Temperature variations recorded during interinstitutional air shipments of laboratory mice

Eric Syversen, Fernando J. Pineda, Julie Watson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Despite extensive guidelines and regulations that govern most aspects of rodent shipping, few data are available on the physical environment experienced by rodents during shipment. To document the thermal environment experienced by mice during air shipments, we recorded temperatures at 1-min intervals throughout 103 routine interinstitutional shipments originating at our institution. We found that 49.5% of shipments were exposed to high temperatures (greater than 29.4°C), 14.6% to low temperatures (less than 7.2°C), and 61% to temperature variations of 11°C or more. International shipments were more likely than domestic shipments to experience temperature extremes and large variations in temperature. Freight forwarders using passenger airlines rather than their own airplanes were more likely to have shipments that experienced temperature extremes or variations. Temperature variations were most common during stopovers. Some airlines were more likely than others to experience inflight temperature extremes or swings. Most domestic shipments lasted at least 24 h, whereas international shipments lasted 48 to 72 h. Despite exposure to high and low temperatures, animals in all but 1 shipment arrived alive. We suggest that simple measures, such as shipping at night during hot weather, provision of nesting material in shipping crates, and specifying aircraft cargo-hold temperatures that are suitable for rodents, could reduce temperature-induced stress. Measures such as additional training for airport ground crews, as previously recommended by the American Veterinary Medical Association, could further reduce exposure of rodents to extreme ambient temperatures during airport stopovers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31-36
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology


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