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Open Access Effect of Cage Bedding on Temperature Regulation and Metabolism of Group-housed Female Mice

Mice are generally housed in groups in cages lined with an absorbent bedding material at ambient temperature (Ta) of 20 to 24°C, which is comfortable for humans, but cool for mice. Little is known about the effects of bedding on thermoregulation of group-housed mice. To determine whether bedding material affects thermoregulatory stability, core temperature (Tc) and motor activity (MA) were monitored by use of radiotelemetry in female CD-1 mice housed in groups of four in a standard plastic cage at Ta of 23.5°C. Ten groups were tested using three types of bedding material: a deep layer of heat-treated wood shavings (DWS) that allowed mice to burrow, a thin layer of wood shavings (TWS) just covering the bottom of the cage floor, or a layer of beta chips (BC). Mice could not burrow in the TWS or BC. The Tc and MA were affected by bedding type and time of day. Mice housed with DWS maintained a significantly higher Tc (ΔTc = 1.0°C) during the day, compared with that in mice housed with TWS and BC. During the night, Tc and MA were high in all groups and there was no effect of bedding type on Tc or MA. Effect of bedding on metabolic rate (MR) was estimated by measuring oxygen consumption for six hours in groups of four mice at Ta of 23.5°C. The Tc was significantly reduced in mice housed on the TWS and BC, but MR was unaffected by bedding type. There was a trend for higher MR in mice on BC. Compared with use of other bedding materials, housing mice on DWS and comparable materials provides an environment to burrow, thus reducing heat loss. The effects of bedding material on temperature regulation may affect rodent health and well being. Moreover, bedding will affect variability in toxicologic and pharmacologic studies whenever an endpoint is dependent on body temperature.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Neurotoxicology Division, National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory, MD-74B, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina 27711

Publication date: February 1, 2004

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  • Comparative Medicine (CM), an international journal of comparative and experimental medicine, is the leading English-language publication in the field and is ranked by the Science Citation Index in the upper third of all scientific journals. The mission of CM is to disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed information that expands biomedical knowledge and promotes human and animal health through the study of laboratory animal disease, animal models of disease, and basic biologic mechanisms related to disease in people and animals.

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