Instrumented observation cage


PhenoTyper is an instrumented observation cage to measure and test the behavior of laboratory rodents. Every cage is equipped with a top unit that contains LED units, a camera, and a range of optional sensors and stimuli.

  • Full integration of test environment and video equipment

  • Adaptable to fit your research aims

  • For long-term observations and short-term tests


Long term observations

Long term measurements lead to new (stable) insights that are less subjective to short term (acute) variance. The PhenoTyper is an ideal tool to facilitate long-term observations in rodents. Doing long-term research, decreases the stress an animal experiences during handling and movement, and will depict a more complete picture of the effect of your treatment. Therefore, your measurements will be more valid when translating from a rodent model to a human model. 

The PhenoTyper can be used to observe animals when you are not there, allowing for analysis without human interference, on the circadian rhythm, day-night behaviors, and operant conditioning tests like with the cognition wall.

PhenoTyper 4500 with running wheel

white rat with a novel object

Short term observations

Short term measurements still are very important to behavioral research. The PhenoTyper is also well suited to perform many short-term tests. For example, you can use mild aversive stimuli for anxiety testing in PhenoTyper. Furthermore, you can automatically switch on a light whenever your animal enters a certain zone or illuminate the food hopper in the dark period when the animal has been eating or drinking for a certain time.

Whether you use short-term or long-term observations depends on the goals of your study. However, because of the customizability of the PhenoTyper, it can be fit for your research. The uniform design of the PhenoTyper combined with the automatic measurements with EthoVision XT creates a valid and consistent collection of data.



Customer succes story

Dr. Jean-Claude do Rego and Dr. Jean-Luc do Rego of the Behavioral Analysis Facility of the University of Rouen (Service Commun d’Analyse Comportementale, SCAC), are evaluating the behavioral and functional activities of new pharmacological drugs. Watch the video to learn more about why they select Noldus PhenoTyper for their research.

Customer quote

“Because of the automatic measurements, it limits the influence of the user and also limits the number of animals that are used. It also limits the stress you give to the animal so we gain in quality”  

Dr. Jean-Luc do Rego


Customize your PhenoTyper

PhenoTyper is very customizable to your research: several different walls are available to accomodate any set-up, from simple novel cage testing to home cage environment and operant conditioning setups!

Each configuration consists of a bottom plate, four replaceable walls, and a PhenoTyper top unit. Walls are transparent but can optionally be replaced by (partially) opaque/matted walls to reduce reflection, which is useful for specific studies.



We are celebrating that more than 1,750 PhenoTypers are part of research in labs worldwide!



Sizing options and features

PhenoTyper is available in two standard sizes: the PhenoTyper 3000 has a floor area of 30cm x 30cm (12"x 12") and the PhenoTyper 4500 has a floor area of 45cm x 45cm (18" x 18"). Custom sizing is also possible, for example a model of 90cm x 90cm (36" x 36") has been used in studies. 

The instrumented top unit contains an infrared sensitive camera with three arrays of infrared LED lights. You can adjust light conditions experimentally to e.g. create a day/night cycle, use the single tone for operant conditioning tests, or use the white spot light for approach-avoidance behavior testing.

phenotyper four setup wall
  • PhenoTyper 3000 (standard size) - floor size 30cm x 30cm (11.8" x 11.8"), wall height 35cm (13.8")
  • PhenoTyper 4500 (standard size) - floor size 45cm x 45cm (17.7" x 17.7"), wall height 55cm (21.7")
  • PhenoTyper 9000 (custom size) - 90cm x 90cm (35.4" x 35.4"), wall height 100cm (39.4")
  • Top unit, 30cm x 30cm (11.8" x 11.8"), height 9cm (3.5")
  • Video output - CCIR black/white Vpp-75 Ohm (PAL) or EIA black/white Vpp-75 Ohm (NTSC)
  • Infrared lighting - 3 integrated IR arrays through diffuser
  • Audio stimulus - Frequency ~2300 Hz; level ~70 dB
  • House light - 590 nm
  • White spotlight - 5500ºK color temperature; level 0-1000 lux
  • Power supply - 24 VDC-15W

webinar screenshot ethovision

Better data, easier acquisition

Once you choose your set-up you can start to reap the benefits of having the PhenoTyper in your lab. Using multiple devices at once drastically increases not only the throughput of your experiment, it also decreases the influence of time bases variances. Many factors can influence the behavior of your test subjects and performing all tests simultaneously in similar environmental conditions removes some of these variances.

If the PhenoTyper is the body, then EthoVision XT is the brain. EthoVision XT can among other things program certain stimuli like light or sounds, automatically track the movement, and identify the behaviors of rats and mice. The PhenoTyper is designed to work with EthoVision XT, and thus data acquisition using them together works seamlessly.

EthoVision XT and PhenoTyper are constantly being developed with your feedback. We are always looking at how we can adapt our products to suit the latest research developments. 


PhenoTyper and social interaction

PhenoTyper is perfect to study social interaction in great detail. You can even prompt stimuli responding to animal behavior. For example, release a food reward when animals are in the same area together, or when they both press a lever. This protocol can easily be automated with EthoVision XT.

ethovision social interaction integrated visualization

PhenoTyper running wheel rat

PhenoTyper and operant conditioning

PhenoTyper is ideal for operant conditioning tests: in combination with EthoVision XT, procotols are easily automated. For example, switch on a light when your mouse enters a zone, give the rat a food reward after a lever press, or switch on the brake of the Activity wheel after a number of rotations. There are a large number of operant modules that can be connected to the PhenoTyper cage, for example to automatically apply an air puff or give a food reward.


PhenoTyper and anxiety testing

You can use mild aversive stimuli for anxiety testing in PhenoTyper. You can, for example, automatically switch on a light when your animal enters a certain zone or illuminate the food hopper in the dark period when the animal has been eating or drinking for a certain time. But you can also equip PhenoTyper with an illuminated shelter that can be controlled with EthoVision XT’s Trial & Hardware Control Module. This way a light can switch on automatically when the animal enters the shelter, or chooses a specific shelter entrance. You can extend your setup with other TTL-based hardware. This way you can adjust your anxiety tests entirely to your needs.

PhenoTyper areas defined anxiety research

Study anxiety and depression using PhenoTyper cages

Dr. Thomas Prévôt from the University of Toronto uses the PhenoTyper to induce an acute stress response, in order to assess anxiety-like and depressive-like behavior in rodents.

Watch the video to learn more about why he chooses Noldus' tools.



Here is a selection of recent papers that mention the use of PhenoTyper. If you feel your paper should be on this list, please let us know at [email protected]!



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