Skip to main page content
Access keys NCBI Homepage MyNCBI Homepage Main Content Main Navigation
. 2013 Dec 24;(82):51012.
doi: 10.3791/51012.

Nest Building as an Indicator of Health and Welfare in Laboratory Mice

Free PMC article

Nest Building as an Indicator of Health and Welfare in Laboratory Mice

Brianna N Gaskill et al. J Vis Exp. .
Free PMC article


The minimization and alleviation of suffering has moral and scientific implications. In order to mitigate this negative experience one must be able to identify when an animal is actually in distress. Pain, illness, or distress cannot be managed if unrecognized. Evaluation of pain or illness typically involves the measurement of physiologic and behavioral indicators which are either invasive or not suitable for large scale assessment. The observation of nesting behavior shows promise as the basis of a species appropriate cage-side assessment tool for recognizing distress in mice. Here we demonstrate the utility of nest building behavior in laboratory mice as an ethologically relevant indicator of welfare. The methods presented can be successfully used to identify thermal stressors, aggressive cages, sickness, and pain. Observation of nest building behavior in mouse colonies provides a refinement to health and well-being assessment on a day to day basis.

Similar articles

See all similar articles

Cited by 47 articles

See all "Cited by" articles


    1. Baumans V. Science-based assessment of animal welfare: laboratory animals. Revue Scientifique Et Technique-Office International Des Epizooties. 2005;24:503–513. - PubMed
    1. Langford DJ, et al. Coding of facial expressions of pain in the laboratory mouse. Nat. Methods. 2010;7:447–452. - PubMed
    1. Aubert A. Sickness and behaviour in animals: a motivational perspective. Neurosci. Biobehav. Rev. 1999;23:1029–1036. - PubMed
    1. Latham N, Mason G. From house mouse to mouse house: The behavioural biology of free-living Mus musculus and its implications in the laboratory. Appl. Anim. Behav. Sci. 2004;86:261–289.
    1. Brown RZ. Social behavior, reproduction, and population changes in the house mouse (Mus musculus L) Ecol. Monogr. 1953;23:217–240.

Publication types

LinkOut - more resources