An interesting Workshop at the recent 2013 Felasa conference spotlighted the importance of the environment and how it can influence mice behavior and anxiety, getting beyond compliance developments in rodent cage design and care procedures.
The workshop underlined how until recently the design of cages for laboratory rodents and care procedures focused on providing a standardized environment for effective animal care and scientific research while meeting regulatory requirements.
Presentations showed how recently there have initiatives to try and meet the biological and behavioral needs of the animals by in-cage environmental enrichment and changes in cage design to provide a controlled micro-environment. However, changes in the way laboratory rodents are housed must deliver measurable improvements and scientifically validated for the potential effects on the animals, human health and scientific data. The seminar looked at current developments rodent cage design and husbandry in major European research centers and the impact on animal welfare, human health & safety and phenotyping.
Among different presentations a real interesting one has analyzed the micro-environment of cages and how it can influence the mice behavior and anxiety. The presentation underlined how the environment in which a laboratory animal is housed can significantly influence its behavior and anxiety, acting as a potential confounding factor for those studies in which it is utilized. This study investigated the impact of two IVC (Individually Ventilated Cage) housing systems on the behavior and anxiety of two common strains of laboratory mice.
Juvenile female C57BLj & Balb/c mice (N=128) were housed in groups of four in two different IVC systems for seven weeks. System One had air delivery at the cage ‘cover’ level at 75 ACH (Air Changes/Hour) and System Two had air delivery a the ‘animal’ level at 50 ACH. Mice were assessed twice a week using a range of parameters (e.g. body weight) and at the end of the study (e.g. anxiety tests).
The results showed differences in behavior and anxiety both between strains and also housing systems, indicating that the design and ventilation arrangements of ventilated cage systems can potentially impact upon the animals and experimental data.