Severity and distribution of wounds in rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) correlate with observed self-injurious behavior

Zachary T. Freeman, Caroline Krall, Kelly A. Rice, Robert John Adams, Kelly Pate, Eric K. Hutchinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Self-injurious behavior (SIB) occurs within laboratory-housed NHP at low frequency but can have a devastating effect on animal research and wellbeing. One barrier to the study and clinical management of these cases is the cost of equipment and personnel time to quantify the behavior according to the current standard of observation and to score remotely obtained video recordings. In studies of human SIB, in which direct observation is difficult or prohibited, researchers have demonstrated that quantifying the tissue damage resulting from SIB can be a useful proxy to represent the underlying behavior. We hypothesized that the nature of wounds resulting from SIB in NHP could be used in a similar manner to measure the abnormal behavior. Using a cohort of rhesus macaques with high-incidence SIB, we examined severity, distribution, and number of wounds and compared them with observed incidences of SIB during a 12-wk experiment. We found that the number, severity, and distribution of physical wounds were associated with the incidences of biting behavior observed during the 2 wk prior to measurement. We also found that an increased number of wounds was associated with increased severity. Animals with wounds of moderate severity were more likely to also have severe wounds than were macaques with wounds that were lower than moderate in severity. This work is the first representative study in NHP to find that behavioral SIB correlates with physical wounding and that increases in the frequency and number of the body regions affected correlates with the severity of wounding.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)516-520
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology


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