Research Integrity and Assurance

Husbandry and Housing

Husbandry and housing

Provisioning of space and caging for animal research  

Vivarium space is administered by the Department of Animal Care and Technologies (DACT) and is temporarily allocated by project. DACT strives to accommodate all animal‐related research and teaching needs, but space, if limited, can delay the start of projects.   

Animal housing of vertebrates takes priority over research or behavioral testing space or housing of invertebrates. However, if space is available, alternate uses of space will be supported.

To request space for a new project, email animal.orders@asu.edu.  Be sure to include the start date, projected end date, species, numbers of animals, preferred housing location and any special requirements related to the caging, temperature, lighting, sound, vibration or other variables that could impact the study. Facility and veterinary personnel will review requests to determine if the needs can be met.

Refer to the guidelines below to determine whether additional funds may be required, above per diem, to purchase caging or other husbandry‐related items.

New projects that DACT can accommodate without the PI incurring additional costs to purchase cages or other husbandry materials:

  • mice in Thoren ventilated caging – 250 or fewer cages
  • rats in Thoren ventilated caging – 200 or fewer cages  
  • rats in Lab Products #2 static caging – 50 or fewer cages
  • rabbits – 12 or fewer cages on an intermittent use basis  
  • birds, provided DACT possesses the required caging and materials (to be determined during review of the request)  
  • non‐traditional ectothermic species including fish, frogs, salamanders, snakes or lizards, provided DACT possesses the required caging and materials (to be determined during review of the request)

New projects where initial caging and materials costs may need to be funded by the PI if sufficient caging and materials do not exist:

  • mice in Thoren ventilated caging – greater than 250 cages
  • rats in Thoren ventilated caging – greater than 200 cages  
  • rats in Lab Products #2 static caging – greater than 50 cages
  • rats in Lab Products #2Plus static caging – any number of cages
  • guinea pigs – any number of cages
  • rabbits – greater than 12 cages or long‐term use of any number of cages
  • nonhuman primates, dog, cats – any number of cages
  • birds – number depending on husbandry needs  
  • non‐traditional ectothermic species including fish, frogs, salamanders, snakes or lizards – number depending on husbandry needs 

Animal per diem rates  

Per diem rates were reviewed and approved in August of 2016. The new rates were developed using the philosophy that the university would support the infrastructure of DACT and general facility support, while researchers would be responsible for the direct costs associated with maintaining animals. 

While, for most species, the new rates are substantial increases over the previous rates, ASU is still subsiding 70% of DACT. To reduce the impact of the rate change, the per diem rates will be gradually increased over a three year period. The details behind the calculation of the new rates were thoroughly discussed with the Animal Users Advisory Committee (AUAC). Their input was used to adjust the rates to get to the final rates. 

The rates are for our traditional housing, and adjustments can be made depending on deviations from the normal housing. This is especially true for rates covering non‐traditional species groups (e.g., lizards), since species‐specific housing. 

DACT has been heavily focused on reducing its costs. As a result of these efforts, DACT’s overall expenditures were down more than 13% during fiscal year 2016 compared to fiscal year 2015. These cost savings were made without any reduction in the quality of care provided to the animals or the extent of service provided to researchers. We will continue to identify opportunities to improve efficiency without compromising effectiveness, and we welcome any suggestions from our researchers.  Per diem rates can be found by logging in with your ASURITE ID and password.

In some cases, husbandry alternatives that allow lab personnel to be the primary provider of animal care within the centralized vivaria may be approved.  Details can be found in the Lab-provided Husbandry Guidelines (ASURITE ID and password).

Mouse cage space requirement exception

The ASU IACUC has approved a program-wide exception to the space requirement for mouse cages listed in the Guide for Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, 8th edition, which limits the number of mice to four per 67.6 in2 cage.  The IACUC has approved housing up to five mice per 67.6 in2 cage provided that:

  • there is no negative impact on the health and well-being of the mice
  • there is no negative impact on the quality (e.g., NH3) of the microenvironment
  • cage change frequency is sufficient to maintain appropriate microenvironment quality
  • microenvironmental quality is spot-checked regularly by DACT staff in cages housing 5 mice
  • housing density is reduced if mouse health, well-being, or microenvironment are impacted

Continuation of this exception is contingent on IACUC’s annual review and approval.

Mouse breeding cage density guideline

Based on the Recommended Minimum Space for Commonly Used Laboratory Rodents Housed in Groups (the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, 8th edition, pages 55-58):

Default housing:

The default housing for breeding-status female mice will be one (1) female + one (1) litter in a standard “shoebox” cage (70 in2).

