As laboratory animals spend the large majority of their lives in their home enclosure, the design of this area is critical for their health and welfare. Substandard housing can lead to aggression, stereotypes, and anxiety. The best housing should promote key species-specific natural behavior and allow animal choice.
Making changes to current housing standards can be challenging especially because of variations between cabin styles. Work from where you are at for continuous improvements. Also keep in mind that some of the recommendations below (e.g., providing running wheels to mice) can impact some specific experimental models.
Before implementing housing changes, be sure to consult the relevant scientific literature and consider the requirements of your scientific model. Each facility may require an individual approach to increasing housing standards. We recommend considering these implementation tips.
A group at RISE (Research Institutes of Sweden) have unique and effective methods for training mice to cooperate with procedures. Their team focuses on initial handling using gentle techniques and food reinforcements to cooperate with transport, blood sampling, and oral gavage with minimal or even no restraint.
Learn more about their techniques by viewing the video below and reading the blog post with further videos from 2019 NC3Rs IAT Symposium.
A group of researchers in Canada have developed a protocol to reduce stress in mice that combines tunnel handling and other techniques. See here to read more and watch the full video of the sample below.