Skip Navigation
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public HealthCAAT

Animal Welfare Enhancement Awards - 2006 Recipients

An improved means of monitoring animals and cage environments
Steven Niemi

Care and housing of the laboratory mouse today involves sophisticated cages that dock to individualized ventilation and automatic watering systems. These cages and the racks in which they sit are designed to minimize exposure to potential pathogens and maximize space utilization. But regulatory standards for appropriate temperature, humidity, air exchange rates, noise, and ambient light levels are usually evaluated in the animal room rather than in each cage. So if the cage's internal environment does not match that of the room, the animal may experience discomfort or worse. In addition, the positioning of cages on racks limits visual access into every cage, making routine health checks difficult without disturbing the mice. The goal of this project is to use radio frequency identification (RFID) sensors to accurately and continuously monitor intra-cage environments, and then broadcast an alert when various physical parameters fall outside established tolerance ranges. RFID sensors for temperature, moisture, ambient light, etc., will be placed in ventilated microisolator mouse cages to detect when those parameters are outside levels established in the Guide. Animal motion will also be monitored; excessive motion may signal fighting while motion below normal ranges may indicate serious illness or death. In either case, animal care staff could be alerted to intervene promptly, thereby improving animal welfare.