As members of the Animal Care & Use Program, we must all commit to maintaining a quality environment that is both safe and secure for our staff and the animals under our care. One of the foundations for maintaining a quality environment for animal care and use that also supports the conduct of rigorous scientific research is the ability to minimize and control environmental variables.
Even seemingly minor disruptions to the environment; such as loud music, changes in noise or sound patterns, strong or unfamiliar odors, and exposure to excessive or inappropriate light sources can have significant effects on animals. These changes may not only have serious implications on overall animal health and well-being, they could also impact animal behavior, which could alter the variables of a neighboring lab’s studies.
Follow these best practices and procedures to help maintain a quality environment for your animals and research peers:
- Minimize the production of excessive noise. Rodents, in particular, are especially sensitive to loud music and noise. You can help minimize exposure to loud noises by using cushioned casters and bumpers on carts, and refraining from the use of radios, alarms, or other sound generators in all animal rooms. Unless it is part of your approved protocol or part of an animal enrichment program, audible music is also not allowed in animal housing areas.
- Be mindful of strong, unfamiliar odors. Strong perfumes and other agents designed to mask odors should not be used in animal housing facilities. These items can expose animals to volatile compounds that may alter their basic physiologic and metabolic processes, and are not a valid substitute for the facility ventilation structures and sanitation practices already in place.
- Consider the appropriate use of light. Most commonly used laboratory rodents are nocturnal and, as such, should not be exposed to strong lights at night. Improper exposure to light may have different effects on different species, including alterations to reproductive behavior and refusal(s) to eat. If you must access your animal room at night, use a flashlight to check specific cages and minimize exposure to inappropriate light sources.
Maintaining a quality environment that is both safe and secure for our animals and our staff is critical to the success of our Program and the integrity of our research. If you have any questions or concerns relating to room or facility maintenance, please contact your ULAM Animal Care Supervisor and/or Plant Operations to have these issues addressed in a timely manner.
Additional questions about environmental impacts on animal health and well-being should be directed to your ULAM Faculty Veterinarian. If you don’t know your faculty veterinarian, send an inquiry to firstname.lastname@example.org and your question will be routed appropriately.