Study of Exploratory Behavior in the European Mink (Mustela lutreola)
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The European mink (Mustela lutreola) is among the most endangered mammals in Europe and has been assigned with the CR (Critically Endangered) status. In Russia the European mink has disappeared from most of its former range; its population is extremely small. In the near future it will need to be reintroduced into former habitats using captive-raised animals. This work investigates exploratory behavior of captive- raised European minks. The research was conducted in the nursery of the European mink in the Ilmen Nature Reserve. Thirty captive-raised European minks of different ages (from 4.5 months up to 7 years; 17 females and 13 males) participated in the experiments. It has been shown that European minks who have lived in cages or enclosures for several generations continue to exhibit pronounced dispersion of exploratory behavior parameters. They have maintained the ability to quickly explore unfamiliar territory and find shelter. There are no differences between males and females in the length of distance covered in the test. Age does not affect the activity of mink with respect to exploration of the territory and finding shelter. Differences in activity and division into groups according to the number of crossed squares within the sexes were determined by the personality of the minks. Individual features of behavior prevailed over group characteristics (sex and age). Despite continuous contact with the staff, most minks did not acquire adaptation to people.
KeywordsEuropean mink Mustela lutreola exploratory behavior captive-raised animals
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