Improving housing conditions for laboratory mice: a review of "environmental enrichment"

Lab Anim. 2002 Jul;36(3):243-70. doi: 10.1258/002367702320162379.


Laboratory animal facilities have been designed to provide a standard environment where animals can be kept in good physical health at the same time as economic and ergonomic considerations are met. Recognizing the potential welfare problem associated with behavioural restriction in such housing systems, a number of attempts have been made to improve this environment, generally described under the term "environmental enrichment". Modifications of cages for mice usually consist of providing material for nest building and structures which can serve as hiding places and/or for climbing. We have reviewed 40 studies carried out between 1987 and 2000, in which preferences as well as the effect of housing modifications have been studied. Mice will work for access to nesting material and make use of this material to make nests in which they rest. They prefer a more complex cage to the standard cage and will also work for access to cages with shelter and raised platforms. On the basis of present knowledge, it is recommended that mice should have access to nesting material. Strategies for future research are outlined in the article.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animal Husbandry / methods*
  • Animal Husbandry / standards
  • Animal Welfare
  • Animals
  • Animals, Laboratory*
  • Female
  • Male
  • Mice / physiology*
  • Mice / psychology
  • Nesting Behavior / physiology*
  • Social Environment*