The type and duration of habituation needed will be determined by the complexity of the procedure. In most cases, principles of operant conditioning may be employed during training sessions, using progressive behavioral shaping, to induce voluntary cooperation with procedures (Bloomsmith et al. 1998; Laule et al. 2003; NRC 2006a; Reinhardt 1997).


Food Animals should be fed palatable, uncontaminated diets that meet their nutritional and behavioral needs at least daily, or according to their particular requirements, unless the protocol in which they are being used requires otherwise. Subcommittees of the National Research Council Committee on Animal Nutrition have prepared comprehensive reports of the nutrient requirements of laboratory animals (NRC 1977, 1982, 1993, 1994, 1995a, 1998b, 2000, 2001, 2003a, 2006b,c, 2007); these publications consider issues of quality assurance, freedom from chemical or microbial contaminants and natural toxicants in feedstuffs, bioavailability of nutrients in feeds, and palatability.

There are several types of diets classified by the degree of refinement of their ingredients. Natural-ingredient diets are formulated with agricultural products and byproducts and are commercially available for all species commonly used in the laboratory. Although not a significant factor in most instances, the nutrient composition of ingredients varies, and natural ingredients may contain low levels of naturally occurring or artificial contaminants (Ames et al. 1993; Knapka 1983; Newberne 1975; NRC 1996; Thigpen et al. 1999, 2004). Contaminants such as pesticide residues, heavy metals, toxins, carcinogens, and phytoestrogens may be at levels that induce few or no health sequelae yet may have subtle effects on experimental results (Thigpen et al. 2004). Certified diets that have been assayed for contaminants are commercially available for use in select studies, such as preclinical toxicology, conducted in compliance with FDA Good Laboratory Practice standards (CFR 2009). Purified diets are refined such that each ingredient contains a single nutrient or nutrient class; they have less nutrient concentration variability and the potential for chemical contamination is lower. Chemically defined diets contain the most elemental ingredients available, such as individual amino acids and specific sugars (NRC 1996). The latter two types of diet are more likely to be used for specific types of studies in rodents but are not commonly used because of cost, lower palatability, and a reduced shelf life.

Animal colony managers should be judicious when purchasing, transporting, storing, and handling food to minimize the introduction of diseases, parasites, potential disease vectors (e.g., insects and other vermin), and chemical contaminants in animal colonies. Purchasers are encouraged to consider manufacturers’ and suppliers’ procedures and practices (e.g., storage, vermin control, and handling) for protecting and ensuring diet quality.

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