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Click here for full page view with caption Set of pens for pygmy rabbits. Click here for full page view with caption Construction of a large pen for pygmy rabbits. Click here for full page view with caption Placement of an artificial burrow for pygmy rabbits. Click here for full page view with caption Entrance to an artificial burrow for pygmy rabbits. Click here for full page view with caption Pygmy rabbit by entrance to an artificial burrow. Click here for full page view with caption Artificial nest structure for brush rabbits. Click here for full page view with caption Large pen for brush rabbits. Click here for full page view with caption Large pen for brush rabbits. Click here for full page view with caption Large pen for brush rabbits. Click here for full page view with caption Large pen for brush rabbits. Click here for full page view with caption Large pen for brush rabbits. Click here for full page view with caption Riparian brush rabbit being released into nest structure. Click here for full page view with caption Shelter for hares. Click here for full page view with caption Romerolagus diazi - Volcano rabbit in pen. Click here for full page view with caption Rabbit hutch. Click here for full page view with caption Straw in hutch sleeping compartment. Rabbit hutch. Click here for full page view with caption Rabbit run with shelter. Click here for full page view with caption Rabbit hutch with attached run. Click here for full page view with caption Rabbit cage with newspaper and hay. Click here for full page view with caption Rabbit pen with hite etc. Click here for full page view with caption Rabbit pen with straw and litter tray. Click here for full page view with caption Rabbit pen with straw and furnishings. Click here for full page view with caption Rabbit hopping over furnishings. Click here for full page view with caption Rabbits in box on grass. Click here for full page view with caption. Large rabbit shed and run. Click here for full page view with caption. Large rabbit shed and run. Click here for full page view with caption. Water drinking bottle. Click here for full page view with caption Pet carrier as temporary (rehabilitation) rabbit accommodation. Click here for full page view with caption. Domestic rabbit hospital accommodation. Click here for full page view with caption. Rabbits in living room. Click here for full page view with caption Rabbits on covered sofa. Click here for full page view with caption. Rabbits in basket. Click here for full page view with caption. Rabbit sitting on mat. Click here for full page view with caption. Rabbit lying on floor. Click here for full page view with caption. Rabbit with cage in background. Click here for full page view with caption. Rabbit in box. Click here for full page view with caption. Rabbit in snow. Click here for full page view with caption. Rabbit on cushion. Click here for full page view with caption. Rabbit on grass. Click here for full page view with caption. Rabbit in "igloo" eating greens. Click here for full page view with caption. Litter tray. Click here for full page view with caption Bonobos: Multiple sleeping shelves at different heights. Click here for full page view with caption Bonoo outdoor enclosure with climbing frame. Click here for full page view with caption Deep woodwool covering indoor enclosure floor. Click here for full page view with caption Bonobo outdoor enclosure with bonobo using shelter in rain. Click here for full page view with caption Bonobo using shelter from rain in outdoor enclosure. Click here for full page view with caption Water feature in bonobo enclosure. Click here for full page view with caption Wall and glass boundary for bonobo enclosure. Click here for full page view with caption Large climbing frame in bonobo enclosure. Click here for full page view with caption Indoor enclosure with climbing structures, ropes etc. for bonobos. Click here for full page view with caption Bonobo enclsure with multiple climbing structures and raised net for resting. Click here for full page view with caption  Glass viewing window into bonobo enclosure. Click here for full page view with caption Bonobo enclosure with multiple climbing opportunities. Click here for full page view with caption Bonobo enclosure with climbing structures and elevated nets for resting. Click here for full page view with caption Bonobo wading chest-deep. Click here for full page view with caption

Introduction and General Information

  • Accommodation for mammals maintained in captivity should be designed to allow the animals to be maintained in good health, fulfil the 'five freedoms' as defined by the UK's Farm Animal Welfare Council, and to breed (if this is desired).
    • Both the physical and the behavioural needs of the species being kept should be considered in designing enclosures. (P62.10.w1, P73.4.w2)
      • The natural history and wild behaviour of the species should be considered. (B375.5.w5 [full text included])
    • In designing an enclosure it is important to be aware of the natural behavioural repertoire of the animals to be held in the enclosure, including their time budget, and to build facilities which allow the animals, as far as possible, to behave in a natural manner. (P73.4.w2)
    • The normal geographical range and habitat of the species should be taken into consideration regarding appropriate temperature, humidity, light conditions, substrate etc. (B438.7.w7)
    • The animal's general habits (e.g. terrestrial, arboreal, burrowing/digging, swimming, using mud wallows) should be taken into consideration. (B438.7.w7, B469.3.w3)
    • Enclosures, including their furnishings, plantings, dens, substrates etc. need to provide the inhabitants with places to rest and retreat, give birth and brood their young, groom themselves etc., and provide appropriate mental stimulation. (B469.3.w3)
  • Accommodation also needs to enable general management procedures, including monitoring, feeding, catching, separation of individuals, cleaning etc., to be carried out effectively and with minimum disturbance to the animals. 
    • Enclosure design should facilitate veterinary care.
  • The needs of maintenance staff, and of horticultural staff to tend plants within exhibits, should not be forgotten. (Th1)
  • Enclosures should of a sufficient size to hold the number of animals contained within them, or to look at the situation from the other direction, the number of animals placed within an enclosure should not exceed the carrying capacity of the enclosure: overstocking should be avoided, and thought must be given to expected population expansion.
  • Enclosures need to be designed to minimise the risk of animals in a herd or group being excessively dominated by one or more individuals, and to minimise the risk of permanent, unresolved conflict between conspecifics or between species. (D15)
  • Consideration should also be given to the aesthetic and educational nature of accommodation on public display. A good enclosure presents the animals to the visitors in an effective manner. (P73.4.w2)
    • Good enclosure design improves the visitors' experience by promoting normal behaviours and showing the animals within a wider living community (e.g. within a geographical area or habitat type).
    • Poor enclosure design detracts from educational and environmental messages by not allowing the animals to show normal behaviours, sometimes promoting abnormal behaviours, and failing to show the animals as a part of a wider animal and plant community.
    • Note: displays which look "naturalistic" but are based on concrete, plastic and paint do not provide an effective environment for the animals. (P73.4.w2)
  • For the animals, enclosures which are functional, i.e. allow them to express normal behaviours, are preferable compared to enclosures which look "natural" but which do not functionally reproduce the natural environment.
  • Enclosures should normally be designed so that, weather permitting, animals can spend much of their time outdoors.
  • While an enclosure may be designed for a given species, and with reference to available information on that species, flexibility is important to allow both for new knowledge about the species and for changes in occupants, for example as changing conservation status of different species results in changes in priorities regarding species to be kept. (B105.20.w5)
  • Consider whether an element of pasture rotation can be built into the design for grazing species. This can help reduce parasite build up, enhance maintenance of living plants and provide an element of novelty when animals are given access to a new area. (B105.20.w5)
  • Enclosures should be designed to allow species-appropriate feeding methods. See: Food and Feeding for Mammals (Mammal Husbandry and Management): Food presentation and behavioural Considerations
  • Enclosures should be designed to allow easy post-construction access of appropriate machinery to permit maintenance activities such as movement of large trees.
  • Enclosure design should provide choice for the occupants regarding factors such as light levels, microclimates, privacy and social interactions.
  • Enclosures need to be safe for both the animals living in them and the keepers caring for them, not including any sharp corners, areas where an animal could become trapped or entangled, nails or other sharp points or edges which can cause injury, toxic plants, other poisons, etc. which could be hazardous to the animals. They should provide sufficient flight distance, hiding places and safe substrates if the animal runs.
  • Use of high-quality materials, for example stainless steel, hydraulically-operated doors, non-slip flooring, reduces the risk of injury to both animals and personnel.

(B105.20.w5, B375.5.w5 [full text included], B438.7.w7, B440.1.w1, B469.3.w3, D15, J23.18.w1, J23.18.w2, P62.10.w1, P73.4.w2, Th1, V.w5)

Bear Consideration

Bears may be maintained in confinement for a variety of reasons. As well as zoos, safaris and wildlife parks, bears may be confined temporarily, following rescue and prior to release back to the wild, or may be maintained for long periods in sanctuaries following rescue from bear bile farms, "dancing bear" situations etc. In all these situations, the natural history of bears, and their social and psychological requirements, should be considered when designing their accommodation.
  • "An enclosure should be designed to provide all the requirements necessary for the care and maintenance of the bears and also, if needed, for reproduction." (D247.2.w2)
  • Bear enclosures made of concrete, rock and water only are no longer considered appropriate, since an enclosure of this type does not simulate the natural environment or encourage natural behaviour. (B407.w7, B447.w5)
    • For Ursus maritimus - Polar bears, it has been noted that "the complexity of the arctic environment cannot be simulated for the bears by providing an enclosure of white concrete with a blue pool." (P82.4.w2)
    • "A varied and complex environment provides the bears with choice and control over their environment, both of which are essential to animal welfare." (D315.1.w1)
  • Bears are large, strong mammals, adapted to climbing trees and/or difficult terrain, and with claws adapted for climbing and/or digging. Their ability to climb and to claw open trees should be remembered in designing enclosures. 
  • Bears are also intelligent, curious and adaptable, and their behavioural, social and psychological requirements must be taken into consideration in enclosure design. (P71.1995.w1)
    • Note: some individual bears may show more curiosity than others and a greater tendency to look for ways to get out of the enclosure. (N18.37.w1)
  • Enclosures should provide appropriate temperatures for the species of bear at all times of the year.
    • For Ursus maritimus - Polar bears, a shaded area should always be available in outdoor enclosures, for use in warm weather. Depending on the climate, it may be necessary to provide access to cooler areas such as ice piles, chilled water or air-conditioned areas in outdoor enclosures, or access to cooled indoor areas. (D315.1.w1)
    • The Manitoba Polar Bear Protection Regulation requires that there must, at all times of the year, be an area of the facility which the bear can access which is maintained at a comfortable temperature for the bear. (LCofC10 - [Full text provided])
    • When more than one polar bear is in an enclosure, there needs to be a cool area for each bear. (D315.1.w1)
  • Consideration should be given to the interaction between high temperatures and high humidity for Ursus maritimus - Polar bears. Enclosures should provide temperature and humidity gradients, allowing bears to regulate their temperature. Fans, misters, sprinklers, etc, may be used to change humidity in indoor or outdoor exhibits. (D315.1.w1)
  • "All enclosures should possess a dry resting and social area, pool and den." (D254)
  • Bear enclosures should provide their occupants with the opportunity to look out and survey their surroundings; old-fashioned bear pits are not good accommodation. (B407.w5)
  • For Ursus maritimus - Polar bear: "The habitat should provide comfort and encourage exploration, offering animals the choice between a variety of activities." (D315.1.w1)
  • Further information on psychological and behavioural requirements of bears in relation to accommodation design are provided in: Mammal Behavioural Requirements (Mammal Husbandry and Management)
Requirements for husbandry

For every outdoor bear enclosure there should be adjoining indoor facilities or holding areas allowing safe cleaning and enclosure maintenance work, and additional separation of bears. (D254, D315.1.w1)

  • Bear enclosures should be designed to facilitate the care of the bears and transfer of bears between dens/enclosures while not exposing the keepers to danger. (B288.w11)
    • Bears should be cared for "hands off", without the keeper ever being in the same living space as the bear(s). Remotely operated doors to and between dens allow pen maintenance with the bears in one area while another area is cleaned. (B288.w11)
  • It is critical that enclosures provide the ability to separate and move individual animals. (D315.1.w1)
  • When staff are entering the enclosure, or shifting animals between areas, preferably two people should be present. (D315.2.w2)

(B288.w11, B407.w5, B447.w5, D247.2.w2, D254, D315.1.w1, D315.2.w2, LCofC10, N18.37.w1, P71.1995.w1, P82.4.w2)

Lagomorph Consideration

Domestic rabbit
Rabbits are social animals; they are also prey animals, and they have a limited tolerance for high temperatures. They dig, gnaw, stand upright to look around, can jump, and need room to exercise. Accommodation should consider all these factors. (B600.2.w2, B602.13.w13, D360, J83.27.w1)

Both indoor and outdoor housing can be used for rabbits. (B602.13.w13)

  • Outdoor housing needs to protect rabbits from predators and rodent pests, temperature extremes (particularly high temperatures and direct summer sunshine), rain, draughts and (depending on the local environment) insect pests such as flies and mosquitoes. (B600.2.w2, B604.2.w2, B606.6.w6, B615.6.w6, B618.6.w6, N36.Jan05.w1)
  • For a house rabbit, a large area of a room, or a whole room, can be made "rabbit safe". (J213.7.w3)
  • Indoor-rabbits should be provided with time in a safe outdoor area. (J213.7.w3)
  • Materials used in construction of hutches, pens, runs etc. should be non-toxic. (B615.6.w6)
  • See also:
Temperature range
  • The ideal temperature range for rabbits is 15 - 20 C. (B600.2.w2)
    • Cold temperatures can be coped with if the rabbit is acclimatised and healthy with adequate body fat and access to shelter and ample bedding material. (B600.2.w2, B602.13.w13, J34.24.w3)
      • However, they should be out of draughts, and dry. (B618.6.w6)
    • Rabbits are distressed by hot temperatures and direct sunlight. (B600.2.w2, B602.13.w13)
      • A minimum-maximum thermometer should be used to confirm the temperatures where the rabbit is kept. (B600.2.w2)
      • Temperatures above 29.5 C (85 F) are poorly tolerated. (J34.24.w3)
Wild lagomorphs
  • Wild lagomorphs tend to be easily stressed and poorly adaptable if brought into captivity as adults; they generally do not adapt to small cages and should not be housed as if they were domestic rabbits. (B64.22.w8, B602.13.w13)
    • Hand-reared individuals may be tame and less in need of privacy, but often even hand-reared animals do not make good pets; there is probably both species-based and individual variation in whether an animal will become tame. (B338.1.w1, J46.126.w1, J332.28.w2)
  • The enclosure should provide "the essential elements of a natural setting" for the species being kept. (J23.14.w6, P1.1972.w2) Exact requirements will vary with the species.
    • It is generally important for wild lagomorphs to have room to get away (in large enclosures) and an area into which they retreat out of sight (in cages and enclosures of all sizes), as well as protection from inclement weather. (B64.22.w8, J332.10.w1)
    • All rabbits and similar species should have a complex environment to keep them fit and stimulated, and to allow
      natural behaviours. (V.w123)
    • At the Breeding Centre for Endangered Arabian Wildlife, Sharjah, where temperatures reach 50 C, major requirements for Arabian hares (Lepus capensis - Cape hare) are adequate ventilation and shade, and sufficient shelter areas. Additionally, it is important to ensure they have dry areas during rain, and adequate drainage. (V.w132)
    • For Brachylagus idahoensis - Pygmy rabbit, while adults can live in a pen with artificial substrate, and artificial burrows are readily accepted, a soil substrate in which the female can dig a burrow appears to be essential for successful rearing of young. (D371, D372)
    • The main requirements for accommodation for pikas (Ochotona spp.) appear to be a secure den (preferably underground), a grazing area, and, for rock pikas, a rock pile which they can hide in and use as an observation point. In hot climates, protection from excessive heat is also important. (J23.14.w6, J23.15.w6, P1.1972.w2)
  • It is important to remember and minimise the risks of hares seriously injuring or even killing themselves by impacting the edges of the enclosure when trying to flee. (B525.6.w6)
Ferret Consideration Given the opportunity, a ferret will create a burrow with separate sleeping area, food storage area and latrine (a vertical surface to defecate against), with several exits. Ideal housing provides these elements. (B232.3.w3)
  • Ferrets can be kept indoors or outdoors, in suitable climates. (B232.3.w3, B602.1.w1)
  • Ferrets can be kept indoors or outdoors. Ferrets kept outdoors must be provided with adequate protection against the elements. (B339.9.w9)
  • The optimum environmental temperature for ferrets is in the range of 15-20 C (60-68 F). They can cope with colder temperatures (towards freezing). (B117.w11)
  • Ferret accommodation should provide a dark, warm, dry and draught-free sleeping chamber, a feeding area, a latrine area away from the sleeping and feeding areas, space to exercise, security (safe for the ferret, escape proof, and safety from predators). (B652.4.w4, D402 - full text provided). It should also provide insulation against excessive heat, protection against draughts, and items of interest to the ferret. (B652.4.w4)
Bonobo Consideration
  • Accommodation for bonobos needs to provide a safe and healthy environment which meets the physical and psychological, including social, needs of this species. It should provide complexity and allow the bonobos as much control over their environment as possible. (D386.5.1.w5a, D386.App1.w6)
  • It is important to consider social groups in enclosure design. (D386.5.1.w5a)
  • The enclosure should also be designed to allow observation by staff, scientists and the public. Enclosure design should facilitate education of the public about bonobos, (D386.5.1.w5a) and should allow easy collection of observational data. (D386.App1.w6)
  • Containment barriers and other facility structures should be inspected daily and any damage should be repaired promptly. (D386.App1.w6)
Published Guidelines linked in Wildpro

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Behavioural and Breeding Considerations

  • Enclosures should be designed to allow mammals to carry out as many as possible of their natural behaviours (migration will necessarily be impossible). Depending on the species, large open areas, ground cover for hiding, water for swimming, plentiful perches or multiple objects for investigation may be of most importance. The size, shape, general layout, boundaries, construction materials, substrate, water, plants and other furnishings of an enclosure should reflect the needs of the particular species to be kept, including their social system (e.g. territorial versus colonial breeding) and main means of communication.
  • A well-designed enclosure and its contents provides behavioural stimulation for the occupants as well as fulfilling their physical requirements.
  • Enclosures need to provide opportunities for animals to rest, to hide from visitors, and to avoid one another.
    • In all enclosures with animals on public display, at least one side should be barred from access by the public to ensure that the animals are able to rest away from people and reduce stress.
    • Retreat areas should be appropriate for the species in terms of size, placement (e.g. at floor level or higher up), provision of sound insulation etc.
  • Social species should be kept in appropriate groups, without overcrowding.
  • Species which are normally solitary, usually should not be kept in groups.
  • Where solitary species are kept as pairs, consideration should be given to design features allowing visual separation, and providing one or more areas to which only the subordinate animal has access, or with areas separated by interconnecting doors operated only from the subordinate's area of the enclosure. 
  • Consideration must be given to the provision of separate pens for aggressive mammals, or for very shy and timid individuals. With highly territorial species, it may be necessary to ensure that pens are placed apart from the pens of conspecifics (for example with an unrelated species in the intervening pen) or to place visual barriers between the pens, in order to avoid excess time being spent in aggressive behaviour between individuals and to reduce the risk of animals injuring themselves on the intervening fence.
  • Separate enclosures out of sight, sound and olfactory contact may be required for males of some species except when required for breeding.
  • The risk of hybridisation if closely related species are maintained in the same enclosure must also be considered (see: Reproductive Management of Mammals).
  • For rearing of young, both correct social structure and provision of appropriate nesting/denning facilities may be important.
  • Consider whether or not prey and predators should be placed in enclosures within sight of one another.

N.B. The information below should be used in conjunction with the information on behaviour in the wild given in the section on Behaviour on the individual species pages. Where adequate information on behaviour is not available for a species, data on similar species may be useful.

(B33.1.w1, B105.20.w5, B214.2.3.w14, B438.7.w7, B469.3.w3, V.w5)

Bear Consideration

Bears may be maintained in confinement for a variety of reasons. As well as zoos, safaris and wildlife parks, bears may be confined temporarily, following rescue and prior to release back to the wild, or may be maintained for long periods in sanctuaries following rescue from bear bile farms, "dancing bear" situations etc. In all these situations, the natural history of bears, and their social and psychological requirements, should be considered when designing their accommodation.
  • "An enclosure should be designed to provide all the requirements necessary for the care and maintenance of the bears and also, if needed, for reproduction." (D247.2.w2)
  • Bear enclosures made of concrete, rock and water only are no longer considered appropriate, since an enclosure of this type does not simulate the natural environment or encourage natural behaviour. (B407.w7, B447.w5)
    • For Ursus maritimus - Polar bears, it has been noted that "the complexity of the arctic environment cannot be simulated for the bears by providing an enclosure of white concrete with a blue pool." (P82.4.w2)
    • "A varied and complex environment provides the bears with choice and control over their environment, both of which are essential to animal welfare." (D315.1.w1)
  • Bears are large, strong mammals, adapted to climbing trees and/or difficult terrain, and with claws adapted for climbing and/or digging. Their ability to climb and to claw open trees should be remembered in designing enclosures. 
  • Bears are also intelligent, curious and adaptable, and their behavioural, social and psychological requirements must be taken into consideration in enclosure design. (P71.1995.w1)
    • Note: some individual bears may show more curiosity than others and a greater tendency to look for ways to get out of the enclosure. (N18.37.w1)
  • Enclosures should provide appropriate temperatures for the species of bear at all times of the year.
    • For Ursus maritimus - Polar bears, a shaded area should always be available in outdoor enclosures, for use in warm weather. Depending on the climate, it may be necessary to provide access to cooler areas such as ice piles, chilled water or air-conditioned areas in outdoor enclosures, or access to cooled indoor areas. (D315.1.w1)
    • The Manitoba Polar Bear Protection Regulation requires that there must, at all times of the year, be an area of the facility which the bear can access which is maintained at a comfortable temperature for the bear. (LCofC10 - [Full text provided])
    • When more than one polar bear is in an enclosure, there needs to be a cool area for each bear. (D315.1.w1)
  • Consideration should be given to the interaction between high temperatures and high humidity for Ursus maritimus - Polar bears. Enclosures should provide temperature and humidity gradients, allowing bears to regulate their temperature. Fans, misters, sprinklers, etc, may be used to change humidity in indoor or outdoor exhibits. (D315.1.w1)
  • "All enclosures should possess a dry resting and social area, pool and den." (D254)
  • Bear enclosures should provide their occupants with the opportunity to look out and survey their surroundings; old-fashioned bear pits are not good accommodation. (B407.w5)
  • For Ursus maritimus - Polar bear: "The habitat should provide comfort and encourage exploration, offering animals the choice between a variety of activities." (D315.1.w1)
  • Further information on psychological and behavioural requirements of bears in relation to accommodation design are provided in: Mammal Behavioural Requirements (Mammal Husbandry and Management)
Requirements for husbandry

For every outdoor bear enclosure there should be adjoining indoor facilities or holding areas allowing safe cleaning and enclosure maintenance work, and additional separation of bears. (D254, D315.1.w1)

  • Bear enclosures should be designed to facilitate the care of the bears and transfer of bears between dens/enclosures while not exposing the keepers to danger. (B288.w11)
    • Bears should be cared for "hands off", without the keeper ever being in the same living space as the bear(s). Remotely operated doors to and between dens allow pen maintenance with the bears in one area while another area is cleaned. (B288.w11)
  • It is critical that enclosures provide the ability to separate and move individual animals. (D315.1.w1)
  • When staff are entering the enclosure, or shifting animals between areas, preferably two people should be present. (D315.2.w2)

(B288.w11, B407.w5, B447.w5, D247.2.w2, D254, D315.1.w1, D315.2.w2, LCofC10, N18.37.w1, P71.1995.w1, P82.4.w2)

Lagomorph Consideration

Domestic rabbit
Rabbits are social animals; they are also prey animals, and they have a limited tolerance for high temperatures. They dig, gnaw, stand upright to look around, can jump, and need room to exercise. Accommodation should consider all these factors. (B600.2.w2, B602.13.w13, D360, J83.27.w1)

Both indoor and outdoor housing can be used for rabbits. (B602.13.w13)

  • Outdoor housing needs to protect rabbits from predators and rodent pests, temperature extremes (particularly high temperatures and direct summer sunshine), rain, draughts and (depending on the local environment) insect pests such as flies and mosquitoes. (B600.2.w2, B604.2.w2, B606.6.w6, B615.6.w6, B618.6.w6, N36.Jan05.w1)
  • For a house rabbit, a large area of a room, or a whole room, can be made "rabbit safe". (J213.7.w3)
  • Indoor-rabbits should be provided with time in a safe outdoor area. (J213.7.w3)
  • Materials used in construction of hutches, pens, runs etc. should be non-toxic. (B615.6.w6)
  • See also:
Temperature range
  • The ideal temperature range for rabbits is 15 - 20 C. (B600.2.w2)
    • Cold temperatures can be coped with if the rabbit is acclimatised and healthy with adequate body fat and access to shelter and ample bedding material. (B600.2.w2, B602.13.w13, J34.24.w3)
      • However, they should be out of draughts, and dry. (B618.6.w6)
    • Rabbits are distressed by hot temperatures and direct sunlight. (B600.2.w2, B602.13.w13)
      • A minimum-maximum thermometer should be used to confirm the temperatures where the rabbit is kept. (B600.2.w2)
      • Temperatures above 29.5 C (85 F) are poorly tolerated. (J34.24.w3)
Wild lagomorphs
  • Wild lagomorphs tend to be easily stressed and poorly adaptable if brought into captivity as adults; they generally do not adapt to small cages and should not be housed as if they were domestic rabbits. (B64.22.w8, B602.13.w13)
    • Hand-reared individuals may be tame and less in need of privacy, but often even hand-reared animals do not make good pets; there is probably both species-based and individual variation in whether an animal will become tame. (B338.1.w1, J46.126.w1, J332.28.w2)
  • The enclosure should provide "the essential elements of a natural setting" for the species being kept. (J23.14.w6, P1.1972.w2) Exact requirements will vary with the species.
    • It is generally important for wild lagomorphs to have room to get away (in large enclosures) and an area into which they retreat out of sight (in cages and enclosures of all sizes), as well as protection from inclement weather. (B64.22.w8, J332.10.w1)
    • All rabbits and similar species should have a complex environment to keep them fit and stimulated, and to allow
      natural behaviours. (V.w123)
    • At the Breeding Centre for Endangered Arabian Wildlife, Sharjah, where temperatures reach 50 C, major requirements for Arabian hares (Lepus capensis - Cape hare) are adequate ventilation and shade, and sufficient shelter areas. Additionally, it is important to ensure they have dry areas during rain, and adequate drainage. (V.w132)
    • For Brachylagus idahoensis - Pygmy rabbit, while adults can live in a pen with artificial substrate, and artificial burrows are readily accepted, a soil substrate in which the female can dig a burrow appears to be essential for successful rearing of young. (D371, D372)
    • The main requirements for accommodation for pikas (Ochotona spp.) appear to be a secure den (preferably underground), a grazing area, and, for rock pikas, a rock pile which they can hide in and use as an observation point. In hot climates, protection from excessive heat is also important. (J23.14.w6, J23.15.w6, P1.1972.w2)
  • It is important to remember and minimise the risks of hares seriously injuring or even killing themselves by impacting the edges of the enclosure when trying to flee. (B525.6.w6)
Ferret Consideration Given the opportunity, a ferret will create a burrow with separate sleeping area, food storage area and latrine (a vertical surface to defecate against), with several exits. Ideal housing provides these elements. (B232.3.w3)
  • Ferrets can be kept indoors or outdoors, in suitable climates. (B232.3.w3, B602.1.w1)
  • Ferrets can be kept indoors or outdoors. Ferrets kept outdoors must be provided with adequate protection against the elements. (B339.9.w9)
  • The optimum environmental temperature for ferrets is in the range of 15-20 C (60-68 F). They can cope with colder temperatures (towards freezing). (B117.w11)
  • Ferret accommodation should provide a dark, warm, dry and draught-free sleeping chamber, a feeding area, a latrine area away from the sleeping and feeding areas, space to exercise, security (safe for the ferret, escape proof, and safety from predators). (B652.4.w4, D402 - full text provided). It should also provide insulation against excessive heat, protection against draughts, and items of interest to the ferret. (B652.4.w4)
Bonobo consideration Bonobos are social animals with a fission-fusion society. In the wild, bonobos live in large groups, which come together at night but split into smaller foraging parties during the day. (Bonobo Pan paniscus - Social Behaviour - Territoriality - Predation - Learning (Literature Reports))
  • Social groups in captivity are smaller than in the wild (more the size of foraging parties), but accommodation needs to permit bonobos to form and change subgroups, as well as permitting individuals to go apart from the group.

Associated techniques linked from Wildpro

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Perimeter Fences/ Barriers

Perimeter barriers to enclosures containing mammals have to fulfil several functions, including keeping animals in; keeping members of the public out; restricting access by potential predators or pests; allowing safe access to the enclosure for personnel; and allowing access of vehicles necessary for enclosure maintenance.
Perimeter barriers to keep the animals inside their enclosure

Perimeter fences or other barriers are designed to keep animals inside their enclosure.

