Animal Housing & Husbandry

Research Animal Resources (RAR) provides proper housing and care for investigators’ research animals, and aims to enhance the well-being of the animals in its care. 

Determining animal housing

When placing an order, investigators are asked what building and room number they would prefer. All requests are subject to approval, depending on available space and the needs of the facility.

Housing assistance 

When building and room are unknown: Call RAR at 612-624-6169 and we will determine the best area supervisor to connect you with. Area supervisors can help identify a specific building and room number to best accommodate ordered or imported animals.  

When building is known, but not the room: When placing an animal order, please note the desired building and use the comments field to note that a room assignment is needed. Once an area supervisor approves your order, they will assign a specific room number.

Housing process and documentation

Once animals arrive at the University of Minnesota, RAR houses the animals based on their housing requirements. We take the following steps, based on species, to ensure animals receive proper care and are distributed to the right areas:


  • RAR Business Office staff separates the animals by areas and contacts the area supervisors.
  • The area supervisor or an animal care technician picks up the animals and begins the housing process.
  • Before housing the animals, the animal care technician verifies the appropriate per diem and any special housing needs on each order.
  • The animal care technician checks the health of each animal and places them in new cages. Note: Rodents are caged with the same group they were shipped in.
  • Once animals are properly caged, the animal care technician contacts the lab, notifying them of the order number, quantity, gender, strains, and where their animals are housed.
  • We recommend allowing a one-week acclimation period prior to research use. 
  • If you have difficulties locating your animals within a room, contact the area supervisor for help. 

Large animals

  • RAR considers the following species to be large animals: pigs, sheep, monkeys, rabbits, dogs, cats, cows, horses, and goats.
  • Each large animal specie requires various procedures and evaluations by a veterinary technician and/or a veterinarian. An RAR veterinarian or veterinary technician can reject large animals before housing based on the size or health of the animal.
  • Before housing, we assign a Large Animal Number (LAN) to each animal. LANs are unique numbers which correspond to the medical health report of each large animal. 
    • The unique number combines the year, month, species type, and number of species within the month. 
  • Following examination and LAN assignment, animals are housed in their proper location.
  • Once animals are housed, the veterinary technician contacts the lab.
  • We require a three-day acclimation period prior to research use. 

Special housing needs

Special housing needs are:

  • Individual housing
  • Special feed and/or bedding needs
  • Pair housing for animals usually housed individually, such as rabbits or guinea pigs

For more information or details on animal housing, please contact the area animal care supervisor.

Environmental enrichment

The goal of providing environmental enrichment is to enhance animal well-being by allowing animals sensory and motor stimulation through structures and resources that facilitate the expression of species typical behaviors. Environmental enrichment also promotes psychological well-being through physical, manipulative and cognitive activities and challenges according to species specific characteristics.

All animals housed in RAR space must receive environmental enrichment unless an IACUC approved exception is in place, or there is an animal health concern documented by RAR veterinary staff that precludes the use of specific enrichment. Social animals will be housed in pairs or groups whenever possible.  While social housing is an aspect of enrichment it does not replace the provision of enrichment items.

Appropriate enrichment and the frequency in which it is provided can vary greatly between species.

View enrichment guide options for each animal species.