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Lab Animal Enrichment & Impact on Research Outcomes

lab mice

Traditionally, laboratory animals were kept in “bare bones” environments. The idea was to simplify the experiment and eliminate as many variables as possible.

However, with declining experimental reproducibility rates in human trials (only 1 in 9 drugs entering human trials will succeed), there is a growing suspicion that the low rate of translation from animal research to human outcomes may be related to animal welfare in the trials.

Regarding this dilemma Dr. Joseph Garner, associate professor for the comparative medicine department at Stanford noted “In my opinion, [the problem] fundamentally boils down to the quality of science being done in the initial discovery work with animals, and it’s inseparable from animal welfare.”

Otto Environmental understands the need to enrich the lives of lab animals for their welfare and success in trials. We’ve designed these easy to implement enrichment products to help improve your animal’s welfare in the laboratory environment.

The Rat Loft is a stainless steel is a hanging platform provides a “hangout” for rats and mice. For instance, they may climb onto the ledge or nestle under it. The Rat Loft is available as a solid platform or a perforated ledge and is autoclavable for sanitation.

rat loft gallery
Rat Loft (2 Styles)

Small rodents like to retreat to dark, safe spaces. The Jerboa Nesting Box is ideal for mice, rats, gerbils, jerboas, hamsters, and moles. The box has an inner divider that creates a separate space for nest building.  Additionally, the lid has a stainless-steel hinge allowing for easy access to the box.

Jerboa Nesting Box

Adding complexity to your animal’s environment improves health and development. The Stainless Steel Hanging Mirror is an interesting “shiny object” that intrigues curious animals. The all-stainless construction is smooth, rugged, and easy to clean.

Hanging Mirror

Mice and other rodents thrive when they have things to explore and nibble. The Mouse Relaxer provides tactile, visual, and audible stimulation. All types of rodents love to lick, grasp, and rattle the stainless-steel bead chains. Just hang it from a cage bar.

mouse relaxer enrichment device
Mouse Relaxer

It’s no secret small rodents like mice and gerbils love to crawl through tubes. However, a cardboard tube will get chewed up in minutes. Our 3” Stainless-Steel Rodent Tube can’t be shredded! The 3” x 3” tube won’t rust and is autoclavable. The 4” Rat Round Rodent Tube is larger (4” x 6”) and suitable for rodents of any size including large rats. Small rodents like mice and mole rats will enjoy our 2” x 4” Mouse Round and Mouse Square stainless-steel tubes. All tubes have smooth, safe edges.

Stainless Steel Rodent Tubes

Boredom creates stress in rabbits. The Rabbit Relaxer is a larger version of the Mouse Relaxer. Mount the relaxer on a cage bar. Rabbits like to rear up on hind legs to investigate this enrichment tool.

rabbit relaxer
Rabbit Relaxer

Edible Enrichment is a key component for creating a positive primate habitat. One product, The Spin-A-Snack Primate Enrichment System (PES), is a rotating polycarbonate feeder that dispenses interesting foods like peanuts, seeds, and popcorn. The Spin-A-Snack is compatible with the PES system.

Spin-A-Snack (PES)
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Improving Monkey Pox Research with Habitat Enrichment Products

Biomedical research related to the Monkey Pox virus is on the upswing. Studies in host-pathogen relationships and transmission dynamics are relying on non-human primates such as chimpanzees and monkeys. Maintaining the health and well-being of primates is necessary for the physical and mental wellbeing of the animals. Environmental enrichment is a proven technique to improve the quality of non-human primate experiments.

That’s why we developed the Otto Environmental Primate Enrichment System (PES). It is a comprehensive array of products that satisfy the desire to investigate while creating a calming environment for primates in the lab, transport pen, and zoo.

The foundation of the PES is the Universal Bracket.

universal bracket pesThe stainless-steel bracket mounts to cage bars. The bracket provides a sturdy mounting system for all the PES enrichment products. The Universal Bracket makes it easy to add and change enrichment devices, so chimps and monkeys are occupied. The PES system has enrichment products suitable for primates ranging from tiny marmosets to large apes.


The Otto Spinners are a favorite with busy monkeys like tamarins, capuchins, and chimps.

otto spinnersColorful plastic spinners provide cognitive and auditory stimulation. Ultra strong stainless-steel hardware won’t rust, even with frequent cleaning. Spinners are ideal for reducing stress in transport enclosures.


The Spinning Mirror is a four-sided acrylic mirror set into a sturdy polycarbonate base and lid.

spinning mirrorBehavior research shows chimps and orangutans are capable of self-recognition. The mirror rotates on stainless-steel hardware. Got monkeys? They love the Spinning Mirror too!


Suitable for New and Old-World monkeys, The Abacus has it all.

AbacusSpinning shapes, multiple colors and a bell create auditory and visual stimuli. The textured shapes are easily manipulated by small paws.


The Talkie Phone lights up and makes sounds when the buttons are pressed.

talkie phoneCell phones keep us busy and entertained. Why not monkeys and apes? The inner device is battery-powered and sheltered in a protective case that mounts to the Universal Bracket. This unique manipulative provides auditory, tactile, and cognitive enrichment to all monkeys and chimps.


Whether you’re transporting primates or enriching their living space, the Boinker Ball checks all the boxes for cognitive stimulation.