  • The standard forms of perimeter barriers include fences, bars and walls, dry moats, water-filled moats, electric fencing and plate glass.
    • Different barriers are suitable for different species and designs of enclosures.
  • Barriers must be both designed and properly maintained to fulfil their function of keeping animals within their enclosure. (D15)
    • It is important that vegetation or other objects in the enclosure do not assist the animals to escape. (D15)
  • Barriers for species which dig need to be constructed to prevent the animals escaping under the barrier. (D15)
  • Barriers for species which climb or leap need to be designed taking these abilities into consideration. (D15)
  • Supporting posts of fences need to be fixed firmly into the ground; netting or other fencing material needs to be attached to posts or other supports in a manner such that it will not become detached, or dislodge the supports, under the weight of the animal in the enclosure. (D15)
  • Supporting posts for mammal enclosures generally should be on the outside of the fencing; if on the inside there is a risk of animals injuring themselves by running into the posts when fleeing along the fence. (B472.10.w10)
    • This is most important for species such as antelope which are most likely to run along fence lines. (V.w5)
    • For some arboreal species, placing the supporting structure on the inside of netting makes the structure into part of the arboreal habitat. (V.w5)
  • Barriers which are not sufficiently strong may result in escapes and/or animal injuries when the barriers are broken. (B105.20.w5)
  • Note: Barriers need to be designed and constructed to withstand chronic testing and wear by inhabitants, as well as the sudden stresses which may result when an animal panics.
  • Note: In addition to the primary enclosure barrier, a further barrier should be present around the outside of the whole animal collection, within which an animal may remain contained even if it has escaped from its enclosure.
Entry/Exit points from and between enclosures
  • Gates and doors need to be at least as strong and able to contain the animals in the enclosure as the rest of the external barrier is. (D15)
    • It must not be possible for the animals to lift gates off their hinges or to undo locks or other securing devices. (D15)
    • All gates/slides/doors, including those between enclosures or sections of enclosures, must be designed to allow safe operation (regarding safety of both staff and animals).
    • Staff must be able to visually inspect an enclosure and confirm that it is empty before unlocking the door/gate and entering the enclosure. (B438.24.w24)
  • Barred doors (or fences) are useful for introducing new individuals, allowing visual, aural and olfactory contact, and possibly limited physical contact, before animals are allowed free access to one another.
  • Entry points for hoofstock paddocks and other large enclosures should allow the entry of vehicles, for example to allow the loading/unloading of landscaping materials (trees, substrates etc.). (B105.20.w5, Th1)
  • N.B. Doors and gates must be kept locked to minimise the risk of animals escaping and so that members of the public do not have access to enclosures which they are not supposed to enter. (D15, P62.10.w1, V.w5)
  • Double doors or safety porches are advisable to minimise the risk of escapes. (B375.5.w5 [full text included], P62.10.w1, V.w5)
    • For some species, safety porches additionally make useful small areas for catching animals. (V.w5)
  • Where cage or den doors exit to a service passage, the door from that service passage to the outside should be constructed and secured such that it will withstand the occupants of the enclosure, so that it acts as an additional barrier in the event of an animal escaping into the service passage.
Roofs
  • Roofs provide weather protection, act to contain the animals, and may prevent pests or predators from entering. (P62.10.w1, V.w5)
  • Roof construction needs to consider the weather (e.g. sunlight levels, rain, snowfall, wind strength), the species to be contained (e.g. size, strength, curiosity) and whether it is intended to provide a barrier to predators.
  • The sound resulting from the interaction of roof materials with weather (e.g. heavy rain, high winds) should be taken into consideration.

(P62.10.w1, V.w5)

Perimeter barriers and local wildlife
  • An additional function of the perimeter barrier is to keep local predators out of the enclosure. While this may not be very important for large, strong mammals, it is of increased importance for smaller species.
  • Barriers also may be designed to discourage or exclude pest species such as rodents.
  • Maintaining barriers between animals under human care and local wildlife species is also important for disease control. The importance of this varies depending on (a) the species being kept; (b) local species present; (c) diseases present in either the local wildlife or in the species inside the enclosure. 
    • If there is a disease in local wildlife to which the species being kept is susceptible, there is a duty of care to ensure that the animals are vaccinated against the disease and/or do not come into contact with the local wildlife from which the disease can be transmitted.
    • If there is a disease in the animals being kept, to which local species are susceptible, then there is an obligation to take necessary precautions to prevent that disease entering the local population.
    • Note: wildlife species such as Procyon lotor - Common Raccoon, which might ordinarily keep out of enclosures containing carnivores, may be more likely to enter such enclosures, if they are able to do so, when infected with Rabies virus. See: Behavioural Aspects of Raccoon Rabies Transmission
Perimeters and the public
  • In any collection which is open to the public, perimeter barriers of enclosures need to keep members of the public safely outside the enclosure; at the same time, the barrier needs to allow visitors to see the animals.
  • Barriers need to keep animals and the public apart sufficiently to minimise the risks of disease transmission in either direction. (D15)
  • Ideally in a zoo, barriers are as unobtrusive as possible to the viewing public, and do not prevent them from seeing and photographing the animals in the enclosures. However, barriers should also be designed to:
    • Give the animals some areas into which they can retreat away from humans and/or away from human view - there should always be at least one side of the enclosure to which the public do not have access and towards which the animals can retreat safely.
    • Be safe for the public;
    • Encourage the public to see the animals in a positive way.
  • Moats are advantageous in allowing visitors an unimpeded view of the animals, ideal for photography, and in helping to provide a naturalistic look to the enclosure (since there is no visible barrier).
    • A low rail, bushes or similar may be used to discourage visitors from approaching too close to their side of the moat.
    • Regulations may require a stand-off barrier to keep visitors safe from the potential hazard of a moat.
    • A disadvantage of moats may be the increased distance between the animals and the public. (P77.1.w12)
  • Prickly plant species, some of which are very ornamental in appearance, can be used as a component of safety and stand-off barriers. (J23.29.w3)
Perimeter barriers and risks of injury
  • For timid animals in particular, barriers must be visible and recognised as barriers to reduce the risk of frightened animals running into the barrier (e.g. chain-link fencing) and hurting themselves. (B469.3.w3)
  • Mesh sizes and gaps between bars should be appropriate for the species, minimising the risk of part of the animal becoming trapped and the animal injuring itself. (B214.2.3.w14)
  • Care must be taken that animals cannot put a limb, horn, antler or head through a barrier and then get caught and be unable to withdraw, or injure itself pulling away. 
    • Note that an animal caught by its head tends to panic and to pull back and down, therefore will be unable to escape if the gap between bars or strands of wire is greater at the top than at the bottom.
    • Chain-link fencing may not be the most suitable barrier for ungulates with horns, since horns may become caught in the mesh. (B105.20.w5)
  • Where moats (wet or dry) are used, these should be designed so that an animal which falls in the moat is not likely to be severely injured by the fall, and so that it will be able to climb back out of the moat.
  • Door/gate/slide design should minimise the risk of animal injury (e.g. by using hydraulic doors). (B105.20.w5)
  • Note: except where an animal will be housed individually, care must be taken to avoid any acute corners (less than ninety degrees) being built into the enclosure, since there is a risk of subordinate individuals being trapped in such places by more dominant individuals. If such angles would occur, secondary barriers should be used to make them inaccessible. (B105.19.w6, V.w5)

(B105.19.w6, B214.2.3.w14, B375.5.w5 [full text included], B469.3.w3, B472.10.w10, J23.29.w3, D15, P1.1976.w3, P62.10.w1, P77.1.w12, Th1, V.w5)

Bear Consideration

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External barriers must keep the bears in the enclosure and prevent direct contact between bears and visitors. (D247.2.w2)
  • Bears are large, strong and can climb, dig and swim well. This produces some challenges in designing the perimeter barriers for bear enclosures.
    • Bear enclosures must be secure despite the destructive abilities of bears, which may be able to rip open doors, fences or walls. (B10.48.w43, B336.51.w51)
    • Skilful climbers such as Ursus americanus - American black bear, Melursus ursinus - Sloth bear and Tremarctos ornatus - Spectacled bear are able to climb out over barriers which are sufficient to keep the less agile species in. It is important to avoid providing clawholds in barriers of rock or concrete, while barred dens should be covered (topped). Even a 1 cm projection on a wall may allow bears sufficient grip for climbing. (B288.w11, B407.w5)
    • For strong diggers such as Melursus ursinus - Sloth bear, it is important to make sure that sturdy barriers continue underground. (J328.93.w1)
    • The jumpin abilities of bears also must be respected. For example, Ursus maritimus - Polar bears are able to jump at least six feet horizontally and four feet vertically. (D315.1.w1)
  • Dry moats, vertical walls, bars, and laminated safety glass may be used. (D254)
  • One-inch diameter steel bars are required where bars are used e.g. on windows or doors. (B10.43.w48)
  • For Ursus maritimus - Polar bear, combinations of solid masonry, glass (at least two inches thick), heavy (4-6 gauge) mesh, bars and gunnite may be used. (D315.1.w1)
  • Traditional "bear pits" were effective in forming barriers which the bears could not escape out of. However, this design results in visitors looking down on the bears, which may be detrimental in:
    • Diminishing the bears' status in the eyes of the visitors (and possibly encouraging them to throw things at the bears);
    • Removing the ability of the bears to "escape" from potential predators (humans) by retreating upwards into a tree - this is a normal response of several of the bear species to danger.
    • Removing the ability of bears to see people/animals which they are aware of by sound/scent.
  • The Manitoba Polar Bear Protection Regulation requires that barriers (except viewing windows) keep the public at least 6 m from the bears. Additionally, all walls must be made from non-toxic materials which are not highly abrasive, and which are easy to clean. (LCofC10 - [Full text provided])
  • In the USA, requirements for additional perimeter fencing set out by APHIS for Ursus maritimus - Polar bear are as follows: "On and after May 17, 2000, all outdoor housing facilities (i.e., facilities not entirely indoors) must be enclosed by a perimeter fence that is of sufficient height to keep animals and unauthorized persons out. Fences less than 8 feet high for polar bears or less than 6 feet high for other marine mammals must be approved in writing by the Administrator. The fence must be constructed so that it protects marine mammals by restricting animals and unauthorized persons from going through it or under it and having contact with the marine mammals, and so that it can function as a secondary containment system for the animals in the facility when appropriate. The fence must be of sufficient distance from the outside of the primary enclosure to prevent physical contact between animals inside the enclosure and animals or persons outside the perimeter fence. Such fences less than 3 feet in distance from the primary enclosure must be approved in writing by the Administrator." (LCofC9)
  • Note: barriers, access doors and locks should be checked daily and any repairs needed should be carried out immediately, since all bears tend to be curious and they will test barriers etc. (N18.37.w1, P77.1.w17)

(D247.2.w2, D315.1.w1, LCofC9, N18.37.w1, P77.1.w17)

Barrier height
  • The total height of the barrier should be 3.8 - 4.0 m; for Ursus maritimus - Polar bear a height of at least 4.5 m is required. (D247.2.w2)
    • This includes a 0.5 m overhang, either of smooth material or electrified. (D247.2.w2)
    • Local weather conditions, including snow drift, must be considered in choosing barrier height. (D247.2.w2)
  • Vertical walls should be at least 3.7 m (12 ft.) high (not including for polar bears). (D254)
  • The enclosure's topography must be considered, to ensure that bears cannot jump or climb out from e.g. a steep bank close to the fence. (D247.2.w2)
  • Trees must be far enough away from the boundary so that they will not fall on the fence if blown over by the wind. (D247.2.w2)
Underground barrier
  • This is required since all the bear species dig well. (D247.2.w2)
  • A concrete wall of 1 - 2 m deep underground can be used. (D247.2.w2)
  • Metal rods have been used, driven 10 cm deep into solid underlying rock. (D247.2.w2)
  • A horizontal net, 30 cm underground, stretching 1 m into the enclosure from the fence, can be used. (D247.2.w2)
  • Weldmesh fencing continuing 1 m underground with an inward horizontal return of a further 1m has been used. (J23.29.w2)
  • Chain-link netting was taken two feet down then three feet into the enclosure. (P77.1.w12)
  • For Ursus maritimus - Polar bear, it is suggested that for chain link contacting a natural substrate, the fencing should be buried to 36 inches deep. (D315.1.w1)
  • Note: "Buried barrier materials should be of a type that will not disintegrate over time." (D315.1.w1)
Moats
  • Broad dry moats can effectively contain bears and allow an unimpeded view by the public. (B288.w11) 
    • A dry moat of 4.3 m (14 ft) is considered adequate as a barrier to prevent large bears from exiting the enclosure. (B288.w11)
      • A dry moat should have a minimum width and depth of 12 ft (3.7 m) (not including for polar bears). (D254)
      • The AZA Bear TAG recommends that a dry moat for Ursus maritimus - Polar bear should be at least 16 feet wide. (D315.1.w1)
      • The Manitoba Polar Bear Protection Regulation requires a dry moat at least 6 m deep and with a barrier or a device to break the fall if a polar bear falls in (LCofC10 - [Full text provided])
      • Note: an Ursus arctos - Brown bear in good physical condition (wild caught or bred in a large enclosure) can, if excited, jump a horizontal distance of 6 m. (D247.2.w2)
      • Rough steps or holds should be placed on the enclosure side of the moat to allow a bear to climb back out of the moat if necessary (they are seldom used by bears to climb into the moat). (B288.w11)
      • Alternatively, a ramp may be provided for this purpose. (J23.8.w1)
    • Water moats are not suitable for bears - which swim well - unless the wall on the external side of the moat is sufficiently high to prevent escape.
      • Minimum depths on the outer side ranging from 1.8 - 3.7 m for Helarctos malayanus - Sun bear, 2.9 - 3.4 m for Melursus ursinus - Sloth bear and 3.5 - 6.1 m for bears in general have been recommended. (J23.16.w5)
      • The outer walls should be smooth and free of hand- or foot-holds which the bears could use to climb up the wall. (J23.16.w5)
      • It should be remembered that the effective height may be reduced with packed snow and ice in winter. (J23.16.w5)
        • During freezing weather the water level may be reduced and ice broken up to prevent bears climbing out from the frozen surface. (J23.11.w1)
      • It has been suggested that Helarctos malayanus - Sun bear may not swim and that therefore deep water moats should not be used for this species. (D247.2.w2)
  • If the space available for enclosure plus barrier is relatively small, then use of a moat which does not form part of the useable area of the enclosure is not the best use of the available space. (V.w5)
  • On the outer (public) side, approach to the moat edge may be discouraged by planting a barrier of thorny bushes; a spiked fence may be used where visitors can get close to the moat. (J23.11.w1)
Electrified fencing
  • Electric fencing may be used as primary fencing or as an auxiliary barrier.
  • Electrified wires have been used as an auxiliary fence for bears. (P85.1.w6)
  • An electrified wire at chest height (to an adult bear) may be used to discourage Ursus maritimus - Polar bear  from trying to manipulate a fence. (D315.1.w1)
  • Electrified wires can be used to keep bears inside an enclosure with an otherwise climbable fence. (D247.2.w2, P77.1.w12)
  • If electric fencing is to prevent bear escapes, the bears must be introduced to electric wires before being put into the enclosure using this type of barrier. (D247.2.w2)
  • If an electrified fence is to be used for bears it is important to ensure that:
    • The electricity source is reliable (e.g. mains). (P85.1.w6)
      • Solar panels alone are not sufficient in adverse weather conditions (e.g. extended overcast periods). (P85.1.w6)
    • A strong shock is provided to deter bears: at least 8.0 joules of power. (P85.1.w6)
    • If used for remote enclosures, the fence must be as close as possible to maintenance-free. (P85.1.w6)
    • The ground net extends well beyond the inner, stand-off fence so that the bears get a significant shock if they approach the fence. (P85.1.w6)
    • The ground net is strongly attached to the outer fence with wire, and must be well fixed down with anchoring pegs, so that it is not possible for the bears to remove it and dig under the fence. (P85.1.w6)
    • The design is appropriate for the local terrain and weather conditions, allowing for temperature extremes, expected snowfall etc. (P85.1.w6)
    • The personality of the bears is taken into account, with aggressive, non-compatible individuals kept separate from other bears. (P85.1.w6)
    • Note: designing a fence for winter weather extremes can be bypassed by bear management such that the bears hibernate during the winter and are locked into dens during this time. (P85.1.w6)
  • An electric fence box at 8000 volts has been used with Ursus maritimus - Polar bear. Electric fencing needs to be attached to a concrete footing. (D315.1.w1)
Glass/windows
Entry/Exit points from the enclosure
  • Entrances for keepers into the enclosure should be double-doored, with a solid metal outer door and a barred inner door. (D247.2.w2)
  • A large entrance allowing large vehicles into the enclosure is essential for maintenance of large structures and for aspects of environmental enrichment. See: Mammal Behavioural Requirements (Mammal Husbandry and Management)
  • Bridges which swivel to allow access over a dry moat between enclosures must be fixed firmly at both ends to prevent large bears from moving the bridge. (D247.2.w2)
    • Older bears may be reluctant to walk over a narrow bridge; in such cases the bridge must be made wider. (D247.2.w2)
  • All entrances/exits must have a locking mechanism and redundant security devices such as a security pin or a second lock should be present on all gates securing Ursus maritimus - Polar bear from the public and from keeper areas. (D315.1.w1, D315.2.w2)
  • To avoid injury, there should be visual access for the keepers, by means of mirrors if necessary for blind corners, to all parts of the exhibit and to all shift doors. (D315.1.w1)
  • There should be at least two doors/gates between the bears and public areas. (D315.2.w2)
Entry/exit points between indoor and outdoor enclosures or between outdoor enclosures
  • Doors/slides should be sufficiently large to allow the largest bear to enter and exit easily: 1.5 x 1.0 m for Ursus maritimus - Polar bear and Ursus arctos - Brown bear, and 1. 0 x 0.6 m for other bear species. (D247.2.w2)
  • Double slides, one solid and one barred, are recommended to facilitate introduction of new bears. (D247.2.w2)
  • A raised threshold is required to prevent the door mechanism becoming blocked by straw or branches. (D247.2.w2)
  • It is preferable to have an arrangement allowing the doors to be set at different heights/widths, providing escape routes for smaller individuals. (D247.2.w2)
  • Vertical slides are preferable rather than horizontal slides. (D247.2.w2)
  • Slides or guillotine doors should be remotely operated, whether electric, hydraulic or manual. (D315.1.w1)
  • All entrances/exits must have a locking mechanism. (D247.2.w2)
    • Locks on entrances between sections of the enclosure, as well as those to the outside, must be un-operable by bears. (B472.10.w10)
  • Maintenance and repairs are facilitated if the slide is attached to the building rather than built into it. (D247.2.w2)
  • Ensure that the environment immediately around doorways is not unattractive to the bears: avoid gutters dripping immediately over the door (this is discouraging to a bear being asked to leave a warm, dry den, for example), or puddles the bears will have to walk through to pass through the entrance. (D247.8.w8)
  • Numbers: 
    • There should be at least two entrances/exits between the outside enclosure and the inside cages, so that a dominant animal cannot block the only access point; there should also be an additional access to a cubbing area. (B407.w5, D247.2.w2)
    • There should be at least two accesses between outdoor enclosures, so that a dominant animal cannot block the only access point. (D247.2.w2)
Roofs
  • In enclosures which are roofed over, it is essential that the roof is secure.
    • It may be necessary to line the roof with sheet metal. (D247.3.w3)
    • Timber lining may be provided on a sacrificial basis and replaced as the bears destroy it. (D247.3.w3)
Perimeters and the public
  • In a zoo setting, as well as considering the needs of the bears in designing external barriers, the needs of the visitors should be considered. (D247.2.w2)
  • It is preferable that the public are not able to look into the enclosure from all sides.
    • The requirements for very large enclosures with varied topography may be different, if the bears are able to get out of sight of the perimeter at various points within the enclosure.
    • For Ursus maritimus - Polar bear, it is recommended that there should be public access on no more than 180 degrees of the enclosure circumference to ensure bears can hide from the public as well as from one another, and there should be at least one barrier per bear inside the enclosure allowing them to hide from view. (D315.1.w1)
      • The Manitoba Polar Bear Protection Regulation requires that the exhibit area must not allow viewing by the public from more than 180 degrees, and that the exhibit area contains at least one visual barrier per bear allowing the bear to remove itself from public view. (LCofC10 - [Full text provided])
  • For Ursus maritimus - Polar bear, it is suggested that barriers should keep the public at least 20 ft away from the bears, by means of barrier walls/dry moats, except for viewing through a window; if glass is used, this should be at least 5 cm (two inches) thick, and placed so that bears can get out of view if they wish to do so. (D315.1.w1)
Disguising barriers
  • Potentially unsightly barriers may be partially disguised by careful siting - behind natural vegetation or banks inside the enclosure, planting of vegetation outside the barrier. (J23.29.w2)
  • Care must be taken that banks or vegetation inside the enclosure is not close enough to provide an escape route. 

External barriers which have been used successfully include:

  • Dry moat
  • Dry moat plus barred fence. (D247.2.w2)
  • Water moat plus walls. (D247.2.w2)
  • Walls with windows, or walls plus large glass viewing panels.
    • A pit-like situation should be avoided. (D247.2.w2)
    • Use of glass viewing panels may limit the objects which can be given to the bears, due to risks of damaging the glass. (D247.2.w2)
    • Laminated safety glass should be at least 5 cm (2 ins) thick. (D254)
  • Weldmesh, 10 x 5 cm, together with electric wires from ground to 1.5 m and at the top (including the overhang). (D247.2.w2)
    • If electric fencing is to prevent bear escapes, the bears must be introduced to electric wires before being put into the enclosure using this type of barrier. (D247.2.w2)
  • Weldmesh 3.0 m high with 1.2 m corrugated iron on the top. (D247.2.w2, J23.29.w2)
    • The corrugated iron can be replaced with materials such as strong plastic sheeting (e.g. 6 mm bullet-proof Lexan sheeting) to improve appearance and viewing. (J23.29.w2)
  • Chain-link netting with an electrified wire at ten feet and a triple strand of electrified wire on brackets angling into the enclosure at 17 feet up. (P77.1.w12)
    • This was used for Tremarctos ornatus - Spectacled bear to provide extra space for bears which were in a moated enclosure; the male bear tried the fence twice and quickly retreated from the electrified wires both times. (P77.1.w12)
  • Barred fence with an overturned top. (D247.2.w2)
    • This fence (at Whipsnade Wild Animal Park) is old-fashioned but effective. (D247.2.w2)
  • Electric fencing at 10 cm intervals to 2 .4 m, on 20 cm diameter poles, initially backed by a 2.2 m high weldmesh fence (mesh size 5 by 10 cm), which was removed after a few months. (D269.w1)
  • Double wire netted fence and low electric fence at the Bear Forest, Ouwehand Zoo, Rhenen, The Netherlands holding Ursus arctos - Brown bears in a two-hectare forested enclosure. (J345.12.w1)

Lagomorph Consideration

Domestic rabbit
  • Barriers for any outside enclosure or housing have to be sufficient to keep rabbits from burrowing out or jumping over the barriers, and also sufficient to keep out both large and small predators. (B600.2.w2, B601.1.w1)
  • Pen wall height needed will depend on the size of the rabbits, but in general a minimum of 1.25 m is suggested. (J83.27.w1)
    • Care is needed not to position enrichment objects where rabbit could use these to jump out of the pen. (J83.27.w1)
  • A mesh top on a pen will prevent rabbits from jumping out. (B601.1.w1)
  • If rabbits are to have free run of a garden, the whole garden should be made escape-proof. (D350)
Materials
  • Any outdoor cage or hutch should have sturdy construction able to withstand local predators and to keep the rabbit from escaping. (J213.7.w3)
  • Wire mesh can be used. (B600.2.w2)
  • Wire mesh can be used for the roof of a pen. (B601.1.w1)
  • Chicken wire tends to rust and may be gnawed through by rabbits.
  • Gardens: 30 cm of wire mesh or concrete plates should keep the rabbit from digging out. (B602.13.w13)
  • Grazing ark: Wire mesh on a solid frame. (B602.13.w13) This should be sufficiently sturdy to keep the rabbit in and predators out. 
    • The ark should be fastened to the ground (e.g. with pegs) to ensure the rabbit cannot tip it up. (B602.13.w13)
    • An area should be shaded. (B602.13.w13)
    • A grazing ark or portable wire mesh pen can be moved around a lawn, providing new areas for the rabbit to graze. (B600.2.w2)
  • Note: Hutches, and indoor housing of house rabbits will be considered within the section Housing/Denning Facilities below.
Wild lagomorphs
For fences/walls of enclosures, small mesh, strong gauge wire or solid walls are needed to protect lagomorphs from both large predators such as foxes and small predators such as weasels and stoats; these materials also restrict entry of wild rodents. Roof netting is required if aerial predators need to be kept out. Small mesh size or solid materials near the bottom of a pen also prevents young lagomorphs from exiting through the barrier. (J40.35.w3, B169.24.w24, J332.87.w1)
  • Fences used to contain wild Oryctolagus cuniculus - European rabbit for study were six feet high and sunk into the ground. (B617.2.w2)
  • Netting over the tops of pens provides protection from predators climbing or flying into the pens. (B169.24.w24)
  • If pens are not netted consider whether rabbits may climb out; 
    • Angling the fence inwards at the top may be needed to prevent rabbits climbing over the fence. (B551)
    • Angle the top 15 cm (six inches) of fence, at a 45 degree angle. (D365)
  • Large pens to contain wild Oryctolagus cuniculus - European rabbit were fenced using 8 ft long wooden posts, sunk 18 inches into the ground. Wire netting (1 inch mesh) was laid in a trench one foot deep (providing six inches of netting on both sides of the fence); a further three feet of one inch netting was placed along the fence posts and attached to the buried netting before the trench was filled in. A further four feet depth of 1.5 inch mesh netting was attached on top of this, giving a netting height of five feet. This fence was found to be rabbit-proof. (J81.30.w1)
    • Barbed wire placed at the junction of the one-inch and 1.5-inch netting, with a second strand on the top of the netting, effectively deterred foxes. (J81.30.w1)
  • For Oryctolagus cuniculus - European rabbit, maximum 31 mm hexagonal mesh with 1.2 mm (18 gauge) diameter wire (1.0 mm i.e. 19 gauge is too thin as rabbits can chew through this), or 50 x 25 mm rectangular (weldmesh) is needed to prevent juvenile rabbits passing through the wire. (B551, D365, P69.12.w1)
  • Note: caged wild Oryctolagus cuniculus - European rabbit have been reported to chew through aluminium rod used for caging. (B169.24.w24)
  • Solid fencing or small mesh size is required to contain young leverets; two Lepus americanus - Snowshoe hare day-old leverets were able to squeeze through one-inch mesh when chased; 0.25 inch mesh held them successfully. (J40.35.w3)
  • To reduce the risk of injury of wild lagomorphs leaping when startled, the height of covered pens should be sufficient that the animal will not hit the covering barrier in mid-leap (i.e. higher than the inhabitants can leap) (B525.11.w11) or alternatively sufficiently low that leaping upwards and reaching sufficient momentum to cause injury is not possible.
    • Both wild-caught, extremely timid Lepus europaeus - Brown hare and hand-reared individuals and their offspring were maintained successfully in pens 8 ft tall. (J46.126.w1)
  • It is important to remember and minimise the risks of hares seriously injuring or even killing themselves by impacting the edges of the enclosure when trying to flee. This may be minimised by keeping hares which have not adapted to captivity in small enclosures in which they cannot build up sufficient momentum to injure themselves in this way, and, if necessary, by padding the sides of the enclosure. (B525.6.w6)
  • At Basle Zoo, Lepus europaeus - Brown hare were kept and bred in pens with half the area fully enclosed (wooden walls) and the other half wire netted (3/4 inch (1.9 cm) mesh). (B525.11.w11)
  • At the Breeding Centre for Endangered Arabian Wildlife, Sharjah, outdoor enclosures for Arabian hares (Lepus capensis - Cape hare) have fences three metres high; the bottom 50 cm has a fine mesh, 10 x 10 mm, to ensure small leverets cannot pass through the fence. The smaller enclosures have a netting roof, but the larger enclosures are open topped. (V.w132)
  • For Romerolagus diazi - Volcano rabbit outdoor pens at Chapultepec Zoo, Mexico City, Mexico, a wire mesh fence, buried to 40 cm. (J23.26.w2)
  • Perspex has been used for a roofing material on pens for Romerolagus diazi - Volcano rabbit. (J51.19.w1)
  • Cages used for holding individual Romerolagus diazi - Volcano rabbits or pairs of rabbits were made of wood. (J51.19.w1)
  • For Brachylagus idahoensis - Pygmy rabbit, fencing used successfully includes solid galvanised steel lower walls (stock tanks), mesh hardware cloth, and chain link covered internally with hardware cloth. 1 x 2 inch weldmesh, with the joins between rolls clamped together, has been used to cover the bottom of pens. Solid roofs, netting or hardware cloth have been used over small pens and 1 x 2 inch weldmesh netting over large pens, to protect against avian predators. These materials were designed both to keep the rabbits in and to keep predators, including small weasels (Mustela spp.), out. (J332.87.w1, V.w134)
    • Additional protection against predators on larger pens includes a barrier of crushed rock 2-3 ft wide (0.3 - 0.9 m wide) around the perimeter on the outside to discourage predators digging in, and an external electric wire. (V.w134)
  • To confine populations of Sylvilagus floridanus - Eastern cottontail in a large pen for study, fences were 1 inch by 1.75 inch mesh, with the bottom 24 inches of 16 gauge mesh, galvanised, and the remaining height 20-gauge mesh. The fence was 6 ft above ground level and extended for eight inches below ground level. (J524.13.w1)
    • Double-stranded electric fence was used to keep out ground predators. (J524.13.w1)
  • To confine Sylvilagus aquaticus - Swamp rabbit in a large pen for study, 1 inch hexagonal mesh was used, with the bottom 24 inches of 16 gauge mesh, galvanised, and the remaining height 20-gauge mesh. The fence was 6 ft above ground level and extended for 12 inches below ground level. (J524.13.w1)
    • Double-stranded electric fence was used to keep out ground predators. (J524.13.w1)
  • For riparian brush rabbits Sylvilagus bachmani riparius (Sylvilagus bachmani - Brush rabbit) being bred for reintroduction in San Joaquin Valley, California, fences were built as follows: 6 foot wide hardware cloth laid horizontally in a 6-12 inch deep trench, then 6 ft of fencing vertically, placed along the middle of this (i.e. to give three foot of horizontal fencing below ground both inside and outside the pen), the vertical fencing being at least 2.14 m (seven feet) high, including a two-foot band of sheet metal flashing at the top. Pens covered with netting (to prevent aerial predators from entering) supported by cables strung from the long sides of the pens to a central row of 18ft high poles. (B623.w1, D377, D339)
    • A temporary soft-release pen was fenced with one-inch mesh poultry netting on steel posts. the netting reached about 5 ft high and was buried for one foot below ground level. Note: where the fence was not buried properly, Sylvilagus audubonii - Desert cottontail were found to be re-entering the pen (having been live trapped and removed). (D377)
  • For pikas (Ochotona princeps - American pika) at Denver Zoological Gardens, the fence was 1.2 m (four feet) tall, with 30 cm (one foot) of this underground to discourage pikas from burrowing out and predators from digging in, and with galvanized metal flashing on the top of the fence forming an overhang, to prevent pikas from climbing out. (J23.14.w6, P1.1972.w2)
  • For pikas, netting over the top of the pen is recommended to prevent predation by aerial predators. 
  • Large (one acre) enclosures for Ochotona princeps - American pika were fenced with rodent-proof hardware-cloth, continuing below ground. (J331.89.w1, J332.53.w2)
Ferret Consideration
  • Accommodation for ferrets must be secure. (D397- full text included)
  • Solid materials or mesh can be used for constructing a ferret enclosure. (B339.9.w9)
  • Whatever is used, the build quality must be high, without gaps or holes of even mouse-size, since ferrets are extremely good at escaping. (B232.3.w3, B339.9.w9, B651.3.w3, B652.4.w4)
    • Filling gaps also prevents draughts. (B651.3.w3)
    • Note: The perimeters of all outside housing for ferrets should be checked regularly for the development of small holes through which a ferret might escape. (B652.4.w4)
  • The bottom of a cage may be mesh or solid. If a solid-bottomed cage is used, the litter tray must be well away from the food/water area and the sleeping area. (B339.9.w9)
  • Metal or wire cages can be used, but not outdoors, because they get too cold in the winter. (B117.w11)
  • Wooden cages can be used, but these are less easy to clean. (B117.w11)
  • Note: housing for a female with kits must not have any holes larger than 2.5 x 2.5 cm (1 x 1 inch) or kits near to weaning age may escape. (B627.8.w8)
Indoor cages
  • An indoor cage can be wire, with a wire or solid floor. (B602.1.w1)
    • An aquarium/vivarium is not suitable; it does not allow adequate ventilation. (B232.3.w3, B602.1.w1)
  • Commercially-available cages/pens can be used. (B232.3.w3)
  • A pen can be made with a wooden frame plus weld mesh. The floor should be solid. (B232.3.w3)
Ferret cub (hutch) construction

