Krall, C., Hopper, L. M., Hutchinson, E. K. 2023. Mice just want to have fun: Playpens facilitate faster training in non-invasive techniques for improved refinement and well-being. Laboratory Animal Science Professional 11(4) (July/August), 22-24.

Practical mechanisms that can be implemented by animal facilities to enhance refinement include the use of non-aversive handling, non-invasive alternative procedures, and additional environmental enrichment. Thus, we sought to collate these techniques by developing a protocol that utilizes positive reinforcement training (PRT) whilst in a complex playpen to teach mice a refined task, specifically oral vehicle administration, to serve as an alternative to gavage. Training mice on a novel task in a playpen rather than by hand produced an increased success rate and faster learning acquisition. The accelerated PRT precludes the commonly cited impediment against laboratory implementation for non-invasive techniques, namely time, and may aid in more general adoption by the scientific community. Overall, the utilization of playpens as a training tool, along with PRT on non-invasive techniques, offers a multifactorial method to refine laboratory animal care and significantly improve their well-being.

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