Hohlbaum, K., Frahm, S., Rex, A. et al. 2020. Social enrichment by separated pair housing of male C57BL/6JRj mice. Scientific Reports 10, 11165.

Laboratory male mice are often housed individually due to aggressive behavior or experimental requirements, though social isolation can cause welfare issues. As a strategy to refine housing of male mice, we introduce the separated pair housing system. A perforated transparent wall divides the cage into two compartments and allows olfactory, acoustic, and visual communication between the two mice but prevents fighting and injuries. Long-term effects of separated pair housing on well-being and distress of adult male C57BL/6JRj mice were investigated and compared with both single- and group-housed mice. Behavioral analysis after eight weeks in three different housing systems revealed no differences in burrowing performance, social interaction, anxiety, and stress hormone concentrations. However, pair-housed mice built more complex nests compared to single-housed mice and the nest position suggested that pair-housed mice preferred the close proximity to their cage mates. Moreover, pair-housed mice showed less locomotor activity compared to group- and single-housed mice. Body weight was higher in group-housed mice. All in all, no unambiguous long-term beneficial effects of pair housing on the well-being were found. However, the findings emphasized that effects of the housing systems on behavioral, physical, and biochemical parameters must be considered in the design of animal experimental studies.

Year
2020
Animal Type