The ideal material for construction of ferret cubs is easy to work with, easy to maintain, strong and durable, has good insulating properties, is non-porous (or can be made non-porous) and is affordable. Generally wood is used, which fits these criteria reasonably. (B651.3.w3)

  • Suitable wood includes:
    • Exterior or marine quality plywood, treated with a non-toxic timber treatment. (B651.3.w3)
    • Weatherboard or tongue-in-groove, laid horizontally. (B652.4.w4)
    • Plywood should be at least 2 cm (3/4 inch) thick if used for flooring and at least 13 mm (1/2 inch) thick for sides and top. (B652.4.w4)
    • 2 x 6 inch (5 x 15 cm) timber for legs, 2 x 4 inch (5 x 10 cm) for base frames and 2 x 2 inch (5 x 5 cm) for uprights. (B652.4.w4)
  • The roof should be solid and weatherproof, with a slope  so that rain drains off, and an overhang of at least 5 cm (preferably 15 cm) to prevent water running off into the cub.(B651.3.w3,  B652.4.w4)
    • If possible, the roof should be double-skinned (two layers with a gap between) providing extra insulation which is particularly important in hot weather. (B651.3.w3)
    • Temporary additional insulation can be provided by means of an extra piece of timber the same size as the roof, held away from it by four pieces of timber at least 2 cm thick. (B651.3.w3)
    • Additional cooling can be provided by covering the roof with cloth/hessian and soaking it with water (evaporative cooling). (B651.3.w3)
  • The roof should hinge open for ease of cleaning the interior of the cub (hutch). (B651.3.w3)
    • There should be a mechanism to lock the roof open for cleaning, to avoid it blowing down and injuring or killing a ferret. (B651.3.w3)
    • Separate roof sections for the open area and the sleeping area are useful to provide controlled access to each area. (B652.4.w4)
  • The back and sides should be solid (wood). (B652.4.w4)
  • The front should be 25 x 25 mm (1 x 1 inch) or 25 x 10 mm weld mesh of at least 16 swg. (B651.3.w3, B652.4.w4)
    • This provides sufficient ventilation and fresh air, while ensuring that ferret kits cannot either escape or become stuck while trying to escape. (B651.3.w3)
    • Chicken wire is less suitable than weld mesh; it is less durable, and tends to sag. (B652.4.w4, V.w5)
    • Galvanised mesh should be avoided; ferrets chew and are susceptible to Zinc Toxicity. (B652.4.w4))
  • The floor should be solid wood. (B651.3.w3)
    • Wire floors can make cleaning easier. (B652.4.w4)
    • Wire floors may make cleaning easier, but make the cub draughty and less pleasant for the ferret. (B651.3.w3)
  • The front of the sleeping compartment should be solid, not wire. (B651.3.w3)
  • Heavy-duty hasps and staples should be used, also good quality padlocks. (B651.3.w3)
    • These should be rust-proof, e.g. brass (not galvanised), or need to be checked regularly and replaced if rusting. (B652.4.w4)
  • The hutch should be raised off the floor to protect against damp. (B631.17.w17)
Ferret court (aviary) construction
  • The court can be constructed of wood (50 mm x 50 mm timber frames) and weldmesh. (B651.3.w3)
  • A wire roof with about a third covered with polycarbonate sheeting for protection from the rain is suggested. (B651.3.w3)
  • Rust-proof wire must be used. (B652.4.w4)
  • If the floor is earth rather than concrete, the wire must extend at least 0.5 - 1.0 m underground to deter ferrets from digging out. (B651.3.w3, B652.4.w4)
Bonobo Consideration Bonobos are highly arboreal and have good jumping and leaping abilities. See: Bonobo Pan paniscus - Activity Patterns, Grooming and Navigation Behaviour (Literature Reports)
  • The purpose of barriers is to protect the apes contained within them, and to protect the humans caring for them. (D427.5.2.w5b)
  • There should be no sharp edges which might cause lacerations or punctures in accommodation for nonhuman primates. (B644.5.w5, D428.w2)
  • Even the smallest aids to climbing out must not be available in accommodation for nonhuman primates. (B644.5.w5)
  • Care should be taken that the size of openings between bars or in wire mesh does not allow a limb to be put through and possibly be unable to be withdrawn. This can easily happen particularly with juveniles trying to access bits of food on the other side of a barrier. (B644.5.w5)
  • All containment barriers and facility structures should be inspected daily. (D386.App1.w6)
  • If bars are used to contain apes, these should be at least 12 mm thick, and be spaced with gaps of no more than 8 cm wide and 1m long. (D427.5.2.w5b)
  • If welded mesh is used to contain apes, it needs to be at least 5 mm thick, and with openings between wires no larger than 5 x 8 cm. (D427.5.2.w5b)
  • If electric fencing is used to contain apes, 20 gauge high tension wire is required. (D427.5.2.w5b)
  • Chainlink is not suitable for containing apes. (D427.5.2.w5b)
External barriers
  • Walls may be made of concrete, glass, metal, wood or similar materials, or combinations of these. (D393.V.w5b, D427.5.2.w5b)
  • Any wall acting as a barrier for chimpanzees or bonobos must: (D386.5.1.w5a, D393.V.w5b)
    • Be sufficiently strong to withstand the occupants hitting it, bouncing off it and exploring it.
    • Be smooth, not allowing climbing or providing holes which the chimpanzees or bonobos can explore and enlarge.
  • An external barrier for a bonobo enclosure needs to be at least 5 metres (16.5 feet) high. (D386.5.1.w5a)
  • This will be sufficient so long as the barrier is smooth and free of vegetation (i.e. not providing a means for bonobos to climb) and that no objects are available which the bonobos can use to decrease the effective height of the barrier. (D386.5.1.w5a)
    • N.B. The topography of the enclosure, as well as furnishings such as trees, or posts can be used to extend jumping distance. (D393.V.w5b)
    • The exhibit should be examined for objects which could be used by a bonobo to allow it to exit the enclosure: branches may be used as ladders by bonobos. (J54.21.w2) 
  • Mesh can be used over an enclosure to prevent the occupants from exiting, while allowing maximum use of three-dimensional space, and allowing entry of sunlight, wind, rain etc. (D393.V.w5b)
  • Note: Any point in the enclosure which bonobos needs to be at least 7 metres (23 feet) horizontal jumping distance from any possible point which, if reached, would enable the bonobo to escape. (D386.5.1.w5a)
  • Note: unlike Pan troglodytes - Chimpanzees, bonobos are not afraid of water and will readily wade into moats. (P86.5.w1)
  • Barriers which permit bonobos to see and hear other species are generally considered to be beneficial, but visual and auditory contact should be limited if leading to stress and/or aggressive displays - this often occurs if bonobos are in visual contact with Pan troglodytes - Chimpanzees, therefore this is not recommended. (D386.5.1.w5a)
Internal barriers and doors
  • Solid barriers, rather than mesh, are recommended for partitions between enclosures, since mesh does not prevent visual contact and may not depending on the size of the mesh) prevent physical contact. (D386.5.1.w5a)
  • Points of contact between bonobo enclosures should be controllable by staff to enable separation between members of the group for medical reasons, during introduction of a new individual, if there is severe aggression in the group, etc. (D386.5.1.w5a)
  • It is recommended that passages connecting enclosures should have sliding doors, easily accessed and operated (opened/closed) by staff, with provision for the doors to be either solid or mesh/ or bar-screen. The mesh or bar-screen doors allow airflow and give the opportunity for bonobos on either side of the door to have visual and some degree of physical contact, while the solid doors prevent this. (D386.5.1.w5a)
    • Sliding doors are preferable rather than guillotine doors. (D427.5.2.w5b)
    • Roller mechanisms to sliding doors are preferable rather than simple top and bottom troughs that the door slides through, as movement is facilitated, reducing staff back injury risks. (D427.5.2.w5b)
    • Doors should be made of steel. (D427.5.2.w5b)
  • There should be more than one access/egress doors between the indoor and outdoor enclosures, and between indoor enclosures, so that circle routes are available and a dominant individual cannot block the entrance. (D393.V.w5b)
  • Locking devices should be designed such that caretakers can visually check that doors and locks have been secured. (D386.App1.w6)
  • All doors and locks should be double-checked before bonobos are moved between enclosures/areas within their facility. (D386.App1.w6)
Barriers between bonobos and caretakers
  • There should be access for caretakers and the equipment they need for daily care and maintenance. (D393.V.w5b)
  • A large access point allowing machinery such as a forklift to enter the enclosure is advantageous for placement of large items of furnishings. (D393.V.w5b)
  • Locking devices should be designed such that caretakers can visually check that doors and locks have been secured. (D386.App1.w6)
  • Barriers between bonobos and staff should be designed to enable staff to hear and see the bonobos easily from the service area, and should allow some contact between bonobos and staff for training, individual feeding and treatment, but should not enable the bonobos to reach out of their own area. (D386.5.1.w5a)
    • If bonobos can reach out of their area into the keeper area, service passages should be wide and a bright line should be painted on the floor indicating their reach, as a reminder that anything within that line might be grabbed. (D386.App1.w6, D428.w2)
    • If there are any areas which staff cannot see directly, CCTV should be used to ensure that caregivers are aware of where all bonobos are before transferring bonobos between areas (D386.App1.w6) and to allow checking and double-checking of where all individual bonobos are located before staff enter an exhibit. (D386.App1.w6)
    • Doors should open inwards, and two locking mechanisms are recommended on each door, for apes. (D427.5.2.w5b)
    • The main door into a building should be sufficiently large that it allows easy passage of a transport crate or wheelbarrow.  (D427.5.2.w5b)
  • Barriers between the bonobos and the public should permit the public to observe the bonobo primarily on the same horizontal level. Barriers should prevent physical contact, but use of large viewing windows which permit "nose-to-nose" contact through a clear barrier is recommended. (D386.5.1.w5a)
    • The barriers should enable the bonobos to choose to what degree they wish to interact with visitors. (D386.5.1.w5a)
    • Glass barriers between bonobos and the public will reduce the risk of transmission of disease agents from the human population to bonobos. Similarly, public viewing areas should not overlook bonobo exhibit space. (P131.w10)
  • Secondary containment barriers should be present which would allow a keeper to be protected in the event of a bonobo escape. (D386.App1.w6)
  • A minimum corridor width of 2 m is recommended if apes are separated from these by bars or mesh rather than by solid materials, and 3 m if apes are present on both sides of the corridor. (D427.5.2.w5b)

Associated techniques linked from Wildpro

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Enclosure Size and Shape

  • Enclosures should of a sufficient size to hold the number of animals contained within them, or to look at the situation from the other direction, the number of animals placed within an enclosure should not exceed the carrying capacity of the enclosure: overstocking should be avoided, and thought must be given to expected population expansion. 
  • The carrying capacity of an enclosure of a given size will vary depending on:
    • the species being placed in the enclosure;
    • the sex and age of the animals;
    • the social structure of the species (e.g. solitary versus troop or herd);
    • the group structure (e.g. a breeding pair, all-male group, siblings, family);
    • the personalities and specific interactions of the individual animals.
  • Larger enclosure size (without overstocking) may make it easier to maintain natural vegetation in the enclosure. (B105.20.w5)
  • Large enclosures may not need daily cleaning. This can reduce the keeper's workload and prevent daily human removal of scent marks which may be important in the animals' social and/or reproductive communication.
  • Enclosure size also needs to allow for the occupants' flight distance. To minimise stress it is important that the enclosure's size and design allow animals to get away from each other, the keeper, and public visitors.
  • Size should be considered in three dimensions. Even for terrestrial species, topography may be important; for arboreal species, the area should allow for the typical locomotion of the species.
  • Several small living areas with interconnecting runways, rather than a single cage/enclosure, may provide a larger useable space for some species such as squirrels (Sciuridae - Squirrels, Marmots etc. (Family).) and mustelids (Mustelidae - Weasels (Family)).
  • Vertical space may be important for climbing species and a long, narrow enclosure, rather than one which is basically round or square, may allow more room for some locomotory behaviour such as running or brachiating.
  • If different levels are provided, less dominant animals may have more opportunity to use "above ground" areas without having to compete with dominant animals for the highest spaces. 
  • Vertically-orientated enclosures may make better use of limited available area in urban zoos. (B105.20.w5)
  • Special considerations are needed for fossorial species; consider either provision of extensive artificial tunnels and/or space for animals to construct their own tunnels.
  • Care must be taken to ensure that enclosures continue to provide sufficient space when the number of inhabitants increases (e.g. when the animals breed).
  • All enclosures should have a smaller area (a side paddock, stable, den etc.) which animals are used to entering routinely and into which they can be confined safely, for example to allow maintenance of the main area. (B472.10.w10)
  • Note: Minimum sizes may be set by authorities in different countries.
  • Note: An enclosure which is large but featureless does not necessarily meet the occupants' behavioural needs.

(B105.20.w5, B438.7.w7, B469.3.w3, B472.10.w10, N19.2.w4, P1.1976.w3, P62.10.w1, V.w5)

Bear Consideration

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Bears are large mammals. In the wild, bears generally have relatively large home ranges. The size of the home range is very variable even within a single species and is greatly affected by food availability: home ranges are much smaller where food is readily available. (D247.2.w2) 

Further information on the home range sizes of the different bear species is provided in the species pages linked from List of Bear Species 

  • In very small enclosures it is difficult to provide a complex environment with a range of substrates, different microclimates etc. Larger outside areas can provide a more stimulating area for the bears. (B407.w6, B407.w7, P71.1995.w9)
  • Minimum areas recommended by the AZA are: outside area for one or a pair of Ursus arctos - Brown bear minimum 400 sq. ft. (37.2 sq. m), plus at least 40 sq. ft. (3.7 sq. m) per additional bear; for other bears (not including Ursus maritimus - Polar bear), 300 sq. ft. (27.9 sq. m) for one or a pair plus 50% increase per additional bear. (D254)
  • In the USA, minimum sizes set out by APHIS for Ursus maritimus - Polar bear are as follows: "Primary enclosures housing polar bears shall consist of a pool of water, a dry resting and social activity area, and a den. A minimum of 37.16 square meters (400 square feet) of dry resting and social activity area shall be provided for up to two polar bears, with an additional 3.72 square meters (40 square feet) of dry resting and social activity area for each additional polar bear. The dry resting and social activity area shall be provided with enough shade to accommodate all of the polar bears housed in such primary enclosure at the same time." (LCofC9)
  • The AZA Bear TAG, and the Manitoba Polar Bear Protection Regulation, state that for one or two Ursus maritimus - Polar bears there should be at least 5400 ft (500 m) dry land, with an additional 1,650 ft (150 m) for each additional polar bear in the enclosure. (D315.1.w1, LCofC10 - [Full text provided])
  • Note: Many of the suggestions outlined below regarding substrates and enclosure furnishings can be carried out even in older, small, concrete-based enclosures. (D247.3.w3)

Large enclosures are preferable for bears. (B336.51.w51); enclosures should be as large as possible within constraints such as the area available for bears. (D247.2.w2)

  • "Large enclosures" have been defined as "those which provide more than 1000 m per individual and where the animals are not regularly locked indoors, either because daily cleaning of the outdoor enclosure is not necessary or because the animals can be moved to another outdoor enclosure during cleaning." (D247.2.w2)
  • "Large enclosures provide better possibilities for occasional integration of new animals and for ethological research." (P71.1995.w1)
  • Small enclosures do not allow bears the option of increasing their distance from conspecifics, keepers, or members of the public. (P71.1995.w9)
  • In general, bears show less stereotypic behaviour in larger enclosures. (J23.18.w1)
  • Appropriate enclosure size will vary depending on: (D247.2.w2)
    • Bear species; (D247.2.w2)
    • Number of bears; (D247.2.w2)
    • Whether bears are being kept for breeding, for rearing to adulthood, are rescued bears etc. (D247.2.w2)
  • Enclosures need to be sufficiently large to include different substrates; water area; observation points; climbing areas etc. and to provide different microclimates such as areas which are both shaded from the sun and open to the wind in hot weather, and dry, sheltered areas in cool weather (see Furnishings / Plantings section below).
  • Existing enclosures which are adjacent to one another can be made effectively larger by housing fewer bears (e.g. reducing the number of species kept) and interconnecting the enclosures. (D247.3.w3)
  • A Tremarctos ornatus - Spectacled bear exhibit at CERZA for four bears covers 6,000 square metres of mature deciduous forest. It can be divided into two equal sections if required. (D269.w1)
  • At Woburn Safari Park in the UK, Ursus americanus - American black bear are kept in a large (main area 27 acres) enclosure, with areas of grassland and woodland, which they share with with wolves (Canis lupus - Wolf). (V.w109)
  • Note: Size alone is not sufficient if the enclosure is bare and does not provide opportunities for the bears) to exhibit different behaviours. (B407.w4)
  • The appropriate size for an enclosure is affected by the composition of the area and by the number of bears to be housed in the enclosure. (B407.w7)
  • Obviously, no enclosure will provide the area over which Ursus maritimus - Polar bears may travel on land and on sea ice. However, the area should allow the bears opportunities for walking and running. (D315.1.w1 - [full text provided])

Multiple enclosures

  • Ideally, there should be multiple, linked enclosures, with at least one enclosure per adult bear, plus if possible an additional enclosure for housing offspring after separation from their parents but before re-homing. (B407.w4, B407.w6a, D247.2.w2)
  • If only one outside area is available for two or more bears, temporary (e.g. due to illness, or after the birth of cubs) or longer term incompatibility may mean bears can only have access to the outside area alternately. This undesirable situation can be avoided if more than one outside area is available. (B407.w4, B407.w6)

Climate

Topography

  • Enclosure topography is important; the topography should allow the bears a view out of their enclosure. Old-style "bear pits" do not give bears the opportunity to look around, while an enclosure which rises up or is built on a hill side provides much more viewing opportunities for the bears. (B407.w4, B407.w5)
  • Bear enclosures should not be all on one level; they should provide the opportunity for the bears to climb. (B288) However, bears appear not to like terraces and these should be avoided. (D265.6.w6, J23.18.w4)
  • For Ursus maritimus - Polar bear, elevated plateaux, providing an overview of the enclosure and its occupants, are important. (D315.1.w1 - [full text provided])

Lagomorph Consideration

Domestic rabbit
  • Rabbit enclosures should be large enough to allow proper exercise and tall enough to let the rabbit stand up on its hind legs at full stretch. (B606.6.w6)
  • For an exercise and grazing area for one rabbit, an area of at least 3 m (10 square feet) should be provided, and preferably larger. (B600.2.w2)
  • A rabbit's housing should be tall enough for it to stand upright on its hind legs, and long enough for it to give three hops - the size required therefore will vary depending on the size of the rabbit (for a typical New Zealand white rabbit, three hops is 1.5 - 2 m). (B602.13.w13)
  • Rabbits can be kept in a relatively small cage and then given periodic access to a larger area for exercise. (B602.13.w13)
    • A house rabbit may be kept in a cage and given access to a larger area (even the whole house) under supervision. (B602.13.w13)
  • An exercise run provides a safe area for the rabbit. (D350)
    • This should be large enough to allow the rabbit to exercise properly. (B622)
      • This should be at least 8 x 4 ft, and 2 ft high. (D350)
  • For group housed rabbits the following has been suggested: "an overall minimum floor area of 6000-8000 sq. cm per rabbit for groups of up to 6 rabbits. For numbers in excess of 6, space should be allocated at approximately 2500 sq. cm per rabbit." (J83.27.w1)
  • Note: rabbits given insufficient space to exercise are more likely to develop Osteoporosis and skeletal abnormalities (Spinal Abnormalities in Rabbits ). (B606.10.w10, D360, J288.85.w1)
  • Note: group-housed rabbits must be given adequate space, and sufficient shelters much be provided to allow subordinate rabbits to get away from dominant individuals. (V.w5, V.w140)
  • See also:
Wild lagomorphs
  • Wild lagomorphs should be kept in large enclosures in which they can get well away from people. (B64.22.w8)
  • Large floor pens are preferable to small cages; they provide the opportunity for exercise which small cages cannot. Pens 3 m x 3 m x 2.5 m high have been used for wild Oryctolagus cuniculus - European rabbit. (B169.24.w24)
  • For wild Oryctolagus cuniculus - European rabbit in the UK, an area of 250 square yards was found to provide adequate year-round grazing for one pair of rabbits. One acre would be adequate for just less than 40 rabbits. (J81.30.w1)
    • [Note: less grazing area would be needed if supplementary feed was given.]
  • For Lepus spp. such as Lepus europaeus - Brown hare and Lepus timidus - Mountain hare, a minimum area of 20 m, for a pair, with at least an additional 4 m for each additional hare (although it is preferable to keep only one pair per enclosure, except in very large spaces). (W585.Apr08.w1, W585.Apr08.w2)
  • Lepus europaeus - Brown hare have been maintained in fenced areas of natural woodland. (J372.X2008.w1)
  • For reproductive research, Lepus europaeus - Brown hare have been maintained in individual cages, 150 x 110 cm, height 42 - 60 cm. (J372.X2008.w1)
  • For breeding for repopulation purposes, Lepus europaeus - Brown hares have been maintained in 3 x 2 m cages, one pair per cage. (J540.32.w1)
  • At Basle Zoo, hares were kept and bred in pens just 228 cm (seven feet) long and 107 cm (three feet) wide, with half the area fully enclosed and the other half wire netted. Two such pens, side by side, were kept for each pair, used alternately. The pens were seven feet high, to ensure that the hares could not hit their heads on the roof if they leapt upwards. (B525.11.w11)
  • Note: If too large an area is provided, the hares may suffer serious or fatal injury hitting a boundary fence. (B525.6.w6, W585.Apr08.w1, W585.Apr08.w2)
  • A pregnant female wild-caught Lepus americanus - Snowshoe hare placed in a pen of natural habitat, 6 x 19 ft, lived in the pen until six days after parturition, after which the pen walls were raised, allowing the family to leave. (J40.35.w3)
  • At the Breeding Centre for Endangered Arabian Wildlife, Sharjah, outdoor enclosures for Arabian hares (Lepus capensis - Cape hare) are about 30 x 50 m, containing about 25 hares. (V.w132)
  • Romerolagus diazi - Volcano rabbit:
    • Initially kept at Jersey Zoo in individual cages, 63 x 58 x 35 cm (25 x 23 x 14 inches) with a wooden den box 25 x 35 cm (11 x 14 in) at one end. (J23.10.w4)
    • Units for individual rabbits were 1.75 x 1 x 1 m, with a 20 x 20 x 20 cm nest box. (J51.19.w1)
    • For mixing, a pen 4 m x 4m, dividable in half with a wooden partition. (J51.19.w1)
    • At Chapultepec Zoo, Mexico City, Mexico, enclosures for colonies of six rabbits were each about 50 m. (J23.26.w2)
  • Sylvilagus floridanus - Eastern cottontail were maintained in a 400 x 200 ft pen (1.8 acres) for study. (J524.13.w1)
  • Sylvilagus aquaticus - Swamp rabbit were maintained in a 417 x 209 ft pen (two acres) for study. (J524.13.w1)
  • Riparian brush rabbits Sylvilagus bachmani riparius (Sylvilagus bachmani - Brush rabbit) being bred for reintroduction in San Joaquin Valley, California have been kept in enclosures of 0.5 - 0.57 hectares (1.2 - 1.4 acres), e.g. a pen 162 m long x 30.5 m wide; larger than the typical home range (0.33 ha) for the species were designed, each to hold six rabbits (three males, three females) initially, plus their offspring produced during the year. They have done well in these enclosures, as indicated by reproduction and by growth of young. (B623.w1, D339, D377)
    • Three adult males were kept for about six weeks in individual enclosures 66 x 16 ft (20 x 5 metres). (D377)
    • A temporary soft-release pen of suitable habitat was about one acre. (D377)
  • For Brachylagus idahoensis - Pygmy rabbit, enclosures 8 ft (2.5 m) diameter (stock watering tanks) or pens 6 x 8 ft (1.8 x 2.4) or 8 x 10 ft (2.4 x 3 m) are sufficient for keeping a single adult; larger pens (e.g. 75 - 100 m have been used successfully to house a male and two females. Pens are about 6 - 10 ft high (about 1.8 - 3 m). (J332.87.w1, V.w134)
  • Bunolagus monticularis - Riverine rabbit were kept in 50 x 50 m enclosures within their natural habitat. (V.w142)
  • At Denver Zoological Gardens, an enclosure for pikas (Ochotona princeps - American pika) was 230 m; this was designed so it could be divided into four smaller enclosures if necessary. (J23.15.w6)
  • Individual adult female pikas in studies of maternal care and behavioural development were kept in pens 0.6 x 1.5 x 0.6 m. Larger areas (further pens attached by tunnels) were needed once their offspring reached 45 days. (J334.32.w1)
  • Ochotona dauurica - Daurian pika have been housed with a male and a female together in each of four sections of an outdoor pen (total size 180 x 90 x 90 cm high, giving each section 45 x 90 x 90 cm high), each section containing a wooden nest box and piles of grass. Pikas bred in these outdoor pens, but had failed to breed in indoor cages. (J511.47.w1)
  • Ochotona princeps - American pika were kept as individuals in cage-dens with each above ground cage being 46 x 92 x 46 cm (attached to an underground den). (J331.89.w1)
  • Ochotona princeps - American pika were kept in large enclosures, one acre in size, with 33 pikas placed in the two enclosures. (J331.89.w1)
  • Ochotona curzoniae - Plateau pika (black-lipped pika) have been kept indoors in cages about 4 ft x 2 ft (120 x 60 cm), each containing a pair each of pikas; some breeding occurred. (V.w30)
Ferret Consideration
  • The height should at a minimum allow the ferret to stand up on its hind legs. (B339.9.w9)
  • The area must be sufficiently large to allow room for a nest box for sleeping, a litter tray, room for feeding and water, and some area for play. (B339.9.w9, D402 - full text included)
  • If the ferret is let out regularly [and frequently] to play, then its housing does not need to be very large. (B339.9.w9) For ferrets kept in their housing most of the time, adequate size is important. (B651.3.w3)
  • The feeding area does not need to be very large; a gravity feed hopper can be used which attached to the outside of the cage. (D402 - full text included)
Indoor ferrets
  • An indoor cage needs to be large enough to provide a sleeping area, feeding area and toilet area, and to ensure that e.g. water from a water bowl/bottle or shavings from a latrine area do not contaminate the bedding area
  • An indoor cage 24 x 24 x 18 inches (60 x 60 x 45 cm) is large enough for two ferrets if they are only confined some of the time. (B602.1.w1)
  • Preferably, there should be a large indoor pen in which the ferrets have room for playing and exercising while confined to the pen. (B232.3.w3)
    • If the ferret cage is small, the ferret needs regular access to a larger area for exercise. (B232.3.w3, J34.24.w1, D402 - full text included).
  • An indoor cage can be arrange using three or more levels to include the necessary separate sleeping, eating/drinking and latrine areas (with the latrine area at the bottom of the cage). There must be good access between the levels e.g. using ramps or tubes; tubes also provide hiding and playing opportunities. (D402 - full text included)
Outdoor ferrets

Ferrets kept outdoors are usually kept in either a ferret cub or a ferret court.

