Winner Focus – Sarah Taylor

As you may have seen, Datesand have recently released the winning product of the 2019 Janet Wood Innovation Award, the Rat Scratcher.

This grooming and enrichment device was designed by Sarah Taylor, a Licensed Animal Technician at the University of Cambridge. She graduated from the Anglia Ruskin University with a BSC Hons in Animal Behaviour in 2016. Sarah currently works with rats, mice, rhesus macaques and occasionally rabbits and guinea pigs too.

 

During the 2019 Janet Wood Innovation Award, Sarah came to us with her original idea of the Rat Scratcher. As the name suggests, this is made for rats. In particular, it was designed for singly housed rats to allow them to groom themselves. It aims to help reduce stress and encourage natural behaviour while improving welfare. The product attaches to the top or side of the cage with an easy clip-on design so rats can rub against it. It is made out of an easy to clean autoclavable plastic.

 

We asked Sarah a few questions to get a better idea of how and why she came up with her winning idea…

 

How long have you been in the industry? 

“3 years.”

 

What is the purpose of the product you designed?

 

“To allow rats to scratch themselves where they cant reach or if they are singly housed and don’t have a companion to groom them. It’s mainly to encourage scratching/grooming behaviour to improve welfare and reduce stress therefore promoting Refinement.”

 

Where did the idea for your product originate from?

 

“I have been grooming our rats with a brush and then looked into brushes for animals and came across the cow brush which gave me the idea to design something to go into their cage.”

 

How does the product promote one or more of the 3Rs?

 

“By allowing the rats to have the opportunity to scratch against something therefore reducing stress and improving welfare.”

 

What would you say are the 3 main things to consider when designing a BRAND-NEW product?

 

“A: Size

B: Cleanable & autoclavable

C: Can be used in multiple institutions”

 

Did you face any challenges when designing your product? If so, how did you overcome them?

 

“How to attach it to the cage - I consulted with some colleagues and a datesand rep to adapt my idea.“

 

What is the purpose of the product you designed? 

“To allow rats to scratch themselves where they can’t reach or if they are singly housed and don’t have a companion to groom them. It’s mainly to encourage scratching/grooming behaviour to improve welfare and reduce stress therefore promoting Refinement.”

What would you say to someone looking to submit a product to the Janet Wood Innovation Award in the future? 

“Discuss the idea with line manager and your datesand rep to make sure the idea is feasible. Also do some research into the natural behaviours of the animal that you are designing the product for and think about how the animal will benefit from the product.”

The Rat Scratcher is now available to order! You can find out more information and request a free sample on the Datesand website.

Don't forget, there's still plenty of time to enter into the Janet Wood Innovation Award 2020! Simply download an application pack to get started and submit by February 1st 2020!

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