CZAAWE Resource Article

There's a Rat in My Room! Now What? Mice Show No Chronic Physiological Response to the Presence of Rats
Publication Type 
Journal Article
Year of publication 
2009
Publication/Journal 
Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science
ISBN 
1088-8705
Abstract 
In general, guidelines on housing and care of animals in the laboratory state that rats and mice should not be housed in the same room. Mice may perceive rats as predators. Although one theory says this can cause stress, there is little scientific evidence to support this theory. In the wild, rats and mice usually do not share the same microhabitat, but this appears to be true for most small rodent species. Furthermore, reports of predatory behavior of rats toward mice mainly originate from experimental settings using rats with high inbred levels of aggression. This experiment measured heart rate (HR), body temperature (BT), activity (AC), and urinary corticosterone in female C57BL/6 mice before, during, and after introducing Wistar rats into their room. The study found no chronic effects of rat introduction on any parameters. The study concluded that housing rats and mice in the same room is at least less disturbing than cage cleaning, which caused a temporary increase of HR, BT, and AC. Current results do not support legislation based on compromised welfare.