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Raising Rodents for Research

Wistar RatAccording to the opinion of the British Royal Society, virtually every medical achievement in the 20th century was accomplished through research requiring the use of animals. Using animals for scientific research dates back over 4,000 years to ancient Greece. In the present day, between 20 and 100 million mice and rats are used as part of scientific studies annually. Of course, mice and rats are not the only rodents used for science; guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils are also used, although mice are the most commonly used vertebrates for scientific research. They are small, easy to handle, they reproduce quickly, and it is possible to genetically engineer mice targeted to specific research applications. Mice also share 99% of their genes with humans, and are considered one of the best models for studying human disease.

The animals are used for many types of research, including both pure and applied research applications. Pure research looks at the development, behavior, and function of organisms. Mice are commonly used in studies on evolution and genetics, and rats are often used in behavior studies. Applied research is targeted at solving specific problems, most often related to the study of medicine and the pharmaceutical industry. Studies involving rodents have produced breakthroughs in treatment for diseases and conditions such as diphtheria, tuberculosis, and manic depression. Rodents were also instrumental in the development of the first general anesthetics, which are the foundation of the modern anesthetics that make complex surgical operations possible.

When using rodents for scientific research, the animals need to be kept in a suitable controlled environment. This is both to preserve the health of the animals in the study and also to comply with the Animal Welfare Act. This is where our rodent incubators come in. It’s important to keep the temperature in the environment stable. A stable temperature reduces the stress on the animal’s metabolism and behavioral processes, which improves the animal’s well-being. Additionally, exposure to temperature extremes or large temperature fluctuations can induce behavioral, physiologic, or morphologic changes, which could be detrimental to the study. Our rodent incubators can be run at temperatures from 6.5-50°C, and these temperatures are maintained within 1°C. This easily covers the range naturally preferred by most rodents, which is around 20-26°C.

Ventilation is also important to the rodent’s habitat. Proper ventilation is obviously needed to supply adequate oxygen to the animals. However, it is also important for other reasons. Proper air circulation helps remove heat generated by the animals, lights, and any other equipment in the environment. It dilutes any gaseous or particulate contaminants in the habitat. It also helps regulate the humidity, which is important for the well-being of the animals. Our rodent incubators are quite capable of supplying fresh air to the animals: the air in the chamber can be exchanged as many as 15 times per hour to keep the environment well ventilated. The number of air exchanges is adjustable, so this rate can be tailored to suit the demands of the specific research application.

The lighting of the animal environment is also an important variable to control. Exposure to unnatural light cycles can impact the reproductive behavior of rodents. It can also alter feeding habits, leading to undesirable body-weight gain. Our rodent incubators are equipped with light timers so a proper diurnal cycle can be maintained automatically. The chamber lights are also available in several intensities to suit the needs of the application.

For more information, see our rodent incubator product page. To request a quote or get more information, visit our Contact Us page or call us at (800) 998-0500.