  • A ferret cub is similar to many rabbit hutches. To house two ferrets, the minimum size needs to be 1.5 x 0.75 x 0.75 m. Larger accommodation is better. (B651.3.w3)
    • A minimum of 120 x 60 x 40 cm (four ft x 2 ft x 18 inches) has been suggested for two ferrets. (B652.4.w4)
    • A ferret cub can be wooden with a solid roof and a wire front. If the main living area is all-wire, then it should be placed in a sheltered area (providing protection from the prevailing winds). (B651.3.w3)
    • The nest box may form part of the main structure, or be fixed to the outside. In either case, it should be accessed by the ferret through a pop hole about 5 cm diameter for jills, 7-10 cm for hobs. The nest box should be solid on all sides. (B651.3.w3)
    • The cub can be raised off the floor on legs, making maintenance easy and providing insulation from cold, wet substrate. (B651.3.w3)
      • The area available to the ferret can be increased by wiring in the lower area (with a solid wooden floor and wire front doors) to provide an additional exercise area, accessed via corrugated drainage piping. (B651.3.w3)
    • Note: If a ferret is kept in a cub it needs regular access to a larger area for exercise. (D397 - full text included)
  • A ferret court is a larger area, similar to a bird aviary, used for housing several ferrets. This may vary in area from e.g. 1 x 2 metres to 4 x 4 m. A height of 2 m allows people to enter and move around easily, as well as providing space for vertical climbing structures such as branches. (B651.3.w3)
    • An area about 9 m square is suggested. (B652.4.w4)
    • A 2 x 2 x 2 m ( 6 x 6 x 6 ft) area can be created using pre-made 1m x 2m meshed panels; one panel can be hinged and made into a door. (D402 - full text included)
    • The area should be as large as possible (it can be enlarged easily by adding more panels) to provide room for exercise and enrichment items as well the essential sleeping, feeding and latrine areas, but consider the practicalities - a larger enclosure also takes longer to clean. (D402 - full text included)
  • Consider adding a security are (safety porch) on the outside. This reduces the risk of escapes, as door into the safety area is closed before the door into the main enclosure is opened, when entering the enclosure, and the main door is closed (and a visual check made that no ferrets are in the safety porch) before opening the outer door when exiting. (D402 - full text included, V.w5)
    • An added advantage of a safety porch is that if one individual does escape, the inner door can be left securely locked, food, water and a box placed in the safety porch and the outer door left open, for the escapee to come into. (V.w5)
  • A rabbit hutch is not adequate accommodation for a ferret. (D402 - full text included)
Bonobo Consideration Enclosures for great apes should be sufficiently large to allow them to exhibit normal behaviours. Both terrestrial and arboreal space are important for the African great apes. (B336.39.w39)

A bonobo enclosure should be sufficiently large to:

  • permit housing of a multi-male, multi-female group;
  • enable and stimulate typical locomotion;
  • stimulate social interactions;
  • allow the bonobos to spontaneously form sub-groups;
  • permit bonobos to retreat both from other bonobos and from visitors;
  • allow the group to be subdivided;
  • allow one or more individuals to be isolated e.g. for medical purposes.

(D386.5.1.w5a)

Note: In many parts of both Europe and North America, climate and weather conditions are such that for long periods bonobos are restricted to their indoor area only. It is necessary therefore that the indoor accommodation alone is adequate for the needs of a social group of bonobos. (D386.5.1.w5a) Further information on indoor enclosures is provided below in the section Housing/Denning Facilities

Bonobos prefer warm, shady areas out of the wind. They prefer sunny spots in cooler conditions, but shade from direct sunlight in summer.

  • In temperate regions, to maintain optimum physical and psychological health, bonobos should be given regular access to fresh air and direct sunlight. Natural substrates and vegetation, and weather are valuable and irreplaceable environmental variations. (D386.5.1.w5a)
  • The outdoor enclosure should be sufficiently large that there can be a variety of natural substrates and vegetation, with different microclimates in different areas of the enclosure. (D386.5.1.w5a)
  • A minimum area of 100 m (1,100 ft) is suggested, but one of at least 300 m (3,200 ft) is preferable to allow growth of more permanent vegetation and to enable housing of larger bonobo groups. (D386.5.1.w5a)
  • Irregular topography (hillocks etc.) provides hiding places and variety. (D386.5.1.w5a)
  • In order to maximise the amount of time the bonobos can spend utilising the outside enclosure, the enclosure needs to provide enough shelter from wind, rain and excess sunshine. (D386.5.1.w5a)
  • A southern orientation of the enclosure is recommended in temperate regions, to maximise available sunlight. (D386.5.1.w5a)
  • The topography of the enclosure should be designed to provide both sunny and shaded areas. (D386.5.1.w5a)
  • Note: Different institutions provide outdoor access for their bonobos at lower temperatures ranging from 16 C (60 F) to as low as 7 C (45 F). (D386.5.1.w5a)
  • Bonobos are largely arboreal, therefore total useable volume of the area must be considered, rather than only two-dimensional space. (D386.5.1.w5a)
  • Note: In designing the topography, it is important to consider features which may make it easier for the occupants to pass barriers. For example, the ground should slope downwards near to containment barriers, not upwards. (D393.V.w5b)
  • Note: The Lola ya Bonobo sanctuary near Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, consists of 30 hectares of primary forest housing 52 bonobos (2007 data). (W758.Aug2011.w1)

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Water Source & Drainage

For most mammal species, which require only a relatively small amount of water for drinking, water may be provided easily from the normal mains water supply, and as easily drained into the normal drains. 
Drinking water
  • Species which require water only for drinking may be supplied with one or more troughs of a size and design appropriate for the species, filled either manually or automatically.
    • For some species, misting should be carried out to provide drinking water as droplets on leaves or other surfaces. 
  • Water troughs need to be checked for water level/availability and cleanliness at least daily, and cleaned regularly.
    • The frequency of cleaning will depend on factors such as the species, the size of the trough, season (e.g. increased rate of algal growth in warm weather) and contamination (with urine, faeces, food, leaves, bedding etc.)
    • Note: Automatic filling mechanisms do not remove the requirement for daily inspection.
  • The size, number and location of water troughs should be chosen with consideration to accessibility (including for smaller individuals, such as immature animals, and lower-ranking members of social species); safety (particularly of infants, also when animals are being herded, caught or anaesthetised by remote injection); cleanliness (e.g. placed to reduce the chance they will be defecated or urinated in); ease of maintenance; and drainage.
  • N.B. Water should be readily available at all times. This generally requires troughs or other drinking utensils to be present in both indoor and outdoor areas.
  • In areas with cold weather, water availability must be assured even during freezing temperatures. Depending on the climate, this may require inbuilt water heaters.
  • If mechanical waterers are used, it is important to ensure that the species can operate them properly and that the system is closed, preventing bacterial contamination. (B105.20.w5)
Bathing/Swimming water
  • For semi-aquatic mammals, and other species which enjoy bathing in, playing in or otherwise interacting with water, water should be provided in a sufficient quantity for the animals to wallow, swim, dive or bathe in, as appropriate. See below: Pond/Lake/Watercourse Design and Maintenance
  • Fresh water is appropriate for many species. However, salt water (natural or artificial) is needed to maintain marine mammals such as cetaceans, and is highly desirable for pinnipeds.
Water for Cleaning
  • Water supply to allow cleaning (hosing down) of accommodation must be of sufficient diameter and pressure. 
  • There needs to be an adequate number of attachment points for hoses, sited in appropriate places to allow access to all areas where hosing is required, but without being accessible to the animals. 
Drainage

Drainage must be considered in enclosure design (D15) and needs to take into account the local climate and ground conditions.

  • Better drainage is required if heavy rain and/or poorly drained soils are present.
  • Artificial ponds and watercourses (see section below: Pond/Lake/Watercourse Design and Maintenance) may require substantial drain sizes so that the water can be emptied for cleaning, maintenance and if necessary repair.
  • Ponds or watercourses in separate enclosures preferably should drain in parallel to reduce the risk of transmission of water-borne disease agents.
  • Recycling of water, with appropriate filtration, may be required.
  • Good drainage is highly advantageous around pools and drinking troughs, to reduce the development of wet, stagnant areas in which pathogenic organisms (e.g. coccidia) thrive. This may be provided by using a subsoil gravel layer.
  • Solid floors must have an adequate slope to allow drainage, and must drain in practice, not just in theory. (B438.7.w7)
  • Note: Drains both inside and outside housing must be designed to cope with material such as food, faeces and bedding which may be washed into the drains; they must be of an adequate diameter to cope with the greatest load which they may be asked to handle.
    • Sump pits and strainers are required for collection of waste materials. (Th1)
    • If enclosures and/or land outside enclosures drain into moats, then the drainage provision from the moats must be sufficient to cope with the increased load during heavy rainfall. (Th1)
    • When new facilities are being built, keepers and maintenance staff should be consulted regarding their experiences with previous drainage systems and whether these had proved to be adequate.

(B105.20.w5, B438.7.w7, D15, P1.1968.w2, P1.1976.w3, Th1, V.w5)

Bear Consideration

Click here for full page view with caption Click here for full-page view with caption Click here for full page view with caption Click here for full page view with caption Click here for full page view with caption

  • Bears should have water accessible in both indoor and outdoor enclosures at all times.
  • Water bowls in indoor areas should be secured and it should be possible to service these safely from outside the cage.
  • Drinking water should be provided using built-in watering devices or sturdy containers. (D254)
  • Raised automatic water troughs can be used.
  • Water in outdoor areas should be sufficient for bathing. 

For Ursus maritimus - Polar bear

  • Water for polar bears in particular should be sufficient for swimming.
  • Fresh water for drinking should be available in addition to their pool for swimming. (D315.1.w1)
  • Drinking water should be "potable", i.e. when it exits the tap it should be suitable for human consumption. (D315.2.w2)
  • Care should be taken if automatic watering devices are used, due to the risks of the bears damaging the devices or damaging their own teeth on the waterers. (D315.2.w2)
  • Drinking water containers should be cleaned and disinfected daily. (D315.2.w2)
  • The Manitoba Polar Bear Protection Regulation requires that drinking water is always available to the polar bear. (LCofC10 - [Full text provided])

(B407.w6, D247.2.w2, D254, D315.1.w1, D315.2.w2)

Lagomorph Consideration

Water drinking bottle. Click here for full page view with caption

  • Rabbits drink a lot of water for their size, 50 - 150 mL per kilogramme bodyweight per day (average about 120 mL of water per kg per day) and increase water intake if on diets high in fibre or high in protein. (B339.8.w8, B604.2.w2, P113.2005.w1)
Domestic rabbit
  • Clean, fresh water should be available at all times. (B550.16.w160
  • Heavy (non-tip) water bowls can be used. (B615.6.w6, B550.16.w16)
  • Water bottles can be used; these tend to produce less mess than water bowls. (B615.6.w6, B550.16.w16)
  • Automatic watering systems can be used. (B550.16.w16)
  • Note:
    • Waters must be checked daily. (B615.6.w6)
    • Note: in winter, water bowls and particularly water drinking bottles may freeze. These should be checked at least twice daily and unfrozen as required - if water bottles are used, a second bottle is useful so the unfrozen bottle can be provided while the frozen bottle is thawed. (B615.6.w6, N34.Winter07.w2, V.w5)
Wild lagomorphs
  • Water should be freely available at all times, particularly in warm weather. (B64.22.w8)

Note: water should be provided in a bowl or similar, cleaned regularly: do not assume that wild lagomorphs will use a drinking bottle as some may not.

Ferret Consideration
  • Fresh water should always be available ad libitum. (B232.3.w3, B339.9.w9, J213.2.w5)
    • An adult ferret is likely to drink 75 - 100 mL water daily. (B232.3.w3)
  • A bowl or a gravity-feed bottle can be provided. (B339.9.w9)
  • Generally bottles produce less mess. (B339.9.w9)
    • The bottle is attached to the outside of the cage, with the spout going into the cage. (B651.3.w3, B652.4.w4)
    • Coloured bottles (e.g. a wine bottle) reduce algal growth. (B651.3.w3)
    • Bottles, whether plastic or glass, can be covered with an insulating jacket in winter to reduce the risk of water freezing. (B651.3.w3)
    • A water bottle should be cleaned thoroughly daily and refilled. (B339.9.w9) 
    • Check bottles daily to ensure that the water is accessible [the bottle may appear full but the spout may be blocked]. (B651.3.w3, B652.4.w4)
    • Check that the ferret knows how to use the drinking mechanism. Until you are sure of this, the ferret must be provided with water from a bowl as well. (B652.4.w4)
  • Ferrets prefer drinking from a water dish. A heavy dish is recommended, as ferrets often rest their feet on the edge of the dish while drinking. The dish should be cleaned and refilled two or three times a day. (J213.2.w5)
    • If a bowl is used it must be heavy and broad based to prevent the ferret from tipping it over. (B339.9.w9, B602.1.w1, B652.4.w4)
    • A practical solution is a clean cat litter tray (or similar plastic tray) weighted down by a brick. (D401 - full text included, , D402 - full text included)
    • Ferrets like to play in the water, making it important to use a bowl difficult to overturn. (B602.1.w1, B339.9.w9)
    • A bowl which hooks firmly onto the wire can be used. (B652.4.w4)
    • The bowl should be placed well away from the latrine area. (B631.17.w17)
    • A water bowl or tray should be checked regularly, topped up when it gets low, and cleaned and refilled when it gets contaminated (discoloured, or obvious foreign material floating in it). (D401 - full text included)
    • A plastic tray is easy to clean and cheap to replace when necessary. (D402 - full text included)
  • Avoid using galvanised water containers, due to the risk of Zinc Toxicity. (B232.3.w3, B652.4.w4)
  • Bottles remove the risk of kits falling into a water bowl and getting chilled or drowning. (B651.3.w3)
Drainage
  • An outdoor ferret court (aviary) should have a floor with sufficient slope to allow proper drainage. (B651.3.w3)
  • The roof on a ferret cub (hutch) and any solid roof on a ferret court (aviary) should slope so that rain drains off (for a court roof, this should drain into a gutter attached to a down pipe to take the water away). (B651.3.w3)
  • Cage design/internal drainage must ensure that spilled water from a drinking bowl or bottle does not get into the ferret's sleeping area making this damp. (D402 - full text included)
Bonobo Consideration
Drinking water

Wild bonobos have been seen to drink free water only rarely (probably getting most of their water requirements from their food) (B596.10.w10), but this does occur (See: Bonobo Pan paniscus - Feeding Behaviour (Literature Reports)) and bonobos in zoos certainly do drink, including sometimes at night (particularly pregnant and lactating females).  (D386.5.1.w5a)

  • Drinking water should be available at all times in both indoor and outdoor enclosures. (D386.5.1.w5a, D386.App1.w6)
  • More than one source of water should be provided, so that the water cannot be monopolised by dominant individuals.  (D386.5.1.w5a)
  • Nipple drinkers can be used. (D386.5.1.w5a, D427.5.2.w5b)
Drainage
  • Drains should be external to areas which apes can access, with troughs deep enough to avoid flooding and spillage. There should be catchment basins to stop debris. (D427.5.2.w5b)
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Pond / Lake / Watercourse Design, Structure and Maintenance

Ponds, lakes, streams and water moats can provide:
  • Drinking water;
  • Bathing water;
  • Opportunities for swimming.

Many terrestrial, semi-arboreal or arboreal mammal species only need drinking water. However, water for wallowing, bathing or swimming is essential or highly desirable for many species.

Opportunities for species to bathe or swim may, depending on the species:

  • Help maintain good coat/skin condition;
  • Stimulate defecation;
  • Enable thermoregulation;
  • Provide an opportunity for play;
  • Allow exercise;
  • Provide a retreat from irritating or biting insects;
  • Be required for parturition.

For some species, a mud wallow is more important than a water pool. This may:

  • Help maintain good coat/skin condition;
  • Provide protection from insects.

The form of bathing or swimming water provided must be suitable for the species. For example:

  • Streams or pools interconnected with flowing water are useful for riparian mammals;
  • Pools with sloping sides are needed for e.g. tapirs and elephants.

The size and design must be appropriate for the size, type and number of animals, allowing:

  • Bathing and/or swimming, as appropriate for the species;
  • Easy access to and exit from the water;
    • This must ensure that a dominant individual cannot prevent others from entering or leaving the water.
    • The needs of juveniles and neonates must be considered.
  • Room for several/all individuals to bathe or swim at the same time;
  • In some cases, provision of two or more pools may be best to prevent one individual from dominating this resource.

Provision of a waterfall or misting equipment may be important in hotter climates to provide means for evaporative cooling of animals. (B438.7.w7)

Aquatic mammals
  • Aquatic mammal species require a large water body in which they will spend much or (in the case of cetaceans and sirenians) all their time.
  • Pinnipeds and Ursus maritimus - Polar bear, although classified as marine mammals, require substantial land areas as well as a large water area.

(B438.7.w7, Th1, V.w5)

Bear Consideration

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A pool or other water area sufficient for bathing is an essential feature in a bear enclosure. (B288, D247.2.w2, D254)
  • Bears will play in a pool in summer; they may use it less often in winter, but some use may be made (e.g. a male Ursus arctos - Brown bear "fully immersed and playing with large blocks of ice" in cold spells in winter (in Scotland). (B407.w6)
    • In hot weather, bears will make use of a pool to cool down. (B407.w7) Pools are important to allow bears to keep cool in hot weather. (J23.29.w2, W627.Mar06.w1)
  • A bathing pool must be provided if there is no water moat in which the bears can bathe/swim. (D247.2.w2)
    • Helarctos malayanus - Sun bears do not swim; any water body in their enclosure (including a water moat) should be sufficiently shallow that they can stand up in it. (D247.2.w2, D247.3.w3)
    • Sun bears in captivity in China were note to, in summer "like to swim in the pool". (J368.11.w1)
  • A large pool with gently sloping sides is suggested to make access to and from the pool easy and allow its use by more than one bear at a time. (B407.w7)
    • Pools should have at least one side with a shallow slope to allow bears to enter and exit the water easily. (D247.3.w3)
  • If the pool is relatively small, providing more than one pool reduces competition for this resource, particularly when it is highly desired, such as on hot summer days. (J23.29.w2)
  • Pools may be made more interesting for the bears by e.g. providing a sandy, flexible bottom, and by placing boulders i in the pool. (B33.7.w3)
  • Minimum size recommendation (AZA):
    • For two adult Ursus arctos - Brown bears, a pool of at least 8 ft (2.4 m) minimum diameter, at least 96 square feet (8.9 sq. m) surface area and at least 3 ft (1 m) depth, plus entry/exit areas, with an additional 40 sq. ft. (3.7 sq. m) at 3 ft deep for each additional individual. (D254)
    • For smaller bear species, at least 6 ft (1.8 m) minimum diameter, at least 64 square feet (6.0 sq. m) surface area and at least 3 ft (1 m) depth, plus entry/exit areas, with an additional 30 sq. ft. (2.7 sq. m) at 3 ft deep for each additional individual. (D254)
  • Note: where several outdoor enclosures are provided and bears may have access to only one enclosure at any time, there should be at least one pool in each enclosure. (B407.w6a)
  • Consider providing a stream and/or waterfall for added interest. (D247.2.w2)
For Ursus maritimus - Polar bear
  • The pool size for polar bears should be big enough, remembering that these bears are semi-aquatic. (B336.51.w51)
  • Fresh or salt water pools can be used. (B185.37.w37)
  • A water to land ratio of 1:3 should not be exceeded. (D247.2.w2)
  • In the USA, minimum sizes set out by APHIS for Ursus maritimus - Polar bear are as follows: "The pool of water shall have an MHD [minimum horizontal dimension] of not less than 2.44 meters (8.0 feet) and a surface area of at least 8.93 square meters (96.0 square feet) with a minimum depth of 1.52 meters (5.0 feet) with the exception of any entry and exit area. This size pool shall be adequate for two polar bears. For each additional bear, the surface area of the pool must be increased by 3.72 square meters (40 square feet). In measuring this additional surface area, parts of the pool which do not meet minimum depth cannot be considered." (LCofC9)
  • The AZA Bear TAG recommends large pools, with an area of at least 70 m (760 ft) and reaching a depth of at least 3 m (9 ft). (D315.1.w1)
  • The Manitoba Polar Bear Protection Regulation requires a pool of at least 70 m, with a shallow end in which the bears can wade, and a deep end at least 3 m deep. (LCofC10 - [Full text provided])
  • The pool should have shallow areas for wading and play as well as deep areas for swimming. (D315.1.w1)
  • Cool water (55-70 F) is recommended. (D315.1.w1)
  • Irregular shape, and smooth walls and ledges, are recommended. (D315.1.w1)
  • Ideally, a pool would incorporate features such as "waterfalls or streams flowing to the pool, changing currents and a wave machine." (D315.1.w1)
  • Water samples should be taken from two-three feet below the water surface. Daily readings should be taken of the water pH (should be 7.5-8.2) salinity (if saltwater, should be 15-36 parts per thousand), and of any chemicals added to the pool. Weekly bacterial counts should be taken; the count should not exceed 1,000 MPN (most probable number) per 100 mL (0.1 litre) water; if there is a high coliform count and this remains high on average after a further two samples at intervals of 48 hours, then conditions must be corrected immediately. (D315.1.w1, LCofC9) This may be carried out "by changing the water, reducing the number of animals having access to the pool, chlorinating the pool water, or dropping and cleaning the pool." (D315.1.w1)
    • Records should be kept of all water quality tests; these should be available for inspection if required. (D315.1.w1)
  • The Manitoba Polar Bear Protection Regulation requires the pool water to be filtered or changed regularly to ensure good water quality is maintained and to prevent algae developing. (LCofC10 - [Full text provided])
  • Note: Enrichment substrates should be placed at a reasonable distance from water sources to reduce contamination that may interfere with pool filtration. (D315.1.w1)

Lagomorph Consideration

Lagomorphs do not need water for bathing. They may make use of a pool for drinking water, but in general no stream, pool or other large body of water is required.
Ferret Consideration Ferrets do not need a pool for bathing, although they may play in water and appreciate periodic access to water for bathing (e.g. weekly). (B631.17.w17, W264.Sept11.w2)
Bonobo Consideration

Bonobo with hose strips smeared with honey Water feature in bonobo enclosure. Click here for full page view with caption Bonobo wading chest-deep. Click here for full page view with caption

Bonobos will readily walk into water and wade up to waist deep (as seen at Lukuru) in water. (B587.4.w4) See: Bonobo Pan paniscus - Activity Patterns, Grooming and Navigation Behaviour (Literature Reports)
  • Water features which have been provided for bonobos include pools, a stream and a waterfall.  (D386.3.3.w3c)
  • Bonobos in most collections have been observed playing in water, including filling and carrying containers, dipping water or cardboard into the water, running through a pool, clapping hands and feet in the water, tossing water at keepers, splashing, wading, floating food items and toys on the water, and dunking their heads in the water. (D386.3.3.w3c)

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Substrate

The substrate is the general ground covering for the accommodation. Factors to be considered include wear on feet (both any required wear and possible excessive wear), the role of ground-covering plants as feed (e.g. grass for grazing species), the drainage characteristics of the area (e.g. sandy versus clay soils, flat land, slopes etc.) and the wear or damage that the occupants may produce.
  • Substrates need to drain adequately; although soft ground and marshy areas may be appropriate for some species, for most enclosures good drainage is essential.
  • In general, natural substrates are preferable for outdoor enclosures. 
    • Natural substrates provide a more "giving" surface, generally resulting in fewer foot problems than with excessive contact with hard, unyielding surfaces such as concrete.
    • For grazing species, the ground should be covered with grass and herbs, allowing natural grazing.
    • For hoofed mammals, areas of concrete, rock and/or hardcore can be advantageous, particularly in areas with high rainfall and soft ground, to improve hoof wear and reduce the need for hoof trimming.
      • Different species have different hoof characteristics (hardness, rate of growth) and require different substrate characteristics for maintenance of normal rates of wear.
      • The substrate provided, and degree of wear, may also affect the growth rate and quality of hoof horn.
      • Inappropriate substrates may result in chronic foot problems.
  • Dust bathing areas are desirable for many species.
  • Note: For species which dig, it is necessary to consider the substrate's role as a barrier; it may be necessary to continue external barrier fencing for some distance underground and/or use a weldmesh or concrete layer under soil, sand or another natural substrate. 
  • Note: Some potential health problems are associated with natural substrates:
    • Natural substrates often cannot be easily cleaned and disinfected. This may lead to build up of pathogens and result in health problems. 
    • Some animals may ingest excessive amounts of sand and gravel, leading to gastritis or gastrointestinal impaction problems.

