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Mon - May 22
2017



ENRICHMENT - PART 2

By Toni Mitchell & Jane Wilson



          ENRICHMENT IDEAS

Species Habitat Characteristics Native Diet Enrichment Ideas Desired Outcomes


Bar-
shouldered
dove
  • Eucalypt woodlands
  • Shrubby undergrowth
  • Urban backyards
  • Mangroves
  • Low herbage and grasses
  • Open ground for feeding.
  • Granivorous
  • Approx 26-30cm in length
  • Direct swift flight
  • Spends time on ground
  • Feeds throughout the day
  • Pairs or small groups
  • Wings whistle in flight
  • Needs water
  • Bathes in water and in substrate
  • Grass seeds
  • Herbs
  • Shrubs
  • Sedges
  • Clumps of seeding native grasses placed throughout the aviary
  • Plant native shrubs
  • Plant native herbage
  • Scatter seeds throughout the aviary to encouraging foraging
  • Water container on ground, large enough to allow bathing
  • Substrate suitable for dust bathing
  • Large flight aviary to allow direct flight pattern
  • Rehabilitate in pairs or small groups to allow socialisation
  • Use pot plants for cover
  • Active food seeking at appropriate time of the day
  • Sources a variety of native food i.e. ground level, grass heads – middle story flora etc
  • Self-cleans by water and dust bathing
  • Socialises with own species
  • Can fly swiftly
  • Reduced abnormal behaviour
  • Increased set of natural behaviours
  • Able to cope with change/novelty
  • Improved physical fitness


Species Habitat Characteristics Native Diet Enrichment Ideas Desired Outcomes


Galah
  • Found throughout Australia
  • Variety of timbered habitats
  • Woodlands
  • Wooded grassland
  • Usually near water
  • Feeds throughout the day
  • Flock bird - its own and other species (Corella)
  • Pair bonds
  • Requires water
  • Grass tubers and seeds
  • Cultivated agricultural crops
  • Seeds, grains and nuts
  • Some fruits
  • Scatter seeds throughout aviary
  • Hang seeding bush tucker from holders
  • Scatter bush tucker throughout aviary
  • Place /panels of lawn type grasses on the ground
  • Dig in native herbage and grasses throughout the aviary
  • Use pot plants for chew material
  • Poly pipe to hold bush tucker
  • Foraging and digging.
  • Sourcing food from different levels throughout captive facility (ie ground, mid-level grasses, trees)
  • Exhibits diurnal behaviours
  • Chews branches
  • Reduced abnormal behaviour – feather plucking
  • Increased set of natural behaviours
  • Able to cope with change/novelty
  • Improved physical fitness


Species Habitat Characteristics Native Diet Enrichment Ideas Desired Outcomes


Bush
Stone
Curlew
  • Found in most of Australia
  • Open Forests and woodland
  • Mainly nocturnal
  • Insectivorous
  • Pair raise young
  • Approx 52-58cm in length
  • Uses camouflage
  • Ground dweller/nester
  • Flattens body along ground when approached
  • Requires water
  • Grasshoppers
  • Crickets
  • Spiders
  • Moths and other insects
  • Small frogs and lizards
  • Scatter crickets, mealworms, woodies throughout the aviary
  • Allow leaf litter to accumulate for insects to hide/live in
  • Tree trunks along the ground provides environment for insects
  • Needs adequate ground space to hunt
  • Water container on ground
  • Provide clumping scrubs for screening
  • Actively chases food source
  • Forages for insects
  • Seek insects from under bark, behind structures
  • Exhibits nocturnal behaviours
  • Uses camouflage and flattening behaviour to avoid detection
  • Reduced abnormal behaviours
  • Increased set of natural behaviours
  • Able to cope with change/novelty
  • Improved physical fitness


Species Habitat Characteristics Native Diet Enrichment Ideas Desired Outcomes


Northern
Brush-
Tail
Possum
  • Eucalypt woodland
  • High incidence of E miniata
  • Low ground level flora
  • High frequency of flowering scrubs
  • Common in urban areas, including rooftops
  • Arboreal
  • Marsupial mammal
  • Nocturnal
  • Mainly solitary/loosely communal
  • Predominantly foliage feeder but is omnivorous
  • No set breeding season (Top End)
  • Female raises pouch young alone
  • Native foliage
  • In-season fruits, nuts and flowers
  • Opportunistic insect feeders
  • Has been known to eat eggs and chicks
  • Multiple nesting logs
  • Climbing trunks larger that circumference of possum's grip
  • Varied flexibility of horizontal branches
  • Strung ropes for flexible climbing
  • Hooked continental food to encourage foraging
  • Native grasses with roots
  • Variety of bush tucker ie. native trees and shrubs
  • Half apple spiked with hard nuts, seeds
  • Rotting logs on ground to encourage insect foraging
  • Poly pipe to hold bush tucker
  • Occasionally place logs with other animals' scent in trichiary
  • Copes with changing environment
  • Moves to different nesting sites
  • Forages food at varying heights
  • Displays nocturnal tendencies
  • Recognises predators
  • Sources wide variety of food
  • Climbing skills increased
  • Uses prehensile tail when moving, sourcing food
  • Reduces abnormal behaviour – pacing, self-mutilation
  • Reduced incidence of bacterial dermatitis
  • Increased set of natural behaviours
  • Able to cope with change/novelty
  • Improved physical fitness
  • Scent marks environment


