Consideration of floor area alone may not be sufficient in determining adequate cage size; with some species, cage volume and spatial arrangement may be of greater importance. In this regard, the Guide may differ from the US Animal Welfare Regulations (AWRs) or other guidelines. The height of an enclosure can be important to allow for expression of species-specific behaviors and postural adjustments. Cage height should take into account the animal’s typical posture and provide adequate clearance for the animal from cage structures, such as feeders and water devices. Some species—for example, nonhuman primates, cats, and arboreal animals—use the vertical dimensions of the cage to a greater extent than the floor. For these animals, the ability to stand or to perch with adequate vertical space to keep their body, including their tail, above the cage floor can improve their well-being (Clarence et al. 2006; MacLean et al. 2009).

Space allocations should be assessed, reviewed, and modified as necessary by the IACUC considering the performance indices (e.g., health, reproduction, growth, behavior, activity, and use of space) and special needs determined by the characteristics of the animal strain or species (e.g., obese, hyperactive, or arboreal animals) and experimental use (e.g., animals in long-term studies may require greater and more complex space). At a minimum, animals must have enough space to express their natural postures and postural adjustments without touching the enclosure walls or ceiling, be able to turn around, and have ready access to food and water. In addition, there must be sufficient space to comfortably rest away from areas soiled by urine and feces. Floor space taken up by food bowls, water containers, litter boxes, and enrichment devices (e.g., novel objects, toys, foraging devices) should not be considered part of the floor space.

The space recommendations presented here are based on professional judgment and experience. They should be considered the minimum for animals housed under conditions commonly found in laboratory animal housing facilities. Adjustments to the amount and arrangement of space recommended in the following tables should be reviewed and approved by the IACUC and should be based on performance indices related to animal well-being and research quality as described in the preceding paragraphs, with due consideration of the AWRs and PHS Policy and other applicable regulations and standards.

It is not within the scope of the Guide to discuss the housing requirements of all species used in research. For species not specifically indicated, advice should be sought from the scientific literature and from species-relevant experts.


Laboratory Rodents Table 3.2 lists recommended minimum space for commonly used laboratory rodents housed in groups. If they are housed singly or in small groups or exceed the weights in the table, more space per



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