Researchers from the University of Stirling’s Behaviour and Evolution Research Group aim to promote the welfare of common marmoset monkeys in captivity through the launch of a new website www.marmosetcare.com.
Common marmosets are used in laboratory research and testing, where good welfare is important for the quality of scientific output as well as for ethical reasons. They are also kept privately, although they make highly unsuitable pets. The website shows how Brazilian marmosets live in the wild and how to encourage their natural behaviour in captivity.
Topics covered in the ‘care in captivity’ section of the site include grouping and breeding, feeding, health, interaction with humans, positive reinforcement training and the vital importance of companionship with other marmosets. Although the website gives advice about captive care, the private ownership of marmosets is strongly and persuasively discouraged by the Research Group.
The site also features a ground-breaking multimedia behavioural database – with marmoset calls, behaviours, postures, facial expressions, sensory capabilities and developmental stages. Designed to be welcoming and fun as well as instructive, this interactive site is illustrated with photographs and over 120 video clips to enjoy.
Stirling University researchers Dr Claire Watson and Professor Hannah Buchanan-Smith collaborated on the creation of the site, with web developer Richard Assar.
Professor Buchanan-Smith said: "Many people who keep marmosets in captivity will never know their full range of abilities and behaviours. This website provides video footage to show how common marmosets behave in the wild, and shows how to encourage natural behaviours in captivity to promote good welfare.
"Marmosets are fascinating creatures. We hope the website will be used to help people understand what rich lives marmosets lead in their natural habitat in Brazil, and why they do not make suitable pets.”
Dr Claire Watson said: "Marmosets need to be in the company of other marmosets. Video clips on the website show what social creatures they are. They react jointly to danger, sleep huddled almost on top of each other, play together and raise infants as a group.
"It is sometimes difficult to recognise behaviours and vocalisations from reading descriptions or seeing still pictures of them. The website provides extensive video and audio footage to help those studying or looking after captive marmosets to interpret their behaviour and vocalisations.”