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Improve Welfare with Effective Enrichment

World Animal Day takes place every year on the 4th of October. Like ZooLab, it aims to focus on the amazing animals we share planet Earth with to promote the animal welfare movement.

To thrive, an animal needs all its life necessities and has the opportunity to exhibit natural behaviours. Given these opportunities, an animal will develop, prosper and flourish. These innate behaviours include basking, thermoregulating, producing their vitamin D3, hunting, climbing, digging/burrowing, problem-solving and the chance to choose voluntary interaction. You can do many things to enrich your animal enclosures and provide plenty of stimulation, and we will focus on a few ideas in this blog.

Effective Enrichment

Enrichment is a crucial principle in animal husbandry as it aims to enhance the quality of captive animal care by identifying and providing the environmental stimuli necessary for optimal psychological and physiological well-being. Appropriate enrichment is essential to providing animals with their five freedoms. Providing appropriate enrichment for the species reduces the animal’s stress, increases their confidence and helps them relax while on the road.

Enrichment must be species appropriate, safe and encourage natural behaviours. It does not need to be expensive or complicated.

The purpose of enrichment:

  • Stimulate mental faculties

  • Encourage exercise

  • Encourage species-specific behaviour

  • Reduce boredom/fighting/stereotypical behaviour

Novel Enrichment

Enrichment is most effective when the animal is exposed to something new or unfamiliar. Novel enrichment involves changing the position of hides and decor within an enclosure and is mentally stimulating for your animals. Enrichment should not cause harm or stress to the animal, and the animal should be able to choose to use the enrichment to promote their natural behaviour or move away from the item.

A Few Ideas for Reptiles and Amphibians

Substrate - Soil-based substrates allow reptiles to dig and burrow in the soil simulating their natural behaviour

Food - Varying the reptiles’ diet occasionally can be highly enriching. Providing a range of insects for insectivores is also enriching.

Climbing - Terrestrial snakes are capable of climbing in their natural habitats. Providing sturdy branches allows them to exhibit this behaviour and improves their health, fitness and core strength.

Hides and Clutter - Extra hides and fake plants make reptiles feel safer and less exposed. This decreases their stress, increases their confidence and helps them to be more confident on the road

A Few Ideas for Rats

Dig box - one of the best and most important forms of enrichment that can be provided for rats is the opportunity to dig. Rats are natural diggers and burrowers, and promoting

this natural behaviour greatly reduces their stress and anxiety.

Ropes designed primarily as pull toys for dogs are ideal for rats to climb on.

Hammocks can be made from old pillow/cushion cases, tote bags, tea towels or clothes by hanging up each corner of the item

Rats LOVE boxes - Fill recycled cardboard boxes with paper, tissues, hay or bedding for the rats to make nests

Scatter feeding

ZooLab’s Licensed Rangers

ZooLab is proud to have a team of fully licensed professionals delivering high-quality presentations across England. You can rest assured that the Presenter visiting you will hold an individual Animal Activities Licence, representing the highest levels of animal welfare and care.

It is our job to make sure the ZooLab animals are happy, safe and free from stress. Through inspections and guidance, we ensure that our experts maintain the highest welfare standards when looking after ZooLab animals.

Please note: You can request a copy of their licence at the time of booking (sent along with confirmation details for your ZooLab visit).

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