""Overall: Don't do this at home. Please. Stick with microorganisms and insects. Please. For the sake of the animals, for the sake of your own health, and for the sake of your research. The more complicated your system gets the noisier it gets (in terms of data). If you want to do animal studies, please get the proper training. To the EU/US discussion: I have worked with lab animals in the US for quite some time. We do get licensed, but it's not a state thing, it's done at each institution. Go to a new institution and you have to get licensed all over again, because each institution is different. There is a difference in philosophy of how animal care is managed between the EU and the US. As I understand it, the EU takes an engineering approach; A cage of certain dimensions can have no more than so many animals, bedding must be of a specific composition and changed with a certain frequency, the facility must have this laundry list of specifications, etc. The US system is a performance standard. This means that stress is minimized, and it's more of a judgement call. Cage sizes and such are suggested (by NRC1996 & the Animal Welfare Act), but not mandated. Nobody shows up with a measuring tape and calculates square centimeters/animal, they just show up and say "That's too crowded."There are pros & cons to each. The classic example is in nonhuman primates. Two monkeys of the same species will have different requirements; one may be highly social, another may thrive more when left alone. You can't give a rigid guideline that controls for both. Same for mice. I use inbred C57's, have for years; they're basically clones of each other, but I still have mice that simple do better if in a cage alone and other mice that are obviously stressed unless they are with at least 2-3 other mice. I had one knockout strain that unless housed communally upon weaning, they would stop eating and probably starve to death/dehydrate if I had let them. But after 6 months of age, two males in the same cage would fight to the death. Two females in the same cage would strip each other of their fur in a single night. It was just something you had to watch, and the flexibility of the performance based system made it possible for me to do it and not technically be in violation. So who makes the call? From day to day, it's the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC). They oversee lab animal management departments, they approve protocols, and will yank facilities rights from researchers that don't adhere. IACUC is in turn watched over by AAALAC, a private nonprofit. AAALAC inspects every few years and comes up with any changes that need to be made. If they are not addressed, you can lose accreditation. If you lose accreditation, you pretty much aren't going to do any animal research any more. NIH won't fund you, and vendors won't sell to you. ""
:: -- sgt york, DIYbio google group
This post highlights many misconceptions about animal research in the US, and presents a discouraging picture. In reality, AAALAC accreditation is NOT required for animal research in the US, nor is it required for NIH grants. Additionally, you cannot obtain AAALAC accreditation unless you already have an animal research facility in operation with your animal research area "mostly filled". You must also have an IACUC. For these reasons it is impractical for individuals or small organizations to obtain AAALAC accreditation.
In reality, the basics of animal regulations in the US are as follows: Animal research is governed by the USDA Animal Welfare Act.
If you're government funded OR transporting animals across state lines AND you're working with something OTHER than birds, rats, or mice you need approval from your IACUC committee and must follow USDA guidelines as authorized by the "USDA Animal Welfare Act". If you're working with birds, rats, or mice the USDA guidelines do not apply to you, even if you are transporting them across state lines and are government funded. However, your institution may set their own guidelines and it is always ethically required that you treat research animals with the highest standard of care available within your research protocol.