Most of the animals involved in experiments at our institute originate from our own breeding while some come from specialized laboratory animal breeders. Trained and experienced animal care staff, together with two veterinarians, ensures that the animals are kept in the best possible way according to animal welfare, taking into account the diverse needs of the different species. The husbandry conditions comply with the legal requirements and partly go well beyond those.
We keep mice in plastic cages with free access to food and water where they can retreat in small, igloo-shaped hideouts. Nesting material made of cardboard and dried plant fiber contributes to thermoregulation and provides the females with optimal conditions to care for their brood.
Rats are housed in spacious cages with elevated grid lids that allow for the species-specific rearing behavior. Tubes provide hideouts and paper tissues are available for the rats’ behavioral enrichment and nest building.
Our rabbits mainly live as a group on litter and straw on the ground. Each room offers cover and several hideouts. If required, small groups of up to four animals can be kept in spacious cages interconnected by removing partitions. Each animal is thus provided with sufficient opportunities to retreat.
Our alpaca herd comprising 22 animals lives on a large outdoor area with grazing land, sandpits, and fields of gravel, which was designed by a zoo design office. The animals have access to their spacious, bright stables at any time.
Our alpacas are usually easy to observe from the Nikolausberg forest paths or from our institute grounds.
We keep African clawed frogs in a freshwater system of aquaria, where they can use hiding places and artificial rafts. The water temperature is 18 °C.
Our starfish, in contrast, are saltwater aquatics, which are kept at 16 °C. So-called ‘living’ stones, which are covered with algae and bacteria, create water vortices and enrich the basins.
In addition, we keep the established planarian strain Schmidthea mediterranea. Planarians are simple, flattened, worm-shaped invertebrates that mostly live as parasites.
In the future, the jellyfish Clytia hemisphaerica will complement our species spectrum, for which we are currently establishing a husbandry.
For our aquatic animals it is important that the respective water corresponds to their domestic conditions in the best possible way. For the frogs these are the African ponds, for the starfish it is the sea water of the Pacific Ocean. Water quality (hardness, salt concentration, pH-value, and pollutants) are constantly controlled and kept or adjusted by targeted water replacement.
Animal welfare and quality standards
The high-quality standards in animal husbandry and in animal experimental projects at the institute are constantly monitored by an animal welfare officer – an experienced specialist veterinarian for laboratory animals – and confirmed by regular inspections by the Göttingen veterinary office. The animal welfare officer is supported by an internal institutional commission.
In addition, the animal welfare officer advises the scientists in the planning and implementation of experiments that involve animals and ensures that stress to the animals is always kept to a minimum.
The animal facility offers qualifying courses to learn and train the expertise and skills required when working with laboratory animals. The courses are certified by the German Society for Laboratory Animal Science (GV-SOLAS).
You can also inform yourself about our projects with laboratory animals on our portal on animal experiments.