Frequently asked questions

Why do you still research using animals?

In a university where biological sciences and medicine have a high profile, such as the University of Exeter, animals are sometimes necessary for research and teaching. Until satisfactory alternatives have been developed, the processes of discovery, enquiry and teaching require approaches that involve animals in order to gain a knowledge and understanding of molecular biology, ecology, behaviour, physiology and pathology, and in order to pass on that knowledge to students.

Scientists at the University of Exeter, in common with many other researchers, are constantly seeking ways to reduce the number of animals needed for research and teaching; refining experimental methods, and replacing animals wherever possible, working to the exacting requirements of the Home Office and funding agencies.

However, ‘alternative’ tests and models have yet to be developed that can properly reproduce the complex biological characteristics of humans and animals, and studies of wild animals in their natural environment will always require the involvement of the animals themselves.

Why aren’t there alternative research methods?

There are very many non-animal research methods, all of which are used at the University of Exeter. These include research using human participants, computer models and simulations, and statistical modelling.

By law, non-animal research methods must be used wherever possible. For many projects, of course, this will mean no animals are needed at all. For others, there will be an element of the research which is essential and for which there is no alternative means of obtaining the relevant information.

How many animals and what species are involved in research at the University of Exeter?

In 2017, 27237 animals were used for research at the University of Exeter. Some of these animals were housed at the University, and some were observed in the field.

Birds Pheasant  200
  Northern Gannett  61
  Corvidae  356
  Pied Flycatcher  217
Fish Guppy  959
  Zebra Fish  22144
  Three Spined Stickleback  909
  Swordtail  9
  Fathead Minnow  760
  Hump-backed Limia  10
  Rainbow Trout  174
  Red Tail Splitfin 3
  Sea Bass  8
  Basking Shark  3
Rodents Mice  1308
  Rat  50
Other Pine Marten 12
  Bats  54