Temperature Preference in IAF Hairless and Hartley Guinea Pigs (Cavia porcellus)

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The Hairless strain of guinea pigs (Cavia porcellus) is the result of a spontaneous recessive mutation first identified at the Institute Armand Frappier (IAF) in 1978. Despite the longstanding availability of this strain, little is known about its thermoregulatory behavior. The aim of this study was to determine temperature preference in Hartley and Hairless guinea pigs by observing each strain in a ring-shaped apparatus containing a nonlinear temperature gradient. Temperatures were maintained by separately controlled heating mats lining the apparatus. Set point temperatures ranged from 24 to 38 °C. Guinea pigs (Hartley female, Hairless female, and Hairless male guinea pigs; n = 8 each group) were placed either singly or in pairs at 1 of the 8 randomized starting points within the apparatus. Subjects were observed for 30 min and coded for location within the temperature gradient by both frequency and duration. When placed singly in the apparatus, all 3 groups spent more time in the 30 °C zones. However, when placed as pairs with a cagemate, Hartley female guinea pigs spent more time in the cooler range of temperatures from 24 to 30 °C, whereas Hairless guinea pigs preferred a range of 30 to 38 °C. These results confirm a temperature preference of 30 ± 2 °C for both Hartley and Hairless guinea pigs when singly housed. However, data from the paired housing condition suggest that context plays an important role in thermoregulatory behavior.