Barnes maze

The Barnes maze test is an increasingly popular alternative to the water maze to study spatial memory. It is based on the rodent’s instinctive avoidance for open areas and their natural preference for dark and sheltered spaces. The circular platform is brightly lit and contains holes around the circumference. One of these holes has a box underneath, providing a safe place to escape to for the rat or mouse. Environmental cues, such as signs, can be used to guide the animal and test their memory. 

The Barnes Maze is easy to set up and, not requiring water, some researchers argue it is less stressful for the animal than the water maze, especially in the case of mice.

Barnes maze
The Barnes maze
Barnes maze
Several options are available, such as a rotatable top

Maze options

Several dimensions of the Barnes maze are used in research. Some manufacturers have different sizes for rats and mice, other differ their design in the amount of holes around the circumference. At Noldus, we offer high-quality Barnes mazes, either custom built to your preferences, or standardized from several suppliers. There is always something to suit your research needs and budget. Of course, all mazes are perfectly suited for video tracking research with EthoVision XT or in-depth behavioral scoring with The Observer XT.


Noldus can always offer a custom maze built to your specifications. In addition we have preferred suppliers such as Maze Engineers and Ugo Basile. Please notice that availability of the mazes from different manufacturers may differ based on your location. 

Benefits and design features

Although the basic design of a Barnes maze is similar across manufacturers, some have specific design features that might be beneficial for your study. For example, Maze Engineers offer a Barnes maze with a rotatable top, and even the escape box rotates underneath the table. They also offer a false floor modification (a second table that rotates with the escape box to close off all other holes). 

More information

To request more information, such as dimensions and options, please contact us. We would be happy to talk to you about which maze would suit your study best!