Michael T. Walsh; Robin B. Friday; Jack Pearson
Monitoring of changes in appetite is considered a basic tool for the
veterinarian taking care of cetaceans. Fluctuations in appetite, while a potential sign of
illness may also be explained by other factors which may include 1) species and individual
differences in food acceptance, 2) food quality, 3) food preference, 4) satiation from over
feeding, 5) hormonal influences in cycling females, and maturing and mature males, 6) social
incompatibility, and 7) environmental instability. Differentiation from illness factors may
be accomplished by observation, knowledge of potential differentials, blood work, periodic
weighing, nutritional analysis of food items, and response to diet manipulation.
Documentation of many behavioral etiologies may be dependent on long-term detailed histories
coupled with pre and post incident observation. Hormonal influence on diet may be aided by
the monitoring of reproductive hormones in females experiencing seasonal intermittent
behavioral and dietary anomalies. Males may experience short to prolonged periods of
decreased appetite which may be associated with increased testosterone levels in adults and
non-fertile breeding behavior in juveniles.