The RSPCA/UFAW Rodent (and now Rabbit) Welfare Group has held a one-day meeting every autumn for the last 24 years, so that its members can discuss current welfare research, exchange views on welfare issues and share experiences of the implementation of the Three Rs of replacement, reduction and refinement with respect to rodent and rabbit use. A key aim of the Group is to encourage people to think about the whole lifetime experience of laboratory rodents and rabbits, ensuring that every potential negative impact on their wellbeing is reviewed and minimised.
The 24th meeting was held at the Animal and Plant Health Inspectorate (APHA) Weybridge on 14 November 2017. The first session addressed meeting animals’ needs and aiming for a ‘good life’, with the needs of breeding rabbit does as a case study. Three speakers gave presentations on breeding rabbit behaviour, a Home Office perspective on providing enrichment ‘appropriate to the species’, and refining housing, husbandry and care for these animals in practice. The second session, on rodent welfare, comprised an update on the NC3Rs Year of Laboratory Rodent Welfare, reducing stereotypic digging in gerbils, enabling group housing in rats with vascular access buttons, positive emotions in rats, and good practice for housing male mice. The day ended with a discussion session on speaking up for rodents within Animal Welfare and Ethical Review Body (AWERB) meetings and more generally. This report summarises the meeting and ends with a list of action points for readers to consider raising at their own establishments