Handling regime for rat pups - (Aug/13/2009 )
Hi, I have pregnant female rats at the moment that are about to give birth. I have never worked with pups before but was chatting with a colleague who warned me that it is important to start handling the pups so that they become used to humans and do not become aggressive later as adults. I plan to use the pups as adolescents in experiments to test drug effects. When should I start handling the pups and what type of regime should I follow? I plan to ween on PND21.
I like to start handling around PND16-18 if possible. Be careful though, since some mothers are very protective of their pups and may strike at you.
Start by just leaving your hand in the cage and letting them smell you. In a few minutes take your time to pick up each pup briefly, pet it gently for a moment, and put in back down. When they reach weaning age, acclimate each animal to your restraining techniques. Obviously no experimental procedures yet, just holding them. You can also grab a chair and give each animal a few minutes on your lap. Repeat at least the hand smelling & restraining positions during their first 21-30 and they should become very tame.