10-Experimental animals

There are three broad areas which need to be considered when planning animal studies:

  1. The suitability of the species or strain as a model of the target organism.
  2. Characterisation of the animals.
  3. The ethical issues surrounding their use (discussed under topic 3)

General principles
For fish researchers

Items to be considered about characterisation of the animals, in collaboration with the supplier, include:

  • Species, strain, line and phenotype (with an explanation of any genetic modifications)
  • Age, developmental stage, sex and weight
  • Stage of oestrous cycle and any previous breeding history
  • Any necessary pre-treatment (e.g. castration or ovariectomy) and those responsible for this
  • Name and address of the supplier/breeder, or, if wild-caught, the place, time and method of capture and transport
  • Health status (e.g. germ-free, gnotobiotic, SPF, conventional, vaccination status)
  • Re-use of animals, which should be justified and which may be regulated by national legislation
  • Any plans for release or re-homing, which may be regulated by national legislation
  • Breeding and colony management

The Norecopa website has also separate sections with more resources for


Sharing animal tissue

Collaboration with other internal or external laboratories should be considered, to reduce the number of animals needed. Here are some resources:

Guidance on sharing

Part of the planning process should be to evaluate whether human tissue can be used instead of animal material.

Information on a large number of textbooks that describe the species and strains used in animal research is available in the TextBase database on this site. Examples include The Laboratory Mouse, The Laboratory Rat and The Laboratory Fish.

Use of both sexes in experiments

More resources

This page was updated on 25 January 2023

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