Hoarding Experiment–Trial Run
Today we did a trial run of our hoarding experiment. We began by first setting up the wire mesh screen that cut down the middle of the glass aquarium, creating two separate halves.
We then broke the large food pellets in half, attempting to make them all relatively the same size. We created 50 of these.
We made 50 pellets because we plan to count how many pellets are hoarded until either the rats do not hoard for a period of 3 minutes or they hoard up to 50 pellets. Even though at this point we have no idea how many pellets Louise and Penelope would hoard overall (hence the trial run), we decided to be safe and have at least 50 pellets on hand.
We then placed 5 pellets in a pile on the left side of the wire mesh. Once the rat has hoarded the 5th pellet, we will add 5 more pellets, repeating this until 50 pellets have been hoarded or 3 minutes have elapsed since the last hoarded pellet. We also plan on weighing the pellets before and after each trial in order to keep track of how much food is eaten. Here is a picture of the pellet set up:
After this was set up, we put Penelope into the aquarium and watched what she did. The trial was not a very big success! Here is a video of what Penelope did:
As you can see, Penelope picked up a pellet and ran around with it, but never actually dropped it. She also eventually pushed through the wire mesh barrier. We have come up with a number of solutions:
1) We need to remedy the un-sturdy mesh barrier problem. We are looking to weigh the bottom down with a piece of wood, which may also allow us to wedge it in and make it unmoveable. If this doesn’t work, we have a Plan B! This will include taking two of the metal drawers (like the ones they live in now) and placing them next to each other in such a way that the metal grated sides are touching. Thus, they have two separate areas but can still see and smell each other.
The only problem we saw here is that they can easily jump out of these boxes; however, all we need is some sort of see through covering to place over each drawer.
2) We are positive that the rats need to be much hungrier. We have switched them to a diet of only 8 grams per day. We will do this for 3 days and try our experiment again on Friday. This will also give us time to figure out which box/tank we will use, gather our supplies, and allow the rats to become familiar with the new environments.
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