Aird, T., Pierre, P. J. 2022. Refining enrichment toy interactions in common marmosets through usage assessment. Laboratory Animal Science Professional 10(1) (January/February), 64-66.
Apart from species-typical foraging behavior, a large body of the literature addresses enriching captive marmoset environments through structural and housing adaptations to promote activity and exploration. These studies simulate vertical elements and climbing substrates in the captive environment and are often composed of gnawable wooden elements. However, relatively few studies address the extent to which marmosets engage with manipulable enrichment toys intended to invite curiosity and sustain interaction. To bridge this gap in the literature, we evaluated the time budgets of novel and familiar toys by opportunistically sampling pairs of marmosets in our colony. We offered movable and stationary toys, as well as toys with or without a food element, to examine how frequently the animals interacted with the toys. It is not surprising that the marmosets in our colony interacted more with stationary toys than they did with movable toys being that stationary toys encouraged natural gouging behavior from a stable substrate. The skewer toy promoted interaction only until the food source was gone, with little interaction with the toy afterward. This suggests the animals were not interested in interacting with the toy alone, implying limited utility in terms of sustaining curiosity and manipulation. Therefore, future directions will be to develop novel toys from materials that support gouging or extractive foraging behaviors from stable platforms that our observations suggest is likely to be preferred.