University of Oulu

Sakari Laaksonen, Timo Nevalainen, Jukka Ketola, Jann Hau, Pentti Nieminen, Kristiina Haasio, Iiris Kasanen, Hanna-Marja Voipio, Behaviour, stress and welfare of Sprague Dawley rats (Rattus norvegicus) on diet board feeding for 24 months, Applied Animal Behaviour Science, Volume 194, 2017, Pages 86-94, ISSN 0168-1591,

Behaviour, stress and welfare of Sprague Dawley rats (Rattus norvegicus) on diet board feeding for 24 months

Saved in:
Author: Laaksonen, Sakari1; Nevalainen, Timo2; Ketola, Jukka1;
Organizations: 1Laboratory Animal Centre, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
2Laboratory Animal Centre, University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio, Finland
3Department of Experimental Medicine, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
4Medical Informatics and Statistics Group, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
5Orion Corporation Orion Pharma, Espoo, Finland
6Charles River Discovery and Research Services Finland, Kuopio, Finland
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.5 MB)
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Elsevier, 2017
Publish Date: 2018-05-15


Diet board (DB) feeding aims to reduce the health hazards associated with ad libitum (AL) feeding. Rats have to gnaw wood to detach food from the DB, reducing their food consumption. We studied the welfare effects of DB by measuring faecal corticosterone metabolites (FCM), elevated plus-maze (EPM) behaviour and cage behaviour. In this two-year experiment, 147 group housed (n = 3) Hsd:Sprague Dawley® male and female rats were subjected to DB or AL feeding. DB feeding in females elevated FCMs and increased eating observations by 85%. The DB males were observed eating 30% more often and resting 4.2% less than their AL counterparts. The DB rats of both sexes had 19% increased cage exploration during daytime and 20% reduced grooming during night-time compared to the AL rats. The increased FCMs may indicate slight stress in DB females. The EPM results indicate there was no anxiety due to DB feeding at six months. The cage behaviour could point to mild chronic stress in DB rats, but the lack of effect on escape-related behaviour and agonism suggests that there were no substantial welfare problems. DB feeding did not seem to disturb the circadian rhythm. The smaller food requirements of DB females meant they had to sacrifice less time than males gnawing at the DB to satisfy their appetite.

see all

Series: Applied animal behaviour science
ISSN: 0168-1591
ISSN-E: 1872-9045
ISSN-L: 0168-1591
Volume: 194
Pages: 86 - 94
DOI: 10.1016/j.applanim.2017.05.002
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 119 Other natural sciences
Funding: This work was financially supported by ECLAM and ESLAV Foundation; the Finnish Cultural Foundation; and Orion-Farmos Research Foundation.
Dataset Reference: Supplementary data associated with this article can be found, in the online version, at
Copyright information: © 2017. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license