Laboratory animal welfare: cage enrichment and mouse behaviour

Nature. 2004 Dec 16;432(7019):821-2. doi: 10.1038/432821a.


Mice housed in standard cages show impaired brain development, abnormal repetitive behaviours (stereotypies) and an anxious behavioural profile, all of which can be lessened by making the cage environment more stimulating. But concerns have been raised that enriched housing might disrupt standardization and so affect the precision and reproducibility of behavioural-test results (for example, see ref. 4). Here we show that environmental enrichment increases neither individual variability in behavioural tests nor the risk of obtaining conflicting data in replicate studies. Our findings indicate that the housing conditions of laboratory mice can be markedly improved without affecting the standardization of results.

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animal Welfare / standards*
  • Animals
  • Animals, Laboratory / genetics
  • Animals, Laboratory / physiology*
  • Animals, Laboratory / psychology*
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Brain / physiology
  • Brain / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Housing, Animal*
  • Hybridization, Genetic
  • Maze Learning
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Inbred DBA
  • Phenotype
  • Reproducibility of Results