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A thigmotaxis-based method of recapturing and transporting small mammals in the laboratory

Abstract

One of the challenges associated with breeding and testing of wild animals in the laboratory is their drive to escape. Wild rats attempt to escape their cages as soon as they are opened, and recapturing is often difficult and dangerous to laboratory personnel. The authors describe a method of recapturing wild small mammals in a laboratory setting that takes advantage of thigmotaxis, or the natural tendency to move close to walls and other solid objects. They describe a simple device that is easy to construct and can be used to recapture escaped rats and return them to their home cages. The recapture technique is efficient and benefits animals' well-being by minimizing their distress.

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Figure 1: The recapture device.
Figure 2: Two methods of recapturing a rat using the device.
Figure 3: The experimental arena.
Figure 4: Recapture procedure.
Figure 5: Using the device to capture a rat from its home cage.

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Correspondence to Rafał Stryjek.

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Stryjek, R., Modlińska, K. A thigmotaxis-based method of recapturing and transporting small mammals in the laboratory. Lab Anim 42, 321–324 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1038/laban.328

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