Study Finds Mice Express Pain Facially…Just Like Us

A new study published on Sunday in the journal Nature Methods has concluded mice make facial expressions when they’re in pain.

Jeffrey Mogil at McGill University in Montreal, Canada worked with colleagues and Kenneth Craig, a psychologist who studies human pain at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, to develop a “mouse grimace scale.”

According to the Telegraph, This was done by injecting stomachs and paws with pain-inducing substances, including acetic acid, mustard oil, and capsaicin, the ”hot” ingredient in chillies.

Animals were also injected with a chemical that triggers bladder cystitis, and made to suffer nerve damage.

The ”pain faces” were identified by comparing video images of non-suffering mice with those in pain.

They were listed as: orbital tightening (eye squeezing), nose bulge – a rounded extension of skin on the bridge of the nose – bulging cheeks, ears drawn apart and back, and whiskers held against the face or standing on end.

This was apparently justified by saying that no study has ever been conducted to study facial reactions to pain, or to determine whether facial reactions were corresponding to being tortured, despite clear evidence that animals do make facial expressions to show emotion and communicate.

Mogil reportedly didn’t want the photos published because of the potential backlash from animal rights activists, but Wired’s got the photos, if you care to see the faces of bad science.

He was also right, people who care about animal suffering were outraged.   

”People should be clear that this study was not in any way intended to improve or positively impact on the welfare of mice (or any other animal). It was not intended in anyway to mitigate painful situations for mice used in research, rather just to find a new way of determining if a mouse is showing signs of pain,” said Dr Ned Buyukmihci, veterinary adviser at the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV).

Maybe this study will have everyone thinking a little harder about why birds, rats and mice aren’t covered under the Animal Welfare Act, since they can suffer after all. 

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katarzyna phillips

it's good in a way that this study has been done, as it will show that animals like mice DO feel pain; and supports why tests should be BANNED. however, i disagree that such a test to create pain should have been done in the first place. it's torture. but then, if it never happened this way, how would we know about it?

Duane B.
.2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Linda Jarsky
Linda Jarsky2 years ago

Any time humans use animals for their own purposes the animals get the short end of the stick: this is the case for factory farming, vivisection and animals in circuses. Matters deteriorate when corporations enter the picture. As profits become more important the animals’ welfare matters even less than it did before.

Bronwyn S.
Past Member 2 years ago

WTF? Who gives these people the money to conduct this kind of cruel and unnecessary experiment? Where did this funding come from and who approved it? Why are people being paid a salary to inflict pain on animals for no reason whatsoever? And what kind of monster of a person does this for a living?

Karin Stenholmer
Karin Stenholmer3 years ago

I could have told them that every animal offers pain without pumping in acid and other horrific stuff in them poor mices! Are those scientist really that stuped, they had to test mices to know if they can feel pain? OMG if thats the case, then we definitly dont need them scientists at all!

Torah Alabidi
Torah Wolf3 years ago

these people are just plain dumb heartless bastards

Tara J.
Tara J.3 years ago

I just ... scientists should be extinct. Seriously.

Gaby D.
Gaby D.3 years ago

You should have seen my facial expression when I read this scary (research??) idiocy!!! For f' 's sake! Get REAL people.... we are all one! And the/we ALL suffer(s) pain, sadness, fear, anger, when one part of us inflicts (willingly and knowingly) upon any other part of us that is!!

Aimee A.
Aimee A.3 years ago

OMS! Did they really need acetic acid, mustard oil, and capsaicin, the ”hot” ingredient in chillies to figure this out? Really? I could have told these rocket scientists this before they even started their investigation of extreme cruelty!

AndyNoMail O.
Past Member 3 years ago

We test on them anyway....