Signs of Stress due to Poor Environment
If an animal that is social in the wild is kept in solitary confinement, then important bonding and territorial behaviours are not being performed. As a result, there will be an increase in depression or fear-related behaviours due to lack of socialisation. Factors that we impose on animals in captivity, such as enclosure size, have a big impact on an animal's freedom, choices and ability to perform natural behaviours. Any novel stimulus which promotes an animal's interest in its environment and encourages the animal to explore its surroundings can be considered enrichment. Enrichment can therefore include both natural and artificial objects, scents, novel food items, and different methods of preparing foods. Enrichment can also describe how an animal's environment is designed, often in a 3D manner. For example, adding additional perches to a parrot's cage, or other levels to a hamster's cage can significantly increase the size and usage of the enclosure, despite the actual cage size remaining the same. This Animal Enrichment course explores how to minimise stress and ensure environmental enrichment for companion animals.
If poor welfare is acting on an animals mental health (e.g. aggression from humans or other animals etc), then it is likely to cause behavioural problems and issues with physical fitness. Thus if poor welfare factors are affecting an animals' physical fitness (poor diet, malnutrition, starvation, thirst, lack of exercise, injury and disease) it is likely to cause mental health issues and behavioural problems. In the 90's Professor Donald M Broom of Cambridge University was at the forefront of the study of animal behaviour, psychology and welfare and characterised animal welfare as: "the physical and psychological state of an animal as regards its attempt to cope with its environment" This means that a change in an animals welfare, leads to a change in the animals physiological state and therefore physiological responses or 'outputs' can be seen. There are many factors in an animal's environment that can cause it to feel stress. A lack of choices in the animal's environment can mean that it does not have adequate opportunity to perform its natural instincts and lacking the opportunity to perform normal behaviours. For example, if an animal does not have the opportunity to collect their food, or select their nesting material to build a nest, then important instinctual behaviours such as foraging and nest building are being overlooked and can impact on the animal's physical welfare.