Removing individual rats affects indicators of welfare in the remaining group members

Burman, Oliver and Owen, Diane and Abou-Ismail, Usama and Mendl, Michael (2008) Removing individual rats affects indicators of welfare in the remaining group members. Physiology & Behavior, 93 (1-2). pp. 89-96. ISSN 0031-9384

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Removing individual rats affects indicators of welfare in the remaining group members.
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Full text URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.physbeh.2007.08.001

Abstract

The removal of individuals from social groups, e.g. in order to maintain appropriate stocking densities in groups of rapidly growing young laboratory rats, is often necessary. However, such removals may be stressful and few studies have investigated their effects on the behaviour,
physiology and welfare of the remaining group members. In this study we investigated this issue for rats housed at different stocking densities by observing behaviour and recording faecal corticosterone metabolite levels both before and after removal. We found that, irrespective of stocking density, the rats remaining in the home cage significantly increased agonistic behaviour, audible vocalization, aggressive grooming, bar-chewing
and climbing behaviour following removal of their cage-mates, and that these behavioural changes were associated with a highly significant postremoval increase in their faecal corticosterone metabolite levels. Taking the behavioural and physiological results together, it appears that the removal of individuals from groups of young laboratory rats resulted in social stress, and thus an apparent impairment of welfare.

Item Type:Article
Keywords:Animal Welfare, Laboratory rat, Social disruption, Social stress
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C120 Behavioural Biology
D Veterinary Sciences, Agriculture and related subjects > D328 Animal Welfare
Divisions:College of Science > School of Life Sciences
ID Code:3740
Deposited By: Oliver Burman
Deposited On:17 Dec 2010 11:54
Last Modified:18 Nov 2013 12:15

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