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...
Species-specific welfare indicators are important in promoting positive welfare for zoo animals. Reptiles are a notoriously understudied group in regards to behavior, welfare needs, and husbandry requirements. Using opportunistically obtained samples, we evaluated how blood...
Vocalizations are used by group-living animals as aggressive and submissive signals during agonistic interactions, and are also used to maintain dominance hierarchies in many species. For gregarious strepsirrhines with large vocal repertoires and differentiated dominance...
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...
Introduction: Transport to the clinic is a major source of stress for cats. The process involves being put into a carrier, driven in a car and handled. Cats are therefore removed from the safe-haven of...
Use of scruffing and scruffing tools (eg, clipnosis clips) to immobilise cats is contentious, and cat handling guidelines vary in recommendations regarding these techniques. The current study examined whether cats show negative responses to the...
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 authors’ experience with the housing, social housing, husbandry, handling, and environmental enrichment of chinchillas in laboratories.
Capybaras, also known as “water pigs,” are the world’s largest rodent. Although these animals are closely related to guinea pigs, with a shoulder height of approximately 2 ft, coarse brown fur, and partially webbed feet...
Zoos use ambassador animals in educational programs featuring close contact with humans. Chinchillas (Chinchilla lanigera) at the Saint Louis Zoo are retrieved for programs by a keeper wearing brown handling gloves, but green cleaning gloves...
Gentling of cats in a shelter has been shown to increase contented behaviors and reduce anxiety, but it is not clear how gentling should be provided. Two experiments were conducted in cats confined to cages...
Although the domestic cat (Felis catus) is probably the most widespread companion animal in the world and interacts in a complex and multifaceted way with humans, the human–cat relationship and reciprocal communication have received far...
Owned, shelter, and laboratory cats undergo handling and restraint throughout their lifetime for routine health examinations and necessary procedures. Many cats display fear and aggressive behaviour during health examinations, and there is potential for these...
Cats employ vocalizations for communicating information, thus their sounds can carry a wide range of meanings. Concerning vocalization, an aspect of increasing relevance directly connected with the welfare of such animals is its emotional interpretation...
Our objective was to identify and characterize the types of vocalization other than meowing (VOM) in two contexts, a pleasant and an aversive situation, and to study the effect of the sex of the animal...
The behavioural assessment of individual animals in stressful situations should consider measures which are consistent across repeated testing, and therefore truly representative of an individual's behaviour. Here we report a study conducted on 40 neutered...
Pets have numerous, effective methods to communicate with their human hosts. Perhaps most conspicuous of these are distress vocalizations: in cats, the ‘miaow’ and in dogs, the ‘whine’ or ‘whimper’. We compared a sample of...
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...
Ultrasonic vocalizations (USVs) of laboratory rodents indicate animal emotional arousal and may serve as models of human disorders. We analysed spectrographically USV calls of pup and adult fat-tailed gerbils Pachyuromys duprasi during 420-s tests, including...
Only a handful of primate taxa use ultrasonic vocalisations (those ≥20 kHz) to communicate. The extent and uses of ultrasonic communication remain poorly understood, potentially ranging from echolocation, advertisement of reproductive status and resource availability...
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.
Marmota monax is a valuable laboratory animal species used in studies of Hepatitis B virus (HBV), food intake, obesity, hibernation, and circannual cycles. This article describes the woodchuck’s (also known as groundhog) natural behavior and...
The domestic cat (Felis silvestris catus) originates from the solitary living African wildcat (Felis silvestris lybica). However, through domestication, the domestic cat has become more social towards conspecifics and group housing of cats is common...
The separate influences of spatial density and housing quality on the behavior of captive animals are difficult to measure because the two factors are often intrinsically linked. Here, we recorded affiliative and agonistic behavior in...
Guinea pig pups produce typical distress whistles when isolated. Whistles’ frequency is decreased or abolished when they contact with the mother and, to a lesser degree, a sibling or even an unfamiliar female, is regained...

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