Laboratory rats have better welfare when picked up using methods that support their weight, according to our recently published survey results1. Some staff pick rats up by the tail; 11% of the people in our survey did this, but many were worried about stress to the rats, and noticed that the rats showed some stress-related behaviour.
But who uses which methods? Laboratory staff were more likely to lift rats by the tail if they’d been taught by scientific researchers, whereas they used more supportive methods if they’d been taught on legal compliance training courses. There were also international differences, with staff at USA laboratories being more likely to lift rats by the tail, and those in the UK being less likely to do so. These findings were presented as a poster at the RSPCA/UFAW/IAT Rodent Welfare Group Meeting 2023.
The survey data were collected as part of Trinity Camacho’s final year project during her BSc in Animal Biology, Behaviour, Welfare and Ethics here at the RVC, and she is an author on the published paper and associated conference presentations. 1 BURN, C. C., CAMACHO, T., & HOCKENHULL, J. (2023). Lifting laboratory rats: a survey of methods, handlers’ reasons and concerns, and rat behavioural responses. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 268: 106077. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.applanim.2023.106077