This page contains films of environmental enrichment of rat cages, and habituation of rats within a particular facility. It also demonstrates their approach to handling and habituation to procedures such as blood sampling and injections.
The large home cages contain a wide assortment of items to provide enrichment, including tunnels, houses, shelters, hammocks and nesting material.
The facility also place the rats in "playpen" cages on a regular basis - these cages contain a large assortment of items to provide enrichment, including tunnels, houses, shelters, multiple levels, hammocks, a "swimming pool" and boxes containing nesting material. The facility uses a square of bedding material suspended from the chest of the animal technician to facilitate contact with the animal, before they are placed in a holding cage containing treats (condensed milk and chocolate biscuits).
The rats are also tickled in a holding cage on a regular basis - they are known to derive considerable enjoyment from this process, which mimics their natural play behaviour. The handling may appear somewhat rough, but it is compatible with the rough and tumble way in which rats normally play with each other. The rats enjoy this so much that they return to the hand for repeated tickling.
- Webinar on Rat playpens for improved welfare