Refinement Database

Database on Refinement of Housing, Husbandry, Care, and Use of Animals in Research

This database, created in 2000, is updated every three months with newly published scientific articles, books, and other publications related to improving or safeguarding the welfare of animals used in research.

Links to the full text for publications that appear in open access journals or are published on the AWI website are provided under the abstract.

Tips for using the database:

  • This landing page displays all of the publications in the database.
  • Use the drop-down menus to filter these publications by Animal Type and/or Topic.
  • Clicking on a parent category (e.g., Rodent) will include publications relating to all the items in that category (e.g., Chinchilla, Gerbil, Guinea pig, etc.).
  • You may also add a keyword to further narrow your search.
  • Please note that at this time, only publications dated 2010 or later (with some exceptions) can be filtered by Animal Type and Topic. Most publications older than 2010 can only be searched by keyword. 
Stress during handling can negatively impact the welfare of an animal. Gradual habituation or systematic desensitisation can reduce this but is not always possible. Blindfolding has been shown to decrease stress indicators, including heart rate...
The concept of the 3Rs (Refinement, Reduction and Replacement) has been used as a framework for improving the welfare of laboratory animals for the last half century. By establishing an animal-centric view on housing and...
The study of human–animal interactions has provided insights into the welfare of many species. To date, however, research has largely focused on human relationships with captive mammals, with relatively little exploration of interactions between humans...
Routine handling has been shown to affect stress levels in a variety of animal species. This could result in a general decrease in welfare and may confound the results of scientific experiments or observations on...
Animal personality, the consistent between-individual differences in e.g., risk-taking, exploration, antipredator or mating behaviours, has major impacts on the fitness of individuals in many species. Understanding how to quantify animal personality should help us predicting...
Broodstock rearing conditions and handling procedures should be optimized in aquaculture species in order to benefit fish welfare and guarantee optimal conditions for spawning. In teleosts, basal cortisol levels display daily rhythms, oscillating along the...
Hematology is a common tool for wildlife health assessments. Manual leukocyte counts are required in reptiles, however, disagreement between quantification methods has been observed in some chelonians. This study determined agreement between two methods of...
Rabbits are popular companion animals. There are numerous welfare issues affecting the majority of the population, including the fact that most rabbits are fearful when handled. Pet Remedy ™ (Unex Designs) is an herbal product...
This article describes the care of central bearded dragons (Pogona vitticeps) as well as Pygmy bearded dragons (Pogona henrylawsoni). It includes information on housing, feeding, handling and sexing technique, as well as the general health...
Fish models are essential for research in many biological and medical disciplines. With a typical lifespan of only 6 months, the turquoise killifish (Nothobranchius furzeri) was recently established as a time- and cost-efficient model to...
Reptiles are popular as pets and it is, therefore, important to understand how different aspects of housing and husbandry impact on their behaviour and welfare. One potential cause of stress in captive reptiles is interaction...
The RSPCA/UFAW Rodent (and now Rabbit) Working Group has held a one-day meeting every autumn for the last 25 years, so that its members can discuss current welfare research, exchange views on welfare issues and...
Neurophysiologic studies of NHP commonly involve their transfer from a housing enclosure to a laboratory by using a mobile chair. This transfer should be performed in a manner that is safe and minimizes stress for...
Fishes in captivity, such as those used in laboratory research, may experience handling on a regular basis. In the laboratory, handling is usually done with dip-nets, and involves pursuit, confinement and capture and removal of...
Personality, defined as consistent between-individual variation in clusters of behavioral traits independent of factors such as age or sex, emerges in most animal species tested so far. The number of invertebrate species discovered to have...
Spiders with around 48,000 recorded species are major terrestrial predators and thus crucially important for ecosystem functioning. They are widely used as research models and for biodiversity displays and sometimes also kept as pets. Nevertheless...
Individual responses, particularly based on personality, can have important consequences for individual fitness, based upon success in exploring new habitats, feeding on novel foods, and aggressiveness in competitive interactions. We conducted laboratory experiments to analyze...
Farmed fish are typically reared at densities much higher than those observed in the wild, but to what extent crowding results in abnormal behaviours that can impact welfare and stress coping styles is subject to...
Aquatic vertebrates and cephalopods, amphibians, reptiles, and birds offer unique safety and occupational health challenges for laboratory animal personnel. This paper discusses environmental, handling, and zoonotic concerns associated with these species.
The ornamental fish trade is estimated to handle up to 1.5 billion fishes. Transportation and handling of fishes imposes a range of stressors that can result in mortality at rates of up to 73%. Given...
Animal personalities are ubiquitous across the animal kingdom and have been shown both to influence individual behaviour in the social context and to be affected by it. However, little attention has been paid to possible...
While ex situ conservation programs of juvenile green turtles (Chelonia mydas Linnaeus, 1758), before release to natural habitats, have been conducted in several countries, the optimal‐stocking density for husbandry has not yet been reported. The...
The present study examines whether fish density affects behavioural tests, feed demand, and different parameters indicative of the oxidative status of the liver and brain of Orechromis sp. to identify welfare indicators for fish culturing...
Reduced space can lead to crowding in social animals. Crowding increases the risk of agonistic interactions that, in turn, may require additional physiological defensive coping mechanisms affecting health. To determine the stress induced from increased...
The authors describe various methods of handling and restraining rabbits, and propose that while many methods are appropriate, rabbits respond better if only one method is used consistently.

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