Refining housing, husbandry and procedures

For as long as animals are used in research and testing, suffering must be minimised, and welfare improved, as far as possible. This is essential for ethical reasons, to improve scientific quality, and to fulfil legal requirements, such as UK and European Union regulations and codes of practice.

The RSPCA encourages all those involved in laboratory animal care and use to consider the lifetime experiences of each animal, from birth (or hatch) to death, identifying ways to reduce suffering and improve welfare at every stage. 

This includes breeding; transport; marking for identification; tissue sampling for genotyping; housing, husbandry and care; handling; scientific procedures and their after-effects; rehoming (if possible); and the process of humane killing. Improvements to a number of these can combine to make a significant, positive difference for animal welfare.  

RSPCA-led guidance on refinement:


Good practice for housing, husbandry and care of: 


We hold species group-specific meetings including rodent and rabbit welfare (with UFAW) and the welfare of wild animals used in research (with APHA). These are for scientists, animal technologists, veterinarians, named persons, students, regulators and ethics committee members from the UK and overseas. For further information email  


Sign up today to receive email updates about our work relating to animals in science

Find out more