Lidster, K., Owen, K., Browne, W. J. et al. 2019. Cage aggression in group-housed laboratory male mice: an international data crowdsourcing project. Scientific Reports 9, 15211.
Aggression in group-housed laboratory mice is a serious animal welfare concern. Further understanding of the causes of mouse aggression could have a significant impact on a large number of laboratory animals. The NC3Rs led a crowdsourcing project to collect data on the prevalence and potential triggers of aggression in laboratory mice. The crowdsourcing approach collected data from multiple institutions and is the first time such an approach has been applied to a laboratory animal welfare problem. Technicians observed group-housed, male mice during daily routine cage checks and recorded all incidents of aggression-related injuries. In total, 44 facilities participated in the study and data was collected by 143 animal technicians. A total of 788 incidents of aggression-related injuries were reported across a sample population of 137,580 mice. The mean facility-level prevalence of aggression-related incidents reported across facilities was equivalent to 15 in 1,000 mice. Key factors influencing the prevalence of aggression included strain; number of mice per cage; how mice were selected into a cage; cage cleaning protocols; and transfer of nesting material. Practical recommendations have been provided to minimise aggressive behaviour in group-housed, male mice based upon the results of the study and taking into consideration the current published literature.