Publiceringsdatum21 December 2023

Don’t lift mice by the tail!

Mice used in research shall not be caught, lifted or moved by the tail. This is stated by the Swedish National Committee for the Protection of Animals used for Scientific Purposes.

Någon med handskar lyfter upp en mus med hjälp av ett genomskinligt rör

To lift a mouse with a tunnel is a recommended way to handle mice.

Handling mice by their tail to capture, lift or move them has been standard procedure within research animal facilities for a long time.

During the last decade, the knowledge about how mice are affected by being lifted by the tail has increased. Several studies have been published showing that mice become noticeably stressed by being caught, lifted or moved by the tail.

Despite the increased knowledge and scientific evidence, the transition to a more refined way of handling mice is slow in Sweden. Some facilities have come a long way and stopped handling mice by the tail completely, while others have not initiated the transition.


In recent years, the Swedish National Committee and the 3Rs Center have made several efforts to inspire refined ways of handling laboratory animals, such as training courses and webinars. Now, the National Committee goes a step further in this work by publishing a statement – Dont' lift mice by the tail! – based on science and proven experience.

The Committee's hope is that it will promote and facilitate the implementation of refined handling of mice and thus contribute to increased animal welfare and better research quality in Sweden.

The statement is published as a poster, which can be printed to be put up on a wall or notice board at the workplace. You can also order printed posters from the 3Rs center by contacting us.

Support for implementation

As support for implementing refined handling of mice, the Swedish 3Rs center has collected experiences from Swedish facilities. We have sent questions to those who work with mice as laboratory animals; questions about what challenges and success factors they see related to implementation of refined handling of mice.

We have compiled the businesses' experiences in a document and also included tips from the 3Rs organization in UK, NC3Rs.

The hope is that the material together with the National Committee's statement will make it easier for laboratory animal facilities to implement refined handling of mice.

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