Mazhary, H., Hawkins, P. 2019. Applying the 3Rs: A case study on evidence and perceptions relating to rat cage height in the UK. Animals 9(12), 1104.
This article investigates the barriers to implementing higher caging in animal research establishments in the UK. The use of animals in research and testing in the UK is regulated by the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986, which sets out how animal experiments must be licensed and regulated. Within this, the Code of Practice currently allows laboratory rats to be housed in cages that are 20 cm high, even though adults can rear up to 30 cm. Most adult rats therefore cannot stand upright in ‘standard’ cages. We found that the main factors hindering the implementation of higher caging were classified into five different groups; health and safety, financial, animal welfare, scientific, and ‘human’. Suggestions to overcome these barriers are provided, as well as alternative animal welfare changes that can be put into place. We conclude that much of the desired evidence for moving to higher cages is already available, and therefore the focus should be on education and improving access to the existing evidence, in order to encourage facilities to work around existing financial and health and safety concerns.