Measuring Locomotor Activity and Behavioral Aspects of Rodents Living in the Home-Cage

Christian J.M.I. Klein, Thomas Budiman, Judith R. Homberg, Dilip Verma, Jaap Keijer, Evert M. van Schothorst*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


Automatization and technological advances have led to a larger number of methods and systems to monitor and measure locomotor activity and more specific behavior of a wide variety of animal species in various environmental conditions in laboratory settings. In rodents, the majority of these systems require the animals to be temporarily taken away from their home-cage into separate observation cage environments which requires manual handling and consequently evokes distress for the animal and may alter behavioral responses. An automated high-throughput approach can overcome this problem. Therefore, this review describes existing automated methods and technologies which enable the measurement of locomotor activity and behavioral aspects of rodents in their most meaningful and stress-free laboratory environment: the home-cage. In line with the Directive 2010/63/EU and the 3R principles (replacement, reduction, refinement), this review furthermore assesses their suitability and potential for group-housed conditions as a refinement strategy, highlighting their current technological and practical limitations. It covers electrical capacitance technology and radio-frequency identification (RFID), which focus mainly on voluntary locomotor activity in both single and multiple rodents, respectively. Infrared beams and force plates expand the detection beyond locomotor activity toward basic behavioral traits but discover their full potential in individually housed rodents only. Despite the great premises of these approaches in terms of behavioral pattern recognition, more sophisticated methods, such as (RFID-assisted) video tracking technology need to be applied to enable the automated analysis of advanced behavioral aspects of individual animals in social housing conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number877323
JournalFrontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience
Publication statusPublished - 7 Apr 2022


  • 3Rs
  • animal tracking
  • behavior
  • home-cage
  • locomotor activity
  • phenotyping
  • rodents


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