Three rats, red rat house
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The red plastic ‘rat house’ provides rats with areas within the cage to nest, hide and climb. The rat house appears dark to the rats as they cannot see red, yet the transparent walls mean that animal care staff can see the rats at all times. This image is from a UK research establishment in late 2007: please acknowledge © Understanding Animal Research.
Rats are the second most commonly used animals in medical research, accounting for around 13% of all procedures. The rat is also a major animal model used in studies of organ transplantation. Many of the advances in our understanding of the immune mechanism involved in tissue rejection have come from studies in the rat: it is large enough to make surgical procedures relatively easy to perform and much is known about its immune system. Potential medicines are routinely tested on rats for efficacy and safety before they go into human clinical trials.