jects that increase opportunities for the expression of species-typical postures and activities and enhance the animals' well-being. Much has been learned in recent years about the natural history and environmental needs of many animals, but continuing research into those environments that enhance the well-being of research animals is encouraged. Selected publications that describe enrichment strategies for common laboratory animal species are listed in Appendix A and in bibliographies prepared by the Animal Welfare Information Center (AWIC 1992; NRC In press).

Social Environment

Consideration should be given to an animal's social needs. The social environment usually involves physical contact and communication among members of the same species (conspecifics), although it can include noncontact communication among individuals through visual, auditory, and olfactory signals. When it is appropriate and compatible with the protocol, social animals should be housed in physical contact with conspecifics. For example, grouping of social primates or canids is often beneficial to them if groups comprise compatible individuals. Appropriate social interactions among conspecifics are essential for normal development in many species. A social companion might buffer the effects of a stressful situation (Gust and others 1994), reduce behavioral abnormality (Reinhardt and others 1988, 1989), increase opportunities for exercise (Whary and others 1993), and expand species-typical behavior and cognitive stimulation. Such factors as population density, ability to disperse, initial familiarity among animals, and social rank should be evaluated when animals are being grouped (Borer and others 1988; Diamond and others 1987; Drickamer 1977; Harvey and Chevins 1987; Ortiz and others 1985; Vandenbergh 1986, 1989). In selecting a suitable social environment, attention should be given to whether the animals are naturally territorial or communal and whether they should be housed singly, in pairs, or in groups. An understanding of species-typical natural social behavior will facilitate successful social housing.

However, not all members of a social species can or should be maintained socially; experimental, health, and behavioral reasons might preclude a successful outcome of this kind of housing. Social housing can increase the likelihood of animal wounds due to fighting (Bayne and others 1995), increase susceptibility to such metabolic disorders as atherosclerosis (Kaplan and others 1982), and alter behayior and physiologic functions (Bernstein 1964; Bernstein and others 1974a,b). In addition, differences between sexes in compatibility have been observed in various species (Crockett and others 1994; Grant and Macintosh 1963; Vandenbergh 1971; vom Saal 1984). These risks of social housing are greatly reduced if the animals are socially compatible and the social unit is stable.

It is desirable that social animals be housed in groups; however, when they must be housed alone, other forms of enrichment should be provided to compen-

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001

Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement