Positional behavior of Siberian chipmunks (Tamias sibiricus) in captivity
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Arboreal and semi-arboreal mammals have remarkably diverse positional behavior and associated morpho-functional adaptations related to the three-dimensional nature of their arboreal habitat. In this context, we investigated the positional behavior of captive Siberian chipmunks (Tamias sibiricus), small bodied semi-arboreal sciurids, in an aviary-type wire-mesh cage containing both terrestrial and arboreal supports. We sampled four adult individuals during a five-month period using focal animal sampling every 30 s. Results showed that animals preferred 8–10 cm horizontal supports and always avoided vertical supports. Locomotion occurred on both terrestrial and 8–10 cm arboreal supports whereas postural behavior occurred primarily on 8–10 cm arboreal supports. Quadrupedal walk dominated during locomotion, and occurred primarily on terrestrial horizontal supports, as is observed for other squirrels. The predominance of quadrupedal locomotion is consistent with the postcranial morphology of chipmunks. In contrast, clawed locomotion occurred on wire mesh and on >13 cm arboreal vertical supports. Finally, pronograde and orthograde sitting, both on 8–10 cm arboreal supports and on terrestrial supports, were the predominant postures, implying general predisposition to selection of stable postures on stable supports for food item manipulation and ingestion.
KeywordsTamias sibiricus Siberian chipmunk Locomotion Postures Positional behavior Squirrels
We are particularly indebted to Mr C. Apostolidis, Director of Green Spaces of the Municipality of Thessaloniki, for granting permission to work in the Municipal Zoological Garden. This project would not have been achieved without the constant support and help of Mr M. Petrakakis and Mrs A. Papageorgiou, Directors of the Zoological Garden, and the Garden staff. Financial support was provided by the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. Finally, this report was greatly improved by the insightful remarks of two anonymous reviewers.
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