Explanations for high MPP controls and recommendations for further research
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In recent years, ferrets have become a popular animal model in biomedical research. However, they are relatively new in the laboratory environment and therefore not much is known about adequate housing and treatment of these animals in experimental environments. An important part of experimental housing is the enrichments offered to the laboratory animals. In order to determine adequate enrichments for ferrets in laboratory conditions, a pilot consumer demand study was designed by M.L.Reijgwart in 2013. In this study, ferrets had to push a weighted door in order to reach various enrichments. The amount of weight the animals were prepared to push reflects their motivation to reach the different enrichments, which could be used to determine their preferences. However, the amount of weight the ferrets pushed for food (a necessity) was not significantly different from the amount they would push for an empty room. In this study, six different setups were designed in order to try to find an explanation for the high control results. The setups were divided in purely diagnostic and problem-solving setups. The diagnostic setups results suggested that the ability to manipulate objects is an important factor for ferrets in laboratory conditions. However, no significant differences were found in the problem-solving setups, suggesting that the used two-chamber setup may not be the right setup for a consumer demand study with ferrets. In order to determine their enrichment preferences, other methods of testing should be looked into.