The aim of the study was to assess the extent of fur chewing problems on chinchilla farms. The research was based on a 20-question survey addressed to breeders. A total of 47 anonymous questionnaires were answered. Results showed that the problem of fur chewing was found in as many as 85% of the farms but the proportion of affected animals was usually low (mean±SE: 3.5±0.55%). To determine the relationship between herd size and the extent of the problem, the Pearson’s correlation coefficient was calculated to be r = -0.315 (P≤0.05), possibly indicating the problem to be more severe on smaller farms. No correlation was found between fur chewing and the type of fodder (pellets from different producers), temperature, humidity, type of cage equipment or frequency of dust baths. Moreover, the level of fur-biting animals kept on a deep-litter floor was estimated at 1.7% while the level of those kept on a wire floor and in a mixed system was 2.8-times higher (P≤0.05). The fact that 37.5% of the respondents perceived the predisposition to fur chewing to be hereditary was an important observation suggesting a direction for further research. A considerable proportion of those surveyed (37.5%) also pointed to a greater excitability among fur chewers. To sum up, results of the present study revealed that keeping animals on litter reduces the incidence of fur chewing. Breeders’ observations also suggest that fur biting may be determined genetically and/or connected with impulsive-compulsive disorders; however, more detailed studies are necessary to confirm these hypotheses.
- fur chewing
- stereotypical behaviour
- impulsive-compulsive disorder