Use of concrete/hard surfaces

  • Concrete or other hard surfaces may be useful in limited areas which may take a lot of wear, such as by doors or gates, under hay racks and around feed troughs, to increase ease of cleaning and avoid poaching of the ground, and in areas where animals are particularly likely to defecate, so that faces may be more easily removed.
  • Care should be taken that artificial surfaces are not too smooth and slippery, nor too rough making disinfection difficult and possibly causing injury to the soles of the feet of species which are adapted for soft ground.
  • Areas of hard ground are useful for species with hooves, to prevent hoof overgrowth.
  • Excess use of concrete should be avoided.
  • Note: the heat-retaining and reflective properties of concrete may increase the thermal load on animals in enclosures which are constructed substantially of this material. (J54.11.w2)

(B105.20.w5, B214.2.3.w14, B438.7.w7, B439.16.w16, B469.3.w3, J54.11.w2, P62.10.w1, V.w5)

Bear Consideration

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A variety of substrates should be provided, giving opportunities for digging, bedding/nest building, foraging etc. (J328.93.w1, D247.2.w2, P82.4.w2, P36.1994.w4)

Use of concrete

  • In general, concrete is not a good substrate for bears and should be avoided wherever possible. (D247.2.w2)
  • However, concrete is useful in some particular locations for specific uses:
    • For securing fencing and as a strip to prevent bears digging out. (D247.2.w2)
    • To support steep slopes, preventing these from being washed away. (D247.2.w2)
    • At the bottom of steps or a steep slope, to increase ease of cleaning where bears tend to defecate. (D247.2.w2)

Grass/Natural ground vegetation

  • Most of the enclosure substrate should be natural ground cover. (D247.2.w2)
  • Natural earth and ground cover allows bears to dig and make pits for resting in, as well as providing an area over which scatter feeds can be given for the bears to search for food. (D247.2.w2, N19.13.w1)
  • A grass/herb mixture can be sown if there is no natural ground vegetation present; areas may need to be re-seeded on occasion. (D247.2.w2)
  • In a concrete-based enclosure, an area can be built, bordered with wooden logs and filled to 10-20 cm deep with soil, then a grass/herb seed mixture sown in it; reseeding may be necessary periodically. (D247.3.w3)

Additional substrates

Bears enjoy digging; concrete enclosures should be modified by provision of one or more areas of sand, bark, wood chippings or soil. (B33.7.w3, P82.4.w2)

  • Substrates such as bark can be used to cover areas of concrete. (B407.w6)
  • Bark chippings and sand or soil areas may be used for digging, foraging, rolling, resting and making nests. (B407.w4, B407.w6, B407.w7)
  • Ursus maritimus - Polar bear will lie on surfaces such as sand and bark in preference to concrete, if provided. (B407.w4, P82.4.w2)
  • Soft substrates also provide a softer, preferred area in which bears can play. (B33.7.w3, P82.4.w2)
  • Note: When areas of natural substrates such as sand pits and bark are provided, the number and position of such areas should be chosen so that all bears, not just those most dominant, can make use of them. (P82.4.w2, D315.1.w1)

Substrates provided should have different characteristics from one another, including varying thermal properties, as outlined below. (D247.2.w2, P82.4.w2)

  • Bark litter conserves humidity. (D247.2.w2)
    • This should be provided in shady areas and should be dampened on hot days to reduce dust. (D247.2.w2)
    • Bark and chippings from conifers should be mixed with those from deciduous trees to reduce possible skin irritation. (D247.2.w2)
    • Do not use bark and chippings which may have been treated with insecticides or fungicides, as these are poisonous. (D247.2.w2)
  • Sand or fine gravel drains well and heats up quickly. (D247.2.w2)
    • This should be provided in sunny locations. (D247.2.w2)
    • Keep at a distance from any artificial pool or water moat to reduce the risk of excessive transfer to the water resulting in outlet pipes becoming blocked. (D247.2.w2, D247.3.w3)
    • Sand pits provide opportunities for bears to dig. (J23.18.w1)
  • Wood shavings/wood chips are useful anywhere; they absorb water well. (D247.2.w2)
  • Autumn leaves, if dry, provide good insulation. (D247.2.w2)
  • Wooden planks provide good insulation. (D247.2.w2)
  • Straw or hay (usually given indoors) provide good insulation, if dry. (D247.2.w2)
  • Shredded newspaper (usually given indoors) provides good insulation, if dry. (D247.2.w2)
  • Stable mats, made from recycled polyethylene, (usually indoors) provide insulation. (D247.2.w2)
  • Note:
    • Provision of these substrates is most important in enclosures which are not primarily covered with natural ground cover. (D247.2.w2)
    • Suitable substrates for making nests/beds should be available in both outdoor and indoor areas, and in off-show areas as well as the main exhibit. (D315.1.w1)
    • For Ursus maritimus - Polar bear, it is particularly important to ensure soft substrates are available if bears are held in off-show areas for long periods of time, so they do not have to stay on hard surfaces such as concrete all the time. (D315.1.w1)
    • Check the suitability of substrates with veterinary and curatorial personnel before use. (D315.1.w1)
      • Monitor bears initially when they are given access to new substrates, to check they are not ingesting them, with resultant health problems. (J328.93.w1)
    • The Manitoba Polar Bear Protection Regulation requires at least 125 m of an exhibit for Ursus maritimus - Polar bears to be covered by "soil, straw, wood chips or another suitably soft substrate". (LCofC10 - [Full text provided])

Cleaning of substrates

  • Substrates need to be cleaned or replaced as required to prevent build-up of pathogenic organisms and organic matter. Hard substrates should be cleaned daily and disinfected regularly, substrates such as soil and grass should be spot-cleaned; substrates which cannot be cleaned need to be replaced periodically. (D315.1.w1)
  • The Manitoba Polar Bear Protection Regulation requires all floors in Ursus maritimus - Polar bear enclosures to be made from non-toxic materials which are not highly abrasive, and which are easy to clean. (LCofC10 - [Full text provided])

Lagomorph Consideration

Domestic rabbit
  • Cages can have a solid or wire floor.
    • If wire, the mesh should be large enough to allow faeces to drop through but too small to allow a foot to go through and get trapped.
      • An appropriate wire gauge protects the feet. (J213.7.w3); the floor mesh should be 1 x 2.5 cm. (J34.24.w3)
      • Provide a solid platform (wood, hay, cardboard or plexiglass) on which the rabbit can get off the wire. (J34.24.w3, J213.7.w3)
      • Hock lesions may be more likely to develop on wire floors, particularly in heavy rabbits. (B615.6.w6, J34.24.w3)
    • A solid floor should be non-slip or covered with a non-slip substrate.
      • Frequent cleaning is necessary with a solid floor. (J213.7.w3)
      • Appropriate substrates include shredded paper towels, newspaper, recycled newspaper fibre, straw or hay. (J213.7.w3)
      • Avoid wood chip or wood shavings; these can lead to respiratory and skin problems (J213.7.w3); rabbits do not preferentially choose wood shavings as a substrate. (N34.Spring06.w1)
    • Rolled steel barring can be used. (B615.6.w6)
  • For a "rabbit safe" area in a house, woven straw mats (safe if chewed) are appropriate. (J213.7.w3)
  • A grass substrate which rabbits can graze should be available for at least part of the time each day. (B600.2.w2, B601.1.w1)
  • Rabbits will appreciate a substrate into which they can dig their own burrow. (B601.1.w1)
  • Rabbits kept on hard flooring, or in unhygienic conditions, are predisposed to pressure sores, as their skin is thin. (B612.8.w8)
  • Substrates should allow the rabbit to engage in normal behaviours such as grooming, standing on its hind feet to "look out", hopping, running and jumping. Ideally, several substrates should be available. (N34.Spring06.w1)
    • Older rabbits in particular may not find smooth surfaces safe for locomotion. (N34.Spring06.w1)
Wild lagomorphs

A non-slip substrate is important; for species which dig, a natural substrate which allows digging should be provided..

  • Hay both provides a secure surface and can be eaten. (J51.19.w1)
  • Sand and straw have been used as substrates in pens for wild Oryctolagus cuniculus - European rabbit. (B169.24.w24)
  • Juvenile Lepus europaeus - Brown hares from one to three months old (when released for repopulation of an area) were kept in a pen with natural vegetation. (J540.32.w1)
  • Fibre-glass roughened by including sand in the resin, covered with deep-litter hay has been used for pens containing Romerolagus diazi - Volcano rabbit. (J51.19.w1)
  • Mesh flooring was used for quarantine cages holding Romerolagus diazi - Volcano rabbit. (J51.19.w1)
    • Mesh flooring alone resulted in very nervous rabbits. J51.19.w1)
    • Hay deep litter was used as an appropriate substrate for Romerolagus diazi - Volcano rabbit in quarantine cages and in larger breeding pens It was noted that the rabbits produced complex runs through the hay "resembling those they use through the zacaton grass in Mexico." (J51.19.w1)
  • At Chapultepec Zoo, Mexico City, Mexico, enclosures for colonies of Romerolagus diazi - Volcano rabbit have natural substrate with clumps of zacaton or bundle-grass (Muhlenbergia and Festuca spp.). (J23.26.w2)
  • At Basle Zoo, hares were kept and bred in pens with a wooden floor covered in a thin layer of concrete, overlaid with straw. (B525.11.w11)
  • A 1.8 acre pen for Sylvilagus floridanus - Eastern cottontail had a natural substrate of mixed grasses. (J524.13.w1)
  • A two-acre pen for Sylvilagus aquaticus - Swamp rabbit had a natural substrate mainly of fescue. (J524.13.w1)
  • At the Breeding Centre for Endangered Arabian Wildlife, Sharjah, main outdoor enclosures for Arabian hares (Lepus capensis - Cape hare) have a gravel and sand substrate while smaller pens are floored with concrete covered with desert sand. (V.w132)
  • For riparian brush rabbits Sylvilagus bachmani riparius (Sylvilagus bachmani - Brush rabbit) being bred for reintroduction in San Joaquin Valley, California, enclosures with natural substrate and ground cover have been used. (B623.w1, D339)
  • For Brachylagus idahoensis - Pygmy rabbit, natural soil substrate is provided, allowing the rabbits to dig and in particular allowing females to dig a natal burrow. (J332.87.w1, V.w134
    • Adults have been kept successfully in pens with rubber flooring but successful rearing of young has not occurred in pens without soil substrate, despite provision of nest boxes; kits born in soil-less pens died within 4 - 5 days of birth. (D372)
  • At Denver Zoological Gardens, an enclosure for pikas (Ochotona princeps - American pika) had a natural substrate (described as a "meadow" with various plants including grass, dandelions, clover and fireweed (Kochia scoparia)). (J23.14.w6, J23.15.w6, P1.1972.w2)
  • Ochotona princeps - American pika were kept in large enclosures, one acre in size, with natural substrate and "shortgrass prairie vegetative type". (J331.89.w1)
  • Ochotona curzoniae - Plateau pika (black-lipped pika) have been kept indoors in solid-bottom cages with plenty of hay. (V.w30)
Ferret Consideration
  • Wood shavings can be used as a substrate in a ferret cage. (B117.w11)
  • A ferret cub (hutch) should have a solid wooden floor. (B651.3.w3)
    • Wire is easier for cleaning. (B652.4.w4)
    • Wire may be easier for cleaning, but is draughty for the ferret and not recommended. (B651.3.w3)
    • If the floor is solid wood, extra care is needed to keep urine from making the floor wet. The latrine area could be lined with solid metal, as well as provided with a good thickness of wood shavings for urine absorption. (B652.4.w4)
    • The cub (hutch) should be placed on a solid substrate e.g. stone or concrete slabs. (B651.3.w3)
  • A ferret court (aviary) can have a concrete floor; this should be laid with adequate slope for drainage. Grass/soil flooring can be considered as an alternative, but tends to become worn. Ferrets dig, therefore if a soil substrate is provided, the wire mesh on the sides must be extended to at least 50 cm below ground level. (B651.3.w3)
  • Either solid concrete or concrete paving slabs are recommended for the floor of a ferret court to ensure the ferret cannot dig out, and to make cleaning easier. (D402 - full text included)
Bonobo Consideration

Bonobo enclsure with multiple climbing structures and raised net for resting. Click here for full page view with caption Bonoo outdoor enclosure with climbing frame Deep woodwool covering indoor enclosure floor

Outdoors

In outdoor enclosures, a variety of natural substrates should be provided to increase environmental complexity and promote foraging. (D386.5.1.w5a)

  • Sand and grass are good substrates for play, foraging and exploring. (D386.5.1.w5a)
  • Leaf litter and marsh grasses are other substrates which bonobos appear to enjoy. (D386.5.1.w5a)
  • Low-growing vegetation also can be used to promote foraging. (D386.App1.w6)
  • Dry sand and rocks in sunny spot of the enclosure both provide "warm-up" spots useful in colder  seasons. (D386.5.1.w5a)
Indoors

In indoor areas, easy-to clean substrates such as concrete covered with epoxy, or ceramic tiles, are generally used, due to their hygienic advantages. Such surfaces are not ideal when considering comfort and enrichment. (D386.5.1.w5a)

  • Deep-layered wood chips, straw, wood-chip/textile mixtures or similar, sufficiently deep for food hiding and exploration, as well as proving increased comfort, should be considered. Such substrates have been used successfully for other great ape species. (D386.5.1.w5a)
  • If such a substrate is sufficiently deep, it can be removed and replaced as infrequently as once a week, or even less often. (D386.5.1.w5a)

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Furnishings / Plantings

Furnishings and plants are an important part of the physical structure of the animals' enclosure.
  • "Cover" is essential for most young mammals and for many species even when adult. This can be provided using plants, rocks, logs etc. (P1.1976.w3)
  • Shade, sufficient for all individuals in the enclosure to use at any time, should be provided, whether from plants or from artificial furnishings. (D254)
  • Note: Plantings and furnishings must not assist the animals to escape from their enclosure. (D15)
    • Care must be taken in the initial placement of furnishings and plantings to ensure that they do not provide a vantage from which animals may jump, leap or climb to escape from enclosures. Regular inspection and maintenance is also important.
  • Further information on the enrichment value of furnishings and plantings is provided in Mammal Behavioural Requirements (Mammal Husbandry and Management)
Plants
  • Trees, shrubs and other plants in enclosures serve a variety of functions for the inhabitants, including provision of shade and shelter, resting sites and visual barriers. In addition, a well-planted enclosure has increased aesthetic appeal.
  • Note: Additional furnishings may be required (as well as natural vegetation) to provide protection from extremes of temperature and precipitation. 
  • For species in which sensitivity to high ambient temperatures is problematic, advantage should be taken of natural microclimates, such as the existence of shade trees. Valleys may provide reduced exposure to sunlight and exposed locations tend to have cooling breezes. Shade netting should be provided where natural plantings do not provide sufficient protection from the sun.
  • Survival of plants despite the attentions of animals may require large amounts of space, so that there are sufficient plants to allow them to recover from damage; fast-growing plants; or may require that some plants be provided on a sacrificial basis to allow other plants to survive.
    • If space allows, rotational use of different enclosures allows time for plants to recover from the attentions of the animals.
    • Plants may have to be chosen that, while not poisonous, are distasteful and therefore are not eaten. (B438.7.w7)
  • Note: Plants inside enclosures and accessible to the animals within the enclosure should be checked for potential toxicities if ingested; contact irritation if touched; and other potential problems such as physical irritation, potential to obstruct the gastro-intestinal tract, and possible prior exposure to chemicals (e.g. pesticides, herbicides). 
    • Known poisonous plants such as yew (Taxus baccata) and oleander (Nerium oleander) should not be used within enclosures or near enclosures where branches may become accessible inside enclosures, and they must never be given to animals as browse. (B23.14.w21, B214.2.3.w14)
  • Evergreen shrubs between enclosures can screen enclosures, reducing stress where prey and predators are adjacent or potential rivals are in adjacent enclosures.
  • Careful planting can enable plantings to give animals a sense of security while not preventing keepers or the public from seeing the animals.
  • Planting of prickly plants on the outside of enclosures can be used as part of safety and stand-off barriers. (J23.29.w3)
  • Areas of planting outside the enclosure which partially or totally obscure the visitors' view of the enclosure, alternating with clear areas, encourage viewing from different angles.
  • Trees, bushes and climbing plants may need to be pruned to ensure that they do not enable animals to escape. (D15)
  • It is important to inspect trees regularly and to fell or lop branches as required to minimise the risk of animals being hurt by falling branches. (D15)
  • Maintaining plants in good condition is easier in large enclosures as "overuse" of plants is reduced. Use of "pasture rotation" also can help in maintaining living plants, by allowing a period for plants to recover. (B105.20.w5)
Furnishings
  • Furnishings may include rocks, climbing structures, shelters, earth banks, scratching posts, mud wallows, sand areas for rolling, shade netting etc.
  • Furnishings such as rocks, wooden barriers and shelters can provide visual barriers so that animals within the enclosure are able to get out of sight of one another. This may be important in reducing stress and aggression.
  • Consider the animal's natural behaviours and whether the species uses rocks or termite mounds for rubbing, mounds for foraging, etc.
  • The design and placement of furnishings must consider and minimise the potential for animal injury. Design and construction should ensure that there are no protruding items such as nails on which animals might injure themselves, or acute corners in which one individual may become trapped by another animal.
  • Platforms, ledges and perches should be of an appropriate size and placement for the animal species. The texture also should be considered in relation to the species, its behaviour, and the use to which the furnishings will be put (e.g. rougher surfaces may be useful for climbing, but not for resting).
  • Furnishings should be checked regularly for problems such as nails becoming loose which may injure animals.
  • Wood must not have been treated with potentially toxic chemicals.
  • Primers and paints containing lead must not be used.

(B214.2.3.w14, B429.2.w2, B429.20.w20, B438.7.w7, B439.16.w16, D254, J23.29.w3,N19.13.w1, P1.1976.w3, P62.10.w1, V.w5, W643.June06.w3).

Bear Consideration

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Do NOT include:

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Bears should be maintained in an enclosure with trees and shrubs as well as natural ground cover. (D247.2.w2)
  • A good bear enclosure provides complete ground cover, banks which the bears can dig into, trees for the bears to climb, shrubs, rocks, and water (see above: Pond / Lake / Watercourse Design, Structure and Maintenance)
  • Furnishings and plantings should provide shade; protection from rain; wind breaks; sunning areas; visual barriers and climbing opportunities. (D254, D315.1.w1, J23.29.w3, J328.93.w1, N19.13.w1)
    • Climbing structures should be provided for all bears (B33.7.w3,J328.93.w1), particularly the semi-arboreal bears. (B336.51.w51)
    • Furnishings such as hills, trees, rocks, stumps etc. can provide shade in the summer. Ursus maritimus - Polar bears, should always have access to shaded areas, particularly during the warmer months. (D315.1.w1)
    • Visual barriers (trees, rocks etc.) which break up lines of sight can help reduce stress and aggression in enclosures holding more than one bear. (N19.13.w1) Visual barriers such as logs or rocks should always be provided in enclosures housing more than one bear. (D254
  • Caution:
    • Do not use lead-containing paints. Lead levels of 5.4 ppm and 7.3 ppm were noted in two zoo Ursus maritimus - Polar bears; the source was considered probably to be paint. (J35.128.w1)
    • All plants (growing or offered as browse) should be evaluated for potential toxicity, ability to cause physical irritation, and potential to obstruct the GIT, as well as any possible exposure to noxious chemicals such as herbicides or pesticides. (D251.4.w4, D315.1.w1, J328.93.w1)

The following list indicates natural and artificial items which can be provided, and their functions. 

  • Shrubs:
    • Provide different microclimates.
    • Provide shelter and shade. (D315.1.w1, J23.29.w3)
    • Act as obstacles to attacks by conspecifics.
    • In relatively small enclosures, thorny shrubs or those which regenerate well after damage may be advantageous. In very large enclosures, a wider variety of bushes may survive.
    • Some bushes and shrubs may provide food at certain times of the year.
    • Bushes which have been provided with at least some success in bear enclosures include gooseberry bush (Ribes uvacrispa) elder (Sambucuc niger), osier (Salix viminalis), blackberry (Rubus fruticosus) and hawthorn (Crataegus mongyna). (J23.29.w2)
    • Where practical, shrubs of species native to the bears' natural habitat can be planted. (N19.13.w1)
    • Even in old, concrete-based enclosures, shrubs such as elder can grow within a year for example along a wall or around a log. (D247.3.w3)
    • A line of taller shrubs on the side of the prevailing wind may provide a windbreak for exposed sites. (J23.29.w3)
    • DO NOT include oleander (Nerium oleander) in or near the enclosure; this is poisonous. See: Oleander Poisoning in Waterfowl and Bears
  • Trees:
    • Climbing opportunities.
    • Different microclimates, e.g. shade in summer. (D315.1.w1, J328.93.w1)
    • Act as obstacles to attacks by conspecifics.
    • Provide an object for scratching, keeping the nails from becoming too long. (B10.43.w48)
    • Provide vantage points.
    • May provide visual barriers.
    • Resting places for semi-arboreal species - some may construct nest platforms in the trees. (B407.w7, J23.29.w2)
    • Small branches provide escape routes for small individuals.
    • Note: Trees should be at least 4 m from the enclosure boundaries.
      • It is important to ensure that trees (including large branches fallen from trees) do not give bears opportunities to escape; they should be checked and trimmed as necessary.
    • Note: bears are less likely to severely damage living trees (e.g. by removing bark) if they are also provided with bark-covered logs and other items to occupy them.
    • Some trees, such as oak, beech, mountain ash, cherry, plum and apple, as well as some conifers, can provide some food for the bears during their fruiting season.
    • Where practical, tree species native to the bears' natural habitat can be planted. (N19.13.w1)
    • In an enclosures where living trees could not be planted (e.g. on solid rock), conifer plantation thinnings (200-300 mm diameter, 5-7 m high) were provided, installed in steel pipes which were attached to the bedrock by large steel plates. The trees were changed about every six to eight weeks. (B407.w6) 
      • The bears enjoyed playing with and breaking off branches, and tearing bark from the trunks. (B407.w6)
    • Protection of some trees with metal guards, electric fencing or other barriers may be required to prevent excessive damage. (J23.29.w2, J328.93.w1)
    • N.B. DO NOT include yew (Taxus spp.) in or near the enclosure; this is poisonous. See: Yew Toxicity in Bears
  • Dead trees or large branches arranged as climbing frames: 
    • Note: there should be at least two exit routes.
    • Small branches provide escape routes for small individuals; ropes and/or narrow planks can also be used to provide escape routes.
    • Tree trunks as big as 5 - 6 m tall can be fixed by placing in a drainpipe (0.6 - 0.8 m diameter bedded in a mixture of sand and gravel) and fixing with wooden wedges. This allows the trees to be replaced easily when required due to damage by the bears.
    • Once bark is stripped and the trunk becomes slippery, ropes wound around the trunk will permit heavier individuals to climb. 
    • Note: Trees should be at least 4 m from the enclosure boundaries. 
    • In old, small enclosures, providing climbing frames can considerably increase the useable space. However, unless they are made interesting, for example by providing a platform at the top for sunbathing, and/or providing food rewards to climb for, they will be used only as a lookout point or for a place to escape to when harassed by conspecifics. (D247.3.w3)
  • Rocks/boulders (too large to be moved by the bear(s)):
    • Climbing opportunities.
    • Provide vantage points.
    • Resting places for semi-arboreal species.
    • Provide shelter and shade. (D315.1.w1)
    • Provide a site for bears to dig under to make a resting place (therefore must be placed or secured such that they will not collapse on the bear).
    • A large rock pile can provide a sight barrier between bears and reduce social stress. (B407.w7)
    • Note: a study found that placing large numbers of rocks and boulders in an enclosure decreased stereotypic pacing in Ursus arctos - Brown bear and Ursus thibetanus - Asiatic black bear but increased pacing in Ursus maritimus - Polar bear. (J23.18.w1)
  • Earth banks:
    • Provide different microclimates.
    • Act as obstacles to attacks by conspecifics.
    • Allow bears to dig and create dens.
      • Given the opportunity, bears may excavate their own dens, including maternity dens, in earth banks. (J296.51.w1)
      • Digging under a large root or rock may be preferred. (J23.29.w2)
      • At Glasgow zoo, the Ursus thibetanus - Asiatic black bears dug dens only in steep banking or under tree roots. They dug their own hibernation dens, sometimes lining them with vegetation such as thin branches. (B407.w7)
    • Banks should be sited to allow bears to dig dens on their preferred direction (e.g. Ursus thibetanus - Asiatic black bear in a zoo were noted to dig in dry sandy banks, with these dens always facing south).
  • Horizontal tree trunks or large logs:
    • Provide different microclimates.
    • Act as obstacles to attacks by conspecifics.
    • Hiding places for food.
    • Provide a site for bears to dig under to make a resting place (therefore must be placed or secured such that they will not collapse on the bear).
    • Allow scratching, keeping the nails from becoming too long. (B10.43.w48)
    • Provide a climbing opportunity. (N19.13.w1)
    • When rotting, provide insects for the bears to search for. (N19.13.w1)
  • Elevated nest baskets (D247.2.w2) or fire hose hammocks. (N19.6.w1, N19.13.w2)
    • Provide vantage points. 
    • Resting places for semi-arboreal species. 
  • Climbing frames and platforms: (B407.w7, B447.w5, J23.29.w2)
    • Provide an opportunity to climb. (B33.7.w3, B447.w5, J23.29.w2, N19.13.w1)
      • Note: smooth poles or trunks can be made easier to climb by winding a spiral of rope (e.g. hemp rope) around the pole/trunk).
      • Different species may vary in their use of climbing frames if available, but bears of all species will climb. (B447.w5)
      • Shallow ramps should be provided to allow less agile bears to reach platforms. (B33.7.w3)
    • Provide vantage points. (B33.7.w3, B407.w7, J23.18.w1)
    • Allow bears to watch approaching keepers and visitors. (J23.29.w2)
      • Visitors may provide a form of enrichment if the bears can choose to watch them from a good, secure vantage point. (J23.29.w2)
      • Note: careful placement of a platform allows bears to feel secure and watch visitors, and allows visitors to see the bears.
    • Allows placement of food items - wooden pegs can be fitted at various heights for food items to be speared onto. (B407.w7, J23.29.w2)
    • Provides an area for sunbathing.
    • Provide a means of escape from possible aggressive interactions. (B33.7.w3)
  • Raised wooden shelters (provided in addition to the main house): (B407.w7)
    • Additional areas for nesting. (B407.w7)
  • Barrels (with staves firmly screwed to the hoops), or large boxes: 
    • Provide different microclimates;
    • Provide hiding places.
    • Note: these should be open on two sides to prevent a bear becoming trapped by another bear.
  • Piles of branches:
    • Provide hiding places for food;
    • Material for constructing nests.
  • Pipe in the ground (vertical, 40 - 60 cm deep):
    • Hiding places for food.
    • Gravel at the bottom of the pipe improves drainage (2.5 cm/one inch of gravel is sufficient). (J23.29.w2)
  • Rotten logs:
    • Bears enjoy destroying these.
    • May provide some insects.
  • Rocks and logs small enough for the bears to move (these may need to be chained to a fixed point to prevent their being moved e.g. into a moat):
    • Hiding places for food.
  • Outside dens/shelters, such as artificial caves, wooden "cabins" built from railway sleepers, culvert pipes, etc. 
    • A culvert pipe den built for a female Ursus maritimus - Polar bear at Calgary Zoo used two pieces of four foot diameter, four foot long pipe joined together. The pipes were placed into a 1.5 foot trench then surrounded and covered by boulders, soil and woodchips. The bear used this for denning in both summer and winter and appeared generally more settled and active. She used straw and branches to line the bottom of the den. (N19.6.w2)
  • Shade cloth:
    • Shade from hot sun in the summer.

