Potable drinking water should be available continuously or provided as often as necessary for the health and well being of the animal, considering the animal's species, age, condition, and any research requirements. Water may be provided in receptacles, (e.g., bowls, bottles or via auto-matic watering systems). Whatever method is used, care should be taken to ensure that water does not become contaminated and is actually available. Water may be treated or purified to eliminate contaminants; however, some water treatments may cause physiologic changes, alter microflora, or affect experimental results. Sipper tubes and automatic watering devices should be checked daily for patency and cleanliness. Animals occasionally need to be trained to use automatic watering devices. Water bottles generally should be replaced and sanitized rather than refilled.
Bedding may be used in the housing of a variety of commonly used lab-oratory animals. Bedding material should be absorbent and free of any substances that might harm the animals or alter research data. Cedar and untreated softwood products can affect an animal’s metabolism (e.g., liver enzymes), which may in turn affect immunologic or other physiologic parameters, and can increase the incidence of cancer. Bedding should be stored off the floor.
Animals may be placed directly on bedding material, a common practice with many rodent species, or bedding may be placed under a slat bottom cage. Bedding should be used in sufficient amounts and changed as often as necessary to keep the animals clean and dry and the animal
room relatively odor free. Care should be taken to keep bedding from contacting water tubes as this may lead to leakage of water into the cage. The frequency of bedding change depends on several factors, including the number of animals, species, type of caging, and type of bedding.
B.2.d. Facility Maintenance
Cleaning and Sanitation
Cleanliness and sanitation are essential to the operation of an animal facility. The Guide and AWRs set forth recommended frequencies and methods for cleaning and sanitation of facilities, equipment and acces-sories. In general, the frequency and methods should ensure that animals are maintained in a clean, dry environment, free from exposure to harmful contamination and excessive animal odors. Cleaning agents that mask animal odors should not be used as a substitute for good sanitation practices. Cleaning equipment such as mops and buckets should not be moved from room to room due to the potential for cross-contamination.
The most efficient and effective method of cleaning and sanitizing cages and accessories (e.g., feeders, water bottles, sipper tubes) is the use of a mechanical washing machine that provides rinse water temperature of at least 82.2 C (180 F) for a time adequate to achieve sanitization. Alter-natively, portable high pressure spray washing and disinfection may be used. Least efficient and effective is hand washing and disinfection of such equipment. In general, enclosures and accessories (e.g., cage tops) should be sanitized at least every two weeks. Solid bottom cages, water bottles and sipper tubes should usually be sanitized weekly. The supply lines of automatic watering systems should be flushed and disinfected on a regular basis.
A research animal facility generates a significant amount of waste that must be removed and disposed of on a regular, frequent basis. Waste containers should be readily accessible throughout the facility and should be leakproof and equipped with tight-fitting lids. Disposal methods, including incineration and removal to land fill, must conform to federal, state and local requirements. Some jurisdictions consider all soiled animal bedding from a research facility to be "medical waste," with consequently more stringent disposal requirements.
If waste must be stored while awaiting disposal, the storage area should be outside the animal holding and clean equipment areas. Animal carcasses and tissues require a separate cold storage area and regularly scheduled removal. Hazardous waste, including carcasses of animals exposed to radioactive or biohazardous agents, must be adequately sterilized and/or contained prior to removal and disposal.
The research animal facility is an active place, with frequent movement of personnel, animals, equipment, containers, and food and bedding, creating ideal conditions for the introduction of pests, including arthropods, birds and wild rodents. Pest control programs are complicated by the potential for harm to animals and personnel, as well as interference with research data by many commonly used pesticides. A regularly scheduled, documented pest control and monitoring program should be implemented, which effectively combines elimination of all entry and harborage sites with good waste disposal and personnel training. If traps are used, methods should be humane.
B.2.e. Emergency, Weekend and Holiday Care
Laboratory animals must be observed by qualified personnel every day, including weekends and holidays to ensure their health and well-being, as well as to promote sound research practices. Skilled assistance, including veterinary care, must be readily available at all times. Names and tele-phone or pager numbers of those assigned these responsibilities should be prominently displayed in the facility. A disaster plan should be part of the overall facility safety plan which takes into account both personnel and animals (see Section B.6.).
B.2.f. Behavioral Management for Laboratory Animals
There are varying requirements for attention to the behavioral management of laboratory animals, depending on the species of animal and the refer-ence document.
The Guide provides recommendations for:
increasing the complexity of the structural environment;
addressing the social environment of animals; and
promoting the expression of species-typical activity in a cohesive behavioral management program for all vertebrate species.
The AWRs require that research facilities develop, document and follow a plan for environment enhancement adequate to promote the psychological well-being of nonhuman primates.
The plan must address:
the social needs of nonhuman primates;
environmental enrichment of the primary enclosure through provision of cage complexities, manipulanda, varied food items, foraging or task-oriented feeding methods, and safe personnel interaction; and
special needs of certain classes of primates (e.g., young animals, animals in psychological distress, some individually housed primates, and some great apes).
Exemptions from some or all of the environment enhancement plan for scientific reasons must be documented in the protocol, approved by the IACUC, and re-reviewed not less than annually. The veterinarian may exempt individual primates from the plan. All exemptions must comply with the AWRs, Part 3, Subpart D, §3.81(e).
The AWRs further require that research facilities develop, document and follow a plan for providing dogs with the opportunity for exercise.
This plan must:
stipulate specific exercise opportunities for dogs housed individually as well as dogs housed in groups based on cage/pen/run floor space, and
identify the methods, frequency and duration of the opportunity for exercise.
Provisions for exemptions from exercise may be made by the veterinarian in certain instances and the IACUC in others, and must be in accordance with the AWRs, Part 3, Subpart A, §3.8 (d).