ColonyRack for monitoring animal cohorts in multi cage environments


The ColonyRack is an innovative system for the automated tracking of a large number of mice. A standard cage rack is equipped with interconnecting tubes that allow the passage of animals through all cages in the rack. All tubes have RFID transponder readers that will record each passage of a tagged animal with time and position.

The system operates 24/7 for extended periods of time producing accurate data about the movement of all animals contained in the system. Detailed maps and patterns of movement are derived from these data sets. Long term studies about the change in general activity, social interaction, and movement patterns become possible.

The ColonyRack was developed in close cooperation with the group of Prof. Dr. Gerd Kempermann at the DZNE, Dresden.

Hardware features:

  • 8, 18, or 70 cages in standardized rack mounts
  • Interconnecting tubes between all cages and levels
  • RFID readers at each connection
  • Micro-controllers and PC for data acquisition


All cages and tubes are easy to remove for cleaning and maintenance.

Customized systems with different cages or number of cages are possible.

Software features:

  • 24/7 data acquisition
  • Graphical user interface reporting detected individuals and position
  • Continuous tracking of all transponder activities
  • Open data format for easy import and analysis



Ehret F, Pelz MS, Senko AN, Soto KEG, Liu H, Kempermann G. Presymptomatic Reduction of Individuality in the AppNL-F Knockin Model of Alzheimer’s Disease. Biol Psychiatry. 2023 Nov 1;94(9):721-731. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2023.04.009. Epub 2023 Apr 17. PMID: 37076091. read more

G. Kempermann et al., (2022). The individuality paradigm: Automated longitudinal activity tracking of large cohorts of genetically identical mice in an enriched environment. Neurobiology of Diseaseread more

S. Zocher et al., (2020). Early-life environmental enrichment generates persistent individualized behavior in mice. Science Advances.  read more


  • Long-term investigation of social groups of animals
  • Animal friendly enrichment conditions
  • Monitoring of changes in activity, e.g. caused by aging
  • Animal friendly
  • Easy to operate, clean, and maintain
  • Reliable long-term data

ColonyRack70 – Front view

Complete setup with 70 cages and all interconnects


Complete setup with 70 cages and all interconnects

ColonyRack18 – Front view

Complete setup with 18 cages and all interconnects

ColonyRack18 – Deail

Removed cage with visible RFID sensors and conneting tubes

ColonyRack 3D visualization.

All mechanical mounts are removed for better clarity.

Only a selected number of cages (transparent), sensors (black), and tubes (blue) is shown.

ColonyRack cage installation – part1

Four cages are removed for cleaning.

The tubes connecting sideways and between levels are clearly visible. The RFID sensors (black) remain installed at all times.

Tubes connecting levels are lined with a removable help for climbing (light blue).

ColonyRack cage installation – part2

Two cages are installed. Two positions remain vacant.

ColonyRack cage installation – part3

All four cages are installed.