How much does a mouse eat per day? If a researcher is conducting dietary studies, the answer is very important. For instance, obesity studies require accurate measures of feeding. Existing automated methods for taking feeding measurements are expensive and use specialized caging that is not compatible with typical vivarium colony racks. As a result, many researchers simply weigh food each day or two to determine how much food the mice ate. This is time-consuming, can be error prone, and provides a low temporal resolution view of feeding.
To address this need, a compact, 3D printed, electronic, feeding experimentation device has been developed. When the mouse takes a pellet, the device sends a timestamp via WiFi to a computer and dispenses another pellet. Multiple mice in a single cage can be identified with an RFID chip and individually monitored. In this way, a record of every pellet eaten by each mouse can be retrieved at the end of an experiment. This permits high-resolution views (# of meals, size of each meal) of feeding over long durations, without any specialized caging but with a reduction in researcher's hands-on time.
- Mouse diet experiments
- Behavior - food reward training
- Mouse health monitoring in other experiments
- May be adapted for other small rodents
- Small size, suitable for standard vivarium housing.
- Electronic monitoring reduces need for personnel to monitor feeding behavior.
- Can track multiple mice in a single cage.
- Less-costly solution.
- The same device can be used as for operant conditioning experiments.