Animal House Facility: A Necessity in Biomedical Research

Divyanshu Pandey1, Kumar Govil2

1 M.V.Sc. Animal Genetics and Breeding Division (National Dairy Research Institue, Karnal, Haryana),
2 Assistant Professor, Department of Animal nutrition (NanajiDeshmukh Veterinary Science University, Rewa, M.P).

Good animal husbandry and human comfort and health protection require separation of animal facilities from personnel area such as offices, conference rooms, and most laboratories.

  • Laboratory animals are very sensitive to their living conditions, so they should be housed in a building located as far as possible from dust, noise, smoke, wild rodents, insects and birds.
  • In planning an animal facility, the space should be well divided for various activities.
  • The animal rooms should occupy about 50-60% of the total constructed area and the remaining area should be utilized for services such as stores, washing, office and staff, machine rooms, quarantine and corridors.
  • Macro-environment (the environment of animal room) and micro-environment (animal cage) are factors on which the production and experimental efficiency of the animal depends.


Sufficient animal area is required to:-

  • Ensure separation of species or isolation of individual projects when necessary
  • Receive, quarantine, and isolate animals; and
  • Provide for animal housing


  1. Building materials

should be selected to facilitate efficient and hygienic operation of animal facilities.

durable, moisture-proof, fire-resistant, seamless materials are good for interior surfaces including vermin and pest resistance

  • Corridor(s)

 –wide enough to facilitate the movement of personnel as well as equipments and should be kept clean

  • Utilities

water lines, drain pipes, and electrical connections should preferably be accessible through service panels or shafts in corridors outside the animal rooms

  • Animal room doors

doors should be rust, vermin and dust proof

-they should fit properly within their frames and provided with an observation window

-door closures may also be provided

-Rodent barriers can be provided in the doors of small animal facilities

  • Exterior windows

not recommended for small animal facilities

-however, where power failures are frequent and backup power is not available, they may be necessary to provide alternate source of light and ventilation

-in primate rooms, windows can be provided

  • Floors

should be smooth, moisture proof, non-absorbent, skid-proof, resistant to wear, acid, solvents, adverse effects of detergents and disinfectants

-they should be capable of supporting racks, equipment, and stored items without becoming gouged, cracked, or pitted, with minimum number of joints

  • Drains

not essential in all rooms, used exclusively for housing rodents

-Floor in such rooms can be maintained satisfactorily by wet vacuuming or mopping with appropriate disinfectants or cleaning compounds

– Where floor drains are used, the floors should be sloped and drain taps kept filled with water or corrosion free mesh

– To prevent high humidity, drainage must be adequate to allow rapid removal of water and drying of surfaces.

  • Walls and ceilings

-Walls should be free of cracks, unsealed utility penetrations, or imperfect junctions with doors, ceilings, floors and corners

-Surface materials should be capable of withstanding scrubbing with detergents and disinfectants and the impact of water under high pressure

  1. Storage areas

-Separate storage areas should be designed for feed, bedding, cages and materials not in use.

-Refrigerated storage, separated from other cold storage, is essential for storage of dead animals and animal tissue waste

  • Facilities for sanitizing equipment and supplies

-An area for sanitizing cages and ancillary equipment is essential with adequate water supply

  • Experimental area

-All experimental procedures in small animals should be carried out in a separate area away from the place where animals are housed

-For larger animal functional areas for aseptic surgery should include a separate surgical support area, a preparation area, the operating room or rooms, and an area for intensive care and supportive treatment of animals.


  1. Temperature and humidity control

-Air conditioning is an effective means of regulating these environmental parameters for laboratory animals.

-Ideally, capability should be provided to allow variations within the range of approximately 18-29°C (64.4-84.2⁰F), which includes the temperature ranges usually recommended for common laboratory animals.

-The relative humidity should be controllable within the range of 30% to 70% throughout the year.

-For larger animals a comfortable zone (18 to 37°C) should be maintained during extreme summer by appropriate methods for cooling.

  • Ventilation

-Heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning systems should be designed so that operation can be continued with a standby system.

-The animal facility and human occupancy areas should be ventilated separately.

  • Power and lighting

-a lighting system be installed that provides adequate illumination while people are working in the animal rooms and a lowered intensity of light for the animals.

-Fluorescent lights are efficient and available in a variety of acceptable fixtures.

-A time-controlled lighting system should be used to ensure a regular diurnal lighting cycle wherever required.

-Emergency power should be available in the event of power failure.

  • Noise control

– Concrete walls are more effective than metal or plaster walls in containing noise because their density reduces sound transmission.


(a) Caging or housing system

-It should be designed carefully to facilitate animal well-being, meet research requirements, and minimize experimental variables.

The housing system should:

  • provide space that is adequate, permit freedom of movement and normal postural adjustments, and have a resting place appropriate to the species;
  • provide a comfortable environment
  • provide an escape proof enclosure that confines animal safety
  • provide easy access to food and water;
  • provide adequate ventilation to meet the biological needs of the animals, e.g., maintenance of body temperature, urination, defecation and reproduction
  • keep the animals dry and clean, consistent with species requirements facilitate research while maintaining good health of the animals.

-They should be constructed of sturdy, durable materials and designed to minimize cross-infection between adjoining units.

-Polypropylene, polycarbonate and stainless steel cages should be used to house small lab animals

-Monkeys should be housed in cages made of steel or painted mild steel

-To simplify servicing and sanitation, cages should have smooth, impervious surfaces that neither attract nor retain dirt and a minimum number of ledges, angles, and corners in which dirt or water can accumulate.

-The design should allow inspection of cage occupants without disturbing them.

– Feeding and watering devices should be easily accessible for filling, changing, cleaning and servicing.

-Cages, runs and pens must be kept in good condition to prevent injuries to animals, promote physical comfort, and facilitate sanitation and servicing.

-Particular attention must be given to eliminate sharp edges and broken wires, keeping cage floors in good condition.

(b) Sheltered or outdoor housing

Shelter should be accessible to all animals, have sufficient ventilation, and be designed to prevent buildup of waste materials and excessive moisture.

-Houses, dens, boxes, shelves, perches, and other furnishings should be constructed in a manner and made of materials that allow cleaning or replacement in accordance with generally accepted husbandry practices when the furnishings are soiled or wornout.

-Ground-level surfaces of outdoor housing facilities can be covered with absorbent bedding, sand, gravel, grass, or similar material that can be removed or replaced when needed to ensure appropriate sanitation.

-Buildup of animal waste and stagnant water should be avoided for example, by using contoured or drained surface. Other surfaces should be able to withstand the elements and be easily maintained.

(c) Pest control

Programs designed to prevent, control, or eliminate the presence of or infestations by pests are essential in an animal environment


The Institute shall maintain SOPs describing procedures / methods adapted with regard to animal husbandry, maintenance, breeding, animal house microbial analysis and experimentation records.

A SOP should contain the following items:

  • Name of the Author
  • Title of the SOP
  • Date of preparation
  • Reference of previous SOP on the same subject and date (Issue no and Date)
  • Location and distribution of SOPs with sign of each recipient
  • Objectives Detailed information of the instruments used in relation with animals with methodology (Model no., Serial no. and Date of commissioning)
  • The name of the manufacturer of the reagents and the methodology of the analysis pertaining to animals
  • Normal value of all parameters
  • Hazard identification and risk assessment