As laboratory animals spent 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. Best housing should promote control and key species-specific natural behavior.

Knockout_Mice5006-300
Mice

Key Natural Behaviors

  • Social structure
  • Nesting
  • Burrowing
  • Climbing
  • Foraging
  • Nocturnal
  • Avoid open spaces

Recommendations

  • Stable group housing
  • Water/food at one end
  • Nesting material - 8 g/mouse
  • Wood shavings versus corn cob
  • Tubes/climbing structures
  • Transfer clean/dry nesting material during cage change
  • Avoid ultrasound when possible (dripping taps, wheels, computers)
  • If using individually ventilated cages, monitor for anxiety/discomfort based on high air change rate
  • Running wheels
  • Gnawing sticks
  • Avoid brightly lit home enclosures
  • Grid space, mouse lofts, or mezzanines

Further Reading

Rat being pinned during rat tickling
Rats

Key Natural Behaviors

  • Highly social
  • Burrowing
  • Climbing
  • Foraging
  • Nocturnal/crepuscular

Recommendations

  • Stable social groups
  • Taller double-decker or large cages where possible to allow rats to stand upright and stretch
  • Solid floors
  • Avoid brightly lit home enclosures
  • Wood shavings versus corn cob
  • Nesting material, shelters, tubes/climbing structures
  • Gnawing materials such as wood blocks or chew sticks
  • Positive handling such as tickling when juveniles
  • Playpens or exercise areas with water trays, ladders, ropes, etc.

Further Reading

If you know of other rodent housing resources that you think should be featured on this page, please contact us at contactus@na3rsc.org.