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J Am Assoc Lab Anim Sci. 2012 Nov;51(6):781-8.

Effects of cage density, sanitation frequency, and bedding type on animal wellbeing and health and cage environment in mice and rats.

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Technical Services Department, Research Models and Services, Harlan Laboratories, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA.


The objective of the current study was to evaluate the effects of cage density, sanitation frequency, and bedding type on animal growth and welfare. At weaning, Sprague-Dawley rats and C57BL/6 mice were allocated to treatment groups according to sex, bedding type (shredded aspen, cellulose, or a 50:50 mixture), and cage density and sanitation frequency (inhouse cage density standards and sanitation procedures measured against Guide recommendations) for an 8-wk period. Body weight, feed disappearance, cage ammonia, ATP concentrations, behavior, morbidity, and mortality were assessed weekly; fecal corticosterone, microbiology, and lung histopathology (rats only) were evaluated at the culmination of the trial. In both rats and mice, parameters indicative of animal health and welfare were not significantly affected by cage density and sanitation frequency or bedding type. Occasional effects of feed disappearance and cage ammonia concentrations due to density and sanitation guidelines were noted in rat cages, and bedding type affected cage ammonia and ATP concentrations. Periodic spikes of cage ammonia and ATP concentrations were recorded in mouse cages maintained according to inhouse compared with Guide standards and in cages containing aspen compared with cellulose or aspen-cellulose mixed bedding. Ongoing studies and historical data support the finding that deviations or exceptions from the cage density and sanitation frequency standards set forth in the Guide do not negatively affect animal health, welfare, or production parameters at our institution. These parameters appear to be credible measures of animal health and wellbeing and may be useful for evaluating performance standards for animal husbandry.

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