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Policy: Animal Housing (IACUC)

Policy: Animal Housing (IACUC)


Animal Housing will follow the recommendations in the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (8th edition or more current) or the Guide for the Care and Use of Agricultural Animals in Research and Teaching (3rd edition or more current). Social housing should be the default method of housing for social species of animals unless otherwise justified based on social incompatibility resulting from inappropriate behavior, veterinary concerns regarding animal well-being, or scientific necessity approved by the IACUC. 


Appropriate housing promotes species typical behaviors and enhances the overall well-being of animals and supports quality in research and education. An appropriate housing space or enclosure should account for the animals' social needs. Social housing promotes basic behavioral needs and contributes to the psychological wellness of many animals. Therefore, social animals should be housed in stable pairs or groups of compatible individuals unless they must be housed alone for experimental reasons or because of social incompatibility. Any species or specific groups within a species that would live as groups in a natural or free range habitat should be considered social animals. Structural adjustments are frequently required for social housing (e.g., perches, visual barriers, refuges), and important resources (e.g., food, water, and shelter) should be provided in such a way that they cannot be monopolized by dominant animals. However, social housing and/or the presence of environmental enrichment, such as additional bedding or cage structures, may confound scientific goals in some types of research and investigators who believe that social housing or enrichment materials may confound their research objectives may provide scientific justification and request a housing exception. 


  • Housing exceptions require the approval of the IACUC or direction of the Attending Veterinarian.
  • Planned housing exceptions must be described and scientifically justified in the IACUC protocol. Approval is required before exceptions to social housing can be implemented.
  • Temporary single housing of animals post-operatively does not constitute an exception to this policy.
  • Temporary exceptions may also be approved by the Attending Veterinarian or veterinary staff for medical reasons and does not require IACUC approval.
  • Veterinarian recommendations for single housing may be made when an animal exhibits vicious or overly aggressive behavior after failed group-housing attempts with cohorts that would typically be compatible. Single housing at the recommendation of the veterinary staff does not constitute an exception and does not require IACUC approval as long as the problem is isolated to a single animal.
  • Lack of suitable social partners may prevent social housing. When suitable partners are not available, increased environmental enrichment or social interactions with animal care staff should be provided on a species-appropriate basis.
  • If social incompatibility is a trait of a specific strain or specific groups within a strain (i.e., all males), the need for single housing must be described and justified in the IACUC protocol. 

Approved: December 3, 2013

Updated: January 10, 2017



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