Hickman, D. L. 2022. Evaluation of carbon dioxide euthanasia of female Sprague Dawley rats alone or with unfamiliar conspecifics. JAALAS 61(2), 195-200.
Most studies evaluating methods of euthanasia to date have focused on the euthanasia of individual animals. However, larger chambers are commonly used to euthanize multiple cages of animals at once. This study evaluated the use of a commercially available system for euthanasia of 1, 2, or 4 cages containing an individual female Sprague-Dawley rat using volume per minute displacement rates (VDR/min) of either 25% or 50% of 100% carbon dioxide. Animal wellbeing was assessed based on physiologic changes (serum noradrenaline and corticosterone) and behavioral assessments (relative frequency of rearing, line crossing, and grooming). The 25% VDR/min was associated with a significantly longer time to loss of consciousness, but this was not associated with significant physiologic or behavioral changes. The 50% VDR/min treatment group was associated with significant increases in the relative frequency of movement from 1 side of the cage to the other. Increases in the relative frequency of rears were detected in the 25% VDR/min treatment group when 2 or 4 rats were in the chamber as compared with a single rat in the chamber. The absence of significant physiologic changes suggest that the behavioral changes may have been associated with the novelty of the euthanasia experience rather than with distress. The location of the cage within the chamber did not significantly affect any of the measured parameters at either 25% or 50% VDR/min. These data suggest that groups of rats euthanized in these chambers are not experiencing decreases in their welfare.