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Effects of environmental enrichment for mice: variation in experimental results.

Van de Weerd, H.A., Aarsen, E.L., Mulder, A., Kruitwagen, C.L.J.J., Hendriksen, C.F.M. and Baumans, V.

Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, 5(2), 87-109 (2002).

This study focused on the effects of different enriched environments for mice in a number of behavioral and physiological parameters in 2 routine laboratory testing procedures: potency testing for tetanus vaccine and stress-induced hyperthermia. The variability in the results was studied by calculating and analyzing mean absolute deviations. Mice from enriched conditions weighed more and consumed more food than mice from standard housing conditions. However, mice from enriched conditions lost more body weight after being housed individually. Other physiological parameters showed no differences. Mice from standard conditions were more active in an open field, suggesting a tendancy to overrespond to various stimuli in a testing environment. Mice from enriched environments were more tranquil and easier to handle. The enrichment did not influence the variability in any parameters measured, although earlier results and results of other studies suggest that the effects on the variability in results are parameter dependent. When enrichment does not influence variability, there is no reason for not introducing cage enrichment and by doing so contributing to animals' welfare.