In "Laboratory Rodent Welfare: Thinking Outside the Cage," Balcombe (2010/this issue) suggests that laboratory cage housing is damaging to rats and mice because it does not meet their evolved needs and may damage their psychological and physical health. The article also indicates that larger and more enriched spaces reduce aggression and mortality and improve the health and friendliness of rodents in the laboratory. Remarkably, many of the studies cited as supporting these assertions fail to provide data bearing on the issues involved or may even report findings opposite to those described by Balcombe, whereas many studies that are highly relevant to these issues are not cited or described. Moreover, although the "evolved needs" of rats and mice are presented as the basis for an analysis of rodent welfare, the important and well-documented changes in needs- or motivation-related behaviors of a rodent in the laboratory (due to human selection over hundreds of generations) is ignored. This pattern of disconnections between data and conclusions is so pervasive as to demolish the scientific value of the exposition.
|Publication Title||Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science|
|Publisher||Taylor & Francis|
|Author Address||Department of Psychology, University of Hawaii at Manoa, 2538 McCarthy Avenue, Snyder, 109, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA.email@example.com|
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