ONE of Scotland's leading universities has been named and shamed over the number of animals tested in their laboratories in 2014.

Edinburgh University was second behind only Oxford in a list compiled by the anti-vivisection organisation Cruelty Free International. It used a total of 200,861 animals in experiments last year.

A spokesman said that they only used a small proportion of animals in their research programmes, primarily rodents and fish, when there were no alternatives.

Oxford had 226,739 animal experiments while other institutions named by the group included University College and King's College, both in London, and Cambridge.

The figures were obtained by Freedom of Information requests. Among the animals tested were rats, mice, birds, frogs, fish, ferrets, guinea pigs, rabbits, sheep and monkeys.

Dr Katy Taylor, director of science at Cruelty Free International, formerly the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection , said: "The public will be shocked to learn that five of the UK's leading universities are responsible for testing on almost one million animals, despite an increasing number of universities recognising this isn't the way to do research.

"We urge them to leave this archaic practice behind."

Monkey experiments conducted at some universities were said to involve animals being deprived of food or water, having electrodes implanted in their skulls or limbs, and being blasted with loud noise.

She said other "disturbing" experiments allegedly included rats being injected with acid to cause brain damage, and pregnant sheep being injected with testosterone twice a week or having their ovaries punctured during surgery.

Testing in universities accounts for around half of all animal experimentation in the UK.

An Edinburgh University spokesman said it was one of the UK's top rated research universities." He added: A small proportion of our research involves the use of animals as a vital component of the quest to advance medical, biological and veterinary science.

"We use animals in research programmes - predominately rodents and fish (97 per cent) only when their use is justified on scientific, ethical and legal grounds, and when no alternatives are available.

"All such work is strictly regulated and carried out under licences, which are reviewed and approved by the Home Office and are issued only if the potential benefits of the work are likely to outweigh the effects on the animals concerned."

Of 70 UK universities sent the information requests, five did not respond.