Rat Colony Cage
One achievement and best practice which we are particularly proud of is our Rat Colony Cage (RCC). This four-story housing unit can fit up to 48 animals with a total area of 22.246 cm². Each floor in this unit is differently equipped and thought through to enrich and meet the different needs of the rats. In the RCC, the rats can move freely from one floor to the other using jump holes and staircases, strongly encouraging the animal’s activity. The cage allows the animals to divide their environment into different functional units for eating, sleeping, exploring and defecating/urinating according to their natural needs.
Using this colony housing, we observed that rats in the RCC not only had a healthier ratio of muscle to fat, but also recovered more quickly after procedures. Our observations have shown that rats housed in the RCC exhibit significantly increased levels of curiosity and bravery, displaying a greater level of trust towards humans and heightened activity in behavioral studies such as the "light-dark box" test, where we measure the time it takes for the animal to exhibit curious behavior and enter the light from a dark box. Tracking complex behavior in enriched environment can give important information on symptoms and give additional scientific value.
In 2018 we received the Animal Welfare Award of the State of Hesse for this innovative social group housing of rodents and rabbits allowing social interaction and the establishment of functional units (such as sleep, eat, play, and defecation) .