Understanding Animal Research

Types of animals

caged rats   Laboratory dogs   Black mice   Laboratory guinea pigs

British law protects vertebrate animals such as mammals, fish and birds and these are the animals which are counted by government every year. Most research animals are rodents, followed by fish and birds. Dogs, cats and monkeys together represent two in every 1000 animals used in UK research.

Invertebrate animals such as fruit flies and worms are used in large numbers in research but are not protected by the law or counted.

Numbers relate to procedures on animals in Great Britain in 2013:

  • Rats, mice and other rodents, all purpose-bred laboratory species 84.5%
  • Fish, amphibians, reptiles and birds 16.3%
  • Sheep, cows, pigs and other large mammals 1.5%
  • Dogs and cats, all bred for research, no strays or unwanted pets can be used 0.12%
  • Primates, mainly marmoset and macaque monkeys 0.07%


Chimpanzees, orang-utans and gorillas have not been used in the UK for over 20 years and their use is now banned.

Additional information about the context of animal research in the UK is available here information. A full break-down of the latest Home Office statistics is available here.


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Last edited: 10 September 2014 15:55