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Using enrichment devices to enhance useful space

The Guide addresses the ability to physically exercise as one facet of environmental enrichment. The addition of structure can provide this. Perches, shelves and shelters add complexity to the primary enclosure, promote natural behaviors, and provide interest within the cage. For rodents, tubes, domes and huts allow animals a place to hide and nest. They can also become a vantage point or lookout area if the surface space is sufficient, thus adding to overall useable floor area.  Running wheels encourage activity and may also provide additional usable space.

For primates, visual barriers are important. They provide a level of choice for animals to be seen or have privacy.

The use of vertical space should be encouraged, and there are many ways to do that. The addition of ladders, shelves, perches, branches, swings or hammocks suspended from the enclosure ceiling are some ways of enticing animals to move through the cage and up.

Another facet of enrichment and space is the development of “playrooms” for a variety of species. In one such setup, multiple racks are with open, bedded cage bottoms, tubes, feeding stations and toys were set up in a small room, allowing rats to range and explore after breeding. The study indicated no fighting among the males when transitioned back into holding cages in groups after spending time in the larger space. Many facilities
use playrooms for primates, swine and dogs for socialization and exercise with
good results.

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