Novel Foods as a Form of Environmental Enrichment for Mice (Mus Musculus): Effects on Behavior, Physiology, and Reproduction.

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Biological and Environmental Sciences

Date of Award

Spring 2014


Practices in mouse (Mus musculus) husbandry have gone through major changes beginning in the 1970s. Before then, less thought was given to the overall well–being of the mouse and construction of enclosures was designed to benefit the caretaker rather than the rodent. This changed during the 1970s when more concern was brought forth over the welfare of the animals; people appeared concerned that the animals were experiencing too much stress and distress manifesting in the rodent's behavior in the form of stereotypical behavior. To combat this problem environmental enrichment was slowly added to husbandry practices. These practices of environmental enrichment were designed to bring out species specific behaviors that would occur in the wild. Being able to complete these behaviors allows the mouse to control its environment and is believed to alleviate the stress it may be experiencing. There are many forms of enrichment, but one that has not been adequately explored with mice is foraging&slash;feeding enrichment. In the wild, mice have the opportunity to forage a variety of foods while in captivity food choice is generally limited to pellets that contain all of the nutrients necessary. This study examined the introduction of novel foods and their subsequent effects on behavior, physiology and reproduction. It was found that giving novel foods did not alter mouse behavior in terms of open&ndashfield activity or time to complete a classic maze. While activity levels for the open–field decreased over trials, there was no significant difference between the groups. Giving the mice novel foods did not increase their weight or alter food consumption. Reproductively, giving novel foods appears to relate positively as the pups weighed more and appeared healthier than the non enrichment pups. Overall, it was determined that the use of novel foods as a form of environmental enrichment is positive and should be incorporated into animal husbandry practices where applicable.


Lani Lyman-Henley

Subject Categories

Biochemistry, Biophysics, and Structural Biology | Life Sciences