Facial Expressions of Mice in Pain
Mice grimace in response to pain, just as humans do, according to a recent experiment that involved subjecting mice to harmful stimuli. Researchers found that, like humans, mice show pain with facial expressions that become more intense with greater levels of inflicted pain.
To conduct this experiment, researchers at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, harmed mice using various stimuli, including dipping their tails in hot water and injecting them with acid. The researchers detected five signs of pain in the mice: they close their eyes tightly, their noses bulge, their cheeks bulge, they draw their ears apart, and they move their whiskers.
The researchers claimed this experiment will lead to better treatment of mice in laboratories. PCRM experts say the experiments were both unnecessary and unethical, even though they demonstrated the painfulness of laboratory experiments.
“Decades of research have provided indisputable evidence that rodents experience pain and fear—but the number of mice used in research is increasing, rather than decreasing,” says Hope Ferdowsian, M.D., M.P.H., PCRM’s director of research policy. “Our understanding of animal cognition and emotion is expanding quickly, but animal research protections have been slow to follow. It is time for scientists to change the ways in which research is conducted.”
At PCRM’s upcoming Animals, Research, and Alternatives conference, global experts will discuss this issue and share ideas about how to move research ethics forward.