The long-term impact of infant rearing background on the affective state of adult common marmosets (Callithrix jacchus)



Ash H & Buchanan-Smith HM (2016) The long-term impact of infant rearing background on the affective state of adult common marmosets (Callithrix jacchus). Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 174, pp. 128-136.

Early life environment, including temporary family separation, can have a major influence on affective state. Using a battery of tests, the current study compared the performance of adult common marmosets (Callithrix jacchus), reared as infants under 3 different conditions: family-reared twins, family-reared animals from triplet litters where only 2 remain (2stays) and supplementary fed triplets. No significant differences were found in latency to approach and obtain food from a human or a novel object between rearing conditions, suggesting no effect on neophobia. There were no differences in cognitive bias task acquisition time, or proportion of responses to each ambiguous probe. Very minor differences were found in response to the probes, with only supplementary fed marmosets making fewer responses to the middle probe, compared to the probe nearest the rewarded stimuli. Similarly, in a test for anhedonia, no difference was found between rearing conditions in consumption of milkshake at different concentrations. There was just one very small difference in reward motivation, with only supplementary fed triplets demonstrating a lack of preference for milkshake over water at the lowest concentration. This consistent pattern of results suggest that the supplementary feeding of large litters of marmosets at this facility did not have a major effect on welfare, and is unlikely to influence performance in reward-related scientific tasks. Therefore, while family separation is not recommended, this particular practice should be used if it is necessary, such as to reduce infant mortality. Regular positive interactions with humans are also encouraged, to reduce fear and improve welfare of marmosets kept in captivity.

animal welfare; affective state; rearing; cognitive bias; anhedonia; marmosets

Applied Animal Behaviour Science: Volume 174

Publication date31/01/2016
Publication date online02/11/2015
Date accepted by journal19/10/2015

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Professor Hannah Buchanan-Smith
Professor Hannah Buchanan-Smith

Professor, Psychology