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Handling mice using gloves sprayed with alcohol-based hand sanitiser: acute effects on mouse behaviour

Burn, Charlotte; Lopez Salesansky, Noelia; Wells, Dominic; Whitfield, Lucy; Chancellor, Natalie


Charlotte Burn

Noelia Lopez Salesansky

Dominic Wells

Lucy Whitfield

Natalie Chancellor


Alcohols are commonly used in laboratory animal facilities to disinfect hands, equipment and laboratory environments. The effect on mice is unknown, so we observed male and female C57BL/6J and BALB/c mice during and after handling with nitrile gloves that were either sprayed with 70% alcohol sanitiser (~67% ethanol, ~3% methanol, and 30% water), or not sprayed. We hypothesized that, if mice perceived this hand sanitiser as aversive, its application to gloves before handling would increase behavioural indicators of fear or defence; it could also affect social interactions and grooming in either direction. Handling mice with sanitised gloves increased wall rearing, self-grooming, allogrooming, sniffing of cagemates, and eating/drinking in one or both strains of mice. In males, it also reduced initial home-cage aggression, replaced by grooming, but it is unclear whether aggression was truly decreased or simply delayed. There were no statistically significant effects of treatment on avoidance behaviours shown in a hand interaction test. Defensive burying occurred with both sanitised and control gloves during the first hand interaction test and significantly declined over the 4-week study, suggesting a novelty effect. Findings indicate that handling mice with alcohol-based hand sanitiser affects mouse behaviour, including social interactions, although replication is required because we could not blind the observer to the treatment. Further research is required to assess the long term effects of using alcohol-based hand-sanitiser and alternative disinfectants when handling laboratory mice in order to make recommendations for refinement.


Burn, C., Lopez Salesansky, N., Wells, D., Whitfield, L., & Chancellor, N. (2021). Handling mice using gloves sprayed with alcohol-based hand sanitiser: acute effects on mouse behaviour. Animal Technology and Welfare, 20, 11-20

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 11, 2021
Online Publication Date Apr 28, 2021
Publication Date Apr 28, 2021
Deposit Date May 6, 2021
Journal Animal Technology and Welfare
Publisher Institute of Animal Technology
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 20
Pages 11-20
Keywords Animal behaviour; Animal welfare; Disinfectant; Handling; Hygiene; Mice
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