Ludwig, J. L. 2020. Is that a rat in your pocket? A novel pocket method for rat restraint. Laboratory Animal Science Professional 8(1) (January/February), 48-49.
At the University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign (UIUC), we routinely teach novice research personnel how to appropriately handle, restrain, and perform basic experimental techniques on rats. Barriers to teaching include fear of animal bites to the handler, stress to the animal from improper restraint, and the need to have more than one person to accomplish specific tasks. Our objective is to incorporate a safe, comfortable, and time-saving restraint technique for rats while providing confidence to the novice animal handler. One solution was the development of a sewn restraint device as an alternative to both manual restraint and commercial hard plastic restraining devices that are typically used. This restrainer consists of a surgical towel that has been sewn into a pocket equipped with a solid base and an adjustable strap that can be secured behind the rear legs of the animal. This article describes how to sew the pocket. The construction from breathable fabric provides gentle restraint by hugging the body evenly without restricting respiration. The dark fabric creates an environment that is calming to the animal and allows for routine procedures to be performed with minimal stress. This calming environment is beneficial to the handler since the rat does not struggle.