We've already had some debate on the line between a pet and livestock, but I don't think it's come up before where the animal in question was a lab animal. (Note: By lab animal, I mean specifically an animal used for testing/study, not a pet living in a lab)

Should we turn these questions away because they're not pets? What is the line between a pet and a lab animal?


2 Answers 2


Yes, we should allow questions on lab animals here.

When doing research on animals, there are strict guidelines that have to be followed for the minimum care of the animal, if the person is asking about something outside of those guidelines, then that shows that they care about making sure the animal has more than just what is needed to keep it alive.

I think the line should be where the question would be on topic at biology.se or something, where the question is about testing and not the care of the animals.

  • My first thought is NO. But on reflection I am thinking Matt has a good point. Though we should modify the question to what is the basic requirement for housing a <rat>, if the animal is lab animal or not is immaterial to the care of the animal from our perspective. (i.e. remove "lab" from the question/answer) Jun 20, 2014 at 18:47

No. Pets are companion animals - that is, they are kept for their companionship and for personal enjoyment. Though it is entirely feasible for me to "study" my pets and learn about their behaviours while I keep them. any form of "study" associated with the animal is secondary to the companionship.

By contrast, a laboratory animal is kept specifically for scientific purposes, and this distinction makes a significant difference. While care requirements may be very similar, the scientific purpose will, almost by definition, seek to vary some aspect of the animal's care in order to test the change in behaviour. This might be to the detriment of the individual animal's health or welfare while still being in the best interests of the species.

This is entirely at odds with keeping a pet where concern for the individual animal's welfare is paramount.

  • By the same logic, you would exclude breeders, which has already been decided are in scope. While I like your idea, early discussion made me conclude that a smaller scope is not a benefit to the site, and if the site is not benefited, then nobunny is benefited. The summary at the top of this answer is what lead to my comment to, and up vote of the answer by @MattS. Jun 23, 2014 at 12:23
  • @James While I see where you're coming from, it's a bit of a stretch to say that it's "by the same logic" that I would simply exclude breeders. Breeding for sale as pets, breeding for laboratory use, and breeding as food are three very different things. The first is entirely compatible with the notion of "companion animal", and that is the significant argument for me.
    – ClickRick
    Jun 23, 2014 at 12:57

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