The latest statistics

The latest Home Office statistics -
animals used in scientific procedures

Scientific procedures carried out on animals in UK laboratories are currently at almost their highest level since the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act came into force in 1986. The Home Office releases statistics of scientific procedures on animals each year. Numbers reached a minimum in 2001 at a little under 3 million, but have since risen steadily to almost 4 million. The latest Home Office Statistic on animals used in scientific procedures are for 2016.

In 2016, 3.94 million scientific procedures were completed in Great Britain. 1.91 million were connected to creation and breeding of genetically modified animals that were not used in any further experiments. The majority of experimental procedures (60%; 1.22 million) were carried out on mice and 14% (287, 000) were on fish. 

Scientists are required to report on the severity of the procedures they carried out on animals and the degree to which those animals might have suffered. 29% (581,000) were classified as moderate and 6% (114,000) were assessed as severe. This is a matter for deep concern.

We can only estimate the number of vertebrate animals used in experiments worldwide because not all experiments on vertebrate species are recorded in all countries. However, it is believed that around 200 million vertebrate animals are used for scientific experiments each year.

In the US, for example, experiments on mice, rats, other rodents and on birds, are not counted in statistics, even though these are among the most commonly used laboratory species. In the UK, surplus animals that are bred for, but not used in, experiments, and animals used to produce certain types of biological material are not counted.

In 2016 rodents were the most commonly used species, accounting for 72 per cent of all procedures; fish (14%) and birds (7%) were the next most frequently used species. Other mammals and reptiles/amphibians accounted for 6 per cent of procedures. Dogs, non-human primates, cats and horses (i.e. specially protected species) were used in 1 per cent of all procedures, with a combined total of 18,000 procedures.

The full statistics can be viewed on the Home Office website

Figure taken from the Home Office Annual Statistics of Scientific Procedures on Living Animals Great Britain 2016

'Around 200 million vertebrate animals are used for scientific experiments each year.'