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Animal housing and welfare: effects of housing conditions on body weight and cortisol in a medium-sized rodent ( Cavia aperea)

By K. Schumann, A. Guenther, K. Jewgenow, F. Trillmich

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Abstract

Rodents are the most abundant experimental nonhuman animals and are commonly studied under standard laboratory housing conditions. As housing conditions affect animals' physiology and behavior, this study investigated the effects of indoor and outdoor housing conditions on body weight and cortisol level of wild cavies, Cavia aperea. The changing housing condition strongly influenced both parameters, which are commonly used as indicators for animal welfare. The transfer from outdoor to indoor enclosures resulted in a body-weight loss of about 8%. In contrast, animals kept indoors showed a substantial weight gain of about 12% when they were transferred outdoors. These effects were reversible. To substantiate a connection between body-weight changes and the health states of the animals, blood basal cortisol concentrations were measured. Animals kept outdoors had significantly lower cortisol levels than did animals kept indoors. These results imply that indoor conditions have a direct effect on the animals' states. The physiological and metabolic consequences as well as potential welfare aspects should be taken into account when planning experimental work, especially on nondomestic animals.

Publication Title Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science
Volume 17
Issue 2
Pages 111-124
ISBN/ISSN 1088-8705
Publisher Taylor & Francis
DOI 10.1080/10888705.2014.884407
Language English
Author Address Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, Alfred-Kowalke-Str. 17, 10315 Berlin, Germany.k.schumann@izw-berlin.de
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Tags
  1. Animal housing
  2. Animal physiology
  3. Animals
  4. Animal welfare
  5. Body weight
  6. Buildings
  7. Effect
  8. Guinea pigs
  9. Health
  10. Hydrocortisone
  11. Indicators
  12. Mammals
  13. peer-reviewed
  14. physiology
  15. Pigs
  16. Policy and Planning
  17. Research
  18. Rodents
  19. Suiformes
  20. ungulates
  21. vertebrates
  22. Weight
Badges
  1. peer-reviewed