Floating foam mazes and cages

New cost-efficient designs! Floating mazes allow adding complex behavioral tasks to neurophysiological experiments that require head-restraint. Prices are for the sets of 15 mazes, cages or bases

From 329 USD

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A real tangible maze for head-fixed mice has a significant advantage over the virtual maze: it provides sensory input for the animals that, by their nature, rely on sensory cues more than on their vision. Differently shaped foam cages and mazes allow adapting the cage environment for several classical behavioral paradigms.

Our mazes and cages are designed for the Mobile HomeCage Large or Mobile HomeCage Large with tracking capability. To minimize shipping costs, we deliver them disassembled. But don’t worry: putting the mazes together is simpler than ever.

Currently, we offer these five options: a simple round cage, T-maze, donut-maze, square cage, and a brand new sociability maze. The wall height for all mazes is 40 mm. For the round cages, there are two options for wall height: 40 mm and 70 mm.

The bases of mazes and cages are made of a foam material that may absorb smells and fluids. We recommend using one foam maze or cage per mouse. However, the same cage may be used during multiple experiments. Mice like walking on the foam surface as it provides a better grip compared to carbon fiber. The foam surface is particularly well-suited for juvenile mice.

What to do about locomotion tracking? Not to worry: the foam mazes and cages have magnets built into the bottom. Thus, it is possible to use Neurotar’s locomotion tracking solution while working with head-fixed mice in any of the foam mazes or cages.

T-maze for head-fixed mice

Our adaptation of a classical T-maze has two return arms and doors at the end of each side corridor. This maze allows implementing spatial learning and memory tasks under head-fixation conditions. We recommend combining with the lick port and/or air puff for reinforcement and with Neurotar’s tracking hardware and software for locomotion tracking.

Donut maze

The donut maze is a circular, linear track. While navigating the maze, the mouse can learn to recognize a target location from a visual or tactile cue. Learning can be reinforced by liquid reward or air puff. A donut maze combined with the locomotion tracking can be used for imaging and recording hippocampal place cells in the Mobile HomeCage Large.

Sociability maze for head-fixed mice

The sociability maze is designed to facilitate sociability tests in the Mobile HomeCage Large: it consists of a cage with two symmetrical chambers for housing “companion” mice. Since the chambers are located outside the cage, they don’t change the cage’s geometry. Why is this important? – If you place a chamber with a second mouse inside the cage, there will be a corner and, with it, a bias. Does the head-fixed mouse favor the second mouse, or does it like hiding in a cozy space behind the chamber? No such dilemma in our sociability maze. If you need to keep one chamber empty, remember to add a weight roughly equivalent to the weight of the “companion” mouse in the opposite chamber. Neglecting to do so may impede flotation.

Square cage

The square cage (245 mm X 245 mm) can serve as a classical open field arena for assessing general locomotor and exploratory activity as well as anxiety. Besides that: it is well-suited for object location memory tests. The latter assess location memory and discrimination while objects are placed in and out of the cage or moved around within the cage. We offer two types of square cages, with rounded and with sharp corners – see pictures at the bottom of the page.

Foam cage

Why use the foam cage when there is an ultralightweight carbon fiber cage which is reusable and trackable? There are several reasons to opt for the foam cage:

  • It costs a fraction of the carbon fiber cage’s price;
  • At this price, one can afford to have an individual cage for each test animal;
  • Mice like walking on the foam surface: it provides better grip and feels warmer;
  • Foam cages are lighter, which is crucial for juvenile mice.

Set composition

  • Fifteen(15) two-layer foam bases pre-assembled with plastic magnet holders;
  • Six (6) neodymium magnets;
  • Three (3) plastic walls for creating an external cage barrier and three (3) set of internal barriers for creating mazes (when applicable);
  • Clips and stickers for attaching the internal barriers.

Using these parts allows assembling three cages or mazes simultaneously and leaving the remaining 12 base parts as spares. If you are using all fifteen bases simultaneously, remember to clean and disinfect the walls and internal barriers before using them for a different mouse.

Technical characteristics

  • Base diameter (same for all types of cages & mazes) : 325 mm
  • The diameter of the internal cage in the sociability maze is Ø 234 mm
  • Square cage dimensions: 245 mm X 245 mm
  • Material: Depron 3mm thick foam
  • Weight: 60-90 g/maze or cage (assembled with magnets for locomotion tracking)