Doerning, C. M., Thurston, S. E., Villano, J. S. et al. 2019. Assessment of mouse handling techniques during cage changing. JAALAS 58(6), 767–773.
Mouse handling during cage changing and health evaluation has traditionally been performed by using forceps. This method was adopted as a biosecurity measure but can adversely affect employee ergonomics and rodent behavior. In this study, we evaluated alternative methods of rodent handling and their potential implications for efficiency, biosecurity, and animal welfare. Study groups included plastic cups, gloved hands, 2 methods of tunnel handling, and forceps. Evaluations included speed of cage change, ATP-based assessment of sanitization, and retrospective analysis of colony health and breeding data. The time to change 14 cages was significantly faster at each time point for the gloved hands and forceps groups as compared with the other methods. Overall speed did not increase significantly with each subsequent study week for any group. ATP levels after sanitization with hydrogen peroxide–peracetic acid mixture differed significantly between gloves and forceps. When ATP level was evaluated on a per-cm2 basis, no significant difference between gloves and forceps was detected. Although tunnel and cup handling both increased the time for cage-changing, the tunnel served as both an indirect handling method and a shelter when left within the cage. Retrospective analysis revealed that breeding performance and colony health were similar among groups. Although efficiency is a concern for large-scale implementation of novel handling methods, the tunnel method may prove beneficial for sensitive strains or studies requiring indirect handling. In addition, using gloved hands to directly handle mice during cage changing is efficient and avoids the ergonomic strain associated with forceps. Precautions should be taken when handling mice with gloves, given that the increased contact area carries an increased load of organic debris. Changing gloves between rack sides or before proceeding to the animals belonging to a different investigator minimizes the potential for cross-contamination.