3 Minute 3Rs December 2020

You’re listening to the December episode of 3 Minute 3Rs.

The papers behind the pod:

1.      Protective cranial implant caps for macaques. Journal of Neuroscience Methods https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jneumeth.2020.108992

2.      The ‘Cage Climber’ – A new enrichment for use in large-dimensioned mouse facilities. Applied Animal Behaviour Science https://doi.org/10.1016/j.applanim.2020.105078

3.      Skin swabbing is a refined technique to collect DNA from model fish species. Scientific Reports https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-75304-1


It’s the 3rd Thursday of December and you’re listening to 3 Minute 3Rs, your monthly recap of efforts to replace, reduce, and refine the use of animals in research. For the last episode of 2020, we’re focusing on refinements for three different animals. Let’s start big.


Measuring the electrical activity of neurons during sensory or motor activities can reveal how the brain works.

Macaques are often used in these studies as their brains most closely resemble those of humans. Devices to access the brain and to fix the head for stable electrophysical recordings are surgically implanted under general anaesthesia. These implants are designed to integrate with the skull however the surgical wound can be slow to heal. The animals are also prone to picking at the sutures increasing the likelihood of infection.

A new paper published in Journal of Neuroscience Methods from technical and research staff at the University of Oxford and Newcastle University details how a protective cap can be used to promote wound healing. The plastic cap is adjustable to cover most primate cranial implants and can be affixed whilst the animal is under anaesthetic. Across the two facilities, the protective head cap reduced wound opening, the need to re-suture and the length of time animals needed to be administered analgesia and antibiotics.

You can find out more about the cranial caps by following the link in the description.

Next, a refinement for mice:


Proper enrichment of mice in their home cages is important to decrease mouse stress, reduce stereotypic behaviors, and improve well-being. When developing new enrichments it’s important to ensure they benefit both males & females and do not have unintended experimental effects or increase data variability.

A new paper in Applied Animal Behavior Science describes the development and testing of a new enrichment made from recycled cage lids. Results showed that naive mice were extremely interested in these enrichments. Furthermore in a test battery assessing locomotion, anxiety, sociability, and stress physiology there was no impact on data results or variability. Furthermore, the enrichments reduced aggression.

Ultimately the authors recommend the use of structural enrichments and nesting material to satisfy mouse physical and thermal needs. To find out more, read the full paper online.

[Lab Animal]

And finally, let’s not forget about our fish. When a zebrafish or stickleback needs to be genotyped, that’s usually accomplished via fin clipping. But, a growing body of literature suggests that fish might not be too fond of being removed from their tanks and waking up some time later with a small bit of their caudal fin missing. The tissue grows back, but studies have shown increases in cortisol and anxiety-like behavior in fin clipped fish, which may affect their welfare and the scientific results obtained with them.

A new study led by William Norton at...

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