Immunology test platform
The German Animal Welfare Act requires that an animal has to be fed, cared and housed according to its species and needs. Housing conditions of laboratory mice are standardized to a high degree. Under these conditions, the occurrence of stereotypies can be observed.
Stereotypes are known as deviations from normal behavior that are repetitive, invariant and without any obvious function or aim for the animal. The FVB / N mouse strain develops various stereotypic movement patterns, such as "circuit running" (circular race along the cage bottom), "backflipping" (performance of loops involving the cage grid) and "wire gnawing" (intensive gnawing on the cage grid).
Structural changes in the housing conditions ("environmental enrichment") for laboratory animals have already reduced the prevalence of stereotypes, yet they still occur. Differences in handling and caring can have enormous effects on animal’s behavior. Since behavior highly influences the metabolism and immune system, behavioral changes may cause varying results, even with an identical experimental setup. Therefore, it is of paramount importance, to contribute to the well-being of laboratory animals (3R Refinement). Though, the knowledge about the needs and ethological particularities of animals is not sufficient to generally avoid the development of stereotypic behavior.
The results of this project will lead to a better understanding of the stereotype itself , the motivational base for this behavioral deviation, evolve recommendations for optimizing the breeding and keeping of laboratory animals, such as for the assessment of possible distress in animals performing stereotypic behavior.