Franchi, V., Aleuy, O. A., Tadich, T. A. 2016. Fur chewing and other abnormal repetitive behaviors in chinchillas (Chinchilla lanigera), under commercial fur-farming conditions. Journal of Veterinary Behavior 11, 60-64.
Fur chewing is a behavioral disorder frequently reported in chinchillas kept for fur-farming purposes. Rodents kept in barren cages usually develop some form of abnormal repetitive behavior, which can indicate a past or present welfare problem. Fur chewing may not be the only form of abnormal repetitive behavior present but is the one reported because of its direct repercussion on fur production. The aim of this study was to describe the frequency of occurrence of fur chewing and the distribution of time dedicated to it in chinchillas diagnosed as presenting this behavior. A secondary aim was to determine the presentation of other abnormal repetitive behaviors. Ten chinchillas, 5 fur chewers and 5 controls, were video recorded for 24 hours with an infrared camera. Behavioral analysis was done with The Observer XT from Noldus (The Netherlands). Focal sampling and continual recording were used, the 24-hour time budget was calculated, and abnormal repetitive behaviors were analyzed in terms of time dedication and frequency of presentation. A paired t test was used to compare differences in the amount of nocturnal versus daytime abnormal behavior. When normality was not met, a 2-sample t test and randomization test were used to compare data between treatments. No differences were observed between the time budgets of fur-chewing and control chinchillas, and all individuals exhibited more than one abnormal repetitive behavior. The amount of time devoted to abnormal repetitive behaviors was significantly higher during night in both groups and reached its lowest level between 13:00 and 17:00 hours. Fur chewing is not the only abnormal repetitive behavior developed by chinchillas in fur-farming systems, although it is the only one reported by the producer. The presence of bar chewing, cage scratching, and backflipping should also be welfare concerns. The higher presentation of abnormal repetitive behaviors at night may be associated with the lack of recognition by the producer, especially because these abnormal behaviors do not result in direct product loss as does fur chewing.