Interest in coloured objects and behavioural budgets of individual captive freshwater turtles

Angus Thomson, Callum Bannister, Reece Marshall, Natasha McNeil, Donna Mear, Susie Lovick-Earle, Mirela Cuculescu-Santana*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Recent studies showed that freshwater turtles display inter-individual differences in variousbehavioural traits, which may influence their health and welfare in captivity due to differences inresponse to husbandry and enrichment strategies and in ability to cope with the limitations of thecaptive environment. This study investigated a possible correlation between individual level ofescape behaviour under standard enrichment conditions and level of interest in coloured objects ina group of cooters Pseudemys sp. and sliders Trachemys scripta ssp. on display at a public aquarium.Interest in different colours, colour preference and individual differences in behavioural changes inthe presence of the new enrichment were also studied. Turtles categorised as ‘high’ and ‘moderateescape behaviour’ (17–34% of behavioural budget) showed more interest in coloured objects andtended to display less escape behaviour in their presence, while turtles categorised as ‘low escapebehaviour’ (<10% of behavioural budget) were less interested in coloured objects and tended todisplay more escape behaviour in their presence. Overall, there was more interest in yellow than inred, white or green objects, with more contacts with coloured objects before feeding and at the startof each observation period and a preference for yellow against red objects. The individual differencesin behavioural changes in the presence of the new enrichment suggested that more studies into colourpreference and response to novelty in turtles would be beneficial to ensure that no individuals areunduly stressed by new enrichments.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)218-227
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Zoo and Aquarium Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 31 Oct 2021


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