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. 

Pet rabbit welfare is a hidden crisis: Inappropriately housed, fed, and not routinely provided healthcare—rabbits can often suffer painful conditions and shortened lifespans. This study provides novel understanding of owners’ perceptions of rabbits’ mental capabilities...

Despite the increasing popularity of zebrafish (Danio rerio) as an animal model, the environmental enrichment preferences of this species have been largely unexplored. We sought to determine the preferences of mature female zebrafish that were...

The Becton Dickinson (BD) Research Animal Care Program has developed an acclimation and enrichment program that has enhanced animal welfare for studies requiring single housing, contributed to a culture of care, increased transparency, and improved...

Excessive body mass, i.e., being overweight or obese, is a health concern associated with issues such as reduced fertility and lifespan. Some lemur species are prone to extreme weight gain in captivity, yet others are...

Zebrafish has become an animal model in research and articles have established ideal conditions for their maintenance. However, little is known regarding the influence of gender and other cues on zebrafish behavior. Thus, here we...

This is the 5th volume of selected discussions that took place on the electronic Laboratory Animal Refinement & Enrichment Forum between February 2016 and December 2019. The forum was created in October 2002; it allows...

For captive primates, greater provisioning of leafy greens or foliage can promote natural foraging behavior while boosting fiber intake. Recalcitrant fiber, although minimally available to endogenous metabolism, is readily fermented into nutrients by gut microbes...

This article describes the steps for making a DIY guinea pig or rabbit cardboard foraging ball. Pictures are provided for each step as well as the completed ball. These cardboard foraging balls can be made...

We compared preferences shown by zebrafish (Danio rerio) and three-spined stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) for shelter provided by above-tank shade and artificial plants. Zebrafish showed no preference for either shelter, whereas sticklebacks showed a preference for...

A recent discussion on the Laboratory Animal Refinement and Enrichment Forum (LAREF) focused on new enrichment ideas for rabbits. Contributors shared their experiences about which toys and treats get rave reviews from rabbits.

Environmental enrichment involves increasing the complexity of a fish's environment in order to improve welfare. Researchers are legally obliged to consider the welfare of laboratory animals and poor welfare may result in less robust data...

This study assessed the effects of an elevated plastic-slatted platform and/or a plastic hiding tube in collective pens with large group sizes (27 or 36 rabbits/pen; 16 rabbits/m2) on the performance and welfare of rabbits...

This article describes the importance of providing laboratory animals with opportunities to engage in play, and provides a few practical ideas for how to do this.

The aim of this research was to evaluate the possible usefulness of mirrors in improving rabbit behavior in a free-range breeding system. Three groups (each consisting of nine replicates of three animals) were compared: isolated...

Environmental enrichment is used extensively to improve the welfare of animals in captivity, however, the importance of physical exercise as enrichment is only now coming to light. A key question in assessing the welfare of...

Environmental enrichment, or the enhancement of an animal’s surroundings when in captivity to maximise its wellbeing, has been increasingly applied to fish species, particularly those used commercially. Laboratory species could also benefit from enrichment, but...

This open access book is a printed edition of the Special Issue on Welfare of Cultured and Experimental Fishes that was published in the journal Fishes. The PDF is free for download.

The 2011 European Union Zoo Inquiry presented evidence that most zoos fail to achieve adequate levels of nonhuman animal welfare. Appropriate environmental enrichment (EE) can play a role in the promotion of welfare. However, financial...

This article describes creative enrichment ideas for nonhuman primates, including celery stalks embedded with seeds; paper rolled into tubes, braided and filled with fruit and seeds; pineapple crowns loaded with treats; dry spaghetti noodles coated...

Zebrafish are now one of the most used animal model species in scientific research worldwide. Our current knowledge of wild zebrafish is limited to an estimated range of their natural habitats and their tendencies to...

Cognitive stimulation has been shown to be rewarding and capable of eliciting positive emotions in several species. In contrast to the abundant learning and exploration opportunities available in nature, captive environments can be under-stimulating—with the...

This study examined the effects of simple changes in the tank environment on the wellbeing of laboratory-maintained zebrafish Danio rerio. Groups of D. rerio were either housed in stable environments (where they were maintained in...

Ring‐tailed lemurs reside in many animal collections worldwide. Lemur welfare may be a cause of concern due to some captive individuals exhibiting stereotypic behavior. Despite these concerns, there has been little exploration of methods of...

Innovations in apparatus technology come about for a variety of reasons such as the need to use the same methodology with various species, the opportunity to present dynamic and carefully controlled stimuli, the goal of...

A three-week enrichment preference study trialling different substrates, food and pen structures was carried out in three, group-housed female New Zealand White Rabbits (NZW). Preference results: structural - rabbits spent the most time with a...

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