  • Default weaning age option 1 – 21 days
    • The male may be left in the pair breeding cage.
  • Default weaning age option 2 – after 21 days, up to 28 days
    • The male may not be left in the pair breeding cage.

Exceptions to default housing:

  • Exceptions to the default housing scheme must be submitted by the PI for each mouse strain (or groups of strains with documented similar performance indices) to the IACUC for review and approval. Justifications for exceptions should be based on performance indices related to animal well-being and may include one or more of the following:
    • small average litter size
    • poor maternal care/nurturing
    • weaning age
    • fighting amongst adults (e.g., unable to re-introduce adults once separated)

The maximum number of females + litters to be housed in a standard shoebox cage (70 in2) will not exceed two (2). The male may not be left in the cage under this housing scheme.

Caging and supplies

Special caging requests are to be relayed to DACT as you prepare for your study.  In addition, supply that information on the Declaration of Use (DOU) form when animals are ordered.  Special caging requests (i.e., procuring caging that we do not currently have in our caging inventory) may require significant lead times, as well as additional charges to the investigator to cover the cost of purchase.    
    
Extra rodent caging is provided in each vivarium in small quantities, typically in the animal housing room or storage area.  Contact DACT for locations of extra supplies.  Send requests for large numbers of cages or caging required on a regular basis to the DACT vivarium supervisor or lead technologist at least three (3) business days in advance of when the caging will be needed.  If caging for study purposes beyond that of daily husbandry is required for your study, additional charges may be assessed to your account.   Contact DACT to request additional caging and to determine whether additional fees would be applicable.  To ensure the health and safety of animals and animal users alike, we ask that researchers and students not enter cage wash areas. 

Environmental conditions for rodents

Environmental conditions for rodents consist of:

  1. Standard holding room temperature for rodents is 74 ± 2°F (23 ± 1°C).
  2. Standard light cycle is 12 hrs of light / 12 hrs of dark.
  3. Standard air changes 10‐15 air changes per hour.

In most holding rooms, temperature can be set between 62°F and 82°F (16.5‐28°C).  Light cycles can be set as the investigator wishes (provided any other investigators using the room are agreeable).  Request non‐standard environmental parameters through your vivarium supervisor. 

DACT Services

Veterinary and technical services

The DACT veterinary team is available for veterinary concerns 24 hours per day.  There is always a veterinary staff member on call. The “on‐call vet” phone number is 480‐965‐5510. This number is posted at the entrance(s) to each vivarium.  

DACT can perform or assist in performing procedures such as blood collection, injections, and euthanasia at a reasonable charge. Please contact vet.team@asu.edu to request such assistance. A highly skilled DACT staff member will provide the needed support. This support is charged out at $30/hr during normal working hours and $45/hr during non‐working hours (if personnel are available). 

DACT veterinary staff may be able to assist you in developing or learning to perform procedures that are novel to your lab or even to ASU. Whether or not the DACT veterinary staff can assist will depend on the needed skill set and the time demand associated with the development process. Assistance with technique development is considered training and thus is provided free of charge. The aim of the DACT veterinary staff will be to develop and then train the investigator on how to perform the procedure independently. If DACT assistance is needed beyond the initial development and training stages, then there will be a charge for this additional support. The charge will depend on who is required to perform the procedure, with veterinarian time being more expensive than technician time

Facilities and Resources

A list of the vivaria resources is available by logging in with your ASURITE ID and password.  Maintenance issues should be reported immediately to DACT.  The DACT facilities supervisor will arrange to have the repairs made.  DACT provides hands-on training free of charge for common animal procedures.

Sterilization Services

DACT provides steam autoclaving or gas sterilization services at the rate of $25.00 per load.  For routine steam sterilization procedures, make arrangements with the lead technologist or vivarium supervisor at least 24 hours before dropping off any items for autoclaving. If your items need to remain sterile after autoclaving (i.e., surgical instruments), please have them packaged appropriately for autoclaving before dropping them off. This means that the items must be labeled with your name, wrapped in the appropriate sterilization material (such as sterilization pouches), and include a sterilization indicator. If you need training on how to properly prepare items for either steam or gas sterilization, please contact the DACT veterinary staff for assistance. 

If you have delicate items that can only be sterilized via ethylene oxide gas, please contact vet.team@asu.edu at least five (5) business days in advance of needing the item sterilized. Please note that DACT is not responsible for any damages that may occur to equipment during autoclaving or gas sterilization.

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