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There's a rat in my room! Now what? Mice show no chronic physiological response to the presence of rats

By M. K. Meijer, P. L. P. van Loo, V. Baumans

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In general, guidelines on housing and care of animals in the laboratory state that rats and mice should not be housed in the same room. Mice may perceive rats as predators. Although one theory says this can cause stress, there is little scientific evidence to support this theory. In the wild, rats and mice usually do not share the same microhabitat, but this appears to be true for most small rodent species. Furthermore, reports of predatory behavior of rats toward mice mainly originate from experimental settings using rats with high inbred levels of aggression. This experiment measured heart rate (HR), body temperature (BT), activity (AC), and urinary corticosterone in female C57BL/6 mice before, during, and after introducing Wistar rats into their room. The study found no chronic effects of rat introduction on any parameters. The study concluded that housing rats and mice in the same room is at least less disturbing than cage cleaning, which caused a temporary increase of HR, BT, and AC. Current results do not support legislation based on compromised welfare.

Publication Title Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science
Volume 12
Issue 4
Pages 293-305
ISBN/ISSN 1088-8705
Publisher Taylor & Francis
DOI 10.1080/10888700902955849
Language English
Author Address Department of Animals, Science, & Society, Utrecht University, P.O. Box 80166, 3508 TD Utrecht,
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Aggression
  2. Animal behavior
  3. Animal ecology
  4. Animal housing
  5. Animal models
  6. Animal rights
  7. Animals
  8. Animal welfare
  9. Behavior and behavior mechanisms
  10. Body temperature
  11. Cleaning
  12. Corticosteroids
  13. Effect
  14. Guidelines
  15. Heart
  16. Heart rate
  17. Laws and regulations
  18. Legislation
  19. Mammals
  20. Mice
  21. models
  22. peer-reviewed
  23. Physiology and biochemistry
  24. predators
  25. Rats
  26. recommendations
  27. Rodents
  28. temperatures
  29. urine
  30. vertebrates
  31. Wild animals
  1. peer-reviewed