Laboratory mice and rats are derived from a largely nocturnal and climbing ancestor and as such they retain many of the traits of their wild counterparts – exploratory activity, searching for food and climbing. They also like to compartmentalise their behaviours and often use urine marking and bedding to assist.
The Code of Practice for Housing and Care of Laboratory Mice, Rats, Guinea Pigs and Rabbits states:
“Animals must be able to perform a variety of natural activities consistent with species specific behaviour, including the opportunity for sufficient exercise within their enclosure”.
It also states: “The provision of environmental enrichment for mice and rats should mimic natural habitat and behavioural requirements including in particular tunnelling, foraging, climbing, social groupings and nesting.”
The current minimum standards, where these animals are kept in small containers, cannot accommodate the innate behavioural needs of a naturally foraging animal, nor allow for sufficient environmental enrichment.
For more information, download our fact sheet:
Bulletin 9 – Rats and Mice – Maligned & Misunderstood
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