Jirkof, P., Bratcher, N., Medina, L. et al. 2020. The effect of group size, age and handling frequency on inter-male aggression in CD 1 mice. Scientific Reports 10(1), 2253.
Aggression in male mice often leads to injury and death, making social housing difficult. We tested whether (1) small group size, (2) early age of allocation to a group decreases aggression and 3) manipulation increases aggression in male mice. A 14wk study was performed to assess the following conditions in male CD-1/ICR mice: group size (1, 2, or 3), age at grouping (5 or 7wks), and manipulation (daily scruffing or minimal weekly handling). Wounds, body weights, food consumption, nest scores, sucrose consumption, fecal corticosterone and blood for hematology were collected. At the end of the study, mice were euthanized and pelted to assess wounding with the pelt aggression lesion scale (PALS). No signs of acute or chronic stress were observed in any of the groups. Trio housed mice showed less bite wounds than pair housed mice. In general, mice in larger groups ate less but weighed more. Individually housed mice, however, had high nest scores, low body weights, and increased sucrose and food consumption. These results suggest that even when nesting material is provided, individual mice may be experiencing thermal stress. Based on this data, CD-1 mice can successfully be housed for up to 14wks and groups of 3 may be the best for reducing even minor levels of aggression (i.e. wounding).