If you want to study a mouse’s natural behaviour, then perhaps it isn’t best to grab the animal and place it in a setting where it’s required to perform a certain task at a certain time. That’s the thinking behind Autonomouse, a cage that’s designed to make life easier for lab mice, and to produce more accurate results in behavioural studies.
Developed by a team at Britain’s Francis Crick Institute, Autonomouse houses multiple mice living in a social group, who are supplied with running wheels, ladders, and unlimited access to food and water. The system can reportedly run for up to 18 months with only minimal human intervention, although there’s no word on how waste-removal is handled.
All of the mice have uniquely-coded RFID chips inserted under their skin. These are detected by a reader device, that’s able to ascertain factors such as each animal’s current weight, its activity level, and how much water it’s drinking.