JaxCC1 project protocol for procedure: tail suspension

Multisystem phenotyping of 18 Collaborative Cross strains   (2018)

The Jackson Laboratory


See JAX Pipeline on the IMPC website for order of tasks for all mice tested

Project protocol: Auditory brainstem response


Tail suspension test monitors the immobility response to assess behavioral despair in mice, an induced depression model.

Study design

  • Paradigm: Baseline study
  • Panel: Collaborative Cross
  • Number of strains: 14
  • Sex: Both
  • Age: 10-12 wks
  • Sample size: Seven mice per sex
  • Number of cohorts: 1


    Step Description Equipment Data collected
    1 Mice are acclimated to testing room - -


    Tail suspension test (5 min, 15 s) Tail suspension apparatus, video equipment and software Latency to immobility, duration of immobility

    Equipment, software and supplies

    • Tail suspension test apparatus [See Experimental and technical parameters]
      • Metal bar suspended on clamp stand 36.6 cm above lab bench
      • Neutral color background
      • Noldus Ethovision XT
      • Plastic cone with hole is placed around tail
      • Masking tape to attach tail to bar
    • Ethovision detection software


    1. Mice are acclimated to the test room for 30 min.
    2. The method of recording is set up:
      • Detection parameters appropriate to the coat color of the mice.
      • Time duration set at 5 min and 15 s.
      • A short (30 s) video of the tail suspension apparatus without a mouse is recorded at the beginning of each testing day. This ensures an accurate calibration background for the Ethovision detection software.
    3. A single trial of the tail suspension test is performed on each mouse.
      • Recording begins before the mouse is suspended to guarantee that information is not lost in the first portion of the trial.
      • A plastic cone is placed around the tail of each mouse immediately before the test, with its tail extending through the tip, to prevent tail climbing behaviors.
      • The mouse is suspended at approximately one-third from the end of its tail; masking tape is used to secure the mouse to the bar.
      • Each trial is 5 min 15 s long and analyzed using the mobility detection module in EthoVision.
    4. At the end of the 5 min 15 s trial, the mice are removed from the arena and returned to a holding cage until all mice within the homecage have been tested.
    5. Analysis of the recording is done to measure latency to immobility and total time spent immobile.
    6. Only the first 5 min of the recording after the experimenter has moved from view are analyzed.
    7. An unscented 1% solution of Virkon S is used to clean the apparatus.


    Data QC: Video from major outlier values should be reviewed for video tracking errors. These criteria should be evaluated periodically. The cone is in place to prevent tail climbing. Mice that climb are not included in the analysis.



    LIMS field name MPD variable name Description Units Series Primary measurement Series order MPD computed Calculation Method Data type
    latency_to_immobility immob_latency_TS latency to immobility, 5 min test s           tail suspension test Float
    time_immobile immob_duration_TS duration of immobility, 5 min test s           tail suspension test Float

    Experimental and technical parameters

    Equipment name Tail suspension rod apparatus
    Equipment manufacturer The Jackson Laboratory - in house
    Video tracking Noldus
    Software Ethovision XT 7.1 and MPEG Recorder
    Anesthesia None