Of Mice and Men and Women
An Animal Rights Article from All-Creatures.org

FROM

Earth in Transition
April 2014

[Ed. Note: Also read Men's Odor Stresses Mice and Rats Used in Pain Research]

A new study shows that mice and rats who are left alone with a male researcher have a sharp spike in the stress hormone corticosterone. Same thing happens even if they just get a whiff of a T-shirt that's been worn by a man. But they don't have that reaction to a woman. And even if you just bring a woman into the lab while they're being experimented on by a man, that also eases the stress.

If you were a mouse in a laboratory, who would you rather have experimenting on you: a man or a woman?

Turns out that if it's a man, you'll have more stress but a bit less pain; if it's a woman you'll have less stress but more pain.

lab rat lab mouse ear implantA new study shows that mice and rats who are left alone with a male researcher have a sharp spike in the stress hormone corticosterone. Same thing happens even if they just get a whiff of a T-shirt that's been worn by a man. But they don't have that reaction to a woman. And even if you just bring a woman into the lab while they're being experimented on by a man, that also eases the stress.

But it doesn't ease the pain. In fact, since the corticosterone also acts as an analgesic, they experience less physical pain in the presence of men.

The stress, however, is debilitating "massive" according to Jeffrey Mogil of McGill University, one of the authors of the study. Equivalent to the stress that's caused by "restraining the rodents for 15 minutes in a tube or forcing them to swim for three minutes." (I'm guessing they must have tried out all manner of creative ways of subjecting mice to "massive" stress and then drawing blood to tabulate the results.)

Stress levels skew the results of all experiments on mice and probably other animals. Dr. Mogil gives the example of a study on liver physiology, where the liver cells you're examining come from a mouse who's been killed by a man rather than a woman. You get a very different result from when the vivisector is a woman.

Mice and rats make up about 95 percent of all animals used in vivisection. No one knows the exact number because mice, rats and birds aren't counted as "animals" in the provisions of the Animal Welfare Act, which means their numbers don't even have to be reported. Most experts reckon it's about 25 million, with some estimates are as low as 13 million and others as high as 100 million. Not that the numbers mean a whole lot to you when you're the mouse who's swimming for her life, stressed out in a tube, or being killed by a man rather than a woman.

Vivisection is just one example of the fact that our approach to our fellow animals and to the whole planet is based entirely on what we can take from them for our own benefit. But we can't go on taking forever. And when you consider that nature has given us the supreme gift of life, isn't it time to stop asking what else we can take, and to start asking what we can give back?


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