This section of the Procedures with Care web site provides information to assist research workers develop their skills in the administration of substances to laboratory animals. Initially we have provided material dealing with rats and mice, since they are the animals most widely used in research. Further material will be added to expand the range of techniques and species.
This site focuses particularly on the manual skills needed to carry out the different procedures humanely and efficiently, and on the need to handle animals carefully to reduce any distress caused by the procedure.
Administering substances to animals, for whatever reason, can have a significant impact on their welfare. If carried out incorrectly, not only can animal welfare be comprimised, but the scientific goals of study can be affected. If the administration is for a therapeutic purpose, then incorrect administration can lead to a failure of the treatment.
The selection of a particular route of administration must balance a number of factors – for example the volume and physicochemical properties of the substance, the required speed of onset, and other factors such as the degree of tissue irritation that could be caused. These topics are discussed in more detail in a number of different guidelines.