Brief Communication | Published:

Taming anxiety in laboratory mice

Nature Methods volume 7, pages 825826 (2010) | Download Citation

Abstract

Routine laboratory animal handling has profound effects on their anxiety and stress responses, but little is known about the impact of handling method. We found that picking up mice by the tail induced aversion and high anxiety, whereas use of tunnels or open hand led to voluntary approach, low anxiety and acceptance of physical restraint. Using the latter methods, one can minimize a widespread source of anxiety in laboratory mice.

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Acknowledgements

We thank R. Beynon, F. Fair, J. Waters, S. Roberts, M. Garratt, J.-F. Lemaitre, S. Ramm, M. Thom, S. Rounding and R. Humphries for practical assistance, and R. Beynon, P. Stockley, S. Roberts and J. Rees for comments on a draft manuscript. The study was funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research, the Wellcome Trust and the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour.

Author information

Affiliations

  1. Mammalian Behaviour and Evolution Group, Institute of Integrative Biology, University of Liverpool, Leahurst Campus, Neston, UK.

    • Jane L Hurst
    •  & Rebecca S West

Authors

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Contributions

J.L.H. gained the funding and designed the project with contributions from R.S.W.; J.L.H. and R.S.W. collected data; and J.L.H. supervised all aspects of the work, analyzed the data and wrote the manuscript.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Jane L Hurst.

Supplementary information

PDF files

  1. 1.

    Supplementary Text and Figures

    Supplementary Figures 1–6 and Supplementary Tables 1–5

Videos

  1. 1.

    Supplementary Movie 1

    Example of the tail handling method.

  2. 2.

    Supplementary Movie 2

    Example of the tunnel handling method.

  3. 3.

    Supplementary Movie 3

    Example of the cup handling method on day 1 and on subsequent days.

  4. 4.

    Supplementary Movie 4

    Voluntary interaction after tail handling. Typical responses of BALB/c, C57BL/6 and ICR(CD-1) mice after handling in the ninth session.

  5. 5.

    Supplementary Movie 5

    Voluntary interaction after tunnel handling. Typical responses of BALB/c, C57BL/6 and ICR(CD-1) mice after handling in the ninth session.

  6. 6.

    Supplementary Movie 6

    Voluntary interaction after cup handling. Typical responses of BALB/c, C57BL/6 and ICR(CD-1) mice after handling in the ninth session.

  7. 7.

    Supplementary Movie 7

    Examples of first transfer from tunnel to hand using the combined method for C57BL/6 mice.

  8. 8.

    Supplementary Movie 8

    Voluntary interaction after combined tunnel to cup handling. Typical responses of C57BL/6 mice after direct cup handling in the ninth session.

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Publication history

Received

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Published

DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/nmeth.1500

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