The impact of cage ventilation on rats housed in IVC systems

Thomas C Krohn, Axel Kornerup Hansen, Nils Dragsted
Laboratory Animals 2003, 37 (2): 85-93
Today the use of individually ventilated cage systems (IVC systems) is common, especially for housing transgenic rodents. Typically, in each cage a ventilation rate of 40 to 50 air changes per hour is applied, but in some systems even up to 120 air changes per hour is applied. To reach this rate, the air is blown into the cage at a relatively high speed. However, at the animal's level most systems ventilate with an air speed of approximately 0.2 m/s. In the present paper, two studies were conducted, one analysing whether an air speed below 0.2 m/s or just above 0.5 m/s affects the rats, and another study analysing whether air changes of 50, 80 and 120 times per hour affect the rats. In both studies, monitoring of preferences as well as physiological parameters such as heart rate and blood pressure, was used to show the ability of the animals to register the different parameters and to avoid them if possible. Air speeds inside the cage of as high as 0.5 m/s could not be shown to affect the rats, while the number of air changes in each cage should be kept below 80 times per hour to avoid impacts on physiology (heart rate and systolic blood pressure). Also the rats prefer cages with air changes below 80 times per hour if they have the opportunity of choosing, as shown in the preference test.

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