Animal models of human diseases of the central nervous system, generalized anxiety disorder included, are essential for the study of the brain-behavior interface and obligatory for drug development; yet, these models fail to yield new insights and efficacious drugs. By increasing testing duration hundredfold and arena size tenfold, and comparing the behavior of the common animal model to that of wild mice, we raise concerns that chronic anxiety might have been measured at the wrong time, for the wrong duration, and in the wrong animal. Furthermore, the mice start the experimental session with a short period of transient adaptation to the novel environment (habituation period) and a long period reflecting the respective trait of the mice. Using common measures of anxiety reveals that mice exhibit opposite results during these periods suggesting that chronic anxiety should be measured during the post-habituation period. We recommend tools for measuring the transient period, and provide suggestions for characterizing the post habituation period.