Species Habitat Characteristics Native Diet Enrichment Ideas Desired Outcomes


Northern
Brown
Bandicoot
  • Areas of low ground cover
  • Dense shrubs
  • Nocturnal
  • Poor eye sight
  • Keen sense of smell
  • Solitary
  • Omnivorous
  • Aggressive
  • Makes nests on the ground using grasses, twigs, leaves
  • Defensive of territory
  • Exhibits swift, erratic movements
  • Omnivorous
  • Insects, spiders, earthworms, beetles, grasshoppers, etc
  • Grass roots
  • Seeds
  • Certain fungi
  • Native clumping grasses throughout facility
  • Hollow logs on ground to hid in
  • Free access to crickets, woodies etc by scattering throughout enclosure
  • Substrate that allows digging
  • Scatter seeds, nuts etc throughout enclosure
  • Rotting logs on ground to encourage insect foraging
  • Large facility
  • Sources native food
  • Displays nocturnal characteristics
  • Digs for ground dwelling grubs
  • Sources root and grass vegetation
  • Recognises predators
  • Reduced abnormal behaviour – pacing
  • Increased set of natural behaviours
  • Able to cope with change/novelty
  • Improved physical fitness


Species Habitat Characteristics Native Diet Enrichment Ideas Desired Outcomes


Black
Footed
Tree
Rat
  • Eucalypt forest
  • Bordering vine thickets
  • Arboreal
  • Nocturnal
  • Solitary
  • Omnivorous
  • Tail is not prehensile
  • Keen sense of smell and hearing
  • Teeth will continue to grow so requires hard chewing material
  • Secretive feeders who cache food
  • Pandanus fruit
  • Native foliage/flowers
  • Some shellfish
  • Traces of termites
  • Native seeds
  • Provision of Pandanus tree for nesting
  • Multiple hollows
  • Multiple climbing structures
  • Ground rock structures
  • Provision of Pandanus nuts, seeding bush tucker, termite damaged tree trunks
  • Provide hard chewing material ie sugar cane
  • Poly pipe to hold bush tucker
  • Provide large diameter hanging logs, open at both ends to allow secretive feeding site
  • Sources native foods ie Pandanus, nuts, seeds flowers
  • Uses multiple nesting sites
  • Is arboreal
  • Displays nocturnal behaviours
  • Recognises predators
  • Caches food
  • Reduced abnormal behaviour – pacing
  • Increased set of natural behaviours
  • Able to cope with change/novelty
  • Improved physical fitness


Species Habitat Characteristics Native Diet Enrichment Ideas Desired Outcomes


Agile
Wallaby
  • Open savannah woodland
  • Adjacent grasslands
  • Near rivers and streams
  • Predominantly feeds at dawn/dusk
  • Herbivorous
  • Mob/group structure
  • Rests during heat of day
  • Activity budget changes during Wet and Dry seasons
  • Swift, erratic movement behaviour
  • Exhibits directional “dashing” movements to fine tune agility
  • Opportunistic feeders
  • Native herbage and grasses
  • Some dropped flowers and fruits
  • Scatter 'continental' food throughout enclosure
  • Provide native grasses with roots and soil
  • Provide branches of native trees and shrubs that are in flower and/or seeding
  • Rehabilitate with same species
  • Large facility
  • Fallen logs and obstacles will fine tune agility when exercising
  • Can source native foods
  • Digs for roots and grasses
  • Feeds at dawn/dusk
  • Sources a variety of native foods
  • Recognises predators
  • Socialises with same species (pecking order established)
  • Reduces abnormal behaviour – self mutilation
  • Increased set of natural behaviours
  • Able to cope with change/novelty
  • Improved physical fitness


Safety issues

Consider safety to the animal when making a choice of what enrichment tools to use, i.e.

  • Can the animal get cut by, caught up in, hung up on, or trapped inside of the structure or device?
  • Can it cause a gut impaction or obstruction if eaten?
  • Is it non-toxic?
  • Can enrichment item be used as a 'weapon' against a cohabiter?
  • Can item be dropped on or can it fall on a cohabiter?

Personally, we have not experienced any problems with hooked food in our trichiaries and have found this to be an invaluable enrichment tool. Above all, experiment and have fun with different ideas, your animals will appreciate your efforts and they may well be better prepared for life 'in the wild'.

CONCLUSION

It is essential to understand the physiology of each species of animal in your care, provide the appropriate environment and implement techniques that will allow for the exhibition of species-specific behaviours. We encourage all carers, be they first stage or pre-release, to search out reference material and information about enrichment and stimulation. There is a vast amount of knowledge readily available and it is great fun setting up new scenarios and watching our animals explore them. It is wonderful when its time to release an animal from care back into their natural environment but also a time of apprehension – have we done the best we possibly can to help this animal survive post-release – we hope so. But, hope is not enough and we will continue to improve our practices based on new knowledge and understanding.

Variety of climbing structures, suitable for arboreal fauna
Variety of climbing structures suitable for arboreal fauna
© T Mitchell 2006
Flexibility of climbers suitable for arboreal fauna
Flexibility of climbers suitable for arboreal fauna
© T Mitchell 2006

This image shows use of rope, horizontal branches and varying diameter of upright trunks and bush tucker holders. This set-up would be suitable for arboreal mammals but could be readily changed to suit flight birds by removing any structures that impede free flight along the length of the facility.



Trichiary converted to suit ground dweller i.e. bandicoot Trichiary converted to suit ground dweller i.e. bandicoot
©T Mitchell 2006

Set-up for bandicoots with clumping grasses, open ground space, low growing grasses and areas to hide in.

possum passed on for pre-release stage rehabilitation
Possum passed on for pre-release stage rehabilitation
© T Mitchell 2006

This possum was passed on for pre-release stage rehabilitation. Two undesirable characteristics are obvious i.e. this animal is active in daytime and is overweight. The positive is that he is feeding on native bush tucker.


REFERENCES


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