Moore, J., Wickert, M. 2021. Thinking outside of the tunnel for non-aversive mouse handling. Animal Technology and Welfare 20(2), 161-163.
The key to non-aversive methods of handling lies in understanding what capture method creates the least anxiety in mice: be this tunnel or cupping or another method. It is important that we do not get so focussed on tunnel handling, we fail to notice that in some instances tunnel capture is an aversive experience. Rather than label the mouse as aggressive or grumpy we try to find the method that best suits the individual mouse. Some of the alternative methods to tail handling we developed are outlined below. We also adopted a hierarchy of capture methods, starting with the tunnel, followed by the cupping method and finally asking staff to use non-aversive alternatives if either of the methods were not appropriate. Alternative methods described in this article are: grid cage lid, mouse wheels, mouse igloo, and handling by hand. In conclusion, non-aversive handling of mice is a great refinement in mouse care, it is important we continue to observe and understand the behavioural cues from the animals in our care. Having a range of non-aversive options for handling as alternatives to tail methods for the initial pick up of the mouse is not just a great refinement in handling, it can give the mice an opportunity to let the handler know their capture preference. By encouraging handlers to have alternative methods we may help further improve the wellbeing of laboratory mice.