Physiological Profile of Growing Rats: Effects of Cage Type and Cage Density

  • Yildiz, A. (Department of Animal Husbandry, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Ataturk University) ;
  • Hayirli, A. (Department of Animal Nutrition and Nutritional Disorders, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Ataturk University) ;
  • Okumus, Z. (Laboratory Animal Research and Teaching Center, Ataturk University) ;
  • Kaynar, O. (Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Ataturk University) ;
  • Kisa, F. (Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Ataturk University)
  • Received : 2006.01.17
  • Accepted : 2006.04.12
  • Published : 2007.02.01


This experiment was conducted to examine the effects of cage type (CT) and cage density (CD) on physiological variables in growing rats. Sprague Dawley rats (n=108) weighing an average of 46 g were housed in metallic cage with woodchip bedding (MCWB), metallic cage with wire mesh (MCWM), and plastic shoebox with woodchip bedding (PCWB) separately by sex at normal ($160-cm^2/rat$, ND) and high ($80-cm^2/rat$, HD) CD from 3 to 10 wks of age. All cages were in dimension of $24{\times}40{\times}20$ cm ($W{\times}D{\times}H$). At the end of the experiment, blood samples were collected and 6 rats from each cage were sacrificed. No death was observed among rats at ND, whereas mortality rate at HD was 22.3% for males and 13.9% for females. Heart weight was affected by CT. Doubling CD caused 23, 11.8, 17.9, 8.6, 6.9, and 16.4% decreases in BW and weights of heart, liver, kidney, testis, and ovary, respectively. Except for adrenal gland, other organs for males were heavier than for females. Liver weight of males and females responded differently to CT and CD. Comparing with females, males had 7.3 and 5.2% heavier and 9.9% lighter liver weights in MCWB, MCWM, and PCWB, respectively. As CD doubled, liver weight for males and females decreased by 22.4 and 13.1%, respectively. Mean adrenal gland weight increased by 8.4% and decreased by 9.7% for males and females, respectively, with doubling CD. CT affected glucose, TG, Ca, and ALP levels. However, CD did not alter blood chemistry. Rats housed in metallic cages had greater neutrophil count and neutrophil:lymphocyte ratio than rats housed in plastic cages. Doubling CD caused a 24.2% increase in lymphocyte count. There were CT by CD, CT by sex, and CD by sex interaction effects on lymphocyte count. Doubling CD caused 0.1% decrease and 49.8 and 26.7% increases in lymphocyte count for rats housed in MCWB, MCWM, and PCWB, respectively. Comparing with females, lymphocyte count for males housed in MCWB, MCWM, and PCWB had 8.9 and 12.9% greater and 30.3% less lymphocyte counts, respectively. Lymphocyte count decreased by 4.12% for males, whereas it increased by 61.0% for females as CD doubled. Doubling CD resulted in 2.5 and 2.3% increases in erythrocyte count and hematocrit value. These data suggest that animals perform better in metallic cages than in plastic cages and that cage density had pronounceable effects on physiological parameters in a cage type and sex dependent-manner.


Rat;Cage Type;Cage Density;Sex;Growth;Organ Development;Blood Metabolite;Hemogram


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