Kleefeld, S., Bannerton, K., Kelly, J.2017. Effect of moderate environmental enrichment on commonly used behavioural tests in rats. Animal Technology and Welfare 16(1), 75-76.
The environment that laboratory animals are housed in should reflect their natural habitats in a manner that can satisfy their innate physiological and behavioural needs. This includes nest building, hiding, exploring and foraging. Providing environmental enrichment (EE) in order to achieve this is both a legal and an ethical requirement. However, EE may affect behavioural tests commonly used in rodents. This project was designed to assess the effect of introducing a moderate EE protocol on a range of behavioural tests in rats, namely: anxiety: elevated plus maze (EPM); depression: forced swim test (FST); learning and memory: morris water maze (MWM); pain: hotplate test, (HPT). EE chosen consisted of nesting material, hiding/playing tubes, as well as nutritional supplements to encourage foraging. Results showed that the introduction of an environmental enrichment protocol had no significant effect on baseline results of the Elevated Plus Maze, The Forced Swim Test, the Morris Water Maze Test and the Hot Plate Test. This suggests that this form of modern enrichment can be incorporated into new studies without affecting the baseline behavioural profiles.