In the last edition of Spotlight we were delighted to let you know about the first ever JWIA Kids Challenge Project hosted by the Cambridge Academy for Science and Technology. Students from the Academy came up with all sorts of ideas for new enrichment products and pitched them to fellow students and members of staff. Once the winners from each group had been selected, the students then had to present to a panel of industry experts. The ‘Dragons’ chaired by our very own Ryan Hill, found the decision making to be a real challenge but finally selected a couple of outstanding ideas and two of these are showcased here. We don’t know about you but we’re absolutely blown away by the imagination as well as the serious thinking and presentation that have gone into these projects.
Ist Prize winner was Meriel and her BurrowBall. We’ll let her excellent presentation speak for itself.
My product has been designed to provide environmental enrichment for mice and rats. It would be constructed from paper pulp in order to provide a source of bedding as the rodent would chew it, encouraging the rodent’s natural behaviours of gnawing and nest-making. Due to the fact that the product is hollow, it could be stuffed with additional bedding material to provide further enrichment. As the design allows easy access to the hollow core, it would not likely be a time-consuming process to prepare beforehand. However, it could also be possible to have the bedding placed into the centre by the manufacturer, saving time in the facility. To encourage foraging behaviours, food pellets could potentially be placed in the Burrow Ball.
The shape of my product allows the rodent to grip it with their teeth or paws and move it about their enclosure, which is important in order to help ensure the rodent feels safe. Mice and rats need to be able to move their bedding material. For mice, the diameter of my product would be around 5cm. This would allow it to fit within the enclosure and be a suitable size for the mouse to move. For rats, the diameter would we around 7cm as they are larger but there are still space constraints in the testing facilities. The bands that make up the product would scale accordingly.
One other potential option would be produce a similarly-shaped product made of mouse or rat food, but this may not be possible due to restrictions in the testing facilities and manufacturing
…and the second prize goes to!
Mouse House by Ethan
My enrichment is designed to simulate a mouse’s burrow. I decided that this would be a good way to make the mice feel like they are in their natural habitat because mice in the wild spend most of their time building burrows to keep themselves safe from predators and to keep them warm. Therefore this design would help the mice feel more safe which will reduce how stressed the mouse feels. The design will improve the lives of mice with pups because they will be able to keep all of their pups in one place where they are safe.
The burrow is designed to be as similar as a real mouse’s burrow as possible therefore it will have three main sections an entrance tunnel for the mice to enter and exit the nest, a nest where the mice will have bedding material to move around for warmth and comfort and an escape tunnel that the mice would use in the wild if a predator entered through the entrance tunnel.
There are also many features of the burrow which help to make life easier for the staff in animal research facilities. It will be made of red polycarbonate so that staff can easily see the mice through the burrow while still making the burrow as similar as a mouse’s natural habitat as possible because mice can’t see red light so the polycarbonate will appear black. The burrow will also have a removable lid so that the burrow can be opened without disturbing the mouse’s nest.
While I was designing the burrow I found it difficult to make it small enough to fit inside of the cage while still making the nest big enough for serval mice to fit inside so I decided that some of the nest could sit below the bedding in the cage rather than on top of it. I wanted to make sure that the nest was dark because inside of a real mouse’s burrow it is dark so rather than having two holes in the nest it has two tunnels leading into the nest to stop as much light as possible from entering the nest.