Husbandry Services

Oversight of the Center for Comparative Medicine and Surgery’s (CCMS) husbandry operation is the responsibility of the operations manager, who reports directly to the director of the Center. The husbandry supervisors report directly to the operations manager. Our animal husbandry staff consists of 37 technicians.

Our staff members hold a range of certifications through the American Association for Laboratory Animal Sciencde (AALAS) including Laboratory Animal Technologist, Laboratory Animal Technician, and Assistant Laboratory Animal Technician. The average experience of the staff is three to five years. We encourage all technicians to pursue AALAS certification by participation in our in-house training program as well as in regional review classes to prepare for the examinations. We rotate our technicians through all sections of the vivarium to emphasize cross-training and foster teamwork. We also offer continuing education monthly at our husbandry staff meetings, which all husbandry staff are required to attend. We invite members of the supervisory/professional staff or outside speakers to address special topics. Occasionally, veterinary staff members give lectures as well.

We only purchase animals from United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) licensed commercial suppliers or academic institutions. When feasible, we periodically conduct site visits at new vendor sites, at periodic intervals. Once we determine that a vendor qualifies as “approved,” a member of our veterinary staff evaluates its health monitoring reports to be sure it is continuing to maintain high standards of care. Approved sources are allowed to enter the facility based upon previous health history and prior experience of the veterinary staff of the vendor source. We do not require any quarantine procedure of approved sources. Other suppliers must provide health reports for review before we can accept their animals into quarantine. We examine all animals and verify specifications before placing animals into housing. We notify the veterinary technical staff if we find any problems. Our veterinary technical staff also evaluates all large animals within 24 hours of their arrival.

We house all animals in accordance with the USDA and/or recommendations of the Public Health Service and/or Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, 1996. All animal housing rooms are heated and air-conditioned. Below, we outline our specifications by types of animals:

Ferrets: We house these animals in isolation units designed to provide protection from cross contamination. We set up all units for negative pressure operation and supply water and food daily in bowls. Each isolation cubicle houses three to four ferrets and is made of thermoset plastic with polycarbonate doors and removable stainless steel floors fitted with easily removable waste pans accessed through a trap door for cleaning.

Rodents: We house all rodents in individually-ventilated polysulfone rodent cages. We supply ventilation via a HEPA-filtered supply, wall-mounted unit. Exhaust is connected to the building’s exhaust fans with a flexible hose assembly. Each rack unit holds 140 mouse cages or 35 rat cages. Each unit has  automatic watering manifolds and we filter the water using reverse osmosis at the Icahn and Hess buildings, or autochannel at the Annenberg building. The food is irradiated (Purina Pico #5053). Cages with weaning mice or special studies use water bottles. We house all other rodents in the Atran building in solid-bottom polycarbonate rodent cages. Water is provided through water bottles, and food is standard rodent chow (Purina chow #5001). Breeder chow is available (Purina Pico #5058).

Rabbits: We house rabbits socially, in stainless steel wire floored units with much of the function automated. Pans are automatic flushing and water is supplied automatically. We supply food through an intra-cage J-feeder.

Guinea pigs: These animals live in large polypropylene cages with contact bedding. We have three to five guinea pigs in a cage. They receive water in water bottles and food comes ad libitum in a J-feeder.

Sheep: We house sheep, five or six to a room, in a free-range style room with pine shavings covering the floor. We spot clean the pine shavings daily and fully replace them once a week. Sheep receive water and food in bowls every day. When  instructions require us to withhold oral intake of food, we isolate the sheep in a cage within the room.

Swine: We house pigs in social kennels. The vendor provides compatibility data to allow pair housing. Watering is automatic and we provide food in metal J-feeders, for all pigs, including post-operative ones. We give the pigs large rubber balls for expression of rooting behavior. We typically house postoperative pigs in kennels on casters with vinyl-coated perforated metal flooring.

Nonhuman primates: We house nonhuman primates in one-over-one stainless steel squeeze back units. We use two types of units. One has three solid sides and an open door region; we are phasing this type of unit out, though it currently accounts for half of the available cages. The second type of unit has three open sides and one removable side or bottom to make one large cage. We design these units to promote social housing and socialization of species. We supply water through automatic watering, and provide food biscuits ad libitum or based upon caloric calculations.

We feed laboratory animal diets to all animals. When needed, we purchase additional special diets from commercial sources. Standard food is outlined below.

Type and Source of Food

Species Supplier Name Catalog #
    Friskies Canned Meat
Mice Purina Rodent Chow 5001
    Breeder Chow (Pico Diet) 5058
Rat Purina Rodent Chow 5001
    Pico Diet-Irradiated 5053
    Breeder Chow (Pico Diet) 5058
Chicken   Layena Chicken Food ---
    Kai-Kan Canned meat
Frog Nasco Frog Brittle ---
Guinea Pig Purina Guinea Pig Chow 5025
Hamster Purina Rodent Chow 5001
NH Primate Purina Certified Monkey Chow 5048
Pig Purina Mini Pig Chow 5081
Rabbit Purina High Fiber Rabbit Chow 5326
Ferrets Purina Purina 5L14
Sheep Purina Purina 5508