How exploratory are our mice?

19 03 2014

On Friday Mike and I ran the last test on Carole and Kathryn‘s mice. The non-enriched mice eat more sugar, at least when it’s placed right in their cage, and one explanation is that they are ‘bored‘. However, they are also more anxious in the startle test. So … faced with opportunity to explore beyond their cage, would non-enriched mice be more keen to explore because they crave stimulation? Or less because they are timid?


We gave every cage a ten minute test in which it was placed on a table and the lid removed. We timed how long it took each mouse to reach up and touch the newly-exposed top of the cage wall, and to climb right up onto it with all four feet. It was fun – much more than I expected. I don’t get to watch animals much these days (beyond the cats of course), and still enjoy it as much as ever; also the mice have strong personalities, with some clearly reluctant to leave the safe confines of the cage, but others eagerly swarming out in under a minute. Next job: analysing the data…