal

An online, free to publish in, open-access journal publishing results from research and projects that test the effectiveness of conservation actions.

Read the latest volume: Volume 21

Go to the CE Journal

Discover more on our blog

Our blog contains the latest news and updates from the Conservation Evidence team, the Conservation Evidence Journal, and our global partners in evidence-based conservation.

Who uses Conservation Evidence?

Meet some of the evidence champions

Endangered Landscape ProgrammeRed List Champion - Arc Kent Wildlife Trust The Rufford Foundation Save the Frogs - Ghana Mauritian Wildlife Supporting Conservation Leaders
Sustainability Dashboard National Biodiversity Network Frog Life The international journey of Conservation - Oryx Cool Farm Alliance UNEP AWFA Bat Conservation InternationalPeople trust for endangered species Vincet Wildlife Trust