The tail suspension test

Adem Can, David T. Dao, Chantelle E. Terrillion, Sean C. Piantadosi, Shambhu Bhat, Todd D. Gould

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

118 Scopus citations


The tail-suspension test is a mouse behavioral test useful in the screening of potential antidepressant drugs, and assessing of other manipulations that are expected to affect depression related behaviors. Mice are suspended by their tails with tape, in such a position that it cannot escape or hold on to nearby surfaces. During this test, typically six minutes in duration, the resulting escape oriented behaviors are quantified. The tail-suspension test is a valuable tool in drug discovery for high-throughput screening of prospective antidepressant compounds. Here, we describe the details required for implementation of this test with additional emphasis on potential problems that may occur and how to avoid them. We also offer a solution to the tail climbing behavior, a common problem that renders this test useless in some mouse strains, such as the widely used C57BL/6. Specifically, we prevent tail climbing behaviors by passing mouse tails through a small plastic cylinder prior to suspension. Finally, we detail how to manually score the behaviors that are manifested in this test.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere3769
Pages (from-to)1-5
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number59
StatePublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Animal models
  • Antidepressant
  • Behavioral analysis
  • Depression
  • Issue 59
  • Mood disorder
  • Mood stabilizer
  • Neurobiology
  • Neuroscience

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)


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