FEB 05, 2014 10:00 AM PST

Building a better rat cage: The impact of color on the laboratory rat?

46 773

  • Registered Veterinary Technician, Senior Research Associate Hickman Laboratory, Indiana University School of Medicine
      Melissa Swan entered the research field over 14 years ago and is currently established at the Indiana University School of Medicine Laboratory Animal Resource Center as a Research Associate and Registered Veterinary Technician. She has spent extensive time understanding and learning the various functions of a laboratory environment, from animal cage and management, to clinical observations and treatment, diagnostic services, pharmaceutical distribution, and anesthetic systems. In the past 7 years, she has focused on studying the welfare of laboratory rodents with a specific emphasis on the emotional wellbeing of rats when modifications to the environment are made. Recent work and interests include studying current laboratory lighting regimes and the effect of spectral shifting on behavior and physiology of laboratory rodents. Melissa will complete her bachelor of science in biology May 2014 and is a class of 2018 DVM candidate.


    In the laboratory setting, rats are commonly housed in clear caging in brightly lit rooms. As their natural history suggests a preference for low-light conditions, this practice is likely stressful for rats. As the laboratory field continues to advance, modifications and improvements to housing conditions and environment will be made. The current laboratory environment uses red tinting in shelters, doors, and for lighting under dark conditions with the conception that this does not alter the behavior or physiology of the rodents. The retinal anatomy of rats indicates they have some ability to see the red spectrum of light but that this red visibility may be limited, so red-tinted caging would replicate a darkened condition for the rodent. This talk will discuss the current laboratory lighting standards, caging conditions, and how the use of color has impact on animal welfare.

    Show Resources
    Loading Comments...