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The rat cage is an iconic piece of research equipment and this nickel-plated example was made by E K Bowman Ltd and donated to the Science Museum’s collections by the Medical Devices Agency (now the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency). The MDA tested medical equipment to ensure its safety. Animal experimentation for scientific and medical research was and still is a controversial subject. One of the main arguments is whether the benefits of animal testing outweigh the moral issues. The first organised anti-animal experiments or anti-vivisection movements were at their peak in Britain in the 1870s and 1880s and their actions led to tighter restrictions on who could perform experiments. However, animal experimentation remains a focus of much protest and debate.

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Glossary: animal experimentation

Before researchers test drug treatments in human clinical trials, they normally test them on animals to determine if they are toxic, to find the correct dose and whether they are effective.

Glossary: animal cage

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