Policy Number: 2012-045-v
Policy Title: Laboratory Housing of Animals

Purpose: For experimental reasons, research animals are sometimes housed outside of dedicated animal housing space within a vivarium, usually within a researcher’s laboratory. For example, animals may need to be exposed to certain environmental conditions that cannot be provided within the vivarium. This policy addresses requirements for non-vivarium housing of animals, for which investigative staff provide some or all husbandry.

POLICY: Housing of animals outside a dedicated vivarium for greater than 12 hours requires IACUC approval. Such housing must be based on clearly defined needs that cannot be accommodated within dedicated animal facilities and must be described in an IACUC-approved animal care and use protocol. The protocol must also contain details of husbandry practices and the suitability of the laboratory environment for housing animals (e.g., adequate ventilation, light:dark cycle.) On rare occasion an IACUC at its discretion may grant approval for housing in a location that does not meet all of the requirements listed below.

Requirements for housing animals in a laboratory include:

Physical Requirements:

  • Inspection of the location by the IACUC or its designee before animals are housed there.
  • HVAC system performance data for proposed location including air changes per hour, source of air supply, and where air supply exhausts.
    • Any room designated for the housing of animals must have at minimum 10 complete air changes per hour. Confirmation of 10 or more air changes per hour is required before animal housing can begin (aquatic species excluded).
      • Ongoing documentation of HVAC system performance data and 10 or more air changes per hour will be required in every 3-year renewal of the pertinent protocol(s), with the measured value and date of testing included.
      • For laboratory spaces in AAALAC International accredited programs, HVAC system performance data no older than one year from the time of the scheduled site visit is required. The collection of these data may be at the investigator’s expense.
  • When housing in a laboratory or other non-vivarium space rodent cages must be covered with a micro-isolator lid to reduce allergen exposure to personnel.
  • Temperature and humidity data indicating that proposed location can be maintained within recommended ranges.
    • Temperature range for housing of animals must conform to the Guide recommendations for the species.
    • An automated 24-hour system of monitoring temperature, with a notification feature if range is exceeded, must be present in the housing location. Monitoring of room temperatures and response to out-of-range temperatures must conform to pertinent animal facility SOP. Confirmation of installation is required before animal housing can begin.
  • A species appropriate light:dark cycle can be maintained in the proposed location.
  • Proper storage of feed and water in the proposed location.
  • Appropriate caging and physical location can be determined to prevent exposure of laboratory or other personnel to potential animal allergens.
  • If housing of animals is approved for a shared laboratory space, a once yearly allergen level assessment of the housing area is required at a time when animals are present.
  • Waste management procedures, especially if animals are exposed to potentially dangerous chemicals, biohazards, or radiation.
  • Appropriate caging and physical location can be determined to eliminate or mitigate electrical hazards.

Training and Veterinary Access Requirements (All Species):

  • Training of individual laboratory personnel by RARC veterinary staff or designee in appropriate husbandry practices for the species being housed, including proper documentation of husbandry procedures (e.g. cage changes, water quality monitoring).
    • Retraining of individuals will occur on a 3-year basis.
    • Training of new staff must be completed prior to their providing husbandry for animals in laboratory housing.
  • Familiarity with sick animal reporting methods, including weekend and holiday care plans.
  • An emergency plan is in place for contacting necessary individuals if animals need to be moved.
  • Notification to veterinary staff when animals are moved to or from laboratory housing.
  • Veterinary staff will have access to animals in laboratory housing to allow for inspection/ health assessment.
  • Veterinary staff monitoring of husbandry documentation and health of animals at least monthly for laboratories that house animals for more than 24 consecutive hours.

Author: D. Jefcoat, J. Welter
ePublication Date: 05/25/2012 (orig.)
History: Updated 8/2015