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Spring is Forage Time!

Spring is forage time

Spring is Forage Time!

With Spring just around the corner, many animals (and zoo facilities)  will emerge from their winter hibernation. Your zoo or animal park, like the Maryland Zoo, will be returning to regular visitor hours. Most facilities make this a yearly celebration. Lincoln Park Zoo will be hosting the Coming Out of Hibernation event. The Philadelphia Zoo is hosting its annual Zoo-A-Thon fundraiser for enrichment products. Speaking of enrichment products, animals rising from winter rest will want to explore their environment and forage for food. Otto Environmental offers a wide variety of enrichment products designed to provide cognitive, visual, olfactory, and taste stimulation for just about any animal.

Small animals need to forage

Rats, mice, and gerbils have a strong foraging instinct. The IAABC Foundation notes that providing enrichment for small animals sometimes gets overlooked by shelters, zoos, and laboratories. Small animal enrichment can be easy with the right products. The hanging Exotic Nutrition Forage Tower is a hanging interactive forage device that holds food and provides an interesting challenge to small animals including rabbits and ferrets.

Ann Gutowski, the keeper at Smithsonian’s National Zoo’s Small Mammal House, notes “To provide the best enrichment for each animal, we need to understand what each animal engages with most or how to encourage a particular behavior best.” The Bead Forager is a stainless-steel channel with beaded chains, nuts, and washers. These provide tactile and audible enrichment as animals like ferrets, mice, rats, gerbils, jerboas, and other foragers search for treats inside the channel.

mouse with forage tower
Forage Tower
bead forager
Bead Forager

Birds and forage enrichment

bird with acrylic forage wheel
Acrylic Forage Wheel

The Association of Avian Veterinarians notes that birds, like lorikeets, spend up to 70% of the day foraging for food. It makes sense to provide your parrots, cockatoos, cockatiels, macaws, and other foraging birds with a feeding challenge. The Acrylic Forage Wheel is the ideal avian enrichment device. The clear housing allows the birds to see the treats as they manipulate the colorful paddlewheel, to dispense a treat. The Hornbil Forager provides a different experience. Hornbills, woodpeckers, sapsuckers, nuthatches, and large parrots like African grays forage much of their day in the wild, but very little in captivity due to lack of enrichment. To stimulate your birds, load the firehose pleats with peanut butter, waxworms, and seeds and watch your birds engage in much-needed foraging activity.

Hornbill Forager

Primate foraging

It is no secret that non-human primates (NHP) have complex enrichment needs. Monkeys and apes, including tamarins, capuchins, marmosets, macaques, langurs, orangutans, gibbons, and chimpanzees have a strong desire to touch, smell, and taste objects in their environment. Without adequate enrichment, NHPs become depressed and stressed. Enrichment is also a key component of IACUC standards for laboratories and research projects. The Texas Biomedical Research Institute uses food-based enrichment along with tactile and audible sensory stimulation in its primate research. The Acrylic Tray Forager has an AstroTurf mat that can be smeared with peanut butter, jelly, and other treats. NHPs explore the rough surface and find a sticky treat reward. It is important to provide primates with several types of enrichment challenges. The Otto Bullet Feeder is designed to present a fruit and vegetable forage challenge to smaller primates. Just load the Bullet and hang it where primates can reach the dispensing holes.

Acrylic Tray Forager (PES)
Otto Bullet Feeder

All animals forage

No matter what type of animals you are caring for, they all like to forage in their own way. As the season warms and days lengthen, give your animals the fun and stimulation they need through forage-based enrichment products and activities.