Boinker BallMounted on a stainless-steel rod and spring assembly is a 3″ polyethylene ball. The ball spins and bounces up and down, creating the “boink” action that keeps primates from macaques to orangutans entertained.


Similar to the Boinker Ball, the Otto Environmental Activity Panel provides the type of complex, satisfying environment lab animals need.

activity panelThe spinning, bouncing shapes and bumpy dental bone provide a calming affect during transport, in an enclosure, or zoo environment.


The Otto Environmental Primate Enrichment System is designed to create a complex environment that reduces or eliminates stereotypical behavior while improving the lives of the animals. Primate Enrichment System enrichment devices are simple to install, easy to clean and a snap to swap out. Otto Environmental makes it easy to provide effective primate sensory and cognitive stimulation while relieving stress and boredom in transport and during the biomedical studies.


small monkey in hammock

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Social Media Takes on a New Look – Apps for Apes Program

iPad Enrichment is the coolest thing in the world of animal/human communication I’ve ever seen!

More than a dozen zoos in North America are working with Orangutan Outreach, a New York non-profit organization, to provide iPads to intelligent primates and especially orangutans, who are an endangered species in areas of the world they are found.

The iPads provide music and visual stimuli, as well as serve as a means of communicating.  The idea of an endangered species using high-tech gadgets is ironically appealing to me.  They are drawing and playing virtual musical instruments, as well.  For more info, you can visit these sites:

Orangutan Outreach: Apps for Apes Program

Milwaukee County Zoo, Milwaukee, WI: iPad Enrichment Program

The Houston Zoo: Problem Solving With Apes

The Toronto Zoo: Toronto Zoo Sumatran Orangutans Join The iPad Generation! (downloadable .pdf)

Enrichment for primates can be a particular challenge, but one we have solutions for in the Otto Environmental online store.  The Primate Enrichment System (PES) is many solutions in one, with over 20 inter-changeable toys and treat dispensers.


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Animal Enrichment: We Are Molding Products to Fit Your Needs

How things are made can be fascinating to most people, so we thought you might want to see how some of our own exclusive Otto Environmental’s animal enrichment items are produced – right here in the USA!  Many of our most fun and creatively designed toys are made of colorful thermoplastic, injection molded here in Southeastern Wisconsin, and ready to stand up to amazingly extreme punishment from a host of various animal species, from canine to primate.

Click on an image below to go to our online store and find out more about some of the most durable and unique enrichment items you’ll ever see.

The Zoy ($9.45) The Zigg ($10.45)
The Z-2 ($9.45 ea.) The Zyro ($8.80 ea.)
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The Marmoset Cage

Finding just the right caging system for small primates such as marmosets can be difficult.  But here at Otto Environmental we’ve re-invented the Marmoset Cage and turned it into one feature-packed piece of equipment.

Sturdy and secure, it’s made of stainless steel tubing, panels, and screening, welded together and mounted on strong casters.  The one over one configuration makes it easy to remove the barrier between top and bottom compartments and allow socialization.

And it’s made to go with many complimentary Otto Environmental products such as water bottles, food bowl and nesting box.

Take a look in our store for more info.


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Primate Enrichment System

The Primate Enrichment System (PES) is made up of over 20 interchangeable toys and treat dispensers designed to enrich the lives of small to medium primates.  These colorful and entertaining products can be easily switched thanks to the adjustable stainless steel universal bracket, providing variety and entertainment.

Click here to visit our online store and see our entire line of PES products for primates, including the new larger and sturdier universal bracket designed to handle rough treatment form orangutangs and other larger primates.

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Sound and Motion in One Great Toy – The Orion From Otto Environmental

Here’s a toy that provides both sound and motion, sure to attract and keep the attention of primates, large birds, rabbits and more.  The Orion’s inner steel ring holds multi-colored disks and revolves inside of the larger outer steel ring.  It includes a strong steel chain for hanging.  Another great animal enrichment toy exclusively available from Otto Environmental.

Order in quantity today!

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Durable and Colorful Chew Toy – The Grenade


Here’s a great toy for animals who like to play rough.  It’s made of nearly indestructible thermoplastic and has a center cavity for treats.  It comes in assorted colors and 3 sizes.  It also is available as a hanging toy.  Perfect enrichment toy for pets and other medium to large sized animals.

3 1/2″ Chew Grenade

4 1/2″ Chew Grenade

5″ Chew Grenade

Hanging 5″ Grenade


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Zoy Toy and the Z2 – Toys Made Exclusively by Otto Environmental

zoy hanging zoy primate toys dog toys enrichment

These are some of our most popular toys and enrichment items we make and sell.  From dogs to primates these colorful and durable thermoplastic toys will provide hours of fun and activity.  These toys are of our own design and have been field-tested by pet owners and zoo keepers across the United Sates with great results!

Check out The Zoy and The Z2 for yourself, exclusively on the Otto Environmental online store.

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Primate Proofing 101: Use the ADJUSTA-LOCK!

steel adjustable lock primate proofing security keyless

This simple adjustable lock is the answer if you want real enclosure security for primates and are tired of fumbling with keys or hassling with combinations.  The Adjusta-Lock is all steel, with 3 shackle positions that lock easily into place.  It is proven primate-proof and yet unlocks quickly with a screwdriver or pen.

Check out this product on our online store!