(B10.43.w48, B33.7.w3, B407.w6, B407.w7, B336.51.w51, D247.2.w2, D247.3.w3, D251.4.w4, D254, D315.1.w1 - [full text provided], J23.18.w1, J23.29.w2, J296.51.w1, J328.93.w1, Manitoba Polar Bear Protection Regulation - LCofC10 - [Full text provided], N4.21.w3, N19.6.w1, N19.6.w2, N19.13.w1, N19.13.w2, P82.5.w2)

Limitations:

  • It should be remembered that older animals which have not previously had the opportunity to climb may be reluctant to climb steep or vertical structures. (D247.2.w2)
  • For Ursus arctos - Brown bear, which do not climb vertical structures as adults, care must be taken to keep climbing structures at shallow angles and to ensure that steeper structures are surrounded by soft substrates, not concrete or rocks, to minimise the risk of injury if a bear falls. (D247.2.w2)

Lagomorph Consideration

Domestic rabbit
Enclosures should provide shade, protection from wind, hiding places/burrow substitutes and chewable objects. (B600.2.w2, B602.13.w13, B606.1.w1, B615.6.w6, J34.24.w3, J213.7.w3)
  • Provide objects which the rabbit can climb onto. (B602.13.w13, J288.68.w1)
  • Adequate shade is essential in warm weather; shelter from direct sunlight must be provided. (B600.2.w2, B602.13.w13, B615.6.w6, J213.7.w3)
  • Adequate shelter from the wind, and insulation from cold, must be available in cold weather. (B600.2.w2, J213.7.w3)
  • If rabbits are housed outside, they need a solid shelter to provide protection from cold (under 4 C (40 F)). (B604.2.w2)
  • If the temperature exceeds 29 C (85 F), cooling must be provided by use of shade, ventilation, evaporator pads etc. If sprinklers are used, care is required to make sure rabbits do not get too wet. (B604.2.w2)
  • Shade and shelter from the sun must be available if rabbits are outside in the heat of the day. (B606.6.w6)
  • Provide protection from drafts. (B604.2.w2)
  • Provide protection from predators, and from insects and rodents. (B604.2.w2)
  • If a rabbit is in an outdoor hutch, ideally this should be attached to a predator-proof run. (B606.6.w6)
  • Rabbits should always have boxes, barrels, tunnels or drainpipes as  "burrow substitutes" into which they can retreat or bolt if startled. (B600.2.w2, B601.1.w1, B606.1.w1, B606.6.w6, B615.6.w6) This is particularly important for group-housed rabbits. (B615.6.w6)
    • There should be at least one box/retreat per rabbit, so they can choose to go into separate boxes. (J83.27.w1)
  • Provide branches for gnawing, scent (chin) marking and climbing on. (B600.2.w2, J83.27.w1)
  • House rabbits should be provided with retreats also. 
  • Caution: In the house, ensure that toxic plants, such as the ornamental shrub oleander (Nerium oleander) and the house plant dumbcane (Dieffenbachia seguinae) are not accessible to rabbits. (B602.13.w13)
Wild lagomorphs
  • Accommodation must provide shade and refuges from the environment, predators and people. Appropriate hiding places include wooden hutches, wooden boxes placed open-end downwards, and with a small entrance hole, culverts and rocks (can be man-made) with cave-like areas. (B10.45.w47, B64.22.w8, B169.24.w24)
  • Depending on the species, it is important to provide dense cover or refuges in which the animals can hide. 
  • Milk-churns, on their sides, partially sunk into the ground and covered with turf have been used to provide wild Oryctolagus cuniculus - European rabbit with cover inside a large pen. (J81.30.w1)
  • For Romerolagus diazi - Volcano rabbit, provision of cover within which they can make runs, rather than being exposed, appear to be very important. In the wild, their preferred habitats are those which provide such cover as well as appropriate food plants. (J182.29.w1)
    • Romerolagus diazi - Volcano rabbit. individual pens were provided with logs and a nest box 20 x 20 x 20 cm as well as deep-litter hay; rabbits in cages without the deep litter hay had appeared very nervous. (J51.19.w1)
    • Romerolagus diazi - Volcano rabbit: in a mixing pen (4m x 4m), logs, stones and branches as well a deep-litter hay; two tunnels leading to underground nest boxes. (J51.19.w1)
    • At Chapultepec Zoo, Mexico City, Mexico, enclosures for colonies of Romerolagus diazi - Volcano rabbit, were covered in clumps of bundle-grass (zacaton; Muhlenbergia and Festuca spp.) and were furnished additionally with logs and stones. (J23.26.w2)
      • The rabbits were noted to be much more active in enclosures with a good covering of zacaton than they were in one of the enclosures before the zacaton had grown up properly. (J23.26.w2)
  • For riparian brush rabbits Sylvilagus bachmani riparius (Sylvilagus bachmani - Brush rabbit) being bred for reintroduction in San Joaquin Valley, California, ample vines and shrubs were growing in the pens, particularly large, dense clumps of Rubus discolor - Himalayan blackberries, as well as grasses and forbes. As substitutes for hollow logs and hollows under tree roots, in each pen, several pieces of PVC pipe, 8 inches diameter and four foot long, on the ground under vegetation cover, plus two different types of potential nest chambers: six T-shaped, from PVC pipe, with the central stalk capped, the arms each four feet long and left open; an observation port in the stalk of the T to allow a video probe, and four wooden boxes, each with a removable cover, drain holes in the base, and two access holes, on opposing sides but not directly opposite one another. No supplemental food was needed in these enclosures. (B623.w1, D339, D377)
    • Three adult male riparian brush rabbits Sylvilagus bachmani riparius (Sylvilagus bachmani - Brush rabbit) in individual pens were provided with brush piles, nest boxes and lengths of pipes for shelter. (D377)
  • In a 1.8 acre pen for Sylvilagus floridanus - Eastern cottontail, the natural vegetation of mixed grasses was maintained at an average height below 10 inches (25 cm) by periodic mowing, with patches and rows of cover left after mowing. Additionally, small piles of brush were maintained throughout the winter. (J524.13.w1)
  • In a two-acre pen for Sylvilagus aquaticus - Swamp rabbit, the natural vegetation was mainly a heavy growth of fescue, with rows of cover left when the area was mown (to keep the vegetation below 12 inches (30 cm) high). Several small brush piles were provided as permanent shelter. (J524.13.w1)
  • For Brachylagus idahoensis - Pygmy rabbit in small pens, a hay-filled nest box, 60 x 30 x 30 cm, half buried in the soil substrate, sagebrush branches, and 120 cm long plastic drainage tubes with 7.6 cm openings, as artificial burrows. In larger pens, artificial burrows and natural vegetation including domestic grasses, bunch grasses and weedy herbaceous plants; this vegetation is eaten by the rabbits. (J332.87.w1) 
  • At the Breeding Centre for Endangered Arabian Wildlife, Sharjah, in the large outdoor enclosures for Arabian hares (Lepus capensis - Cape hare) natural and dead bushes are available for the hares to hide in. (V.w132)
    • In the smaller enclosures, artificial shelters are provided; these are made from palm fronds laid across concrete blocks, about 30 cm from floor level and about six square metres in area. In summer (temperatures reach 50 C), the roof is covered to provide shade. (V.w132)
    • Where the hares are in mixed-species exhibits, feeding cages with small entrances through tunnels of plastic pipe are used; the hares go through the pipe into the feeding cage to eat. (V.w132)
  • At Denver Zoological Gardens, an enclosure for pikas (Ochotona princeps - American pika) was provided with several piles of rocks (talus piles) with natural tunnels through the rock. (J23.15.w6)
    • Individual pens each contained a rock pile as well as an underground den. The rocks, surrounded by an open area simulating pasture, "provide hiding places and an observation porch." (J23.14.w6, P1.1972.w2)
  • Ochotona dauurica - Daurian pika in an outdoor pen were shaded in summer using a reed screen, while a vinyl sheet was used to protect against excessive cold in winter. (J511.47.w1)
  • Ochotona princeps - American pika were kept in large enclosures, one acre in size, with "shortgrass prairie vegetative type". For each pika, a cage-plus-underground-den construction was provided, these being 10.4 m apart in one enclosure (15 cage-dens) and 4.8 m apart in the other (31 cages-dens). The enclosure was additionally furnished with rock piles. (J331.89.w1)
  • Ochotona curzoniae - Plateau pika (black-lipped pika) have been kept indoors in cages about 4 ft x 2 ft (120 x 60 cm), each containing a pair each of pikas; plenty of hay for cover was provided, and at least two nest boxes per cage. (V.w30)
Ferret Consideration
Protection from the elements
  • Outdoor accommodation should include provision for protection from the elements, from draughts and from extremes of heat and cold. (B232.3.w3, B339.9.w9, B602.1.w1, D402 - full text included)
  • Good ventilation is important. (B117.w11, B232.3.w3)
  • Ferret courts (aviaries) or cubs (hutches) should be sited carefully to ensure adequate protection from the prevailing winds and associated rain. Consider siting so that the ferrets get early morning sun but are shaded during the middle of the day when the sun might be too hot. (B651.3.w3)
    • A trellis with a climbing plant can be used as an windbreak outside a ferret court or cub. (B651.3.w3)
    • The enclosure may be placed under trees for shade. (B652.4.w4)
    • Climbing plants over the roof can provide shade. (B652.4.w4)
    • The roof can be covered with a white board or cloth to deflect the sun in summer. (B652.4.w4)
    • Covering half of the roof with clear corrugated plastic and half with external felting provides light and a shaded area. (D402 - full text included)
    • Provide additional protection on the side of the enclosure facing the prevailing wind, and/or the direction from which rain usually comes. (D402 - full text included)
      • Tongue-and-groove shiplap fencing (external grade) is long-lasting and cost-effective for this sort of protection. (D402 - full text included)
  • The sleeping box in any outdoor accommodation should be well insulated. (B602.1.w1)
  • Ferrets prefer temperatures of 15 - 24 C and can adapt to temperatures down to about 7-10 C. (B232.3.w3)
  • If the external temperature drops below -7 C (20 F), heating is required. (B602.1.w1)
  • Ferrets do not do well at temperatures above 30 C, especially if the humidity is high. (B232.3.w3)
    • If the external temperature exceeds 32 C (90 F), it may be necessary to bring the ferret into a cooler indoor area. (B602.1.w1)
Furnishings
  • In an outdoor ferret court, branches can be provided for the ferrets to climb, also plants, including bushes in tubs, and piles of rocks and various diameters of pipes for playing in. (B651.3.w3)
  • Pipes and tubes are good furnishings. (D402 - full text included)
    • Commercial drainage pipe is useful for tunnels; tunnels are also available from various pet toy suppliers. (D403 - full text included)
  • Tubes and platforms provide the ferret with climbing and exploring options. (D397- full text included)
  • Hammocks are useful furnishings. These provide resting places and, in summer, ferrets may prefer these to a nest box. (D403 - full text included)
    • A double-layered hammock provides a dark sleeping area. (D403 - full text included)
    • Provide more than one hammock (particularly if there are several ferrets). (D403 - full text included)
    • A hammock can be made from a cushion cover. The zip must be either removed or sewn shut. Paracord or bootlaces (one at each corner) can be used to suspend it. (D403 - full text included)
  • See also: Mammal Behavioural Requirements - Enclosure Modification and Furnishings to meet Behavioural Requirements
Indoor ferrets
  • An indoor ferret's cage should include bedding and a litter tray. (B651.3.w3)
  • Hammocks, slings or shelves in the cage provide areas for sleep and for play. (B602.1.w1)
Bonobo Consideration

Bonoo outdoor enclosure with climbing frame  Multiple sleeping shelves at different heights. Bonobo enclosure with climbing structures and elevated nets for resting. Click here for full page view with caption

Shelter from rain and from sun should always be available. (D427.5.2.w5b)

In outdoor enclosures, furnishings, shrubs and trees should be used to provide a variety of microclimates including sunlit and shade areas, as well as providing windbreaks and shelter from rain. Planting of vegetation needs to be considered together with the topography of the whole enclosure, in order to create the desired microclimates, with shelter from wind and rain, shade to protect from direct sunlight in summer, but sunny areas in colder seasons. (D386.5.1.w5a, D386.App1.w6)

  • Any non-toxic plants can be used. (D386.5.1.w5a)
  • Bonobos do not appear to be as destructive to growing vegetation as are Pan troglodytes - Chimpanzees, but hot-wires can be used to protect plants initially while they are growing and rooting properly. (D386.5.1.w5a)
  • N.B. it is important to make sure any plants or furnishings cannot be used as a means of escaping from the enclosure. (D386.5.1.w5a)
Climbing structures (indoor and outdoor areas)

Bonobos spend much of their time in the upper layer or trees while foraging and resting, although much of their travelling between fruiting trees is on the ground and they do forage on the ground as well as in trees. See: Bonobo Pan paniscus - Activity Patterns, Grooming and Navigation Behaviour (Literature Reports) 

  • Preferably, a combination of permanent and removable structures should be provided. (D427.5.2.w5b)
Indoor
  • Enclosures should be furnished in a way which enables as much of the three-dimensional space as possible to be used for locomotion including climbing, swinging and jumping. (D386.5.1.w5a)
  • Preferably, periodic rearrangements of climbing and swinging structures should be carried out. Design of climbing structures should facilitate such rearrangements. (D386.5.1.w5a)
  • Bars, rubber ropes, plastic chains and elevated platforms were provided at Frankfurt. (B437.w24, J23.7.w2)
Outdoor
  • Trees can be provided for climbing. (D386.5.1.w5a)
  • Unless there are several trees in the outdoor enclosure, artificial climbing structures should be provided as in the indoor enclosure. (D386.5.1.w5a)
  • Note: Natural and artificial climbing structures need to be carefully positioned to ensure they cannot be used by bonobos to exit their enclosure (or an alternative method e.g. mesh over the enclosure can be used to prevent bonobos exiting their enclosure. (D386.App1.w6)
Nesting/resting platforms (indoor areas)

Both day-nests and night nests are constructed mainly in trees by wild bonobos, although bonobos in some communities also construct ground nests. (Bonobo Pan paniscus - Nests - Burrows - Shelters (Literature Reports))

Outdoor
  • A variety of elevated resting places should be provided. (D386.5.1.w5a)
Indoor
  • For each individual bonobo over four years of age, there should be at least one elevated resting platform. (D386.5.1.w5a)
  • Resting platforms 1 x 0.7 m (3.3 x 2.3 feet) have been found to be appropriate. (D386.5.1.w5a)
  • Note: Generally, bonobos rest alone, but they do share nests occasionally. (D386.5.1.w5a)
  • Resting platforms should be provided at a variety of heights. (D386.5.1.w5a)
    • This allows the occupants to arrange themselves in ways which avoid eye contact, if they wish to do so. (D427.5.2.w5b)
  • Nesting materials such as woodwool, hay, straw, shredded paper or leaves should be available at all times.  (D386.5.1.w5a, D427.5.2.w5b)
  • Sleeping places should be arranged so that debris falling from a higher structure will not fall onto a lower sleeping area. (D427.5.2.w5b)

Associated techniques linked from Wildpro

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Housing/Denning Facilities

Most enclosures for mammals incorporate an outside area and an inside housing area. 

Housing provides:

  • Protection from weather;
  • Psychological security;
General requirements

When designing the indoor areas it is important to consider both animal and keeper/maintenance requirements:

  • Space requirements, both quantity and quality.
  • Normal patterns of movement of the animals to be housed.
  • Ability to provide veterinary treatment of individual animals.
    • e.g. provision of squeeze cages for carnivores, and dens to separate animals prior to anaesthesia.
  • The needs for hands-off or restricted contact facilities for dealing with large, potentially dangerous mammals.
  • Animal training.
  • Potential for animal injury and how these risks can be minimised.
  • Ability to introduce animals to one another gradually.
  • Requirements for cleaning and maintenance.
  • Collection of biological samples such as urine and faeces.
  • Drainage.
  • Privacy.
    • Extra privacy considerations for breeding, particularly if nest boxes or dens are used.
  • The ability to confirm animal locations prior to opening a door/slide or entering an area.
    • This is important both to maximise keeper and animal safety and to minimise the risk of escapes.
  • Use of features which are renewable/moveable, rather than permanent and fixed.
  • Regulation of temperature, ventilation and humidity.
  • Adequate light and light patterns.
    • Appropriate daylength and seasonal variations are important in many species.
    • For many crepuscular species, periods of appropriate rising and falling light intensity may be essential for a variety of behaviours including eating, social behaviours and maintenance behaviours.
    • For nocturnal species, provision of poorly lit areas is important.
  • Sound remembering that inappropriate sounds can have severe deleterious effects. 
    • These are particularly severe with loud, continuous noises.
    • Consider sounds above and below human hearing range as well as human-audible sounds.
  • Adequate food storage and preparation areas.
  • Service corridors permitting not only routine maintenance but also transport of animal travelling crates and placement of a travelling crate against the indoor holding area.
  • Whether other keeper-associated space is needed (e.g. office space, restrooms, shower facilities).

(B105.20.w5, B214.2.3.w14, B469.3.w3, J51.35.w1, P62.10.w1, V.w5)

Climate considerations
  • In all climates, it is important to be able to regulate the temperature, ventilation and humidity of indoor areas to match the needs and comfort of the animals. (B214.2.3.w14)
  • In temperate climates, housing for tropical or semi-tropical species may need to include heating. 
    • It is preferable for the design to provide a range of temperatures so that the occupants can choose the area in which they feel most comfortable.
    • Background heating to provide a minimum temperature may be combined with warmer places: areas with heat mats or radiant heaters.
    • For large species, radiant heating may be more cost-effective than space heating.
    • Good insulation, so that animals are able to retain their body heat inside the structure, may be important. (B438.7.w7)
    • However, in warmer climates it may be important to ensure that the structure allows large mammals to radiate excess body heat at night.
    • Higher temperatures may be required in cool climates if the relative humidity is high. (B438.7.w7)
    • Low external temperatures may be less well tolerated if the external-internal temperature difference is high. (B438.7.w7) 
      • Conversely, animals may be more willing to go outside on cold days when they are confident of the availability of a warm area in which to retreat, than if the indoor area is itself only heated to a barely tolerable temperature. (V.w5)
  • In hot climates, housing for temperate and higher latitude/altitude species may need to include air conditioning or other means of providing cooler areas.
    • Consideration must be given to insulating indoor areas to provide cooler retreats for animals from colder climates. (B438.7.w7)
    • Use of waterfalls and spray-misters may be required to provide protection from excessive heat. (B438.7.w7)

(B214.2.3.w14, B438.7.w7, V.w5)

Bear Consideration

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Dens are essential in any bear enclosure. (B288, D254)
  • In designing dens, the potential problems with damp, inadequate ventilation and condensation should be considered and the structures should be designed to reduce or eliminate such problems. (B407.w6, D247.8.w8)
  • Dens need to be dry and free of draughts. (B407.w8)
Doors
  • Doors to and between dens preferably should be operable remotely. (B288)
  • Doors which the bears can open (e.g. doors on counterweights) must be provided with locks such that they can be locked open, closed or, if desired, in intermediate positions (e.g. to allow access by young bears but not adults). (J23.29.w2)
  • Doors should move vertically and have a sill to prevent them being blocked e.g. by twigs on the ground.
Numbers of indoor cages/dens
  • In an enclosure with bears which are not breeding, there should be at least one more indoor area than the maximum number of bears to be kept in the enclosure. (D247.2.w2)
  • The availability of several extra cages/dens, and links between these, makes cleaning and general management easier. (D247.2.w2)
  • Linked indoor cages add to the space available for tropical bear species in adverse weather. (D247.2.w2)
  • Where bears are being maintained in linked cages, there should be two connections between each two adjoining cages, at different heights, placed so that a dominant individual cannot block the exit. (D247.2.w2)
Size of indoor cages

Indoor cages must be sufficiently large to allow sliding doors to operate freely; to provide room for structures such as resting platforms or nest baskets; to allow the bears to move freely; and to allow keepers to work in comfort. (D247.2.w2)

  • The minimum floor area should be 2 x (head-body length) with the smallest dimension at least 1 x (head-body length). (D247.2.w2)
    • For Ursus arctos - Brown bear, minimum floor area 12.5 m, smallest side minimum 2.4 m, resting area 2.4 x 1.4 m. (D247.2.w2)
    • For Ursus maritimus - Polar bear, minimum floor area 18.0 m, smallest side minimum 3.0 m, resting area 3.0 x 1.6 m. (D247.2.w2)
      • In the USA, minimum requirements set out by APHIS for Ursus maritimus - Polar bear are as follows: "The den shall be at least 1.83 meters (6 feet) in width and depth and not less than 1.52 meters (5 feet) in height. It will be so positioned that the viewing public shall not be visible from the interior of the den. A separate den shall be provided for each adult female of breeding age which is permanently housed in the same primary enclosure with an adult male of breeding age. Female polar bears in traveling acts or shows must be provided a den when pregnancy has been determined.." (LCofC9)
      • A minimum area of 130 ft per bear is recommended by the AZA Bear TAG; this may be in one den/holding space, or provided by access to more than one den/holding space for each bear. (D315.1.w1)
      • The Manitoba Polar Bear Protection Regulation requires a holding area for each polar bear of at least 4 m x 3 m x 2 m. (LCofC10) [Full text provided]
    • For other bear species: minimum floor area 8.0 m, smallest side minimum 2.0 m, resting area 2.0 x 1.0 m. (D247.2.w2)
  • The minimum height should be three metres. This allows nest baskets for arboreal species to be placed 2 m above the ground and leave room for keepers to work below. (D247.2.w2)
  • If the climate is such that tropical species would have to spend large amounts of time indoors during winter, preferably these species should not be kept. If there is a very good reason why they must be kept then the indoor area available must be at least doubled. (D247.2.w2)
  • AZA minimum recommendations are minimum 6 ft square by 5 ft high (1.8 m square by 1.5 m high) for Ursus arctos - Brown bear and for the smaller species at least 5 ft (1.5 m) in each dimension, with one such area for each individual. (D254)
  • A large Tremarctos ornatus - Spectacled bear exhibit at CERZA has an indoor "playroom" 4.7 x 5 .0 m, and four "bedrooms" each 3 x 4 m, with sawdust on the floor, and straw beds. (D269.w1)
Contents (furnishings) of indoor cages
Dens with a damp, bare floor are not acceptable for housing bears. (D247.8.w8)
  • Warm, dry floor coverings should be provided if possible; damp, cold concrete should be avoided. (B407.w6)
  • Old dens with cold concrete floors can be adapted e.g. by covering the floor with materials such as 12 mm thick reconstituted plastic sheets (manufactured for use with agricultural animals). (B407.w6)
  • A nesting area, sufficiently large for the bear species should be provided: for Ursus arctos - Brown bear at least 2.4 x 1.4 m; for Ursus maritimus - Polar bear at least 3.0 x 1.6 m and for other bears at least 2.0 x 1.0 m. (D247.2.w2)
    • For ground-dwelling bears, this should be a wooden platform, not more than 1 m above ground level, with a wooden or metal rim. (D247.2.w2)
      • Bears tend to build nests on platforms with a lip rather than on those without a raised edge. (B407.w8)
      • For older bears or those with limb disabilities, the platform may need to be lower, e.g. 10 - 20 cm off the ground; nesting material at ground level should be provided for bears which may not be able to climb onto even a low platform. (D247.2.w2)
      • Note: Helarctos malayanus - Sun bears often destroy a wooden platform quickly. (D247.2.w2)
    • For semi-arboreal bears, there should also be nest baskets, made of weldmesh (or metal bars, lined with weldmesh). These should be at least 2 m above ground level to allow keepers free access under the baskets for cleaning. 
      • A slanting log or similar should be provided to enable bears, particularly old or small bears, to climb to the nest basket easily; extra aids for climbing, such as blunt metal crossbars, may be useful to make it easier for bears to climb down. (B407.w9, D247.2.w2, J23.29.w2)
      • Nest baskets should be sited away from feeding and watering points, as many bears will defecate over the side of the basket. (B407.w7, D247.2.w2)
      • Wooden benches adjoining nest baskets can provide additional resting areas. (B407.w7)
    • Plastic barrels (50 gallon, originally used to store sugar syrup) suspended by chains from the wall/ceiling, with a large opening cut into the top side and small holes drilled into the bottom (allowing hosing out) have been used successfully for Helarctos malayanus - Sun bears. They are replaced once they begin to split. (N19.15.w)
  • A nesting material (bears appear to prefer straw such as wheat straw or barley straw) should be available. (B407.w6, B33.7.w3, D247.2.w2, D247.8.w8, J23.29.w2)
    • Other bedding materials which can be provided include woodwool or twigs and branches. (B407.w8, B407.w9)
    • Straw should be available even if there are no other furnishings in the den. (D247.8.w8)
    • Bears provided with straw may spend some time manipulating it to produce a comfortable nest. (B407.w7)
    • Bears may transfer straw from one place to another, carrying it in the mouth or tucked under a forearm. (B407.w7)
    • It may be necessary to vary the type and amount of bedding provided if bears carry bedding around results in drains becoming blocked. (B407.w4)
  • Water, either as an automatic watering system or a built-in holder and water bowl, must be provided. (D247.2.w2)
    • It must be possible to maintain the water from the service passage. (D247.2.w2)
General construction and operational aspects
  • There should be at least two entrances/exits between the indoor dens and the outside enclosure, with an additional connection from the maternity area to the outside. (D247.2.w2)
  • The building containing the indoor areas should be insulated, including the roof. (D247.2.w2)

Ventilation

  • Natural or artificial ventilation should be used to provide a flow of fresh air for the indoor areas. (D254)
  • Good ventilation is essential. 
    • Better insulated indoor areas require better ventilation to reduce humidity. (D247.2.w2)
    • Windows in the service area, barred openings above the cages, and openings from the indoor animal areas into the outdoor enclosure will all assist in providing ventilation. (D247.2.w2)
    • Good height of rooms is recommended to improve the internal microclimate. (D247.2.w2)
    • The floor should be easy to clean (e.g. concrete or brick) with a slope of 5 - 10% to promote drainage of water and urine. (D247.2.w2)
    • If wooden slats or mats are provided on the floor, these should not be fixed down, as urine and faeces are likely to become trapped, resulting in anaerobic decomposition and lowered air quality. (D247.2.w2)
    • The Manitoba Polar Bear Protection Regulation requires that the indoor areas be "adequately ventilated to maintain acceptable air quality at all times." (LCofC10 - [Full text provided])

Heating

  • While bears are generally cold-tolerant, heating should be available if required, particularly for the tropical species. Heating needs will vary depending on the climate, the construction of the dens, and the species being kept. (B407.w8, D247.2.w2)
  • Either under floor heating or infra-red lamps or both may be useful for tropical species such as Helarctos malayanus - Sun bear and Melursus ursinus - Sloth bear. (B407.w9, D254)
    • Under floor heating can only be used if there is excellent ventilation and drainage, since it will increase nitrogenous wastes being volatised. (D247.2.w2)
  • Plastic flaps over the doorways, as used for primates etc., can be used to prevent excessive loss of heat while allowing bears to move freely between the indoor and outdoor areas. (D247.2.w2)
  • For Helarctos malayanus - Sun bear in winter, the indoor areas should be maintained at 20 - 22 C. If this is provided, bears will go outside voluntarily for periods of about 20 - 30 minutes. (D247.2.w2)
  • Even for cold-tolerant species such as Ursus maritimus - Polar bears, elderly animals or those with minimal coats may require extra bedding or supplementary heat in very cold weather. (D315.1.w1)

Lighting

  • Either incandescent or fluorescent lights may be used to illuminate indoor areas. (D254)
  • For Ursus maritimus - Polar bears, it has been recommended that all indoor areas except for cubbing dens should have natural lighting by means of skylights, as well as additional indoor lighting to mimic the outdoor light patterns in the local area. (D315.1.w1)
  • The Manitoba Polar Bear Protection Regulation requires skylights to provide natural lighting. Additionally it sets out that any artificial lights must be "of an intensity that does not threaten the well-being and comfort of the polar bear." (LCofC10 - [Full text provided])
Service area
  • A service corridor of at least 2.5 m wide, preferably 3.5 m, is required: (D247.2.w2)
    • The service area needs to be large enough to allow keepers to manoeuvre equipment while remaining an appropriate distance from the cages, and to allow crates to be carried and positioned in front of a cage. (D247.2.w2)
    • The side of the cages facing the service area must be of bars (maximum space between bars of 5 cm) or weldmesh (maximum 5 cm x 10 cm) i.e. too small gaps to allow bears to put their paws through into the service area. (D247.2.w2)
  • The heights of the cages and of doors must allow keepers to work comfortably and allow equipment in and out. (D247.2.w2)
  • There must be at least one opening leading from the service area into a cage, with the service area being large enough that a crate can be positioned safely and easily onto this opening. (D247.2.w2)
Dens for cubbing

If breeding is intended, maternity dens are required into which the female which is expected to produce cubs can be moved with the minimum of disturbance to the bear, and which provide the bear with privacy (both sight and sound isolation), ensuring she is undisturbed. (B10.43.w48, B214.2.3.w14, B288, B407.w9, D247.2.w2, D247.6.w6) 

  • If bears are to be bred, a "maternity facility" should be available which is either separate from the other indoor cages or can be managed as a separate unit. (D247.2.w2, D247.6.w6, D315.1.w1)
  • For one cubbing female, three interlinked areas should be available: a den in which cubbing will occur, a feeding/watering area, and a play area for the cubs prior to their entering the external enclosure. (D247.2.w2)
    • Water should always be available. (D247.6.w6)
  • Each cage in the maternity area should be at least the recommended sizes for ordinary indoor cages. (D247.2.w2)
  • In the cubbing cage there should be a cubbing box, solid on the side near the service passage. (D247.2.w2)
    • If possible, a camera link should allow observation of the inside of the cubbing box. If this is not possible then a microphone is recommended to allow the cubs' vocalisations to be monitored. (D247.2.w2)
    • The cubbing box should be quite small. (D247.6.w6) Its size should approximate the normal size of the maternity den in the wild, which is quite small, giving room for the female to curl up on her side with her cubs, without excessive space around her. (J23.18.w1)
    • If possible, a round or oval cubbing area should be provided, mimicking the natural situation. (J23.18.w1)
    • The cubbing box preferably should be insulated against sound. (J23.18.w1)
  • For Ursus maritimus - Polar bear, cubbing is more successful if the den is unheated rather than heated. (D247.2.w2, J23.18.w1)
  • For Tremarctos ornatus - Spectacled bear a den temperature of 15 C resulted in the female becoming restless, rolling on her cub and killing it. A temperature of 10 - 12 C, maintained by fans, plus ventilation holes in the cubbing box providing better ventilation, resulted in successful cub rearing. (D247.2.w2)
  • Nesting material must be provided so that the female can construct a nest. (D247.2.w2)
  • The maternity area including the cubbing box must have good ventilation but without draughts. Providing several small openings is recommended. (D247.2.w2)
  • In the "play" area, there should be thick straw on the floor when the cubs first start climbing, and there should be a variety of objects to provide a playground for the cubs: ropes, tree trunks (secured), flexible climbing frames, resting places, hanging plastic tubs and barrels. (D247.2.w2)
  • A Helarctos malayanus - Sun bear bred and raised several cubs at Fort Worth Zoo where the den measured 2.1 x 1.5 m and 1.2 m high, the concrete floor being furnished with a wooden pallet. (J23.14.w1)
  • The Manitoba Polar Bear Protection Regulation requires a maternity den of at least 2.5 x 2.5 x 2.5 m for any pregnant female polar bear and for any female with cubs less than four months old; this must be separate from other holding areas. (LCofC10 - Full text provided)

Lagomorph Consideration

Rabbit in box. Click here for full page view with caption. Rabbit hutch. Click here for full page view with caption Straw in hutch sleeping compartment. Rabbit hutch. Click here for full page view with caption  Large rabbit shed and run. Click here for full page view with caption. Large rabbit shed and run. Click here for full page view with caption. Rabbit with cage in background. Click here for full page view with caption. Rabbits in basket. Click here for full page view with caption.

