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J Am Assoc Lab Anim Sci. 2014 Mar;53(2):141-5.

Lack of fear response in mice (Mus musculus) exposed to human urine odor.

Author information

1
Department of Clinical Sciences, Veterinary Behavior Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, USA. germain.rivard@gmail.com.
2
Department of Clinical Sciences, Veterinary Behavior Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, USA.
3
Department of Biomedical Sciences, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, USA.

Abstract

A goal of the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals is to improve animal welfare by minimizing sources of fear, anxiety, and stress. As a result, it includes recommendations on overcrowding, frequency of cage changes, enrichment, and group housing. However, human odorants are a potential but unexplored source of fear, anxiety, and stress. Although mice have been maintained for decades for animal research, whether mice perceive humans as predators is unknown. If so, this would necessitate changes in animal care and use procedures to minimize this source of chronic fear, anxiety, and stress. Odorants from predator urine are well known to elicit strong fear responses in mice, leading to modification of animal behavior and elevated levels of stress. To begin asking whether human odors influence mouse behavior, we tested the effect of human urine odor on fear response in mice. We assessed mouse behavior by using a modified shuttle cage to record various parameters of mouse exposure to odorants. We found that mice displayed fear responses to 2,4,5-trimethylthiazoline, a synthetic analog of red fox feces, but no fear response to DMSO, the diluent for 2,4,5-trimethylthiazoline. In contrast, mice exposed to human urine samples showed no significant fear response.

PMID:
24602539
PMCID:
PMC3966269
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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