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The perspectives of UK personnel towards current killing practices for laboratory rodents

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Jasmine ClarksonORCiD, Dr Matthew Leach, Dr Jessica MartinORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Rodents are the predominant species used for scientific research and must be humanely killed upon completion of the work. In the UK this is regulated by Schedule 1 of the Animals Scientific Procedures Act 1986, which lists permitted methodologies considered capable of humane killing, including overdose of an anaesthetic, exposure to carbon dioxide (CO2) gas, dislocation of the neck and concussion of the brain by striking the cranium. Although all are permitted, operator motivations behind method selection and individual operator preference remain unknown. The views of 219 laboratory animal personnel on institutional availability and use of Schedule 1 killing methods for laboratory rodents were obtained. Only 10% of participants reported that all four methods were available at their institution with 57.5% of respondents preferring cervical dislocation. For CO2, only 18.6% of participants reported using the recommended flow rate, while 45.5% did not know the flow rate employed. We highlight the urgent requirement for the development of quality-controlled training programmes, to improve knowledge and confidence in the selection and application of killing methods. We advocate for continuous review of killing practices to ensure best practice is reflected in legislation and achieve optimal protection of the welfare of laboratory rodents during killing.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Clarkson J, Leach MC, McKeegan DEF, Martin JE

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Scientific Reports

Year: 2023

Volume: 13

Online publication date: 23/03/2023

Acceptance date: 17/03/2023

Date deposited: 24/03/2023

ISSN (electronic): 2045-2322

Publisher: Nature Publishing Group


DOI: 10.1038/s41598-023-31808-0


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