Preferences of group-housed female mice regarding structure of softwood bedding

Lab Anim. 2012 Apr;46(2):95-100. doi: 10.1258/la.2011.010173. Epub 2012 Jan 31.


Bedding influences various parameters in the housing of laboratory mice, such as health, physiology and behaviour (often considered as being integral parts of welfare). Notwithstanding existent studies about bedding preferences of individually tested mice, data about group-housed mice are still lacking. The aim of this study was to find out the structure preference for softwood bedding of group-housed mice. One hundred and eight 8-week-old female mice (C57BL6/JOlaHsd and BALB/cOlaHsd) were housed in groups of three and were given one-week free access to two different bedding structures at a time. In three test combinations, softwood shaving bedding was tested versus softwood chip bedding products of three different particle sizes (fine/medium/coarse-grained). The preference test was performed in a DoubleCage system composed of two Makrolon type IIL cages, connected by a perspex tunnel. This validated system was able to detect the crossings of each individual animal with correct crossing time and direction. On the basis of these data, dwelling times on the particular bedding structures were statistically analysed as a parameter for bedding preferences. In all three test combinations, a highly significant shaving preference was detected. On average, mice spent 70% of their dwelling time on the shavings. This preference was more explicit during the light period and in C57BL/6J mice. The relative ranking of the bedding structures was: shavings >> coarse-grained chips > medium chips = fine chips. By means of these results, a shaving structure as bedding can be recommended for laboratory mice, whereas fine chip structures should be avoided.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acclimatization
  • Animal Husbandry / methods*
  • Animals
  • Bedding and Linens / veterinary*
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Choice Behavior / physiology*
  • Female
  • Housing, Animal*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Photoperiod
  • Specific Pathogen-Free Organisms
  • Time Factors