Henderson, S. 2020. Development of a sifting cage change method for rats to improve welfare. Animal Technology and Welfare 19(2), 145-148.

This poster describes the development of a sifting cage change method for rats to improve welfare. I came up with the idea after seeing how skittish and stressed the rats in my unit were and wanted to develop a way to improve how they interacted with my colleagues and myself. Normally during a cage change a small handful of dirty bedding is placed into the clean cage, but I felt this was not enough to comfort the rats. After trialling a few methods, I finally came up with a sieve as the best tool for the job. Dirty bedding is sifted to remove feces, and the rats are then re-introduced back into the dry scent impregnated corn cob along with their used tunnels, sizzle, etc. Bedding can be sifted up to 3 weeks – depending on sex, cage numbers and animal age. The technique can be easily adopted with minimal cost, saving on consumables, but the biggest impact has been on the rats themselves: they are so calm and naturally inquisitive, instead of hiding for cover when I enter the room. We have also seen increased animal breeding success.

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