New mouse-handling methods

Laboratory mice are routinely handled for husbandry and scientific procedures. Traditionally mice are initially picked up by the base of the tail, sometimes with a hand positioned to support the animal’s body. Picking up mice by the tail can compromise their welfare and affect scientific outcomes. 

Research has shown that picking up mice by the tail induces aversion and high anxiety levels, as assessed by a range of measures, which can be minimised by instead using a tunnel or a cupped hand. As well as having animal welfare benefits the research, led by Jane Hurst at the University of Liverpool, has shown that picking up mice by the tail can impact on scientific outcomes, with mice handled by tunnel and cupping methods showing improved performance in behavioural tests compared to traditional tail handling. The research has since been replicated by other groups, who have shown that the method of handling can affect physiological parameters and behaviour, including the response to reward.

The 3RCC contributed to the German translation of the poster. You may order posters in German and French by sending a message to chantal.britt[at]

Find more information about mouse handling and watch tutorials on NC3Rs website.

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