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Research: EPFL offers a second home to its lab rats

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The Polytechnic University of Lausanne has signed a contract with the protection of animals so that the mice can be welcomed in private homes.

Laboratory mice from EPFL will be welcomed for the first time by Swiss Animal Protection.

© Alain Herzog, EPFL

The EPFL said in a statement Monday that it had signed a contract with the Swiss Animal Protection (PSA) to donate some of its lab mice, so they could be placed in private homes. This initiative, the first in French-speaking Switzerland, will allow dozens of rodents to live a life outside the cages of the animal facility.

Still very marginal in the 1980s, house mice are increasingly finding their place in Swiss homes, the EPFL says. Very good at learning new tasks and mainly used in behavioral experiments, rats accounted for 9.5% of animals in experiments in Switzerland in 2020, behind mice and birds.

News in French-speaking Switzerland

At EPFL, there are currently nearly 500 in the accommodation areas of animal facilities, a figure that can vary according to the needs of scientists. Born and raised in specialized areas, they have never known life outside the laboratories, where they will end their life: most of the experiments on these models are called “terminal”, that is, they include the euthanasia of the animal for removal. and study of tissues or organs. However, this is not true for all rodents, and some may be offered a new life outside of experimental pet stores.

Already consolidated in France, the adoption of laboratory animals was made possible in Switzerland in 2018 by the University of Zurich, in collaboration with the PSA. The initiative is therefore unprecedented in French-speaking Switzerland. Under the terms of the contract, EPFL donates PSA rats from breeding or laboratory research that they no longer need and also pays part of their maintenance during an initial 30-day phase.

Few individuals per month

After the rats are released, the PSA ensures that they are appropriately acclimatized to their species and endeavors to find an appropriate keeper for the placement and long-term care of the rats. Experience from the University of Zurich shows that mice are always adopted within this thirty-day period.

“All animals, especially those used for research, should have the opportunity to live a new life after use,” says Julika Fitzi, veterinarian and head of advisory services for animal testing at PSA, quoted in the release. press.

According to the EPFL, the donation of rats is not expected to exceed a few people per month initially, but the numbers could increase if the placement program works well, and the latter could be extended to other animals, such as mice or zebrafish. provided they are not genetically modified animals.

(Comm / jba)

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