checked daily to ensure their proper maintenance, cleanliness, and operation. Animals sometimes have to be trained to use automatic watering devices. It is better to replace water bottles than to refill them, because of the potential for microbiologic cross-contamination; however, if bottles are refilled, care should be taken to replace each bottle on the cage from which it was removed. Animals housed in outdoor facilities might have access, to water in addition to that provided in watering devices, such as that available in streams or in puddles after a heavy rainfall. Care should be taken to ensure that such accessory sources of water do not constitute a hazard, but their availability need not routinely be prevented.


Animal bedding is a controllable environmental factor that can influence experimental data and animal well-being. The veterinarian or facility manager, in consultation with investigators, should select the most appropriate bedding material. No bedding is ideal for any given species under all management and experimental conditions, and none is ideal for all species (for example, bedding that enables burrowing is encouraged for some species). Several writers (Gibson and others 1987; Jones 1977; Kraft 1980; Thigpen and others 1989; Weichbrod and others 1986) have described desirable characteristics and means of evaluating bedding. Softwood beddings have been used, but the use of untreated softwood shavings and chips is contraindicated for some protocols because they can affect animals' metabolism (Vesell 1967; Vessell and others 1973, 1976). Cedar shavings are not recommended, because they emit aromatic hydrocarbons that induce hepatic microsomal enzymes and cytotoxicity (Torronen and others 1989; Weichbrod and others 1986, 1988) and have been reported to increase the incidence of cancer (Jacobs and Dieter 1978; Vlahakis 1977). Heat treatments applied before bedding materials are used reduce the concentration of aromatic hydrocarbons and might prevent this problem. Manufacturing, monitoring, and storage methods used by vendors should be considered when purchasing bedding products.

Bedding should be transported and stored off the floor on pallets, racks, or carts in a fashion consistent with maintenance of quality and minimization of contamination. During autoclaving, bedding can absorb moisture and as a result lose absorbency and support the growth of microorganisms. Therefore, appropriate drying times and storage conditions should be used.

Bedding should be used in amounts sufficient to keep animals dry between cage changes, and, in the case of small laboratory animals, care should be taken to keep the bedding from coming into contact with the water tube, because such contact could cause leakage of water into the cage.

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