Thermography is one of the most modern methods for non-invasive monitoring of animal behavior, health status and physiological state. The sparcity of scientific reports related to this subject in fur animals prompted the use of thermography in Chinchilla lanigera. The aim of the study was to evaluate the use of a thermal imaging camera to diagnose or confirm estrus in Chinchilla lanigera. The subjects included 100 female chinchillas from three different breeds, selected during ovulation after parturition, which were evaluated twice: measurements were taken over three successive days starting from the 2nd day post partum and again through the same time period 6 weeks later when the females were ready to mate. A picture of the external genital area was taken with a FLIR C2 thermal imaging camera and the temperature was determined and recorded from the selected area using the FLIR TOOLS computer program. There were distinct differences between chinchillas with and without a confirmed estrus. Chinchillas in estrus had ROI temperatures that were greater (2.33 °C) than non-estrous females. During estrus, the temperature of the external genital area clearly increases, which could be due to genital hyperemia. This fact can be used for non-invasive estrous diagnosis, which is especially important because of the absence of typical estrous behavior in this species. Monitoring the greater surface temperature of the vulval area allows determination of the optimal time to place a female with a male and expect effective copulation.
Keywords: Chinchilla lanigera; Estrous detection; Infrared thermography.
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