Encyclopedia of Animal Cognition and Behavior

Living Edition
| Editors: Jennifer Vonk, Todd Shackelford

Defensive Burying

  • Mercedes McWatersEmail author
  • Leslie Matuszewich
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-47829-6_690-1



The defensive burying test is used by researchers to measure an animal’s naturally occurring anxiety-like behaviors toward an aversive stimulus.

When an animal encounters a potentially threatening stimulus, the animal engages in a variety of behaviors to distance themselves from or reduce the risk of interacting with the noxious stimulus. A common behavior that rodents exhibit to reduce the threat of a potentially harmful stimulus is to bury the stimulus; this behavior is referred to as defensive burying. Rodents display this behavior in their natural environments, using their forepaws and heads to shovel available materials (e.g., leaves, bedding) onto or near the noxious object. Scientists have simulated this ethological behavior in the laboratory by exposing the animal to a noxious stimulus and measuring subsequent behaviors. The defensive burying test provides...


Defensive Burying Test Shock Probe Burying Behavior Conditioned Defensive Burying Paradigm Acute Physiological Stress Response 
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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Northern Illinois UniversityDeKalbUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Caroline Leuchtenberger
    • 1
  1. 1.Federal Institute FarroupilhaPanambiBrasil