Housing facilities for lagomorphs should provide them with shade from excessive sunlight, shelter from wind and rain, and privacy. Lagomorphs are generally cold-hardy, but some heating may be needed in very cold weather.
Domestic rabbit
  • Note: If a rabbit is to be confined to a hutch or cage much of the time, the hutch or cage needs to be larger than if the rabbit will have access to a larger area most of the time. (J34.24.w3)
  • Too small an area, restricting movement and exercise, can lead to osteoporosis (B606.10.w10) with attendant increased risk of fractures, and permanent skeletal abnormalities. (J288.68.w1) See:

Hutch

  • The hutch should be placed in a site which is dry, cool and well ventilated, while providing protection from wind, rain and summer sunshine. (B600.2.w2, B606.1.w1, J34.24.w3)
    • Ventilation is better if the hutch is outdoors against a sheltered wall than if it is in a closed shed or garage with little air movement. (B600.2.w2)
    • If in a shed, the shed should be maintained at about 16 C (61 F) and good ventilation is essential. (B606.1.w1)
    • In hot weather, a fan may be needed. (B622.6.w6)
    • If in a garage, the car preferably should not be kept in the garage, due to the adverse effects of fumes, as well as the unpleasant smell of petrol and oil. (B606.1.w1)
    • In winter, the hutch should be in a sheltered position or inside a shed or similar. N34.Winter07.w2)
    • Place the hutch near the house, not at the bottom of the garden where the rabbit will be rarely visited. (B624)
    • In summer, it is advisable to protect the hutch against mosquitoes (which carry Myxomatosis) with a fine wire mesh on the hutch. (J72.47.w1)
  • Traditional rabbit hutches are too small to provide adequate exercise. The hutch should always be large enough to let the rabbit stretch out at full length and stand upright on its hind legs. If the rabbit is confined to the hutch for long periods, then a minimum size should allow three "bunny hops" from one end to the other. (B601.1.w1)
    • Regular exercise is still required - preferably at least four hours per day in a much larger area such as a fenced off part of a garden, or a shed or garage (not one used for keeping a car in). (B600.2.w2, B601.1.w1)
    • The hutch can be placed within a larger enclosure, or in a shed or (unused) garage. (B601.1.w1, B624)
  • The hutch should include both a solid-fronted area for nesting and an area fronted in wire mesh ("living area"). (B601.1.w1)
    • Bedding should be provided, such as hay and straw. (B601.1.w1)
      • Extra bedding is needed in winter and it is important to ensure this is always clean and dry. (D350, N34.Winter07.w2)
      • In cold winter weather, microwavable heat pads can be heated then placed under bedding to provide warmth. (N34.Winter2007.w1)
    • The roof should be waterproof. (B601.1.w1, N34.Winter07.w2)
    • Weldmesh aviary netting, preferably of 16 gauge wire, is much stronger than standard chicken wire and should keep foxes out as well as keeping the rabbit in. (D350, W720.Dec08.w1)
    • There should be a removable louvered panel for covering the front mesh in bad weather, to provide protection without stopping a reasonable air flow. (B339.8.w8, B601.1.w1)
    • Consider having the hutch raised off the floor to about three feet, so that a human approaching does not loom over the rabbit in a threatening manner. (B620)
  • Hay and straw are both suitable for bedding material. 
    • Hay provides both soft bedding and a high-fibre diet. (B600.2.w2, B606.1.w1, J34.24.w3)
    • A layer of newspaper or linoleum to line the hutch floor makes cleaning easier. (B600.2.w2, B606.1.w1)
  • A litter tray can be provided in the hutch, placed where the rabbit defecates; most rabbits will use this, making cleaning easier. (B606.1.w1)
  • If the rabbit starts sleeping in its litter tray, provide a second tray with straw or fleece bedding in. (B606.1.w1)
  • See also: Accommodation of Hutch Rabbits

Shed

  • If kept in a shed, provide shelves or platforms which the rabbit can both hide under and climb onto. (B601.1.w1, J83.27.w1)

Temperature and ventilation

  • Rabbits are relatively cold-tolerant if provided with appropriate shelter, but are not very tolerant of high temperatures; the temperature should be maintained under 28 C (82.4 F). (B602.13.w13)
  • Indoor housing should be maintained at 4 - 29 C (40 - 85 F); keeping the temperature constant at 16 - 21 C (61 - 70 F) is recommended. (B604.2.w2)
    • Rabbits will tolerate low temperatures. (B604.2.w2)
  • Humidity should be moderate (30 - 70%). (B604.2.w2)
  • Good ventilation, draft-free, should be provided; this is important since poor ventilation promotes respiratory disease. (B601.1.w1, B604.2.w2, J34.24.w3, N36.Jan05.w1)

House rabbits

  • House rabbits should have a secure cage in which they can be kept when unsupervised. (B339.8.w8)
  • A cage with a plastic base and walls of wire mesh can be used; this provides good ventilation. (B339.8.w8, B601.1.w1, B602.13.w13, J213.7.w3)
    • Bedding such as straw can be placed in the base and changed daily.
  • A glass terrarium/aquarium is not suitable; it is poorly ventilated and ammonia fumes can quickly build up. (B602.13.w13, J34.24.w3, J213.7.w3)
  • A collapsible dog pen can be used. (B601.1.w1)
  • An indoor dog kennel, or a rabbit hutch designed for house rabbits can be used. (B606.1.w1)
  • If the rabbit has free-range of a room or the house, provide a cage large enough for the rabbit to lie down in stretched out. (B602.13.w13)
    • If keeping more than one house rabbit, provide one bed-cage for each rabbit. (B602.13.w13)
  • The rabbit's hutch or cage should not be directly by a radiator or window. (B606.1.w1)
    • It is important that the rabbit not be exposed to direct sunlight in hot weather. (B606.1.w1)
  • The hutch should be in a quiet place. (B606.1.w1)
  • The hutch should be covered or include a covered dark area in which the rabbit can hide. (B606.1.w1)
  • Hay or straw can be used for bedding and for food; this should be replenished every day. (B606.1.w1)
  • Note: Rabbits chew. They may ruin furniture and rugs, ingest toxic materials or substances which will block the gastrointestinal tract, and may bite through electrical cables, resulting in electrical burns or electrocution. (B606.1.w1, J29.16.w8, J34.24.w3)
    • Areas of the house which the rabbit has access to should be rabbit-proofed: electric cables protected from chewing, boxes of detergent and poisonous ornamental plants removed or placed out of reach (remembering that rabbits can hop up onto furniture). (B601.1.w1, B615.6.w6, J34.24.w3)
  • Carpet, linoleum and newspaper are all suitable substrates. (B606.6.w6)
Litter tray
  • A litter tray should be provided. Rabbits naturally tend to use a latrine area and will learn to use a litter tray if repeatedly placed in it initially (B600.2.w2, B601.1.w1, B606.1.w1, J34.24.w3) or the litter tray can be placed in the location the rabbit chooses to use for elimination. (J29.16.w8)
    • Note: Rabbits may eat material placed in the litter tray. (B615.6.w6, J29.16.w8)
    • Paper-based litter is recommended; it is safe if ingested. (B601.1.w1, B606.1.w1, B615.6.w6)
    • Hay or straw-based litter can be used; it is safe if ingested. (B615.6.w6, B606.1.w1, J29.16.w8)
    • Litter based on corn-cobs can be used. (B615.6.w6); this may cause gastro-intestinal problems if ingested. (J213.7.w3)
    • Fuller's earth or clay litter should not be used; it can cause impaction if ingested. (B601.1.w1, B606.1.w1, J29.16.w8)
    • Wood-based products can be used. (B601.1.w1)
      • However, some woods are toxic if eaten (pine and cedar contain aromatic hydrocarbons; ingestion of these can result in liver damage, indicated by raised liver enzymes). (B606.1.w1, B615.6.w6, J29.16.w8)
    • If the rabbit starts sleeping in its litter tray, provide a second tray with straw or fleece bedding in. (B606.1.w1)
    • Providing a hay net or hay rack above the tray may encourage its use, since rabbit tend to defecate while eating. (B606.1.w1)
    • See also the section on litter trays in: Mammal Behavioural Requirements (Mammal Husbandry and Management) - Stress, Behavioural Problems and Stereotypic Behaviour
Nest Box
  • A nest box containing hay should be provided at least a week before parturition is expected (i.e. 25 days after mating, since gestation length is 32 days). (B615.6.w6)
Wild lagomorphs
  • For burrowing species (e.g. Oryctolagus cuniculus - European rabbit) artificial warren systems can be constructed in a turfed earth bank, with concrete-lined passages large enough for adult rabbits to pass along, and larger "living quarters". Positioning the "living quarters" against plate glass allows observation of the animals in the burrows. (J81.30.w1)
  • A simple artificial burrow can be provided by covering a wooden box in a mound of earth with one or more wooden tunnels to connect to the outside. Cage traps can be built into such tunnels and turf-covered doors on the roof can be used to check the inside of the box. (J81.30.w1)
  • Romerolagus diazi - Volcano rabbit. In quarantine cages and individual small pens, a nest box 20 x 20 x 20 cm(J51.19.w1)
  • Romerolagus diazi - Volcano rabbit: in a mixing pen (4m x 4m), two tunnels leading to underground nest boxes. (J51.19.w1)
  • At Chapultepec Zoo, Mexico City, Mexico, enclosures for colonies of Romerolagus diazi - Volcano rabbit each connected to four metal dens, 0.5 x 0.5 m; in two of the dens an inner nestbox with sawdust substrate was provided. The dens were within a larger brick-built building (not accessible to the public). (J23.26.w2)
  • For riparian brush rabbits Sylvilagus bachmani riparius (Sylvilagus bachmani - Brush rabbit) being bred for reintroduction in San Joaquin Valley, California, two different types of potential nest chambers were provided: six T-shaped, from PVC pipe, with the central stalk capped, the arms each four feet long and left open; an observation port in the stalk of the T to allow a video probe, and four wooden boxes, with a removable cover, drain holes in the base, and two access holes, on opposing sides but not directly opposite one another. Dry grasses and leaves were placed in the nest chambers. (D339)
  • In pens for Sylvilagus aquaticus - Swamp rabbit and Sylvilagus floridanus - Eastern cottontail no housing was included; natural vegetation and brush piles provided shelter. (J524.13.w1)
  • At the Breeding Centre for Endangered Arabian Wildlife, Sharjah, where temperatures reach 50 C, major requirements for Arabian hares (Lepus capensis - Cape hare) are adequate ventilation and shade, and sufficient shelter areas. The pens do not have indoor areas, but shelters are available, with small pens being covered for shade in summer (in addition to low shelters of palm fronds). It is important for the hares that they have access to dry shelters during rain, that dry hay is provided in shelters after rain and that they have access to natural sunlight. (V.w132)
  • At Denver Zoological Gardens, an enclosure for pikas (Ochotona princeps - American pika) was provided with four undergound dens, buried 0.7 m, each with a connecting tunnel to the main enclosure. A hinged roof was incorporated to allow cleaning. Similar underground dens were provided for individually-housed pikas. The dens were intended to provide "a nest site, a food storage area, a toilet and an essential area of darkness, humidity and coolness." (J23.14.w6, J23.15.w6)
  • Ochotona princeps - American pika were kept as individuals in cage-dens with each aboveground cage being attached to an underground den of 46 x 46 x 46 cm, constructed of chicken wire. The den was attached to the cage by a 10 x 10 x 122 cm wooden tunnel. (J331.89.w1)
  • Note: Small cages have been used to house wild lagomorphs, but are not ideal.
    • Sylvilagus spp. (cottontail rabbits) have been kept individually in cages 60 x 30 inches, 16 inches high, with a solid zinc floor, one inch mesh walls and top and containing a 20 x 10 x 8.5 inch wooden box for the rabbits to hide in. The cages contained a heavy bowl for food, an aluminium cup held to the door for water, and there was a wire rack for hay (J332.10.w1)
    • Sylvilagus floridanus cottontail rabbits have been kept in standard laboratory rabbit cages, 18 x 24 x 18 inches, containing a wooden nest box. It was noted that they would not breed under these conditions, but bred within a few days when released into 0.3 acre outdoor pens. (J40.35.w2)
Ferret Consideration Ferrets should always be provided with a dark and enclosed sleeping area. (B602.1.w1)
  • If the ferret is housed outdoors, there should be a resting area which provides protection against rain and extremes of temperatures, with enough insulating against very cold weather. (B339.9.w9)
  • In a ferret cub (hutch) the resting area can be an integral part of the structure, or a separate nest box may be provided attached to the outside of the main run. (B651.3.w3)
    • It is useful to be able to close off the entrance with a small flap, to shut the ferret into or out of the nest box/resting area (e.g. while cleaning). (B652.4.w4)
  • In a ferret court (aviary), several nest boxes should be provided (e.g. one for each ferret, plus one extra). 
    • These can be attached to the outside of the court or can be placed within the court. 
    • They should be raised at least 15 cm above ground level to help protect against cold. 
    • Entry is by a pop-hole on one side of the nest box (facing away from prevailing winds).
    • Securely attach a ramp leading to the pop-hole, at about a 30 degree angle, and with cross-pieces or deep saw cuts about every inch (2.5 cm) along the ramp to ensure good footing even if the wood becomes wet or slippery. (B651.3.w3)
    • The lid of each nest box should be removable, enabling cleaning, inspection etc. A lid which overlaps the sides helps prevent rain getting in. (B651.3.w3)
    • Place a layer of wood shavings (not sawdust) into each nestbox to absorb moisture, then hay as bedding. Provide plenty of bedding and the ferrets will remove it if there is too much. More bedding is needed in winter than in warmer weather. (B651.3.w3)
  • A rabbit hutch can be used inside a ferret court as a sleeping and lookout area, if placed in a sheltered corner and raised off the ground on legs, with the wire front of the "living" area removed (to give the lookout area). It should be fitted with a ramp or tube for easy access. (D402 - full text included)
  • Alternatively, there can be a shed in one corner. This should be well insulated, with a stable-type door (so that the bottom can be closed and the top half open) and a secondary wire door (to keep ferrets in but provide light and ventilation). The floor should be damp-proof and cleanable. (B652.4.w4)
    • Place wood shavings on the floor and encourage a latrine area in once corner away from the sleeping boxes and near the door for easy cleaning. (B652.4.w4)
    • Provide several hutches/sleeping boxes  with small entry popholes and bedding materials. (B652.4.w4)
Bedding materials
  • Hay and straw can be used as bedding. (B117.w11)
  • Hay (sweat smelling, not musty), straw (preferably wheat or oat straw rather than barley straw, which tends to contain dust and awns), shredded paper and wood shavings can be used as bedding. (B652.4.w4)
  • Hay may be too warm for ferrets in summer. (B652.4.w4)
  • Straw may not provide enough insulation. (D397- full text included)
  • Shredded paper should be used with thought for possible toxic inks. (B652.4.w4)
    • Kits can get tangled in shredded paper. (B652.4.w4)
    • Newsprint may rub off on the fur and discolour pale-coloured ferrets. (B631.17.w17)
    • Shredded paper may not provide enough insulation. (D397- full text included)
  • Synthetic fleece may be used. (B631.17.w17)
  • Towelling may be used; care must be taken to avoid/remove loose fibres. (B631.17.w17)
  • Note: Hay, straw and wood shavings tend to be dusty, which can lead to chronic respiratory tract irritation. (B339.9.w9)
    • Hay or straw must be good quality to avoid dust-related respiratory or eye problems. (B631.17.w17)
Indoor ferrets
  • Ferrets should be provided with a box for sleeping in, in which they can hide. Suitable bedding material includes cloths, towels, old T-shirts, cloth hats or cloth tubes or "tents" designed for ferrets. (B339.9.w9, B602.1.w1)
    • Shredded paper, good-quality straw or artificial sheepskin can be provided inside the box as bedding. (B232.3.w3)
    • Torn paper is more practical than straw or hay for indoor ferrets. (B631.17.w17)
  • A cat bed or dog bed can be provided as a sleeping area. (B651.3.w3)
  • If the ferret persistently chews cloth, a small cardboard, wooden or plastic box with an entry pop hole can be provided. (B602.1.w1)
  • A single shelf or hammock is not adequate: the ferret needs to be provided with a sleeping area which is sufficiently large for the whole ferret's body to be supported, and which is dark and draught-free. (D402 - full text included)
Bonobo Consideration Note: In many parts of both Europe and North America, climate and weather conditions are such that for long periods bonobos are restricted to their indoor area only. It is necessary therefore that the indoor accommodation alone is adequate for the needs of a social group of bonobos. (D386.5.1.w5a)

A bonobo indoor enclosure should be sufficiently large to:

  • permit housing of a multi-male, multi-female group;
  • enable and stimulate typical locomotion;
  • stimulate social interactions;
  • allow the bonobos to spontaneously form sub-groups;
  • permit bonobos to retreat both from other bonobos and from visitors;
  • allow the group to be subdivided;
  • allow one or more individuals to be isolated e.g. for medical purposes.

(D386.5.1.w5a)

Indoor enclosure size

Bonobos are largely arboreal, therefore total useable volume of the area must be considered, rather than two-dimensional space. (D386.5.1.w5a)

  • The minimum indoor volume should be 50 m per adult bonobo, i.e. 200 m (7,200 ft) for a minimal group of two adult females and two adult males. (D386.5.1.w5a)
  • Any individual space less than 2 metres (6.5 ft) high or 20 m2 (700 ft2) volume is useful only as a passage or sleeping room and should not be included when calculating the total space available. (D386.5.1.w5a)
  • During the daytime, bonobos should have access to, as a minimum, two enclosures each of at least 3.5 m high and at least 100 m (3,600 ft) volume, or one enclosure of at least 3.5 m high and at least 200 m (7,200 ft) volume. (D386.5.1.w5a)
    • This height allows a bonobo which is climbing to remain out of reach of bonobos at floor level. (D386.5.1.w5a)
    • This space is the minimum to stimulate climbing, jumping and swinging behaviours. (D386.5.1.w5a)
    • To ensure that subordinate animals, not just dominant individuals can access the "community and exercise" room, at least two enclosures are required if the size of each is only 100 m (3,600 ft) volume; if the volume is 200 m (7,200 ft) or greater, and sufficient furnishings, including hiding places, are provided, one enclosure can be sufficient to prevent subordinate individuals from being excluded from the space. (D386.5.1.w5a)
    • Pan African Sanctuary Alliance (PASA) recommends at least 3 metres and preferably at least four metres height for apes. (D427.5.2.w5b)
    • Ideally the enclosure should be 5 - 10 m high, with high-level climbing structures and resting platforms making use of this height. (D386.5.1.w5a)
  • There should be at least one area or enclosure to which the bonobos have access during the day, which is off-show or otherwise permits bonobos to move out of sight of the public. (D386.5.1.w5a)
    • Corners, shelves, topography and recesses can be used to provide hiding places.  (D386.5.1.w5a)
    • Note: bonobos prefer elevated hiding places. (D386.5.1.w5a)
Light

If possible, indoor areas for bonobos should be lit using natural daylight e.g. from skylights. Artificial light should be used to supplement natural light as required. (D386.5.1.w5a, D427.5.2.w5b)

  • If natural daylight is not available for long periods (e.g. in winter), it is recommended that full-spectrum lights should be used in areas housing infants. (D386.5.1.w5a)
Temperature, Humidity and Ventilation

Bonobos are native to lowland equatorial rainforest (mainly - some other vegetation types) at 300 - 480 m above sea level, with temperatures of 20 - 30 C, high humidity and little seasonal variation. (D386.5.1.w5a)

  • Heated areas are needed when great apes are kept in temperate climates; they should have access to heated areas if the outdoor temperature is below 7 C. (B336.39.w39)
  • Indoor areas should be maintained at high humidity (minimum 50 - 60%), as problems with dry scaly skin appear to be more common when bonobos are kept at lower humidity. Note: relatively high temperatures are needed to keep bonobos comfortable at these higher humidity levels. (D386.5.1.w5a)
  • When outdoor temperatures are around or under 20 C it is recommended that temperatures in indoor areas should be about 18 - 22 C (to avoid to great an indoor-outdoor difference), with "warm up" spots of over 20 C provided if the indoor temperature is lower than this. (D386.5.1.w5a)
    • If outdoor temperatures are much higher than 20 C, the indoor areas can also be allowed to be higher. (D386.5.1.w5a)
    • Warmer temperatures may be preferable if bonobos are ill, or if there are newborns in the group. (D386.5.1.w5a)
  • Bonobos do not seem to be adversely affected by temperatures up to 40 C. However, it should be possible to shelter the indoor areas from sun if this is necessary. (D386.5.1.w5a)
  • Ventilation needs to be sufficient to provide ample fresh air and to remove noxious gasses and excess odours. (D427.5.2.w5b)
    • The frequency of air exchange needed will depend on the size of the indoor enclosure, number of occupants, local climatic conditions and amount of access to outdoor areas. (D428.w2)
Night quarters

In the wild, bonobos mainly sleep in elevated night nests, one for each adult bonobo. (See: Bonobo Pan paniscus - Nests - Burrows - Shelters (Literature Reports))

When possible, bonobos should have access at night to the whole of their indoor daytime accommodation, to ensure that they have adequate space and furnishings for physical  and social comfort, allowing them to choose their own individual elevated sleeping places, and sleeping clusters. (position of each individual relative to the other bonobos). (D386.5.1.w5a)

  • As a minimum, if access to the whole indoor area is not possible, at least 8 m (300 ft) per bonobo (adults and juveniles four years old or older). (D386.5.1.w5a)
  • Ideally, one room of at least 8 m3 and at least 3.5 m (11.5 ft) high, multiplied by the number of individuals in the group, plus several interconnected areas, each at least 8 m3, should be available. (D386.5.1.w5a)
  • Raceways between rooms/holding areas/enclosures should be sufficiently tall that they can be used with the bonobos in a normal quadrupedal posture, not needing to crouch down. (D427.5.2.w5b)
Holding areas

Flexibility should be considered in the design of holding areas, maintaining the required degree of control over movements. (D386.App1.w6)

  • Each holding cage should be at least 25 m2 (880 ft2) and 2 m (6.5 ft) high. (D386.App1.w6)
    • PASA recommends a minimum of 3 metres, with 4 metres preferable, for all apes. (D427.5.2.w5b)
  • There should be sufficient community cages, of sufficient size, to allow the whole group to be housed in the holding area without splitting up the group. (D386.App1.w6)
  • There should be sufficient holding areas that each male in the group can be housed separately, if required. (D386.App1.w6)
  • If bonobos are to be kept in holding for more than a few hours, furnishings should allow species-typical behaviours, make use of the three-dimensional space, and enable an individual bonobo to separate itself from the group if it wants to do so. (D386.App1.w6)
  • For each room there should ideally be at least two doors for entry/exit of the occupants, making it easy for individuals to circulate between rooms and providing escape routes for lower-ranking individuals. (D427.5.2.w5b)
  • Enrichment devices and enrichment programmes should be provided if bonobos are to be in holding for more than a few days. (D386.App1.w6)
    • Frequent changes in enrichment should be made to provide stimulation and reduce aggression. (D386.App1.w6)
  • The design should allow frequent cleaning, minimising build-up of pathogens. (D386.App1.w6)
    • There should be sufficient slope on the floor, large drains and high-pressure hoses. Containment barriers should be constructed from non-porous materials, as should some furnishings. Furnishings or enrichment devices made of porous materials should be easily replaced. (D386.App1.w6)
  • If bonobos are to be maintained in holding for more than a few days, the design should allow the bonobos as much control as possible over their environment. (D386.App1.w6)
  • Holding areas need a source of clean drinking water, always available to the bonobos (D386.App1.w6)
  • Built into the design should be facilities for e.g. weighing, urine collection, restraint, treatment and observation. (D386.App1.w6)
Nursery area
  • There should be integrated hand-rearing/nursery facilities so that if hand-rearing is required, proper social development and integration of the infant into the group is facilitated. (D386.App1.w6) See: Rearing of Mammals - Hand-rearing
  • When infants are to be maintained with 24-hour human caregivers, the nursery area requires a sleeping area, easy to clean and maintain for both infants and caregivers, together with kitchen (food preparation) facilities (including sink, refrigerator, food preparation & heating facilities, work benches etc.) and easy access to bathroom facilities (with toilet and shower) for 24-hour caregivers, and waste disposal. (D427.5.2.w5b)
  • There should be an outdoor play area which is safe and is inaccessible to older conspecifics. (D427.5.2.w5b)

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Cleaning and Disinfection

Cleaning and disinfection are an important part of animal husbandry to remove urine, faeces, uneaten food etc.
  • The frequency of cleaning and disinfection required will vary depending on the size of the enclosure, substrate type and the animals kept (species and stocking density).
  • Excessive cleaning may remove important chemical cues used by animals to indicate territory; this may result in chronic stress. (B105.20.w5)

Further information is provided in: Preventative Medicine for Mammals - Quarantine, Hygiene and Disinfection

Bear Consideration

The frequency of cleaning required in bear enclosures will depend on the size of the enclosure and the number of inhabitants.
  • The AZA "Minimum Husbandry Guidelines for Mammals: Bears" recommends that dirt substrates should be raked and spot-cleaned daily, while hard surfaces should be cleaned and disinfected daily and resting boards/shelves should be cleaned daily. It is also recommended that food containers and drinking water containers be cleaned and disinfected daily. (D254)
  • In large bear enclosures, daily cleaning is not required. (P71.1995.w9)
  • It should be remembered that while daily cleaning and regular disinfection will reduce parasites, normal cleaning will not eliminate nematode infections since it will not remove eggs of parasites such as ascarids in soil (See: Baylisascaris Infection in Bears). (D247.2.w2)
    • Following worming, re-contamination of the enclosure can be minimised by keeping indoor accommodation very clean for the following 24 hours, removing faeces from outdoor enclosures and, in old-style concrete enclosures, by hosing down and applying disinfectant. (D247)
  • The Manitoba Polar Bear Protection Regulation requires daily cleaning of the exhibit area, off-exhibit area and all holding areas. (LCofC10 - [Full text provided])

Lagomorph Consideration

Domestic rabbit
  • Rabbits will usually use one area for urination and defecation. (B600.2.w2, B602.13.w13, B604.2.w2)
    • This should be cleaned out once or twice a day. (B600.2.w2)
    • A litter tray can be provided and the rabbit trained to use this. (B606.6.w6)
    • Use a wood or paper-based litter in the tray, not fuller's earth (clumping cat litter) as this may cause problems if the rabbit eats it. (B339.8.w8)
    • The litter tray should be cleaned regularly. (B615.6.w6)
    • House rabbits can be taught to use a litter tray by being placed on this frequently when first acquired. (B339.8.w8, B602.13.w13) See: Mammal Behavioural Requirements - Stress, Behavioural Problems and Stereotypies
    • Avoid using strong-smelling deodorants/disinfectants in a litter tray as this may discourage the rabbit from using the tray. (B624)
  • Intact (uncastrated) males rabbits will deposit strong-smelling faeces around their territory as a marker, as well as rubbing a strong-smelling secretion onto furniture and other objects from a scent gland on the chin. (B602.13.w13)
  • Hutches with a solid substrate should be cleaned weekly or as needed. Litter trays or droppings pans should be emptied regularly. (B604.2.w2)
  • If a layer of newspaper is placed under hay bedding, cleaning can be carried out very easily by rolling up the paper. (B600.2.w2)
  • Note: flies will be attracted to rabbit droppings. (B604.2.w2) This increases the risk of flystrike (Myiasis)
  • If the cage has a wire floor, most droppings will fall through, but matted hair and droppings do accumulate. (B604.2.w2)
    • A properly ventilated, dried manure trough can be left for a period of months. (B604.2.w2)
  • It is particularly important to clean rabbit cages and remove infectious agents: (B604.2.w2)
    • When a litter is expected;
    • When kits are being weaned;
    • When new rabbits are to be brought in;
    • When a rabbit has been ill. 

