Animal Care Services

Laboratory Animal Facilities and Animal Care

Housing and animal husbandry services for laboratory animals used in biomedical research on the University Park campus are provided by the Animal Research Program (ARP). The available animal facilities include space for most common laboratory animal species. The Eva J. Pell Laboratory for Advanced Biological Research is an ABSL3 laboratory that is available for research with biological agents requiring a bio-containment facility.

The Animal Resource Program has the capability to maintain gnotobiotic (also referred to as "germ-free") mouse colonies. Gnotobiotic mice are either completely free of exogenous bacterial, fungal, and viral microorganisms or host a defined bacterial population. They can be bred and maintained indefinitely in soft-sided bubble-type isolators.  All supplies introduced into the isolators are sterilized to prevent contamination of the animals and environment inside. Mouse colonies are monitored regularly for the presence of bacterial, viral, and fungal organisms. Please contact the ARP (865-1495) for information about availability of mice and how these resources may contribute to your research.

Investigators must have a Penn State IACUC-approved protocol before  acquiring and housing animals for research or teaching in Penn State facilities.  All laboratory animal purchasing and importation/exportation must be coordinated through the ARP. Please see the Animal Purchasing and Transportation page or contact the ARP office for more information. When planning future research projects, investigators are encouraged to discuss housing options with the ARP Facility Manager to develop an appropriate animal care program.

ARP personnel provide routine daily care for all laboratory animals housed in ARP facilities. Environmental conditions for each species are maintained as specified in the National Research Council's Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals and the United States Animal Welfare Act. Animal care activities and/or environmental conditions such as room temperature, humidity and light cycle settings may be modified if required by experimental design. However, the Penn State IACUC must grant approval for modifications that fall outside recommended guidelines. More information on unique or specific animal care and housing situations may be found on the Husbandry and Breeding page. Please note: animals may not be held overnight in areas other than IACUC approved laboratory animal facilities.

 

Research Animal Health and Welfare

Research animals sometimes experience unexpected illness or injury. An ARP veterinarian must be consulted to ensure the welfare of the animal. A veterinarian may be reached 24 hours a day by calling the Animal Resource Program Office at: 865-1495 (This phone number is posted in the animal facilities). If calling after hours, a recorded message will provide contact information.

Animal health concerns observed by ARP personnel are directed to the ARP veterinary technician or attending veterinarian. A health alert card will be placed in the cage cardholder (or similar location for non-rodents) indicating that a sick animal report has been filed with the attending veterinarian. The veterinary technician and/or veterinarian will examine the animal(s) and initiate a medical record for that animal. A reasonable attempt will be made to contact the investigator before medical treatment is started or euthanasia performed.


All investigators must make arrangements for alternative contacts that have the authority to make decisions regarding the disposition of animals requiring immediate care in the event the investigator cannot be reached. Investigators who know they will be unavailable for an extended time period may wish to make prior arrangements with the ARP for treatment of sick or injured animals. If the investigator or an alternative contact cannot be reached within a reasonable amount of time treatment or euthanasia will proceed at the discretion of the attending veterinarian. If judged appropriate by the attending veterinarian, animals may be removed from a study and treated or euthanized to relieve unwarranted pain and/or distress.

 

User Fees & Animal Census

Investigators housing animals in Penn State facilities are charged animal care fees based on the number and species of animals they maintain. The charges for animal care are determined by a per diem rate for each species that includes the cost of labor, food, bedding and supplies. The rates are revised periodically after evaluation by the University's resident federal auditors. Investigators are billed monthly and charges are based on a daily census. Investigators are not charged for clinical veterinary care and diagnostic testing related to ill or injured animals, routine animal facility health surveillance testing, or training provided by the ARP veterinary staff for investigator employees and students. ARP uses a computerized database to manage animal census information for billing purposes.  Scanning (animal counting) is conducted weekly to record census data for billing purposes.  A “population card” that sits behind the cage card must be present to indicate the number of animals in each cage. When the number of animals per cage changes, investigative staff are responsible for rotating the card to indicate the new number.

Cage Cards and Animal Identification

All animals must be identified either through the use of individual identification for non-rodents or the use of cage identification for rodents. The following information must be included on rodent cage cards:  PI name and IACUC protocol number, species and strain/stock information, animal sex(es) and date(s) of birth. ARP will provide new incoming rodents (purchased or imported) with cage cards.  Cage cards will not be provided for rodents that are bred in house and weaned or resident animals that are separated.  Each lab is responsible for providing 3 X 5 inch cage cards for these animals as needed. Cage cards should be made using card stock, not writing or printer paper. Normal paper is too thin to stay in the cage card holder and will fall out. This will result in inaccurate cage identification that may invalidate your research results. Regular and breeding cage card templates that provide the information required for census purposes are available. Preprinted cage cards may be purchased from ARP. If you have questions about the census system please contact the ARP office at 865-1495.