Stevens, C., Hawkins, P., Lovell-Badge, R. et al. 2019. Report of the 2018 RSPCA/UFAW Rodent and Rabbit Welfare Group meeting. Animal Technology and Welfare 18(2), 81-91.
The RSPCA/UFAW Rodent (and now Rabbit) Working Group has held a one-day meeting every autumn for the last 25 years, so that its members can discuss current welfare research, exchange views on welfare issues and share experiences of the implementation of the 3Rs of replacement, reduction and refinement with respect to rodent and rabbit use. A key aim of the Group is to encourage people to think about the whole lifetime experience of laboratory rodents and rabbits ensuring that every potential negative impact on their wellbeing is reviewed and minimised. This year’s meeting was held at The Francis Crick Institute in London on 30th October 2018 and was attended by over 80 delegates from the UK and overseas. To mark 25 years of Rodent and Rabbit meetings, the day opened with a retrospective look at how animal technology has developed over the past 25 years, and how these developments have impacted laboratory rodent and rabbit welfare. This was followed by a look to the future, with a talk that discussed how animal welfare science and practices might change over the next 25 years. Other presentations covered ways to encourage laboratory rats to nest-build by giving them appropriate building materials, tips on designing new rabbit facilities to best promote rabbit welfare and a discussion of how imaging techniques can be used to refine experimental procedures and reduce the number of animals used in studies. The day ended with a presentation from the Home Office Animals in Science Regulation Unit and an interactive discussion session, both on the topic of ensuring that laboratory rodents and rabbits never go without food or water. This report summarises the meeting and ends with a list of action points for readers to consider raising at their own establishments.