Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Rodent Housing Crunch

Nell Greenfieldboyce at NPR must have drawn the short straw and was given this story about how our helpful government is planning on attacking the housing problem in the mus musculus world. 
"Recently, some new recommendations about how to house female lab rodents and their babies caused an uproar, with experts at major research institutions now saying they're unsure of what they'll have to do to keep their government funding. The new recommendations appear in the bible of lab animal care, officially called The Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals."
"There are a lot of changes in this edition of the guide, but the one that has the research world in a tizzy appears on page 57. It's a chart that lays out new recommendations for the minimum number of square inches of floor space that should be used to house female rodents and their babies.
It says a female mouse plus her litter should get at least 51 square inches, while a female rat plus her litter gets at least 124 square inches."
Who knew? Do you think anyone asked the rodents for their opinion?

At least minimal floor space requirements are measured in square inches because for a minute I thought I was going have to enlarge my attic where a family of squirrels has set up winter residence in their luxurious 1200 square feet of cozy, insulated, "natural" habitat.

What were they thinking? Don't they know that some mice are problem snorers? How would you like to be stuck in 51 square inches with one of these:

One problem with our human government regulating rodent reproductive habitats is that rodents don't follow human rules. For one thing, they practice a rodent version of polygamy, as one researcher explains,
"To explain his concerns with the new guidelines, Adams pulls out one cage. Hairless pink babies squirm in one corner. There's a tangle of adults with dark fur over by the water valve. Adams says there's probably a male in here with a harem. One male plus two or more females can produce lots of mice quickly."

"But as Adams interprets the new guidelines, this would no longer be possible in this shoe box-sized cage. The guide seems to say that its 75 square inches is big enough only for one mother and her babies, plus one other adult."
The cruelty of our government breaking up families!

So whom do you separate from the babies, the father, or some member(s) of his harem?

Animal activists should have their paws up in outrage!

The real beneficiaries of these new rules are of course the manufacturers of the little plastic mouse houses and the large expensive racks that hold them.

Researchers had better heed these "recommendations" and buy the new equipment or else...
...the government warns that "blanket, program-wide departures from the Guide for reasons of convenience, cost, or other non-animal welfare considerations are not acceptable."


  1. Of course, there's no reason to be cruel, but the government ought to butt out of stuff like this.

    And we wonder why there are drug shortages.


  2. Yep, 220 pages on this subject alone. Imagine how many pages go into the regulations of the pharmaceutical industry!