There are a number of common concerns about implementing refined handling that individuals and institutions mention. This page serves to address some of these common concerns: time, biosecurity. welfare concerns and buy in. This page also aims to provide education on misconceptions and suggest solutions to real barriers.
Once staff and mice are adequately trained, husbandry tasks and experimental procedures typically do not take any longer than with tail handling. For cup handling, typically some habituation for the mice is required initially so it may take longer initially.
Preliminary data from the second round of our survey on refined handling use allowed us to ask individuals about common concerns to using refined handling and how these factors changed after implementing refined handling.
We found that the majority of respondents (>60%) report that cage change and handling time decreased, or stayed the same, after switching to refined handling.
Recent data from a study by Arnott et al. (2023) at AMGEN (full poster linked here), found that tunnel handling took less time than tail handling for a number of mouse strains.
The only outlier were Balb/c mice. This is a great example that different strains may need different refined handling techniques. Balb/c have been reported to be easily picked up using cupping. This may also provide an explanation for the potential increase in cage change time/handling in the results shown above.
Refined handling can also be compatible with high biosecurity laboratories and facilities. The primary approach that is recommended is sanitizing gloves between cages, in the same way that one would sanitize forceps. A number of tips are listed below based on the successful implementation of this technique in current facilities:
* In Biohazard colonies where hands are not allowed to touch the animals, a tunnel can be used instead and kept in the homecage (see below) or a sterile supply can be kept in the colony room.
Check out our refined handling course which contains more information about using refined handling while maintaining biosecurity, by clicking the link here.
Refined handling was actually first created and implemented to handle very jumpy wild mice (see Gouveia & Hurst 2010), and thus may be most beneficial for these animals, as it is shown to help them become easier to handle, over time.
Also as seen in the results from our survey (pictured above):
Check out the other pages of this Refined Handling Hub for more detailed information on the topics related to refined mouse handling. In addition, check out our recent publication on a survey on refined handling for more information on barriers and misconceptions: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0288010