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The physiological and behavioural impact of sensory contact among unfamiliar adult mice in the laboratory

By A. Rettich, H. P. Kasermann, P. Pelczar, K. Burki, M. Arras

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Housing mice in the laboratory in groups enables social interaction and is the way a laboratory should house mice. However, adult males show reciprocal aggression and are therefore frequently housed individually. Alternatively, a grid divider, which allows sensory contact by sight and smell but prevents fighting and injuries, can separate mice within 1 cage. This study examined the influence of this housing method on various physiological and behavioural parameters. Adult male mice housed for 10 days with sensory contact to an unfamiliar male displayed significant increases in heart rate (HR), body core temperature (BT), and motor activity (ACT). Furthermore, the mice suffered impaired nest-building behaviour and significantly reduced body weight. Conversely, males housed in a similar manner with a female companion showed only a transient elevation of ACT, BT, and HR. Although no clear beneficial effect of housing males with sensory contact to females was evident, this study could not exclude it. On the other hand, housing of mature males in this way leads to sustained detrimental alterations of physiology and behaviour, thus implying severe impairment of animal wellbeing.

Publication Title Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science
Volume 9
Issue 4
Pages 277-288
ISBN/ISSN 1088-8705
Publisher Taylor & Francis
DOI 10.1207/s15327604jaws0904_3
Language English
Author Address Central Biological Laboratory, Institute of Laboratory Animal Science, University of Zurich, Sternwartstr. 6, CH-8091 Zurich,
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal behavior
  2. Animal housing
  3. Animal physiology
  4. Animal rights
  5. Animals
  6. Animal welfare
  7. Behavior and behavior mechanisms
  8. Body temperature
  9. Body weight
  10. Heart rate
  11. Laboratory and experimental animals
  12. Laboratory animal science
  13. Mammals
  14. Mice
  15. nesting
  16. peer-reviewed
  17. physical activity
  18. Rodents
  19. Social behavior
  20. social interactions
  21. touch
  22. vertebrates
  1. peer-reviewed