Mouse Welfare Terms

Welcome to a page dedicated to standardising the way we describe different characteristics of laboratory mice which may impact on their welfare. The team who have developed the listing of terms is led by mouse care staff and have worked with veterinarian advice to compile a list of controlled language for cage-side descriptions of any mice that may cause concern while being used for scientific research.

The ultimate aim of this listing is to highlight welfare concerns associated with the maintenance of laboratory mice and any phenotypes that should be conveyed when either using these models locally or transferring to other facilities.

We hope that this list, which we have called Mouse Welfare Terms will be dynamic and that anyone wishing to be involved and would like to add or edit details within the list will contact us.

Introduction to standardising language for describing mouse welfare

The past few decades have seen an unprecedented rise in the use of mice as a model organism for the investigation of mammalian biological systems and disease. Developing technologies for the manipulation of the mouse genome have been the source of this increase. The ability to add, remove and substitute genes within the context of a whole animal has lead to the generation of many thousands of genetically altered (GA) mouse lines. These colonies of mice sometimes display characteristics which are challenging in terms of the breeding, rearing and husbandry.

In recent years, large programs of work have commenced in which many mouse genes are being knocked-out and the phenotype of the subsequent mice are being catalogued and published. Moreover, as the interactions between individual genes and their pathways are more extensively investigated many strains are being shared by collaborative laboratories.

With more mice lines than ever being used by multiple groups, it is important that any knowledge required to successfully rear and maintain stock, minimise detrimental welfare issues and reduce animal suffering is passed between facilities. This information needs to be stored in an accessible, searchable format for future referencing and analysis.

To aid the dissemination of understandable data about the welfare implication of genetic alterations we have been compiling a standard, descriptive language – the Mouse Welfare Terms. The aim of this vocabulary is to produce a standard set of terminologies which could be passed between animal facilities providing understandable information about the welfare of mouse lines. In addition, using standard terms will greatly aid the electronic storage, searching and analysis of welfare data in the future.

Mouse Welfare Terms

Download a .xls document of the terms and their definitions from this list below.

Use of the welfare listings

The listing is hierarchical and looks to aid the user by giving a standardised description of what they are observing. Accompanying the descriptors is a definition that should clearly describe the overall welfare or behavioural condition that you wish to note.

For example – Appearance, Entire Coat/Skin, Coat Piloerect – Staring coat, bristling of hairs

Where possible each term will be accompanied by an image to again aid the user in correlating what they are viewing and how other facilities would describe the condition they are observing.

We appreciate that facilities will have a differing level of access to IT solutions. Linked you find an Excel spreadsheet zipped up that incorporates the language of the Mouse Welfare Terms and presents them in such a way as to allow the user to simply gather the relevant information and search against what they are observing. This should be used in conjunction with the main listing to ensure the hierarchical nature of the system and descriptions complement each other.

For facilities that have their own IT solutions advise can be provided on methods of presentation and reporting of the terms within a database environment.

Mouse Links

Other Resources

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