Food, watering and bedding

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​​​​​​​A. Background & Definitions

Most research animals including rodents are fed with research-specific diets, which are nutritionally adequate to the species, and produced under quality controlled procedures. As feed can deteriorate with time and extreme environmental conditions, control of storage conditions is expected. Water is expected to be controlled, and in many cases is treated at the animal facility level to prevent microbiological contamination to animals. Restriction of food and/or water for experimental reasons has to be justified. Different kinds of bedding can be provided to absorb animal excretions and also serve as nesting/burrowing materials. The origin and characteristics of bedding are important factors to consider.​

​B. Guidance & Expectations

The following topics must be defined and documented:

  • Feed source, type and treatment (e.g. autoclave, irradiation, etc)
  • Feed storage conditions
  • Feed/water provision (e.g. ad libitum, restricted)
  • Water source and treatment (e.g. acidification, chlorination, autoclave)
  • Water provision method (e.g. bottles, automatic) and frequency of change (in case of bottles) or functionality (in case of automatic systems)
  • Type of bedding and treatment (e.g. autoclave, irradiation)
  • Frequency of bedding change, and relation with experimental procedures if any​


  • To avoid changes in food or bedding during the study
  • To ensure food is not outdated
  • To ensure regular provision of fresh water (if in bottles)
  • To take in consideration bedding change schedules to plan experiments avoiding the impact of the new environment​

C. Resources

Template to describe information related to animal care and use (all items covered by Section 3.4.1) - 3.4.1 Animal care and use.docx​

ARRIVE guidelines 2019 for reporting animal research - ARRIVE 2.0​​

Online and other available guidance:

  • Annex III of Directive 2010/63/EU. [1]
  • Appendix A of European Convention ETS 123. [2]
  • Chapter 3 of the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, NRC 2011. [3]
  • ​Housing and Husbandry [4]

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