Animal experimentation

In Switzerland, animal experiments may only be performed if no alternative methods are available. Equally strict rules apply to laboratory animal husbandry as to the training and continuing education of the researchers working with animals.



Animal experimentation statistics: Fewer animals used in experiments, increased number of animals suffering constraint

The recent statistics on animal experimentation show: The total number of animals used for experiments in 2019 has again decreased - as in the previous three years. The decrease in the number of animals used in experiments is mainly due to the fact that fewer mice and fish were used in comparison to the previous year. Experiments involving moderate to severe constraint on the animals have increased. 3.2 % of the animals were subjected to experiments that involved severe constraint.


Animal experiments in 2019: further decreases in the number of animals used for experiments

In 2019, a total of 572 069 animals were used for experiments in Switzerland. This is 2.5 % less than in 2018. The total number of animals used for experiments has constantly decreased in the last four years.


Different impact categories depending on the animal experiment

Animal experiments are classified into four impact categories – the “severity degrees”. Experiments in the severity degree 0 are considered to be non-onerous; experiments in the severity degree 3 severely stress the animals. In order to classify the experiments into the severity level categories, the FSVO updated a technical information document in 2018.


In 2019, a total of 69.2 % of the animals were used in experiments that involved little or no stress (severity degrees 0 and 1); this represents a continuous decrease since 2015. Around 27.6 % of the animals were subjected to a moderate degree of stress (severity degree 2); this represents a continuous increase since 2012. The proportion of animals subjected to severity degree 3 (severe stress) was 3.2 %, this represents an increase wrt the 2.7 % in 2018. A total of 18 290 animals were subjected to severity degree 3.

3R : Replace, Reduce, Refine

Animal experiments must only be allowed if no alternative methods are available for answering scientific questions. The number of laboratory animals and the strain that they suffer must be kept to a minimum.

Severity and harm-benefit analysis

The harm-benefit analysis determines whether or not an animal experiment may be authorised and conducted. During the process, the gain in knowledge expected is compared with the anticipated level of distress suffered by the animal.

Application and authorisation

In Switzerland, each individual animal experiment and laboratory animal facility must be approved. The aim of this strict procedure is to protect animals from suffering constraint in a way that cannot be justified.

Reports and announcements

Persons conducting animal experiments must provide regular reports about the number of laboratory animals used along with information about the experiments conducted.

Education and training

Persons conducting animal experiments are required to possess the necessary skills, complete a specific training course and take continuing education courses. Persons caring for laboratory animals are also required to be qualified and take continuing education courses regularly.


The handling of experimental animals is clearly regulated. In addition to the legal requirements, we provide you with specific technical information, explanations and forms on this page. Animal experiments must be managed with the web application "e-tierversuche".

More information

Last modification 20.08.2020

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