Scores of scientific studies based on mice are being called into question because their behaviour is affected by the way they are handled during experiments.
The usual way they are moved to a different place in the lab is by picking them up by the base of their tail.
But a new scientific study, funded by the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement & Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs), found that while this does the mice no physical harm, it causes stress and anxiety.
One of the researchers, Professor Jane Hurst of Liverpool University, said: “The method used to pick up laboratory mice has a surprisingly strong influence on their anxiety, and our study shows that this has a major impact on the reliability of their behavioural response to test stimuli.
“A simple change to picking up mice up in a tunnel rather than by the tail could have a really positive impact on the wide range of research that relies on behavioural testing, as well as improving the wellbeing of test animals.”
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