Laboratory animal statistics in Germany

The Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture publishes an annual report on the use of animals in science. This includes, amongst others, animals in basic research (accounting to almost 44%), translational/applied research (15%) as well as animals used for regulatory purposes and routine production (23%). In 2018, more than 2.8 million animals were used in animal experiments and sacrificed in the name of science, including mice (accounting to 72%), rats (10%), fish (9%), rabbits (4%), hamsters, cats, dogs, monkeys, pigs, cattle, and many other animal species. Compared to 2017, the total number of laboratory animals increased by 17.768 individuals. 

Since 1989, the number of experimental animals decreased from 2.6 million to 1.5 million in 1997, the lowest figure ever. Ever since, the number of laboratory animals has risen dramatically with the largest number of more than 3 million in 2014.

Of note, the official report does not include all laboratory animals. Animals killed as “surplus” during breeding procedures are not included in the statistics. The number of these animals by far exceeds the number of individuals finally used for experimental studies as these experimental groups are matched by gender age and genetic background. Animals not used in experiments are often killed and not included in the statistics. At least 3.9 million animals were killed in 2018 without being used in experiments just due to an undesirable genotype according to the German government. However, the real number is much higher because many unwanted animals are bread and subsequently killed without being used during the generation of genetically modified animals, as well as because of having an undesired gender, age and other parameters. Furthermore, invertebrates (with the exception of octopuses) are not counted at all.

Statistics on the number of animals used in animal experiments in Germany in 2018, including animals used in experimental procedures and animals killed for scientific purposes:

 Species No. of animals 
 Mice 2,103,419 
 Rats 293,615 
 Guinea-pigs 14,913 
 Hamsters 1,032 
 Other rodents 3,825 
 Rabbits 85,654 
 Cats 765 
 Dogs 3,993 
 Ferrets 101 
 Other carnivores 389 
 Horses, donkeys 811 
 Pigs 19,794 
 Goats 557 
 Sheep 4,759 
 Cattle 7,442 
 Non-human primates
 and prosimians
 Other mammals  1,601 
 Domestic fowl 31,828 
 Other birds  7,917 
 Reptiles  316 
 Frogs 843 
 Xenopus  4,269 
 Other amphibians 1,848 
 Zebra fish 133,399 
 Other fish 94,035 
 Octopus 59 
 Total 2,825,066 

Reference: Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection

20 June 2020
Dr. Corina Gericke

Further reading

Lab animal statistics in Germany 2018 (PDF) >>

EU statistics 2017 (PDF) >>