The effects of olfactory stimulation on the behavior of captive ring-tailed lemurs (Lemur catta)

Brittanny Baker, Sienna Taylor, V. Tamara Montrose

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review

    10 Citations (Scopus)
    302 Downloads (Pure)


    Ring-tailed lemurs reside in many animal collections worldwide. Lemur welfare may be a cause of concern due to some captive individuals exhibiting stereotypic behavior. Despite these concerns, there has been little exploration of methods of environmental enrichment for ring-tailed lemurs. Olfactory stimulation can enhance captive animal welfare by encouraging species-typical behaviors, enhancing behavioral diversity, and decreasing stereotypic behaviors. We aimed to investigate the effects of olfactory stimulation via lavender, peppermint, coconut, and prey odor upon the behavior of eight captive ring-tailed lemurs. We exposed the lemurs to six individual odor conditions (odor control, novel object control, lavender, peppermint, coconut, and Morio worms) and observed them for 4 hr a day for 3 days with an intervening period of 4 days between conditions. We recorded the lemurs’ behavior under each condition using instantaneous scan sampling. We found significant effects of olfactory stimulation on the ring-tailed lemurs’ behavior in the initial analysis but these did not survive correction for multiple testing. Overall, while our findings are suggestive of a general effect of olfactory stimulation on the captive ring-tailed lemurs they did not indicate a marked influence of olfactory condition. However, further investigation with a larger sample size and more biologically relevant odors may be beneficial to fully examine potential effects of olfactory stimulation in captive lemurs
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to) 16–22
    Number of pages7
    JournalZoo Biology
    Issue number1
    Early online date14 Dec 2017
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018


    • environmental enrichment
    • lemur behavior
    • odors
    • zoo welfare


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