Early rearing interacts with temperament and housing to influence the risk for motor stereotypy in rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta)

Jessica J. Vandeleest, Brenda Mccowan, John P. Capitanio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Laboratory and zoo housed non-human primates sometimes exhibit abnormal behaviors that are thought to reflect reduced well-being. Previous research attempted to identify risk factors to aid in the prevention and treatment of these behaviors, and focused on demographic (e.g. sex or age) and experience-related (e.g. single housing or nursery rearing) factors. However, not all animals that display abnormal behavior possess these risk factors and some individuals that possess a risk factor do not show behavioral abnormalities. We hypothesized that other aspects of early experience and individual characteristics might identify animals that were more likely to display one specific abnormal behavior, motor stereotypy (MS). Using logistic regression we explored the influence of early rearing (involving four different types of rearing conditions), and variation in temperament, on likelihood of displaying MS while controlling for previously identified risk factors. Analyses indicated that having a greater proportion of life lived indoors, a greater proportion of life-indoors singly housed, and a greater number of anesthesias and blood draws significantly increased the risk of displaying MS (P< 0.001). Rearing condition failed to independently predict the display of MS; however significant interactions indicated that single housing had a greater impact on risk for indoor-reared animals versus outdoor-reared animals, and for indoor mother-reared animals versus nursery-reared animals. There were no main effects of temperament, although interactions with rearing were evident: scoring high on Gentle or Nervous was a risk factor for indoor-reared animals but not outdoor-reared animals. The final model accounted for approximately 69.3% of the variance in the display of MS, and correctly classified 90.6% of animals. These results indicate that previously identified risk factors may impact animals differently depending on the individual's early rearing condition. These results are also the first in non-human primates to demonstrate that individual difference factors, like temperament, could be additional tools to identify animals at highest risk for motor stereotypy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)81-89
Number of pages9
JournalApplied Animal Behaviour Science
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jun 2011


  • Abnormal behavior
  • Early rearing
  • Motor stereotypy
  • Rhesus monkey
  • Temperament

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Food Animals


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