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Guide for the Care and use of Laboratory Animals: Eighth Edition
changes when animals are first introduced to outdoor housing; training of animals to cooperate with veterinary and investigative personnel (e.g., to enter chutes or cages for restraint or transport); and adequate security via a perimeter fence or other means.
Areas such as pastures and islands may provide a suitable environment for maintaining or producing animals and for some types of research. Their use results in the loss of some control over nutrition, health care and surveillance, and pedigree management. These limitations should be balanced against the benefits of having the animals live in more natural conditions. Animals should be added to, removed from, and returned to social groups in this setting with appropriate consideration of the effects on the individual animals and on the group. Adequate supplies of food, fresh water, and natural or constructed shelter should be ensured.
General Considerations for All Animals An animal’s space needs are complex and consideration of only the animal’s body weight or surface area may be inadequate. Important considerations for determining space needs include the age and sex of the animal(s), the number of animals to be cohoused and the duration of the accommodation, the use for which the animals are intended (e.g., production vs. experimentation), and any special needs they may have (e.g., vertical space for arboreal species or thermal gradient for poikilotherms). In many cases, for example, adolescent animals, which usually weigh less than adults but are more active, may require more space relative to body weight (Ikemoto and Panksepp 1992). Group-housed, social animals can share space such that the amount of space required per animal may decrease with increasing group size; thus larger groups may be housed at slightly higher stocking densities than smaller groups or individual animals. Socially housed animals should have sufficient space and structural complexity to allow them to escape aggression or hide from other animals in the pair or group. Breeding animals will require more space, particularly if neonatal animals will be raised together with their mother or as a breeding group until weaning age. Space quality also affects its usability. Enclosures that are complex and environmentally enriched may increase activity and facilitate the expression of species-specific behaviors, thereby increasing space needs. Thus there is no ideal formula for calculating an animal’s space needs based only on body size or weight and readers should take the performance indices discussed in this section into consideration when utilizing the species-specific guidelines presented in the following pages.