Move animals from vivarium to lab for behavior, or do behavior in the vivarium?

Hi all.

We’ve recently been discussing in our lab the benefits and downsides of transporting animals from our animal facility (vivarium) to behavior rooms in our lab. this involves taking the mice from the facility and walking a few hundred yards outside into out building. I bring the mice in their home cages (quite heavy!) while some put animals in transfer containers (paper buckets) en route to the lab.

Others don’t do any such transfer, but rather have a behavior testing facility in the animal facility and do their testing there. This has the advantage of not disrupting the animals too much (no outdoor transport), but the disadvantage is that for long behavior time courses, you’re away from your home lab for several hours or the whole day.

This is something that isn’t discussed much in method sections, but probably contributes to variability in behavioral experiments. What do you do and why?

A lot of people simply have no choice, since institutional veterinarians hate behavioural testing in home labs (so called “in-out privileges”. In my experience lab morale really suffers if people have to spend long hours in an animal facility…

@jmogil Thanks Jeff for your input.

We do have the privilege of “in-out”, and we do bring our mice back to the lab, from the standpoint of getting the best, most stable, more reproducible data, I wonder whether keeping the mice in their home facility is superior. The transport between animal facility and lab, even in the home cages, is disruptive I’d say. Especially now in the winter when it’s cold. No doubt its more convenient to have the mice here in the lab, where i can do other stuff while my mice are habituating or I’m waiting on a time point. But there is traffic and noise in the lab that could be reduce/abolished in the animal facility potentially. I don’t think there is a right answer, but I’m wondering if anyone has tried both ways and seen differences.

We have two behavior rooms down in our animal vivarium. They are only separated by a hallway and the walk therefore is really short. I can only speak for our lab but I prefer it that way because 1) I don’t have to walk far with the animals in their home cages and 2) its typically quieter downstairs in the animal facility than up in our main laboratory. We also put up signs so that other investigators or the animal facility staff isn’t too loud while behavior assays are ongoing, and so that they don’t use the heavy machine floor cleaner while we are in there. Our second behavior room faces away from the hallway and there really aren’t any sounds that can be heard which is why this room is often our preferred room.

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