Animals in Science

Which Animals are Used

The USDA’s 2015 annual report on animal use at research facilities shows a continued decreasing trend in the number of animals used in U.S. laboratories. The report revealed that 904,147 animals covered by the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) were held in labs last year, and that 767,622 were used in research, a drop of over eight percent from 2014.
Hamsters are among the most used animals in labs, but their numbers decreased by almost 20 percent in 2015. However, over half of the hamsters were used in experiments involving pain. The “all other covered species” animal category, which includes gerbils, bats, ferrets, and chinchillas, decreased 24 percent. Also down were the numbers of rabbits (eight percent) and cats (five percent).

Unfortunately, there were increases in the number of other animals used in experiments. Primate numbers increased seven percent, and there was a slight rise in the number of dogs, guinea pigs, sheep, pigs, and “other farm animals” (goats, cows, horses) used in research.

While much of this data is welcome news, it’s important to note that only animals covered by the AWA are included in this report. Since rats, mice, birds, and fish do not fall under the umbrella of the AWA, labs are not required to count them, yet AAVS estimates that they comprise 95 percent of all animals in labs. Unlike the U.S., the European Union and Canada provide regulatory and legal protection for these animals.

Animals Used in Research 2014/2015

Guinea Pigs 169,528 172,864
Hamsters 121,930 98,420
Rabbits 150,344 138,348
Dogs 59,358 61,101
Nonhuman Primates 57,735 61,950
Pigs 45,392 46,477
Sheep 10,315 10,678
Other Farm Animals 27,393 27,786
Cats 21,083 19,932
All Other Animals 171,375 130,066
TOTAL ANIMALS USED 834,453 767,622

Please visit USDA’s website for more specific information about animal use.

Types of Animals