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The Use of Mirrors as Enrichment

Mirrors are a commonly used enrichment item for primates.  They allow the animals to observe their environment, other occupants of the room and themselves.  In rooms where the layout may not allow for direct views of other animals, a wall mounted mirror can be used. The downside of such a mirror presentation is that it may cause stress for some primates who could feel threatened by the other primates they can see. Cage mounted mirrors can be manipulated by the animals in order to safely explore their surroundings and observe activity.

As an enrichment device, the effects do not diminish over time, since they are able to handle and move the mirror themselves; this activity provides a sense of control over their personal environment. Primate behavior with mirrors spans the gamut from aggression toward a strange animal to flirtatious or even self aware behaviors.  There have been some studies that suggest primates recognize themselves in the mirrors, not just as any primate, but as a reflection of themselves.  Many of the studies focused on chimpanzees, and there is some question about the ability of “lower order” primates for self-recognition. An interesting article on this subject can be found at http://www.primates.com/misc/mirror-self.html .

Since mirrors have proved useful for individually housed primates, providing comfort and companionship, some researchers postulated they might also be useful for singly housed mice.  However, the results of that experiment were not promising; mice decreased feeding time when a mirror was close to feeders and, when able to do so, they removed themselves from the proximity of mirrors.

Take a look our our mirrors for your Primates.

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