create the need for sanitation; and the rate of soiling of the surfaces of the enclosure. Some housing systems or experimental protocols may require specific husbandry techniques, such as aseptic handling or modification in the frequency of bedding change.
Agents designed to mask animal odors should not be used in animal housing facilities. They cannot substitute for good sanitation practices or for the provision of adequate ventilation, and they expose animals to volatile compounds that might alter basic physiologic and metabolic processes.
Bedding/Substrate Change Soiled bedding should be removed and replaced with fresh materials as often as necessary to keep the animals clean and dry and to keep pollutants, such as ammonia, at a concentration below levels irritating to mucous membranes. The frequency of bedding change depends on multiple factors, such as species, number, and size of the animals in the primary enclosure; type and size of the enclosure; macro- and microenvironmental temperature, relative humidity, and direct ventilation of the enclosure; urinary and fecal output and the appearance and wetness of bedding; and experimental conditions, such as those of surgery or debilitation, that might limit an animal’s movement or access to clean bedding. There is no absolute minimal frequency of bedding changes; the choice is a matter of professional judgment and consultation between the investigator and animal care personnel. It typically varies from daily to weekly. In some instances frequent bedding changes are contraindicated; examples include portions of the pre- or postpartum period, research objectives that will be affected, and species in which scent marking is critical and successful reproduction is pheromone dependent.
Cleaning and Disinfection of the Microenvironment The frequency of sanitation of cages, cage racks, and associated equipment (e.g., feeders and watering devices) is governed to some extent by the types of caging and husbandry practices used, including the use of regularly changed contact or noncontact bedding, regular flushing of suspended catch pans, and the use of wire-bottom or perforated-bottom cages. In general, enclosures and accessories, such as tops, should be sanitized at least once every 2 weeks. Solid-bottom caging, bottles, and sipper tubes usually require sanitation at least once a week. Some types of cages and housing systems may require less frequent cleaning or disinfection; such housing may include large cages with very low animal density and frequent bedding changes, cages containing animals in gnotobiotic conditions with frequent bedding changes, individually ventilated cages, and cages used for special situations. Other circumstances, such as filter-topped cages without forced-air ventilation, animals that urinate excessively (e.g., diabetic or renal patients), or densely populated enclosures, may require more frequent sanitation.
The increased use of individually ventilated cages (IVCs) for rodents has led to investigations of the maintenance of a suitable microenvironment with extended cage sanitation intervals and/or increased housing densi-