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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
Spin-A-Snack (PES)
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Petting Farms: A Quick Guide to Everything You Should Know

petting farms goat and child

What are Petting Farms?

Petting farms are a collection of farm and exotic species that are calm and friendly enough to be touched and fed. Even though public zoos became popular in the 1700s, the attendance of visitors to zoos in the United States has increased by 20% in the last 15 years. Although they are similar, petting farms and petting zoos are usually geared towards smaller, local operations. On the other hand, zoos are large, commercial businesses with more animals, buildings, and exhibits.

For many people, petting farms are fun and exciting because they give people an opportunity to see and connect with various animals. Depending on the size and operation style of the petting zoo, they may even offer rides on large animals or the chance to hold a small animal. For these reasons and many others, petting farms are getting more popular all the time.

What Animals are Common at Petting Farms?

Petting farms often have numerous species of animals to see, touch, and interact with. A majority of animals, such as goats, sheep, pigs, cows, horses, donkeys, alpacas, llamas, turkeys, chickens, ducks, and rabbits are domesticated species from farms. Although these animals may seem ordinary to people living in rural or farming communities, people elsewhere will be making lifelong memories.

Also, most petting farms feature some sort of exotic or unusual animals. These can be more exciting to see in person and attract more visitors. Some of these may include deer, camels, wallabies, emus, large parrots, tortoises, iguanas, peacocks, and zebras. These animals are less commonly seen or interacted with in daily life, even in rural areas.

General Do’s and Don’ts

Like any public place, there are rules and expectations about what you are and are not allowed to do there. It can be important to follow these rules for reasons such as the safety of the people, the safety of the animals, and biosecurity.

Do:

  • Follow directions and rules posted by the petting farm
  • Walk around the enclosures calmly
  • Stay in the designated petting farm guest areas
  • Feed the animals what is permitted by the petting farm
  • Wash your hands after touching the animals
  • Have a great time

Don’t:

  • Think that the rules don’t apply to you
  • Run, jump, or climb on, around, or into the enclosures
  • Wander or sneak into prohibited or ‘employee only’ areas
  • Feed the animals treats or snacks you brought with you
  • Put your hands on or near your face before washing them

Where to Find Petting Farms Near You

These days, the best way to find petting farms near you is to search for them online. Local petting farms may come in the form of a functioning farm, mobile petting farm, or even backyard set-ups. You should be able to find information regarding the animals, events, facilities, and more on their website or over the phone. Going to a local petting farm is also a great way to support small businesses in your community.

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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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Bingo Ball: Toy & Feeder – Simple Animal Enrichment

bingo ball toy feeder animal enrichment

The Bingo Ball & Feeder is one of the most versatile animal enrichment products we’ve seen, as well as one of the simplest.  It’s a 4″ diameter stainless steel ball that can be used as a toy, with or without the 2 noise-making balls inside.  And it can be used as a feeder when it’s loaded with a favorite treat.  Roll it, throw it, or hang it – for medium size animals.

Explore these products here!

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Some “Hare” Raising Facts About Rabbits

rabbit enrichment fun facts
  • Rabbits were discovered by the Phoenicians around 1100 BC.
  • Rabbits are placed in a group called Lagomorphs.
  • There are more than 65 types of rabbits, hares, and pikas.
  • The difference being hares are born with fur and open eyes while rabbits are born with no fur and blind.
  • Pikas, or ‘Rock Rabbits’ are guinea pig size with short ears and are found only in rough, high mountain terrain.
  • The most common wild rabbit in North America is the Cottontail which descended from European wild rabbits.
  • The largest rabbit is the Flemish Giant and the Netherland Dwarf is the smallest.
  • A domestic rabbit can hop faster than a person, cat, or white-tailed deer can run.
  • Wild rabbits live in underground burrows called warrens and are very social animals.
  • A male rabbit is called a ‘buck’, the female, a ‘doe’, and the baby is called a ‘bunny’.
  • A rabbits’ pregnancy lasts for about 31 days.
  • Rabbits are fully adult at the age of 4 months and can live 8-12 years.
  • A rabbit’s tail is called a ‘scut’.
  • Rabbits have many predators, so they are very alert and can even sleep with their eyes open.
  • They can see almost all the way around themselves without turning their head.
  • Their long ears pick up the smallest sound and their constantly wiggling nose is one of its’ best defenses against danger.
  • Rabbits mark their territory by rubbing their chins on a landmark, i.e. twigs and stones.
  • Rabbits communicate mainly through body language.
  • They need to chew to wear down their front teeth which never stop growing.
  • They love alfalfa, timothy or oat hay along with apples, willow or pines branches.  They also like fresh fruit and vegetables, except for beans or rhubarb.
  • Rabbits are better able to tolerate cold than heat and are sensitive to drafts and dampness.
  • They are usually active in mornings and evenings and prefer to nap during the day.
  • As with the keeping of all animals in captivity, dull, lifeless eyes are a sure indication that your animal is sick.
  • Other sings include a dull, rough coat, watery or slimy discharge from the nose, and a hard, bloated belly on it.
  • Check our our Rabbit-Nasium for our most popular, custom-made Rabbit Enrichment.