Baby Rats Separated From Their Mums and Tested on at Otago Uni

Baby Rats Separated From Their Mums and Tested on at Otago Uni


It's the 6th day of our 12 Days of Christmas University of Otago exposé! 

Today, the experiment we're exposing is incredibly hard to hear about as it involved mother rats and their babies...

Pregnant rats were injected to try and cause schizophrenia in their babies. After giving birth, all but 6 baby rats per mum were killed. The surviving babies were separated from their mum at 21 days old, were later repeatedly startled with loud noises, had electrodes implanted in their brains and were finally killed by flushing their hearts. All to try and prove that infecting the mother would cause this kind of damage to the brain…


  • Pregnant rats were injected with a substance to try and damage the developing brains of their babies.
  • Each mother was allowed to keep only some of her babies, before they were separated 21 days after birth.
  • To see if the toxin worked, the young rats were subject to loud noises repeatedly for 35 minutes.
  • After these tests, the young rats had electrodes surgically implanted into their heads.
  • Their brains were drilled open and an electrode was pushed in and attached with dental cement.
  • The researchers also wanted to insert “movable” electrodes into the animals so, they constructed a DIY electrode-holder out of the tip of a ballpoint pen. This was cemented inside the rats’ heads too.
  • Rats were made to forage in a big round box by themselves multiple times. Each time, the movable electrodes were pushed deeper and deeper into their brains.
  • In the end, they were all killed. Their chests were opened, and blood was drained from their hearts.

Schizophrenia is a serious and complicated mental health disorder that rats don’t naturally suffer from. Yet, the University of Otago purposely damaged the brains of baby rats to try and give them schizophrenia-like symptoms.

Poisoning a mother rat, taking her babies and subjecting them to cruel tests shows us nothing about an extremely complex human disorder. Animal testing is both cruel and unreliable.



Here are three ways you can help today:

  1. Grab one of our gifts that keep giving! We have a series of special Christmas packs that you can get for your loved ones, these contain special posters or prints.
  2. Sign our petition aimed at ending animal experimentation: Help us by calling on the New Zealand Government to start prioritising non-animal-based research methods and replacing the use of animals in science!
  3. Download our guide on the top ten ways that you can help end animal testing!




  • Learn more about our 12 Days of Christmas campaign, which is exposing more cruelty at Otago. We will be uploading a new experiment that we are exposing to this page every day until the 12th December.
  • Find out why Otago University is at the centre of this campaign.
  • Read more about this story in the media
  • Access the the full paper we have exposed above on our references page.