Tens of millions of rodents are used in all sorts of invasive research yet the United State's Federal Animal Welfare Act does not consider these empathic mammals to be animals. Indeed, about 99 percent of the animals used in research are not protected by federal legislation and are routinely subjected to horrific abuse. Here is a quote from the federal register: "We are amending the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) regulations to reflect an amendment to the Act's definition of the term animal. The Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 amended the definition of animal to specifically exclude birds, rats of the genus Rattus, and mice of the genus Mus, bred for use in research" (Vol. 69, no. 108, 4 June 2004).
Now, at last, there is some sort of good news for these rodents. New guidelines suggest that the cages for females and their babies should be larger than they currently are. And this has researchers in a tizzy because it will cost them more money to house them and they may not be able to breed as many as they currently do. The new guidelines suggest that a female mouse and her litter should get at least 51 square inches, while a female rat plus her litter should get at least 124 square inches. Do the math—it's recommened that a family of mice should be housed in about a 7 x 7 inch cage and a female rat and her family should be housed in a 12 x 12 inch cage. These are not exactly large areas.