    (B604.2.w2)

  • To clean a cage, detergents, disinfectants and lime-scale removers can be used, applied with a stiff brush.
  • Note: Take care when using acidic solutions, as these can damage metals and floors. (B604.2.w2)
  • Sodium hypochlorite (mix 30 mL 5% solution with 1 litre water) is suitable for disinfection. (B604.2.w2)
  • For materials which do not burn (e.g. metal caging), flaming can be used to remove hair and kill coccidial oocysts. (B604.2.w2)
  • In large-scale operations, cages or hutches should be disinfected before a new rabbit is placed in, and nest boxes should be disinfected after a litter has been weaned. (B618.6.w6)
  • A pet-safe disinfectant should be used. (B624)
Wild lagomorphs
Lagomorphs kept in small areas need to be kept very clean to reduce the risks of gastrointestinal diseases. (V.w30)
  • For pikas (Ochotona princeps - American pika) at Denver Zoological Gardens, it was noted that layers of faeces and uneaten food built up in the underground dens; periodic cleaning of the den was required. (J23.14.w6, P1.1972.w2)
  • When cleaning out cages or pens containing wild lagomorphs which have not adjusted to captivity, care must be taken to avoid the animals being frightened and injuring themselves. (B525.11.w11)
  • In the Basle Zoo, hares were maintained in sets of two pens, each with a fully enclosed section and a wire netting section. Cleaning was carried out every second day by opening a slide between the two pens, letting the hares hop through into the clean side, then cleaning out and disinfecting the used side. Cleaning every two days was found necessary to prevent build-up of parasitic infection. (B525.11.w11)
Ferret Consideration
Litter trays
  • Ferrets habitually urinate and defecate in one place, and will usually use a litter tray if one is provided. (B651.3.w3, B652.4.w4, J29.8.w2)
    • Make sure this is deep enough and large enough to retain the litter. (B602.1.w1, B652.4.w4)
    • Place a litter tray in a corner, so the ferret has somewhere to back up to. (B652.4.w4)
    • Ferret litter trays generally are corner-shaped, with two tall sides meeting at the corner, for the ferret to back against. (B631.17.w17)
      • Several layers of newspaper can be used, folded to form a similar shape. )
    • Soil, soil/sand mix, wood shavings or unscented cat litter can be used in the litter tray. (B631.17.w17)
  • For indoor-ferrets, multiple litter trays should be provided around the house so the ferret can reach a litter box in time when this is needed (B232.3.w3, B602.1.w1, J29.8.w2); there should be at least one litter tray on each floor of the home, and preferably one in each room accessible to the ferret. (B631.17.w17, B651.3.w3)
    • Pelleted litter is recommended, rather than clumping or clay litter. (B602.1.w1)
    • Wood shavings can be used; these need to be dust-free. (D402 - full text included)
  • Note: if a ferret stops using its habitual toilet areas, consider why this may have occurred [behavioural and/or health factors]. (B631.17.w17)
Cleaning
  • Litter trays or latrine areas should be cleaned out at least once daily. (B232.3.w3, B631.17.w17, B651.3.w3, B652.4.w4, D402 - full text included) This reduces smell as well as flies and disease risks. (B651.3.w3)
    • Ferrets generally choose a corner or at least an area near a vertical wall as a latrine area; this is usually as far as possible from their sleeping quarters. (B651.3.w3)
    • The latrine area(s) can be reinforced with plastic, stainless steel or additional timber for extra protection of the main structure against the urine and faces. (B651.3.w3)
    • Theoretically in a raised ferret cub (hutch), the floor of the latrine area can be replaced with mesh for the faeces to fall through for easier cleaning. In practice, they stick to the wire and cleaning is more difficult. (B651.3.w3)
  • A scraper (e.g. a paint scraper) is useful for cleaning latrine areas, as well as a dust pan or shovel, and a stiff-bristled brush. (B651.3.w3)
  • Hoarded food should be removed daily. (B652.4.w4)
  • The general enclosure/living area should be cleaned out once a week (more often if it is wet or contaminated). (B631.17.w17)
    • For outdoor housing, once a week, the ferrets should be removed (may be shut into nest boxes) and the whole living area cleaned well with a power hose; leave to dry for 30 minutes before putting ferrets back in. (B651.3.w3)
    • A living area such as a shed attached to an outdoor court should be cleaned out three times a week. (B652.4.w4)
    • Bedding should be cleaned out and replaced weekly (not in nursing jills). (B652.4.w4)
    • For an indoor cage, if the whole bottom level of a multi-tier cage is designated as the latrine area, then this can be covered with a tray and lined with e.g. wood shavings; such a tray is easy to clean. (D402 - full text included)
Disinfection
  • A safe disinfectant can be used for cleaning. Bleach (sodium hypochlorite) is suitable. After this is used, rinse the area well, then leave for 30 minutes. (B651.3.w3)
  • Latrine areas should be disinfected weekly, reducing risk of infection as well as reducing smells. (D402 - full text included)
  • Weekly disinfection of the whole cage or pen is recommended. (B232.3.w3)
  • Do NOT use phenolic disinfectants with ferrets. (B651.3.w3) 
  • Wash food bowls daily in mild detergent, then rinse. (B651.3.w3)
Bonobo Consideration Standard Operating Protocols (SOPs) should be developed and followed for cleaning the various features (e.g. floors, walls, climbing structures, ropes). These should set out the frequency, methods, products to be used etc. and their effectiveness should be evaluated regularly. It is important to recognise the risk of complacency leading to possibly sub-optimal cleaning over a period of time. (D386.App1.w6) 
  • Chemicals used for cleaning and disinfection must be used in accordance with the manufacturer's instruction and in a manner which avoids the bonobos being exposed to the chemicals either directly or indirectly (respiratory exposure), with adequate ventilation provided to prevent respiratory exposure. (D386.App1.w6)
    • Cleaning products used should effectively kill a wide variety of bacteria, viruses fungi and moulds and should be safe for use around bonobos. (D386.App1.w6)
  • It is suggested that uneaten food should be removed daily, as should faeces, except in outdoor exhibits sufficiently large to allow dispersed faeces to be removed over time by natural methods. (D386.App1.w6)
  • It is suggested that surfaces with which the bonobos come into contact, which are non-porous (e.g. floors, walls, bars), should be scrubbed, disinfected and thoroughly rinsed daily. (D386.App1.w6)
  • For porous items such as ropes, burlap etc., it is suggested that periodic replacement should be carried out to avoid pathogen build-up. (D386.App1.w6)

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Temporary / Hospital Accommodation

Temporary and hospital accommodation are designed for the short-term care of individual animals or groups of animals, particularly during treatment and rehabilitation. Hospital accommodation is commonly constructed with hygiene and easy cleaning as the main considerations, but the specific needs of the patients, including behavioural needs, should also be considered.
  • Facilities should be as flexible as possible to allow for species of different sizes and with different needs. (B105.20.w5)
  • If possible, provision should be made for hospitalised social species to have contact with other individuals of their own species. Visual and/or auditory contact should be provided if physical contact is not possible or is contraindicated by other factors.
    • Shiny surfaces (e.g. stainless steel) providing the occupant with its own reflection may be soothing for an individual of a social species. (B105.20.w5)
  • Full separation, including visual, auditory and olfactory separation, may be important for solitary species, very young animals and very old individuals. (B105.20.w5)
    • Shiny surfaces (e.g. stainless steel) providing the occupant with its own reflection may be stressful for an individual of a solitary or territorial species. (B105.20.w5)
  • It is important to remember that hospitalised patients may need to be caught and handled frequently; designs should facilitate this. (B438.5.w5)
  • For animals with a bandage or other dressing, it may be important to ensure that a dry environment is maintained. (B438.5.w5)
  • Hygiene requirements:
    • The possibility of patient-to-patient spread of infection, and the risk of zoonoses, must be remembered and minimized. Good ventilation is essential. Rooms should be easily cleaned and dust-traps avoided. Cages should be constructed from impermeable materials (e.g. metal, plastic, fibreglass, sealed concrete) which can be easily cleaned and disinfected.
  • Substrate: 
    • Floors should be non-slip.
    • Floors should be nonporous, non-absorbent, impact-resistant, resistant to urine, faeces etc. and be suitable for frequent cleaning and disinfection. (D256.III.w5)
    • Floors should have acoustic properties which help minimise noise levels. (D256.III.w5)
    • If smooth materials such as rubber are used, it is important to ensure these are kept as dry as possible to minimise the risk of slipping on wet surfaces. (B438.5.w5)
    • Floors should slope towards drains. (D256.III.w5)
    • Outside pens for hoofstock should have a substrate which has good drainage and provides good traction. (D256.III.w5)
      • One option is poured urethane (as in outdoor running tracks), which is durable and is easy to clean and disinfect. (D256.III.w5)
      • If an earth floor is provided, facilities must allow machinery in to remove the soil and replace it following contamination. (D256.III.w5)
  • Walls and ceilings:
    • Walls should be nonporous, non-absorbent, impact-resistant, resistant to urine, faeces etc. and be suitable for frequent cleaning and disinfection. (D256.III.w5)
    • Walls should have acoustic properties which help minimise noise levels. (D256.III.w5)
    • Wall-floor junctions should be smooth, impermeable and free of cracks. (D256.III.w5)
    • Padding may be required on walls to prevent injury when excitable hoofstock or other species such as macropod marsupials are to be housed. (B438.5.w5, V.w5)
    • Ceilings should be smooth, resistant to moisture and easy to clean. (D256.III.w5)
  • Doors:
    • Use of safety entrances should be considered for large cages/enclosures. B438.5.w5
    • Areas containing small cages should be observable through a window before personnel enter, so that it is possible to see if any animal has escaped from its cage before anyone enters the area; this should minimise the risk of escape from the room. (B438.5.w5)
  • Heat:
    • Each room housing animals should have separately controllable heating and humidity. (B438.5.w5, D256.III.w5)
  • Ventilation:
    • Good ventilation is important for health and patient comfort, but draughts must be prevented.
      • Inadequate ventilation may lead to a build up of excessive humidity and of gases such as ammonia from animal excreta and chlorine or other chemicals from cleaning products. (B438.5.w5)
    • Air handling systems for animal areas in a veterinary hospital should be separate from those of primarily human areas. (B438.5.w5, D256.III.w5)
    • If possible, airflow should separate hospital patients from quarantined animals. (B438.5.w5)
  • Lighting:
    • Natural light is preferable; when this cannot be provided, full-spectrum lighting should be used (providing UVB, UVA and infrared as well as visible light). (B375.5.w5 [full text included])
    • Artificial lights preferably should be timed to mimic seasonal daylight cycles. This is particularly important for animals in rehabilitation to reduce the risk of their becoming out of synchrony with the normal seasons.
    • Dimmable lights may be useful for some species. (B438.5.w5)
    • Lighting should be available at all times which will provide adequate illumination to properly observe the animal in any part of the enclosure. (B438.24.w24)
    • Lighting should be situated and protected as required to prevent access to the light fixtures by the animals. (B438.5.w5)
  • Water containers:
    • Water containers should be of an appropriate size for the animal, sited to be easily reached by the animal, to minimise the risk of soiling (e.g. not placed directly under a perch or the edge of a resting shelf from which an animal might defecate), preferably should be fixed to prevent the water from being tipped over by the animal, and should allow easy cleaning.
  • Drains:
    • Drains in animal holding areas need to have a minimum diameter of 15 cm (six inches), with drain collection plate covers and baskets of at least 20 cm (eight inches) diameter. (D256.III.w5)
    • Note: Drains are often inadequate in size, number and location. Drainage needs must be properly considered while facilities are being designed. (B438.24.w24)
  • Privacy and Monitoring:
    • Lack of privacy is a stressor and may lead to prolonged healing times or deterioration in health.
    • Privacy should be provided even for animals being maintained in a small cage and requiring frequent monitoring: cage doors should be covered; this may involve use of a cloth draped over a barred or weldmesh door, or for larger animals a solid den door with an observation peephole or, if available, close circuit television monitoring.
    • Monitoring should be possible with no or minimum disturbance to the animal by using peep holes, small windows, one-way glass, video cameras etc. (B438.5.w5)
  • Furnishings and bedding:
    • Provision of bedding and of furnishings such as branches to provide environmental enrichment may be limited during quarantine by requirements for disposal. (B105.20.w5)
    • Given sufficient storage space, it may be possible to store materials such as branches after use until the end of the quarantine period when they may be dispose of by more normal routes (if the animal(s) have passed quarantine successfully). This will depend on the relevant regulations.
  • Environmental enrichment:
Rehabilitation accommodation
  • Once animals no longer require frequent handling for treatment, but are not yet ready for release, they should be kept in accommodation which:
    • Provides as much space and opportunities for exercise as possible;
    • Includes areas providing shelter from wind and rain, but also areas exposed to the weather;
    • Is as close as practical to the natural environment;
    • Encourages natural behaviour

    (B375.3.w3, B375.5.w5, D27, D28)

(B105.20.w5, B375.3.w3 [full text included], B375.5.w5 [full text included], B438.5.w5, B438.24.w24, D27 [full text included], D28 [full text included], D256.III.w5, )

Bear Consideration

 Click here for full-page view with caption Click here for full-page view with caption Click here for full-page view with caption Click here for full page view with caption

  • Temporary accommodation such as quarantine cages should be constructed of an material which is easy to clean, such as concrete or brick. (D247.2.w2)
    • Furnishings should be removable and renewable. (D247.2.w2)
    • Stable mats are recommended as resting places; these can easily be replaced. (D247.2.w2)
  • Consider what environmental enrichment can be provided. See: Mammal Behavioural Requirements (Mammal Husbandry and Management) - Requirements while in Temporary / Hospital Accommodation
Rehabilitation accommodation
  • Every effort should be made to avoid bears under rehabilitation care becoming accustomed to the presence of humans. (V.w93)
  • Rehabilitation enclosures should be designed to minimize or eliminate physical, visual, auditory or olfactory contact between human caretakers (and other people or domestic animals) and bears. (D270.I.w1, P62.9.w1, V.w93)
    • Note: Any degree of habituation, comfort or becoming accustomed to the presence of humans may increase the possibility of conflict or nuisance encounters upon release to the wild. (V.w93)
  • Rehabilitation accommodation must provide safety for the occupants and for humans. (D270.I.w1, P62.9.w1)
  • Specific requirements include:
    • The walls need to be solid. (P62.9.w1)
    • At least two areas should be available, connected by a sliding door, so that the bear can be confined to one area while the other area(s) are cleaned. (P62.9.w1)
  • One set of cages designed for rehabilitation of bears and other large carnivores included three cages, one indoor and two outdoor, with cement floors each with a floor drain, cement block walls about 2.74 m (nine feet) high, and ceilings of heavy-duty chain-link netting. The cages were linked by sliding doors. Furnishings and other items in the cages included resting shelves, a domestic animal watering trough, rotting logs and branches, rocks, a couple of bowling balls and a "tree" for climbing. (P62.9.w1)
  • A rehabilitation facility taking bears preferably should have several enclosures of different sizes, enabling bears of different ages to be managed at the same time. (D270.I.w1)
    • Separate enclosures are required for bears which are ill or undergoing treatment, versus those which are healthy and for example are being kept until reaching an appropriate age for release. (D270.I.w1)
    • Separate enclosures may be required to keep underweight or underage bears active and fed through the winter while other older or better-grown bears are encouraged to hibernate. (D270.I.w1)
  • Small, dark structures should be provided in which shy bears can hide and feel secure. (D270.I.w1)
  • Enrichment items should be provided, such as trees, logs, climbing structures, water tubs/pools or streams, and toys such as balls and boxes. (D270.I.w1)
  • Small well-insulated dens are useful for resting, hibernating and, in areas with high summer temperatures, protection from the heat. (D270.I.w1)
  • Note: If bears are to be released during hibernation, dens must be designed to allow the bears to be anaesthetised for examination and transport to the release site. (D270.I.w1)
  • See also housing information in Hand-rearing American Black Bears
  • Further general information on enrichment is provided in Mammal Behavioural Requirements
NWRA minimum recommendations for rehabilitation accommodation of Ursus americanus - American black bear:
  • A 20 gallon (76 litre) container may be used as initial accommodation for a black bear cub; a three foot by six foot by three foot high (0.9 x 1.8 x 0.9 m high) enclosure can be used for older nursing (pre-weaning) cubs. (B375.5.w5 [full text included])
  • An injured adult may be housed initially in an indoor area 8 ft by 12 ft by 8ft high (2.4 x 3.7 x 2.4 m high). (B375.5.w5 [full text included])
  • For a recuperating adult or a juvenile, an outside area 20 ft by 36 ft by 16 ft (6.1 x 11 x 4.9 m high) is recommended as the minimum, with a natural (soil and grass) substrate, and containing a large indestructible water tub and some heavy logs. A den should be provided, 8 ft by 8 ft by 6ft high (2.4 x 2.4 x 1.8 m high), constructed of concrete blocks, brick or solid wood. This can house one adult or two juveniles. (B375.5.w5 [full text included])
    • Outdoor caging should allow exercise, normal behaviours and acclimatisation to the weather. (B375.5.w5 [full text included])

Lagomorph Consideration

Pet carrier as temporary (rehabilitation) rabbit accommodation. Click here for full page view with caption.

 

Domestic rabbit
General
  • Rabbits, being prey species, should be hospitalised away from the sight, sound and smell of predator species such as cats, dogs, ferrets and raptors. (B601.3.w3)
  • Disturbance (e.g. due to people going past) should be minimised. (B601.3.w3)
    • Have an area set aside for food preparation. (B601.3.w3)
  • Ideally have all rabbit cages facing in the same direction to avoid aggressive/territorial rabbits intimidating other individuals. (B601.3.w3)
  • Cages should big enough for the rabbit to move around, lie out and stretch (B539.1.w1); at least a 1 m cube is suggested as this will allow most rabbits to stretch out fully, stand up on their hind legs, and hop. (B601.3.w3)
    • If the rabbit is to be hospitalised only a short time it may be left it in its carry cage within the hospital cage; this is not suitable for long periods. (B539.1.w1)

Environmental temperature

  • Keep ambient temperature at about 21 - 23 C; avoid letting the temperature rise above 27 C as rabbits are prone to overheating. (B601.3.w3)
    • Additional heat sources can be provided as needed, particularly post-operatively. Electric heaters, hot water bottles and blankets can be used. The rabbit's body temperature should be monitored and heating adjusted to keep the rabbit's temperature in the normal range (38.5 - 40.0 C). (B601.3.w3)
    • While recovering from anaesthesia, an area at 30 - 35 C, reducing to 25 - 30 C once the rabbit has recovered its righting reflex, then to 20 - 25 C. (B601.3.w3)

Cage type and substrate

  • Wire fronted cages improve ventilation and allow unobtrusive observation of the patient. (B601.3.w3)
  • If lights cannot be dimmed to calm a rabbit, a towel or blanket should be draped over the cage front. (B601.3.w3)
  • A non-slip substrate should be provided:
    • Synthetic fleece is an appropriate substrate/bedding. (B601.3.w3)
    • Rubberised matting can be used. (B602.14.w14)
    • A thick towel can be used. (B602.14.w14)
    • Wire cages can be used; the floor should be made from 14 gauge mesh with mesh openings no larger than 1.0 x 2.5 cm - allowing faeces to drop though but without risk of a rabbit getting a foot caught. (B602.14.w14)
      • If wire cages are used, part of the floor should be solid; a wooden or soft plastic block can be used to provide this. (B602.14.w14)

Cage furnishings

  • A box can be provided for the rabbit to hide in; this may reduce stress as well as the risk of injury to a rabbit which is trying to escape. (B601.3.w3, P113.2005.w3)
  • Provide a litter tray if the rabbit is trained to use one; paper-based litters are preferable (clay-based litters can be ingested and cause impaction; sawdust and shavings can cause skin and respiratory problems). (B601.3.w3)
  • If the rabbit is usually housed with another rabbit, keeping them together is preferred. (B601.3.w3)
  • Keep one of the rabbit's own toys or an item of clothing holding familiar scents with the rabbit (particularly for a house rabbit). (B601.3.w3)

Additional considerations

  • Make sure water is always available; (B602.14.w14) provide a water bowl (non-tip, e.g. heavy ceramic) and/or water sipper bottle, depending which the rabbit uses normally. (B601.3.w3)
    • If a water bowl, one with high sides reduces the incidence of the rabbit wetting its dewlap in the water. (B602.14.w14)
  • For intensive care/oxygen therapy, an incubator unit with heat and humidity control can be used. (B601.3.w3)
  • At least once a day, provide access to an exercise area; movement is generally beneficial and may stimulate defecation. (B601.3.w3)
    • Provide supervision at all times unless the rabbit is in a secure area without any possible access to electrical wires etc. (B601.3.w3)
Wild lagomorphs

Hares - Lepus europaeus - Brown hare, Lepus timidus - Mountain hare

  • Keep away from noise and general disturbance, e.g. in an isolated shed. (B151)
  • Hares should be kept in small enclosed pens. It is important that they do not have sufficient area to gather speed in flight or they may cause serious injure to themselves. Also consider padding the sides of the enclosure to reduce the risk of impact injury. (B525.6.w6)
  • Large size robust plastic transport kennel (e.g. Vari Kennel) may be used.
  • Provide a wooden box or other shelter within the pen for security.
  • Provide ample bedding for warmth and shelter to hide within, such as hay.
  • Supplementary heat, if required, should be provided at one end of the container so that a temperature gradient is provided and the animal can choose its preferred temperature.

Oryctolagus cuniculus - European rabbit

  • Any large cage can be used. (B151)
  • A large size robust plastic transport kennel (e.g. Vari Kennel) may be used.
  • Provide a wooden box or other shelter within the pen for security.
  • Provide ample bedding for warmth and shelter to hide within, such as hay.
  • Supplementary heat, if required, should be provided at one end of the container so that a temperature gradient is provided and the animal can choose its preferred temperature.

Romerolagus diazi - Volcano rabbit

  • Quarantine accommodation used aluminium cages, each housing one rabbit, with a nest box 20 x 20 x 20 cm and a run 80 x 50 x 40 cm. The nest box was lined with cardboard (for insulation) and provided with shredded paper bedding. The floors were mesh, for hygiene (allowing urine and faeces through). Hay used to provide deep litter (rather than cleaning cages weekly) made a more secure environment. (J51.19.w1)

Brachylagus idahoensis - Pygmy rabbit

  • Have been kept temporarily in 0.6 x 0.6 x 0.6 m stainless steel rabbit cages. (D373)
    • Plastic matting on the floor of the cages was covered with hay to ensure their feet would not get trapped in the holes in the matting. (V.w134)
  • Have been kept in the short term (e.g. during treatment) in three foot square stainless steel cages with a rubber mat substrate over the metal flooring for foot support, and a piece of drainage tubing as an artificial burrow. (V.w134)
    • It has been noted that young rabbits grow less well in these cages than in large pens. (V.w134)
  • When Columbia Basin Brachylagus idahoensis - Pygmy rabbits were brought into captivity, initial quarantine pens had dirt floors, artificial burrows, escape cover, shrubs and cut sagebrush. (D370)

The Minimum Standards for Wildlife Rehabilitation Third Edition (National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association & International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council) suggest the following (based on North American rabbit and hare species) for rehabilitation: (B375.5.w5)

Size

  • For an unweaned rabbit or hare requiring individual care, a pet carrier can be used. 
  • For an injured juvenile or adult cottontail rabbit, initial indoor accommodation of 12"x18"x12". As soon as possible, move to an outside area 6 ft by 6 ft by 4 ft high.
  • For an injured juvenile or jackrabbit, initial indoor accommodation of 18"x36"x12". As soon as possible, move to an outside area 20 ft x 20ft X 8 ft high.
    • Note: larger housing is needed by the time a jackrabbit is six weeks old, even though it will not be weaned until 8 -12 weeks.

Construction

  • Use of wood should be avoided since this will be chewed through.
  • Avoid using chain link, wire mesh, or hardware cloth as the sole materials in construction of cage walls; these animals do not have good depth perception and will not see the fencing. 
  • Use shade cloth or similar on the outside (if inside, it will be chewed) of the enclosure to provide a sight barrier to the level of the tip of the adult lagomorph's ears (one to two feet).
    • Indoor as well as outdoor housing should have visual barriers.
  • Avoid any protruding construction along the edges on the inside of the enclosure, since lagomorphs tend to run along the fenceline.

Furnishings

  • Provide a free-standing shelter, facing away from the entrance, in which the animal can hide.
  • Provide branches or logs covered with edible bark for the lagomorph to chew on.
  • Provide mounds of hay, or soft earth, for burrowing species to burrow into, and natural shrubs or hay bales as shelter for non-burrowing species.

(B375.5.w5 - Minimum Standards for Wildlife Rehabilitation Third Edition - Full text provided)

Ferret Consideration
  • Ferrets should be housed away from rabbits, rodents etc. as their presence may be stressful to those prey species. (B631.18.w18)
  • Preferably house ferrets close to the floor, as they are not climbing animals. (B631.18.w18)

Cage type and substrate

  • Hospital accommodation must be capable of keeping a ferret contained, remembering that ferrets have a small head and are very flexible, agile and good at escaping through small spaces. (B602.2.w2, J29.19.w1)
    • A cage designed for a cat or dog, solid except for a barred door, can be adapted for holding ferrets by fitting a Plexiglas sheet to the inside of the bars of the door. (B602.2.w2, J29.6.w3, J29.19.w1, P120.2006.w6)
      • If the gaps between bars are small enough to keep the ferret inside, no adaptation is needed. (J29.6.w3, P120.2006.w6)
      • Cages with smaller gaps between bars, designed for ferrets, are available. (P120.2006.w7)
      • Bars can be covered with heavy wire mesh. (J29.6.w3)
      • Note: If the cage has bars/wire, there is a risk the ferret may get stuck in this while trying to escape. (B631.18.w18)
    • Critical care cages designed for small exotic mammals can be used. (J29.19.w1) 
      • These are made from acrylic or laminate. (B602.2.w2)
  • Note: J29.6.w3 aquariums are not suitable; ventilation is poor, they are too small, and ferrets appear agitated, constantly trying to escape. (J29.6.w3)

Size

  • The cage should be large enough to hold a sleeping box/sleeping area and to give a separate are for urination/defecation. (B602.2.w2)

Temperature & Ventilation

Furnishings

  • A hiding/sleeping area is essential. (B602.1.w1, J29.6.w3)
    • Without this, the ferret will be anxious and stressed. (B602.1.w1)
  • Provide a towel, hat, T-shirt or shredded paper for the ferret to burrow into. (J29.6.w3, B602.2.w2, P120.2006.w6, P120.2006.w7)
    • Ferrets not provided with other burrowing material often will burrow under the paper lining the cage. (B602.2.w2)
    • As an alternative, a small box (lidded) can be provided with a hole in the side, for the ferret to go into. The box may be cardboard or plastic, and filled with shredded newspaper as bedding. Boxes are useful for ferrets which chew on towels if these are provided. (J29.6.w3)
    • A very small padded pet bed, or a fleece pet "pocket" is appropriate for a sleeping area. (B602.2.w2)
  • Line the cage with paper. (P120.2006.w7)
  • Facilities should be available for providing additional warmth and supplemental oxygen if needed. (P120.2006.w6)
  • Provide a water bottle or a small weighted bowl - ask the owner which the ferret is used to, and provide this. (B602.2.w2)
  • Food and water dishes should be heavy or attached to the side of the cage to minimise spillage. (J29.6.w3)
  • Provide a litter box for urination/defecation. This can be filled with pelleted wood litter or shredded newspaper. Clay and clumping litters should be avoided, since ferrets sometimes burrow in the litter and the dust can irritate the ferret's eyes or respiratory tract. (J29.6.w3)
Bonobo Consideration Bonobos are social, but isolation may sometimes be required, e.g. for medical reasons or quarantine.
  • At least two isolation/quarantine indoor areas should be available. (D386.5.1.w5a, D386.App1.w6)
    • These should be interconnected with the main bonobo housing area, allowing movement of a bonobo between these areas without immobilisation. (D386.5.1.w5a, D386.App1.w6)
    • For PASA sanctuaries, quarantine facilities should be sited at least 20 m away from facilities for residents, in order to minimise the risks of transfer of infectious disease. (D427.5.2.w5b)
  • There should be an entrance from outside into the quarantine quarters, allowing safe release of a bonobo from a transport crate directly into the quarantine area. (D386.5.1.w5a, D386.App1.w6)
    • Note: This requires sufficient space for manoeuvring a crate as well as suitable attachments for attaching a crate to a secure opening into the quarantine area. (V.w5)
  • Quarantine areas should be off-exhibit. (D386.App1.w6)
  • The design should allow visual and auditory contact of each quarantined bonobo with the daytime holding area or exhibit area. (D386.App1.w6)
  • The minimum acceptable size is 25 m (880 ft) with at least 2 m height. (D386.App1.w6)
    • Note: To minimise the risk of injury from falling when immobilised, it is recommended that the height is no more than 2 m. (D386.5.1.w5a)
    • If isolation for periods of longer than a few weeks is required, a larger area, at least 50 m should be provided. (D386.5.1.w5a)
    • PASA recommends at least two rooms each of minimum 3 x 3 x 3 m (45 m) for quarantine facilities in PASA sanctuaries for apes, together with access to an outdoor area separated from the indoor area by a solid wall. (D427.5.2.w5b)
  • The design should enable monitoring and treatment or immobilisation of the quarantined bonobo(s) at all times. (D386.5.1.w5a, D386.App1.w6)
    • Design should avoid development of blindspots/ dead corners which cannot be observed or in which the bonobo can retreat to prevent darting (remote injection). (D386.5.1.w5a)
  • Floors and walls should be non-porous and easy to clean. (D386.5.1.w5a, D386.App1.w6, D427.5.2.w5b)
  • Design of ventilation and drainage systems should ensure that other living areas cannot be contaminated from the quarantine areas. (D386.5.1.w5a, D386.App1.w6, D427.5.2.w5b)
  • The heating systems should allow the temperature to be increased to at least 24 C (75 F). (D386.5.1.w5a, D386.App1.w6)
  • There should be at least one raised resting place. (D386.5.1.w5a, D386.App1.w6)
  • Fixed furnishings should be designed for ease of cleaning. (D386.5.1.w5a, D386.App1.w6)
  • Nesting materials should always be present. (D386.5.1.w5a, D386.App1.w6)
  • Non-fixed enrichment items stimulating exploration and play should always be present, and should be varied regularly. (D386.5.1.w5a, D386.App1.w6)
  • A drinking water source should always be available. (D386.5.1.w5a, D386.App1.w6)
  • There should be a footbath, containing appropriate disinfectant, for use by personnel entering/leaving the quarantine facility. (D427.5.2.w5b)
  • Note: In Pan troglodytes - Chimpanzee, various negative effects of isolation have been recognised.(D409.6.w6) These negative effects are likely to apply also to bonobos. Isolation from should be avoided whenever possible and employed for the minimum length of time necessary.

Associated techniques linked from Wildpro

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Authors & Referees

Authors

Debra Bourne MA VetMB PhD MRCVS (V.w5)

Referee

Liz Carter BSc MSC (V.w144); Neil Dorman (V.w104); John Huckabee (V.w93); Mike Jordan (V.w30); Chris Lasher (V.w110)

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