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Object Play and Social Treatment of Prey in Bush Dogs and Crab-Eating Foxes

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Object play behaviour in captive parent-raised litters of bush dogs (Speothos venaticus) and crab-eating foxes (Cerdocyon thous) is investigated. Cerdocyon, an individual hunter, shows a rich repertoire of object play patterns, defends and competes for objects, rarely plays with objects in groups, and spends less time in object play than in non-object-oriented social interactions. Speothos, a group hunter of relatively large prey, shows comparatively few object play patterns, shares rather than competes for objects, and spends as much time in object-oriented social interactions as in non-object-oriented social interactions. These results, and data from the literature on other carnivores, suggest a relationship between treatment of objects during play and later social treatment of prey.

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Affiliations: 1: Conservation and Research Center, U.S. National Zoological Park, Front Royal, Virginia, 22630 U.S.A.


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