Standard cages prevent mice from performing several natural behaviours for which they are motivated. As a consequence, abnormal behaviours sometimes develop and mice often spend long periods inactive. To improve welfare, cages are sometimes furnished with items such as nesting material, shelters and running wheels. We have previously reported that when allowed to self-administer an anxiolytic, mice in furnished cages consume less anxiolytic than mice in standard cages. This paper presents the results of behaviour studies of the mice in the same experiment. Female C57BL/6J mice (3 per cage) were housed in Standard (n¼10), Unpredictable (n¼10) or Furnished (n¼6) cages. Unpredictable cages were identical to Standard cages, but were exposed to unpredictable events two to three times a week. Furnished cages were double the size of Standard cages and contained nesting material, nest box, tubes, chew blocks and a running wheel. During three consecutive periods, mice had access to only water (control), water or an anxiolytic solution on a daily alternating schedule (forced consumption), and finally, both water and anxiolytic (selfadministration). Behaviour was analysed from video recordings taken during the dark phase. The housing type affected behaviour both under the control and the self-administration conditions. Overall, mice in Furnished cages spent less time resting and performing barrelated behaviours and more time on exploratory/locomotory behaviours. Mice in Furnished cages also performed less bar-circling stereotypies than mice in Standard cages. The Unpredictable treatment did not significantly affect behaviour compared to mice in the Standard conditions. There was an overall effect of anxiolytic availability on rest-related behaviours and on exploration–locomotion behaviours, in thatmice restedmore and spent less time on exploration and locomotion when they were able to self-administer the anxiolytic.
|Translated title of the contribution||Behaviour of laboratory mice in different housing conditions when allowed to self-administer an anxiolytic|
|Pages (from-to)||392 - 399|
|Number of pages||7|
|Publication status||Published - 2006|