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Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee

Guideline #11

Euthanasia of Neonatal Rodents

The 2007 AVMA Panel on Euthanasia states that neonatal animals are relatively resistant to hypoxia, but does not give specific guidelines for euthanasia of neonatal rodents. Inhalant agents, such as high concentrations of CO2, result in hypoxia. However, due to a neonate's resistance to hypoxia, much longer exposure time to the agent is needed when compared to an adult. Inhalants may be used to induce unconsciousness, but should be followed by some other method of euthanasia. The IACUC recommends the following euthanasia methods for neonatal rodents:

The neonate can be euthanized by one of the following techniques:

  • An overdose of an injectable anesthetic (i.e. pentobarbital), given IP
  • Anesthesia/immobilization induced by an inhalant anesthesia (i.e. CO2, isoflurane or halothane) and then decapitation using a sharp blade or cervial dislocation.
  • Decapitation using a sharp blade/instrument

Euthanasia of any species can only be performed by trained personnel. For euthanasia of non neonatal rodents (older than 8 days), guidelines for adults should be followed. Regardless of method, verfication of death prior to disposal is required.

Any deviation from the guideline concerning euthanasia of neonates must be scientifically justified and will be considered and reviewed by the IACUC on a case by case basis.