Let sleeping rats lie: does the timing of husbandry procedures affect laboratory rat behaviour, physiology and welfare?

Abou-Ismail, Usama and Burman, Oliver and Nicol, Christine and Mendl, Michael (2008) Let sleeping rats lie: does the timing of husbandry procedures affect laboratory rat behaviour, physiology and welfare? Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 111 (3-4). pp. 329-341. ISSN 0168-1591

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Let sleeping rats lie: does the timing of husbandry procedures affect laboratory rat behaviour, physiology and welfare?
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Full text URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.applanim.2007.06.019

Abstract

Research has indicated that chronic stress can reduce sleep quality and quantity. Yet there has been little investigation into whether husbandry procedures carried out during an animal’s normal sleeping period affect subsequent sleep behaviour and welfare. We housed 48 rats in enriched
cages containing four rats, in either a light phase treatment (LPT) (n = 6 cages) or a dark phase treatment (DPT) (n = 6 cages). Rats in the LPT were exposed to husbandry procedures (e.g. weighing, cleaning) during the light phase when we would expect them to be inactive/sleeping, three times every week. DPT rats experienced the same procedures, but during the dark phase when we would expect them to be active/awake. After five weeks, behaviour for all cages was sampled over 12 h of both the light and dark phase. General health measures (e.g. body weight) were collected over the five weeks
housing period, and organ weights (e.g. thymus) were recorded post-mortem. Principal component analyses yielded four factors, two of which revealed treatment differences. For one, loading positively on chromodacryorrhoea score and negatively on sleep, self-grooming and enrichment directed
behaviour, LPT rats scored higher than DPT rats. The other loaded positively for relative thymus weight and activity and negatively for aggression and social interaction. DPT rats scored higher on this than LPT rats. LPT rats thus displayed indicators of reduced welfare (e.g. less sleep, elevated chromodacryorrhoea, lighter thymus glands, higher aggression) relative to DPT rats. Therefore husbandry procedures applied in the dark rather than the light phase might improve the welfare of laboratory rats.

Item Type:Article
Additional Information:Research has indicated that chronic stress can reduce sleep quality and quantity. Yet there has been little investigation into whether husbandry procedures carried out during an animal’s normal sleeping period affect subsequent sleep behaviour and welfare. We housed 48 rats in enriched cages containing four rats, in either a light phase treatment (LPT) (n = 6 cages) or a dark phase treatment (DPT) (n = 6 cages). Rats in the LPT were exposed to husbandry procedures (e.g. weighing, cleaning) during the light phase when we would expect them to be inactive/sleeping, three times every week. DPT rats experienced the same procedures, but during the dark phase when we would expect them to be active/awake. After five weeks, behaviour for all cages was sampled over 12 h of both the light and dark phase. General health measures (e.g. body weight) were collected over the five weeks housing period, and organ weights (e.g. thymus) were recorded post-mortem. Principal component analyses yielded four factors, two of which revealed treatment differences. For one, loading positively on chromodacryorrhoea score and negatively on sleep, self-grooming and enrichment directed behaviour, LPT rats scored higher than DPT rats. The other loaded positively for relative thymus weight and activity and negatively for aggression and social interaction. DPT rats scored higher on this than LPT rats. LPT rats thus displayed indicators of reduced welfare (e.g. less sleep, elevated chromodacryorrhoea, lighter thymus glands, higher aggression) relative to DPT rats. Therefore husbandry procedures applied in the dark rather than the light phase might improve the welfare of laboratory rats.
Keywords:Laboratory rat, Sleep, Animal Welfare, Animal husbandry
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:3741
Deposited By: Oliver Burman
Deposited On:17 Dec 2010 12:00
Last Modified:13 Mar 2013 08:51

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