There are many years of experience in housing, maintaining, and breeding laboratory rats.  Experience with breeding and maintenance of laboratory rat colonies dates back to the early twentieth century.  Continuous improvements in the physical and technological aspects of rat husbandry were crucial to the success of biomedical research using these animals. 

General considerations of the features of appropriate laboratory animal care can be found in the Animal Environment, Housing, and Management chapter of the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, a primary reference book in this arena.  However, there are specific issues for individual species and even strains that should be considered. In the case of rats, some strains may be more or less aggressive than others.  Among breeding stock, some animals may be inattentive mothers, for example, and offspring may require special interventions. Animals with compromised immune systems or other genetic alterations may have special health issues and needs.  Dietary requirements may vary for both the basic strain characteristics and for experimental situations.  For more reference material specific to rat colony maintenance, The Laboratory Rat (Second Edition) text may be of assistance.

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The information included in this section includes best practices and available resources, but does not intend to endorse any particular manufacturer’s products.