Cohen, S., Kwok, M., Huang, J. 2020. Humane euthanasia of guinea pigs (Cavia porcellus) with a penetrating spring-loaded captive bolt. Animals 10(8), 1356.
Guinea pigs (Cavia porcellus) have been used in research since the 19th century to collect data due to their physiological similarities to humans. Today, animals perform a vital role in experiments and concerns for laboratory animal welfare are enshrined in the 3R framework of reduction, refinement and replacement. This case study explores a refinement in humane euthanasia of guinea pigs via the use of an irreversible penetrating spring-loaded captive bolt (CB). Penetrating spring-loaded CB stunning for euthanasia (CBE) was performed on 12 guinea pigs with the parameters for humane slaughter of production animals in order to assess the suitability of this method of euthanasia in contrast to blunt force trauma (BFT). All 12 of the guinea pigs were rendered immediately unconscious with excellent experimental tissue quality collection, high repeatability of results and operator (n = 8) preference over BFT. Overall, CBE in guinea pigs appears to be a feasible refinement for animal welfare, human preference and improved tissue quality for experimental collection in settings where uncontaminated tissues are required.