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Guide for the Care and use of Laboratory Animals: Eighth Edition
tion (Peace et al. 2001). When given the choice, rodents prefer solid floors (with bedding) to grid or wire-mesh flooring (Blom et al. 1996; Manser et al. 1995, 1996).
Animals should have adequate bedding substrate and/or structures for resting and sleeping. For many animals (e.g., rodents) contact bedding expands the opportunities for species-typical behavior such as foraging, digging, burrowing, and nest building (Armstrong et al. 1998; Ivy et al. 2008). Moreover, it absorbs urine and feces to facilitate cleaning and sanitation. If provided in sufficient quantity to allow nest building or burrowing, bedding also facilitates thermoregulation (Gordon 2004). Breeding animals should have adequate nesting materials and/or substitute structures based on species-specific requirements (mice: Sherwin 2002; rats: Lawlor 2002; gerbils: Waiblinger 2002).
Specialized housing systems (e.g., isolation-type cages, IVCs, and gnotobiotic1 isolators) are available for rodents and certain species. These systems, designed to minimize the spread of airborne particles between cages or groups of cages, may require different husbandry practices, such as alterations in the frequency of bedding change, the use of aseptic handling techniques, and specialized cleaning, disinfecting, or sterilization regimens to prevent microbial transmission by other than airborne routes.
Appropriate housing strategies for a particular species should be developed and implemented by the animal care management, in consultation with the animal user and veterinarian, and reviewed by the IACUC. Housing should provide for the animals’ health and well-being while being consistent with the intended objectives of animal use. Expert advice should be sought when new species are housed or when there are special requirements associated with the animals or their intended use (e.g., genetically modified animals, invasive procedures, or hazardous agents). Objective assessments should be made to substantiate the adequacy of the animal’s environment, housing, and management. Whenever possible, routine procedures for maintaining animals should be documented to ensure consistency of management and care.
The primary aim of environmental enrichment is to enhance animal well-being by providing animals with sensory and motor stimulation, through structures and resources that facilitate the expression of species-typical behaviors and promote psychological well-being through physical
Gnotobiotic: germ-free animals or formerly germ-free animals in which the composition of any associated microbial flora, if present, is fully defined (Stedman’s Electronic Medical Dictionary 2006. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins).