Evaluation of nesting behavior as an indicator of the level of distress in laboratory mice

DOI: 10.29296/2618723X-2021-02-05

M.A. Akimova, Animal Breeding Specialist ORCID 0000-0001-8643-3613;
M.N. Makarova, Doctor of Medical Sciences, Director, ORCHID 0000-0003-3176-6386;
D.Yu. Akimov, Chief Veterinarian, ORCID 0000-0003-3141-492X

Research and manufacturing company «Home оf Pharmacy»,
188663, Russia, Leningrad oblast, Vsevolozhskiy district, Kuzmolovskiy t.s., Zavodskaya st. 3-245

Е-mail: [email protected]

Keywords: mice nesting behavior paper cup stress indicators

For citation:

Akimova M.A., Makarova M.N., Akimov D.Yu. Evaluation of nesting behavior as an indicator of the level of distress in laboratory mice. Laboratory Animals for Science. 2021; 2. https://doi.org/10.29296/2618723X-2021-02-05


An integral part of good laboratory practice is the humane treatment of animals, and the minimization of stress in laboratory animals. Chronic stress in laboratory animals can affect the purity of the data obtained, for example, in a number of behavioral tests.

To measure the overall well-being of animals for scientific and animal husbandry purposes, objective methods are needed to assess the level of stress for specific types of laboratory animals. Modern methods of assessing the well-being of laboratory mice either take a long time, or require expensive equipment, or are invasive, which in turn also affects the indicator of animal well-being. In conditions of a large number of animals in a vivarium or a laboratory animal nursery, the use of these methods in routine practice, on a permanent basis, is usually impractical. To date, the development of non-invasive, informative methods is required, the introduction of which in the practice of preclinical centers can significantly affect the well-being of animals, and will allow monitoring the presence/absence of stress in animals living in laboratory conditions. The experiment was aimed at studying nesting as an indicator of the health and well-being of laboratory mice with group and individual content, as well as in the presence of various stress factors. The research plan was approved by the bioethical commission of JSC «NGO "House оf Pharmacy"». The study was conducted on 95 animals, including 65 males and 30 females, obtained in the nursery of JSC «NGO "House оf Pharmacy"». Solitary confinement, cold stress, and median laparotomy were used as stress factors. As a nest material, a single-layer cardboard cup with a volume of 180 ml, with a density of 210 g/m2, was used.

The assessment of nesting behavior was carried out according to the indicators "The number of animals in the cup", "The degree of gnawing of the cup" and "The test of integration of nesting material into the nest".

According to the results of the study, it was found that the interest of males and females of outbred mice in the nesting material was at a high level. During the experiment, we found that indicators for detecting stress in laboratory mice can serve as such indicators as: "The degree of gnawing of the cup" and "Test of integration of nest material into the nest". The indicator "Number of animals in a cup" was not very informative in the conditions of the tests used.

Full text avaliable in Russain only 

Authors ' contribution

M.A. Akimova –  coordination of the planning and implementation of the study, analysis and interpretation of results

М.N. Makarova – revision of the paper.

D.Yu. Akimov – literature review, analysis and interpretation of results.


Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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