Blood samples collection is a common method in biological research using domestic animals. However, most blood sampling techniques are complicated and highly invasive and may therefore not be appropriate for wildlife animals in research concerning stress. Thus, a non-invasive method to measure steroid hormones is critically needed. The first goal of this study was to determine how glucocorticoids concentrations are impacted by translocation and reproductive activity in crab-eating-fox (Cerdocyoun thous) in captivity. The physiological relevance of fecal glucocorticoid metabolites was further validated by demonstrating: (1) The translocation of a male to a females enclosure resulted in a 3.5-fold increase compared to baseline concentrations, (2) changes in adrenocortical activity, as reflected in concentrations of fecal cortisol metabolites during reproduction, gestation and lactation in females foxes, indicating that social interactions resulted in large increases of fecal glucocorticoids metabolites during the reproductive season. From these findings we conclude that fecal samples can be used for the non-invasive assessment of adrenocortical status in crab-eating-fox.
Glucocorticoids; noninvasive method; enzyme immunoassay; translocation; reproduction.