Below are quotes from some of those who have switched to the refined techniques:
“As the manager of a busy animal facility it is essential to have an efficient and quick cleaning out regime in place. It was with some reluctance that I agreed to do a small trial of the mouse tunnels as an alternative handling technique, out of fear that it would disrupt the cleaning by prolonging the time taken, but I felt it was important to evaluate the benefits to welfare for the mice housed in our facility since we use IVCs. I have to say I was very surprised with how quickly both staff and mice adapted to the new technique and the benefits are measurable. Following this trial, we have now rolled out the use of the tunnels in phases, in order to manage the couple of weeks acclimatisation needed for the mice to start using the tunnels. We have found that once this is done the time difference between tail versus tunnel handling is negligible, with clear welfare benefits for the mice on the tunnel handling technique. We are now encouraging our researchers to use the tunnels and have included this alternative handling technique in our Home Office personal licensee course, with positive feedback from our delegates. It’s been a very positive welfare initiative for very little effort!”
Dr Lynn McLaughlin, University of Liverpool
“The Department of Pathology at Cambridge has switched to tunnel/cup handling for all technicians. Some research staff have adopted this, others still utilise tail handling. We find newer research staff members very keen to engage with the new handling techniques, whereas some ‘old-timers’ are a bit resistant. We now find tunnel handling as quick as tail capture, although initially there is a time investment. We moved a room at a time to the tunnel technique to manage the workload. The cost of purchasing polycarbonate tunnels has been slightly offset by reduced need for disposable cardboard tunnels, now that each cage has a polycarbonate tunnel at all times. We’ve seen a huge improvement in interaction between mice and handler, and definitely wouldn’t want to go back to tail capture.”
Lisa Wright, Department of Pathology, University of Cambridge
“After a short trial period with handling tubes/cupped hands, I as NACWO implemented a ban on lifting mice by the tail for all husbandry interactions. We have found no major issues with the time taken to handle mice using the new methods, once staff are trained. Having tubes in the majority of cages helped remind staff about the tail lifting ban and promoted a change in behaviour away from using the tail for handling. The NC3Rs video has helped us to illustrate the benefits to staff, especially those with reservations or with long-standing tail handling skills. My AWERB, HOI and NVS are fully supportive of the refined methods of handling reported in Hurst & West's paper. Researchers were informed of the proposed shift away from tail lifting, and agreed to this as a worthwhile refinement”.
Andy Milner, Bioresources Unit, University of Portsmouth