University of Iowa



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Enrichment - Environmental Enrichment Program

Purpose: “The primary aim of environmental enrichment is to enhance animal well-being by providing animals with sensory and motor stimulation, through structures and resources that facilitate the expression of species-typical behaviors and promote psychological well-being through physical exercise, manipulative activities, and cognitive challenges according to species-specific characteristics.” (The Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, 8th ed.)  These guidelines will describe the University of Iowa’s Office of Animal Resource’s standard enrichment practices for each species listed.

In addition to the enrichment program details here, please see details of social housing located here.

Each rabbit is offered:

  • Vegetable (e.g. carrot, celery, etc.) weekly
  • Bio-Serv Bunny Block on a chain
  • One toy (e.g. Dumbbell, Jingle Ball or SS Rattle) at all times
  • Each rabbit is offered 2-3 small Shredded Wheat squares at each feeding
  • Other food enrichment items may be offered such as timothy cubes or hay


  • 1 Bio-Serv Rodent Retreat per cage


  • 1 Bio-Serv Ferret Ball per cage
    • For breeding animals, the Ferret Ball will be replaced with a nest box and bedding
  • 1 Bio-Serv Beefy Block on a Universal Hanging Chain per cage


  • One enrichment toy to be offered per cage at all times
  • Examples: Bio-Serv Big Red Apple, 12” Best Ball or Jingle Ball

Mice, Hamsters, Rats

  • Each mouse is housed with enriched paper bedding
  • If any mouse is not housed with enriched paper bedding, alternative enrichment is provided (e.g.  Nyla-bone, hut)


Guinea Pig
Each guinea pig  is housed with a retreat (e.g. Rodent Retreat Tunnel)


  • Each cat is offered 2 toys and the toys are rotated every 2 weeks.
    • Toys that are sanitizable are cleaned after 2 weeks of use
    • Non-sanitizable toys are thrown away after two weeks of use
  • Each cat is offered a food treat or canned food 1-2 times a week
    • Each cat is groomed, petted or positively interacted with for 5 minutes twice a week

Sheep and Goats

  • Sheep and goats are offered hay several times a week


  • Fish are offered brine shrimp daily

Pigeons and Chickens

  • Pigeons and chickens are offered grit in addition to their regular diet


Last reviewed 06/8/15