The Effect of Cage Space on Behavior and Reproduction in Crl:CD1(Icr) and C57BL/6NCrl Laboratory Mice

PLoS One. 2015 May 28;10(5):e0127875. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0127875. eCollection 2015.


Recommendations for the amount of cage space required for female mice with litters were first made in the 2011 Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals. We hypothesized that if a difference in mouse behavior and reproduction exists within the limits of commercially available caging, this difference would be detected between the smallest and largest cages. C57BL/6NCrl and Crl:CD1(Icr) breeding mice were randomly assigned to a cage treatment: LP 18790 (226 cm2); A RC1 (305 cm2); A N10 (432 cm2); T 1291 (800 cm2) and a breeding configuration: single (male removed after birth); pair (1 male + 1 female); or trio (1 male + 2 females) in a factorial design for 12 weeks. All cages received 8-10 g of nesting material and nests were scored weekly. Pups were weaned between post-natal day 18 and 26 and were weighed at weaning. Adult behavior and location in the cage were recorded by scan samples every 30 min over 48 hr of video recorded on PND 0-8 and PND 14-21 when pups were in the cage. Press posture and play behavior were recorded by 1/0 sampling method. Cage space did not significantly alter typical reproductive measures. Pups in the smallest cage played less than in the other cages. Adults in the smallest cage displayed more press posture than in the two largest cages. Mice in the largest cage spent more time under the feeder than in other areas of the cage. Nest score was also the highest in the largest cage. Housing breeding groups of mice in a range of commercially available cage sizes does not affect reproduction but behavioral measures suggest that the smallest cage tested, LP 18790, may be stressful for outbred mice when pups are present.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Female
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred ICR
  • Nesting Behavior / physiology*
  • Sexual Behavior, Animal / physiology*

Grants and funding

All work was funded by Charles River. The funder reviewed the manuscript before submission. The funder provided support in the form of salaries for all authors, but did not have any additional role in the study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. The specific roles of these authors are articulated in the ‘author contributions’ section.