Group and Single Housing of Male Mice: Collected Experiences from Research Facilities in Sweden
Publ. 2019. ABSTRACT: Animals used for scientific purposes are protected by EU legislation. Social animals should be kept in stable groups that enable species-typical social behavior and provide individuals with social comfort. However, when group-housing male mice, aggression within the homecage is a common husbandry and welfare problem. Excessive fighting and injuries due to aggression can cause pain and stress, resulting in individuals being euthanized or housed individually. In addition, stress can alter physiological parameters, risking scientific validity and generating larger sample sizes. Mouse aggression, and the consequences thereof, thus opposes the 3R goals of Refining the methods to minimize potential pain and suffering and Reducing the number of animals used. Animal technicians, veterinarians, and scientists using animals have valuable information on how these problems are experienced and handled in practice. We assembled these experiences from laboratory animal facilities in Sweden, mapping problems observed and identifying strategies used to prevent mouse aggression. In line with current literature, less aggression was perceived if mice were grouped before sexual maturity, re-grouping avoided and nesting material transferred at cage cleaning. Preventing aggression will minimize pain and suffering and enable housing of stable groups, leading to more reliable scientific outcomes and is thus of high 3Rs relevance.
Zidar J., Weber EM, Ewaldsson B, Tjäder S, Lilja J, Mount J, Svensson C, Svensk E, Udén E, Törnqvist E. 2019. Group and Single Housing of Male Mice: Collected Experiences from Research Facilities in Sweden. Animals, 9: 1010.