The Small World system is a home cage environment in which various ecologically relevant resources are freely available at distinct positions. The fully automated monitoring of the rat behavior in this quasi-natural environment allows the study of motivation and value based decision making. The deeper knowledge of the needs and preferences of laboratory animals is essential for improving animal welfare (3Rs – Refinement).
A total of eight resource cages are placed at equal distances to a center cage. Typical examples are water, food, nesting material, an adverse stimulus (e.g. odor of a predator), a running wheel for voluntary activity, and/or an option for social interaction. Thermal cameras and PIR sensors detect the animal approaching a resource cage and for how long it remains there 24/7. Video introduction
The Small World for rats was developed in close cooperation with Dr. Lorenz Gygax, Humboldt University in Berlin.
Front view with central cage and surrounding resource cages.
Resource cage with social interaction tunnel.
Connecting tubes and resource cages.