Training works!Posted: Updated:
Joon, our five-year-old female marmoset has a personality like no other.
She is extremely suspicious of everything, she can hold grudges forever if you do something to her she does not approve of, and she is very particular about what she eats. That being said, one can imagine the agony trying to medicate her when she is sick. Since she won't take medicine mixed with food, the general practice is to transport her to the ACC where she is physically restrained daily to administer her medicine. Joon had gotten to the point where if she saw somebody approaching her with something that remotely reminded her of medicine, she started foaming at the mouth, blowing tiny bubbles all over.
So, it was decided to train her to take medicine on cue, starting with offering diluted lemon water, then vinegar water and eventually putting bitter apple in her water to mimic the taste of different medications. She was rewarded for taking it with desirable food rewards. The big test came during mid May when she became very sick with a bacterial infection, lost over 100gms of her weight, hardly had any appetite and naturally refused any medicine that was offered. It was time to see if training would pay off or not. As she was lying on the branch, completely exhausted from heat and her illness, the trainer simply walked up to her and asked her to swallow the medicine which she did. From that point, she took her medicine every day without any problems.
Training pays off! It is time consuming and tiring but it makes a big difference in the animals' lives. Without medicine training, Joon would have had to be separated from her mate, taken to an unfamiliar and (for her) scary place (the hospital), kept in a tiny cage by herself for a long period of time, and physically restrained to receive her medicines. Needless to say, for everybody, the first option was better.