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Food Prefrence in Captive Meercats (Suricata suricatta)

The masterprogram of applied ethology and animal biology 2011

My master project was to evaluate the food preference of the group of meerkats (Suricata suricatta) at Kolmården wild life park, Norrköping, Sweden. By using a 3-choois preference test I tested 9 different food items that is possible to get hold of al year around to ensure that the results could be used in the future. 8 meerkats were presented with all possible combinations of the 9 food items. The meerkats displayed the following food preference: cricket>zophobas>egg white>banana=tomato>orange>apple>cucumber>carrot. A correlation test between the food preference and nutritional content showed that the preference is significantly correlated with protein content. There is also a correlation with ash content and the food preference. There were no correlations with water, fat or vitamins and minerals. This suggests that as in the wild the captive meerkats at Kolmården wild life park seek food with a high protein content. A comparison between the individuals food preferences showed that the oldest individuals had most number of correlations with their food preference to other individuals. This suggests a observational learning capability from older to younger individuals, which earlier has been seen in wild meerkats.

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Responsible for this page: Agneta Johansson
Last updated: 05/19/11