Our cookies

We use cookies, which are small text files, to improve your experience on our website.
You can allow or reject non essential cookies or manage them individually.

Reject allAllow all

More options  •  Cookie policy

Our cookies

Allow all

We use cookies, which are small text files, to improve your experience on our website. You can allow all or manage them individually.

You can find out more on our cookie page at any time.

EssentialThese cookies are needed for essential functions such as logging in and making payments. Standard cookies can’t be switched off and they don’t store any of your information.
AnalyticsThese cookies help us collect information such as how many people are using our site or which pages are popular to help us improve customer experience. Switching off these cookies will reduce our ability to gather information to improve the experience.
FunctionalThese cookies are related to features that make your experience better. They enable basic functions such as social media sharing. Switching off these cookies will mean that areas of our website can’t work properly.

Save preferences

RSPCA/UFAW/IAT Rodent Welfare Group Meeting


30th RSPCA/UFAW/IAT Rodent Welfare Group Meeting

31 October 2023

Francis Crick Institute, London, UK

The 30th Rodent Welfare Meeting presented a chance to look at how the welfare of rodents used in research has been improved over the past decades, and to consider what improvements are yet to be made.

The meeting was held in conjunction with the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) and the Institute of Animal Technology (IAT) and was aimed at all those involved with the housing, husbandry and care of laboratory rodents. We were delighted to welcome more than 50 delegates to the in-person event.

The meeting featured five posters and 11 talks, including:

  • Progress on refined mouse handling – has it made a difference?
    Professor Jane Hurst (University of Liverpool, UK)

    The recipient of the UFAW Medal for Outstanding Contributions to Animal Welfare Science 2022 outlined her work on refined handling of laboratory mice. Despite demonstrating in 2010 that methods such as tunnel handling or cupping reduced anxiety and stress compared to picking mice up by the tail, it took a surprising amount of time before it was taken up more widely. This demonstrates the need for active outreach for faster implementation.
  • A mapping review of refinements to laboratory rat housing and husbandry
    Vikki Neville (University of Bristol, UK)

    Vikki outlined the findings of this UFAW-funded project which involved a systematic review of 1017 articles to assess the effectiveness of enrichment in rat housing. The study found that rats prefer complex environments with distinct areas for fulfilling different functions. The study also highlighted the need to develop heterogenous in-cage habitats to cater for the varied needs of individuals, including opportunities for shelter, exercise and foraging.
  • Refinements of handling and dosing methods for rats and mice
    Julia Bartlett (University of Bristol, UK)

    The 3HS initiative (Housing, Handling and Habituation) was launched, emphasizing the importance of habituating lab rodents to handling. The initiative seeks to implement a holistic approach to refinement that considers the lifetime experience of laboratory animals to promote positive experiences and reduce cumulative suffering. Julia also included examples of ways of holding a rat for injection without scruffing, as well as methods for achieving voluntary intake of oral drugs to avoid gavage.

The meeting demonstrated that great strides have been made in understanding and working out how to improve the welfare of rodents in research, but getting those refinements translated into everyday use can be slow. It is clear that animal care staff play a crucial role in the implementation of refinements.

The meeting serves as an important forum for sharing knowledge both about the latest refinements, and the innovative ways various institutions have found to ensure they are implemented. We look forward to another 30 years of progress.