Study describes new standard of care for UF laboratory mice

A study published on Jan. 28 in the journal PLoS One describes the benefits of a new institutional standard of care for laboratory mice implemented at the University of Florida. 

Penny Reynolds, PhD

“We are one of the very few institutions in the United States to establish non-aversive handling of mice as a standard of care, and this is the first study to show the positive effects of non-aversive handling on breeding mice,” said Penny Reynolds, Ph.D., an assistant professor of anesthesiology and coauthor on the study.  

The study is titled “Effects of non-aversive versus tail-lift handling on breeding productivity in a C57BL/6J mouse colony.” Margaret Hull, D.V.M., of UF Animal Care Services, is the lead author of the study and Elizabeth Nunamaker, D.V.M., formerly of UF Animal Care Services and currently director of global animal welfare and training at Charles River Laboratories, is the senior author. Reynolds was the biostatistician, developing strategies for protocol development and implementation and performing study design and data analysis.

Traditionally, mice are picked up by the tail. Tail handling is a major source of stress and introduces considerable variation and confounding into experimental results. In contrast, picking up mice in a tunnel or cup (non-aversive handling) substantially reduces stress and anxiety. The new study showed that more litters were successfully weaned with tunnel handling and that the welfare benefits of tunnel handling can be extended to breeding mice. 

The switch to non-aversive handling is expected to result in substantial improvements in research reproducibility and translation of research based on mouse models.

This fall, Reynolds won the 2021 UK Animals in Science Education Trust 3Rs Prize for her presentation, coauthored with Hull and Nunamaker, that was based in part on this study. 

Congratulations to all!