Carpenter, K. C., Thurston, S. E., Hoenerhoff, M. J. et al. 2020. Effects of trio and pair breeding of mice on environmental parameters and nasal pathology and their implications for cage change frequency. JAALAS 59(3), 288–297.

According to the Guide, cage change frequencies must be considered when cage density requirements are exceeded. We monitored ammonia, carbon dioxide, cage wetness, health status, and breeding parameters of trio and pair breeding cages containing CD1 mice in ventilated and static microisolation caging (4 cages per condition) daily for approximately 6 wk. Minimum cage change frequencies for each condition were determined on the basis of performance data. At 3 d after cage change, static trio and pair cages had average ammonia levels of 74 and 38 ppm. Ventilated cages remained below the 25-ppm threshold reported to be potentially deleterious for mice until at least day 7 after cage change. By 7 d after cage change, ammonia levels had risen to an average of 100 ppm and 64 ppm in static trio and pair cages and to 34 ppm and 20 ppm in ventilated trio and pair cages, respectively. Ammonia levels in ventilated cages continued to rise slowly through day 14 after cage change. CO2 levels exceeded 5000 ppm in all groups at 2 d after cage change. Pair breeders in ventilated cages took the longest—10 to 14 d—to reach cage wetness threshold scores. On day 7, pups in trio static cages were noted to have decreased and squinted eyes, whereas in ventilated cages containing trios and pairs, these clinical signs were rare to absent. Histologically, there was an increasing incidence and severity of nasal lesions in weanlings with increasing housing density and decreasing ventilation, consistent with nasal epithelial toxicity. Given these parameters, we concluded that under the current husbandry conditions, it may be necessary to change breeders in static cages more frequently than every 7 d. Additional studies are necessary to evaluate the effects of more frequent cage changes on reproductive parameters, given that cage changing is stressful for mice and affects breeding results.

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