Gaskill, B. N., Pritchett-Corning, K. R. 2015. Effect of cage space on behavior and reproduction in CRl:CD(SD) and BN/Crl laboratory rats. JAALAS 54(5), 497-506.

The 2011 Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals contains recommendations regarding the amount of cage space for mothers with litters. Literature on cage-space use in breeding rats is sparse. We hypothesized that, if present, differences in behavior and reproduction would be detected between the smallest and largest cages tested. BN/Crl and Crl:CD(SD) rats were assigned to a cage treatment (580 cm2 , 758 cm2 , 903 cm2 , or 1355 cm2) and breeding configuration (single: male removed after birth of pups; pair: 1 male, 1 female) in a factorial design for 12 wk. All cages received 20 to 25 g of nesting material, and nests were scored weekly. Pups were weaned, sexed, and weighed between postnatal days 18 and 26. Adult behavior and location in the cage were videorecorded by scan-sampling on the litter's postnatal days 0 through 8 and 14 through 21. Press posture in adults and play behavior in pups were recorded according to a 1–0 sampling method. Differences in reproductive parameters were limited to expected differences related to rat genetic background and weaning weight in pups, which was lowest in the pair-bred CD rats in the smallest cages. Press posture in adults in the smaller cages increased as the pups became mobile. Pair-housed outbred rats in the smallest commercially available cage we tested showed behavioral changes and a lower pup weaning weight. Both laboratory animal scientists and caging manufacturers should address the challenge of providing more biologically relevant cage complexity rather than merely increasing floor space.

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