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Office of Research Integrity

Environmental Enrichment

Environmental enrichment is an important component of an animal care and use program.  According to the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (pp.52-52, 2011), "The primary aim of environmental enrichment is to enhance animal well-being by providing animals with sensory and motor stimulation, through structures and resources that facilitate the expression of species-typical behaviors and promote psychological well-being through physical exercise, manipulative activities, and cognitive challenges according to species-specific characteristics (NRC 1998a; Young 2003)."

Accordingly, all animals in the MUSC animal care and use program will be provided with caging enrichment deemed to be appropriate for the species by DLAR veterinarians, unless a specific exemption is requested in the protocol application and proper justification given.

Custom Enrichment

Custom environmental enrichment may be necessary for some research. Examples of custom enrichment might be specific nesting materials or provision of treats.  Investigators requesting that custom enrichment be provided to their animals must complete the applicable portion of the Vertebrate Animal Research Application (VARA) and associated appendix.

Disallowance of Enrichment

Caging enrichment will not be provided for animals in which the investigator determines that the enrichment might adversely affect their research. Examples of potentially exempted protocols would include those which rely on certain behavioral paradigms. Investigators requesting that enrichment not be provided to their animals must provide scientific justification and complete the applicable portion of the Vertebrate Animal Research Application (VARA) and associated appendix.