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NC3Rs | 20 Years: Pioneering Better Science

Discussing the future of amphibians in research

A shot from above of a toad

Amphibians are one of the most well-known experimental organisms. Despite this, knowledge of amphibian husbandry and welfare remains limited, with little established guidance or evidence-based refinements for their captive care.

Today sees the publication of a report in Lab Animal on the NC3Rs/ZSL (Zoological Society of London) Workshop on Amphibian Welfare.

Held in London last year, the event brought together experts from across academic and zoo research communities to identify the welfare challenges facing amphibians in research and to discuss the steps that need to be taken to improve conditions for this diverse group of animals.

In addition to summarising the presentations given on the day, the report details the workshop discussions where attendees identified key issues, including:

  1. The lack of harmonised, relevant guidelines on amphibian care and husbandry
  2. The problem of trying to apply one set of welfare guidelines to multiple species with multiple developmental stages
  3. The limited methods for assessing welfare currently available to the amphibian research community
  4. The call for the creation of an actively engaged community on amphibian welfare in research
  5. The challenge of securing funding for research on amphibian welfare.

Each of these challenges and their possible solutions are discussed in further detail in the report as well as relaying some of the most pressing research questions surrounding amphibian housing and husbandry.

Recognising the need for improved standards in amphibian welfare, the NC3Rs will soon be publishing new checklists to support the assessment of welfare standards in research proposals involving the use of Xenopus laevis or tropicalis. These checklists have been compiled with support and advice from experts at the Xenopus Resource Centre, Portsmouth.

Image credit: European Xenopus Research Centre.


  1. Brod S, Brookes L & Garner TWJ 2018. Discussing the future of amphibians in research. Lab Animal doi:10.1038/s41684-018-0193-6