In European Zoos, African Wild Dogs are group-housed and are fed with carcasses to mimic the natural situation as closely as possible. This is great for the dogs, but presents us with a headache when we are studying them.
Just like in the Pygmy Hippo project, we monitor reproductive hormone levels in collected faeces from individual animals and analysing it the lab. The trouble is that, with the pack being so closely knit, it is difficult to tell who’s poo is who’s!
To overcome this problem we did a study where we fed food marked either with food dye, sweetcorn or glitter to an individual dog and tested whether we could identify their poo in the enclosure. And we found that the glitter worked best of all.
So now when we want to study a specific dog, we feed it some extra food that is marked with glitter. This now gives us, and others, a useful way to monitor hormones in specific, individual dogs.
More details on these findings can be found in the research poster below, click on the icon to see the full poster.