Guinea Pigs and Hamsters in Research
Guinea pigs and hamsters collectively account for 291,458 of the animals covered under the Animal Welfare Act that were used in research and teaching in the U.S. in 2014. In that year, guinea pigs were the single species most commonly used in research protocols, and hamsters were the third most commonly used species. These animals were among the first used widely in the research laboratory. Human experimental subjects are termed ‘guinea pigs’ because of the long history of these animals in experimentation. These animals are used in many different research protocols not limited to safety tests and toxicity studies; allergy research; research involving the respiratory, nervous, and immune systems; nutritional research; infectious disease research; and auditory system studies. Their decline in use over the last few decades has been attributed to increase use of mice, who are excluded from coverage by the Animal Welfare Act.