I posted in March about my progress training the Ring Tailed Lemurs. At that point they were staying in their crate for about 4 minutes on average. I’ve worked up to about 10 minutes, including taking them right outside of the lemur house. Yay! But here is where it gets tricky- we spoke with our vet about giving them one or two treats the morning of their physicals. Since the lemurs have to be sedated, she does not want them to have any food in their system at all. The reason is -they could aspirate during the procedure. Which is when someone vomits and then inhales the regurgitated food into their lungs, which could cause death so……… we do not want that to happen!!
The problem is keeping the crate a positive thing for them and without getting a treat for going into the crate how can we do this?
I discussed with Julie Grimes my options. She suggested that I start mixing up how I reward the lemurs for going into the crate. Up until today I was treating them as soon as I shut the door and if they were in the crate for several minutes they received a treat after 1-2 minutes. And another treat for coming out of the crate. So with Julie’s advice- today I asked them to go into their crates- which they did. I shut the door and clicked (used my clicker) but did not treat them. After a short amount of time they were let out of the crates and given a bigger reward than usual. Cassandra and Satyrus did fine with this but Lycus started reaching through the crate, possibly wondering where his treat was. The idea of this is to make it so they will not be able to predict when they get a treat for the door being shut and when they get lots of treats for being in the crate. So that on the day of their physicals in October, it won’t be a huge shock to them that they didn’t receive a treat for going into the crate.