Animal Enrichment Program

Last updated: May 4, 2017


The University of Montana Department of Laboratory Animal Resources (LAR) is committed to providing an enrichment program for all animals used in research, teaching and testing.  All species housed in LAR receive social enrichment through paired or group housing unless single housing is scientifically or medically justified.  Additional species-specific enrichment (e.g., toys, nesting material, novel foods) is provided with pre-approval by the Principal Investigator.

Autoclaved enrichment is placed at the time of bedding changes for all rodents, ensuring placement at least once weekly for those housed in static micro-isolators and every other week for those housed in ventilated caging.  One or more of the items listed below may be present at any given time.  Larger animals such as rabbits may have enrichment rotated on a biweekly basis. 

  • Mice:  social housing and autoclaved Enviro-DriTM, toilet paper rolls, manufactured huts, hammocks, and NestletsTM for breeders.  All single housed mice and rats require two forms of enrichment.
  • Wild-derived mice:  Shepherd Shacks®, Enviro-DriTM, NestletsTM.  All rodents are given 3-5 irradiated sunflower seeds from Envigo at each bedding or cage change.
  • Sentinel mice: Enviro-Dri, toilet paper rolls, NestletsTM or Shepherd Shacks® if singly housed.  All rodents are given 3-5 irradiated sunflower seeds from Envigo at each bedding or cage change.
  • Rats:  KimWipesTM, human socialization, nylabones, chew blocks, and fruit loops.  All rodents are given 3-5 irradiated sunflower seeds from Envigo at each bedding or cage change.
  • Birds:  sand boxes, mirrors, rattles, beak sharpeners, food supplements (e.g., egg, meal worm), perching devices, naturalistic environment (outdoor aviaries)
  • Hamsters:  sunflower seeds, wood chew blocks, toilet paper rolls, egg cartons, Shepherd shacks®
  • Guinea pigs:  hay, human socialization, clear plastic shelters, nylabones, chew blocks, rubber balls
  • Rabbits:  rubber balls, empty soda cans, hay, human socialization
  • Degus: timothy hay, wooden blocks, nylabones, flower petals, apple wood chews, and shepherd shacks.