CZAAWE Resource Article

The Physiological and Behavioral Impact of Sensory Contact Among Unfamiliar Adult Mice in the Laboratory
Publication Type 
Journal Article
Year of publication 
2006
Publication/Journal 
Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science
Abstract 
Housing mice in the laboratory in groups enables social interaction and is the way a laboratory should house mice. However, adult males show reciprocal aggression and are therefore frequently housed individually. Alternatively, a grid divider, which allows sensory contact by sight and smell but prevents fighting and injuries, can separate mice within 1 cage. This study examined the influence of this housing method on various physiological and behavioral parameters. Adult male mice housed for 10 days with sensory contact to an unfamiliar male displayed significant increases in heart rate (HR), body core temperature (BT), and motor activity (ACT). Furthermore, the mice suffered impaired nest-building behavior and significantly reduced body weight. Conversely, males housed in a similar manner with a female companion showed only a transient elevation of ACT, BT, and HR. Although no clear beneficial effect of housing males with sensory contact to females was evident, this study could not exclude it. On the other hand, housing of mature males in this way leads to sustained detrimental alterations of physiology and behavior, thus implying severe impairment of animal well-being.