Cohen, S., Ho, C. 2023. Review of rat (Rattus norvegicus), Mouse (mus musculus), Guinea pig (Cavia procellus), and rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) indicators for welfare assessment. Animals 13(13), 2167.

The monitoring and assessment of animals is important for their health and welfare. The appropriate selection of multiple, validated, and feasible welfare assessment indicators is required to effectively identify compromises or improvements to animal welfare. Animal welfare indicators can be animal or resource based. Indicators can be collated to form assessment tools (e.g., grimace scales) or animal welfare assessment models (e.g., 5 Domains) and frameworks (e.g., 5 Freedoms). The literature contains a wide variety of indicators, with both types needed for effective animal welfare assessment; however, there is yet to be an ideal constellation of indicators for animal-based welfare assessment in small mammals such as guinea pigs (Cavia Porcellus), mice (Mus musculus), rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus), and rats (Rattus norvegicus). A systematic review of grey and peer-reviewed literature was performed to determine the types of animal-based welfare indicators available to identify and assess animal health and welfare in these small mammals maintained across a wide variety of conditions. The available indicators were categorised and scored against a selection of criteria, including potential ease of use and costs. This review and analysis aim to provide the basis for further research into animal welfare indicators for these species. Future applications of this work may include improvements to animal welfare assessments or schemes, guiding better management, and implementing future strategies to enable better animal welfare.