Animal Facility

Animal Facility

The Animal Facility at our institute is part of the scientific infrastructure. We mainly produce and breed mice and rats for basic biological research. Our institute also keeps alpacas, rabbits, clawed frogs, and starfish. Some groups also grow flies and nematodes directly in their laboratories.


Our animals

Most of the animals involved in experiments at our institute originate from our own breeding while some come from specialized breeders under regulatory control. Trained and experienced animal care staff, together with two veterinarians, ensures that the animals are kept in the best possible way according to animal welfare, taking into account the diverse needs of the experimental animals. The husbandry conditions comply with the legal requirements and partly go well beyond those.


We keep mice in plastic cages with free access to food and water where they can retreat in small, igloo-shaped hideouts. Nesting material made of cardboard and dried plant fiber contributes to thermoregulation and provides the females with optimal conditions to care for their brood.



Rats are housed in spacious cages with elevated grid lids that allow for the species-specific rearing behavior. Tubes provide hideouts and paper tissues are available for the rats’ occupation and nest building.



Our rabbits mainly live as a group on bedding and straw on the ground. Each room offers cover and several hideouts. If required, small groups of up to four animals are also kept in spacious cages interconnected by removing partitions. Each animal is thus provided with individual opportunities to retreat.



Our alpaca herd lives on a large outdoor area with grazing land, sandpits, and fields of gravel, which was designed by a zoo design office. The animals can use their spacious, bright stables at any time.

In 2019, the herd was expanded by nine more mares. Therefore, the existing pasture land was significantly increased once again. Our alpacas are usually easy to observe from the Nikolausberg forest paths or from our institute grounds.



We keep African clawed frogs in a freshwater system of aquaria, where they can use hiding places and artificial rafts. The temperature of the water is 18 °C or 26 °C, depending on the species.

Our starfish, in contrast, are saltwater aquatics, which are kept at 16 °C. So-called ‘living’ stones, which are covered with algae and bacteria, create water vortices and enrich the basins.

For our aquatic animals it is important that the respective water corresponds to their domestic conditions in the best possible way. For the frogs these are the African ponds, for the starfish it is the sea water of the Pacific Ocean. The water parameters (hardness, salt concentration, pH-value, and pollutants) are constantly controlled and kept or adjusted by targeted water replacement.


Insights into our Animal Facility

If you would like to gain more detailed insights into the various areas of our Animal Facility, please contact the institute's Press and Public Relations Office for an appointment. The PR team is also happy to answer any further questions you may have.

You can also inform yourself about our projects with laboratory animals on our portal on animal experiments.


Quality standards and control

The high quality standards in animal husbandry and in animal experimental projects at the institute are constantly monitored by an animal welfare officer – an experienced specialist veterinarian for laboratory animals – and confirmed by regular inspections by the Göttingen veterinary office.

In addition, the animal welfare officer advises the scientists in the planning and implementation of experiments that involve animals and ensures that stress to the animals is always kept to a minimum.


Further Information

Portal of the Max Planck Society about Animal Studies
Information on animal experiments from the Max Planck Society more
Animal Experiments in Research – information by the German Research Foundation DFG
Brochure issued by the Senate Commission on Animal Protection and Experimentation of the German Research Foundation DFG (2016) (in German) more
AnimalResearch.Info – Understanding Animal Research
This website, of the British group UAR, provides a wealth of information about animal research and the resulting advances in science and medicine. more
GV-Solas – Gesellschaft für Versuchstierkunde
GV-Solas is committed to the responsible care of laboratory animals and sees itself as a mediator between animal protection and research for the welfare of humans and animals. It is a competent interlocutor for legislators, scientists, and the public when expertise on laboratory animals and their welfare is required. (in German) more
Basel Declaration
A call for more trust, transparency and communication on animal research more
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