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Policy#: 529-272

Title: ANIMAL CARE / VIVARIA ISSUES: Ground Transport of Animals by UCR Investigators and Staff

Effective: 9/16/2021



The physical transport of animals shall be in accordance with the Guide for the Care and
Use of Laboratory Animals (Guide), the USDA Animal Welfare Act (AWA), and the Guidefor the Care and Use of Agricultural Animals (Ag Guide).  “Careful planning for all types of transportation should occur to ensure animal safety and well-being. The process of transportation should provide an appropriate level of animal biosecurity…while minimizing zoonotic risks, protecting against environmental extremes, avoiding overcrowding, providing for the animals’ physical, physiologic, or behavioral needs and comfort, and protecting the animals and personnel from physical trauma (Maher and Schub 2004).” The Guide, p 107

This policy covers all UCR vertebrate laboratory animal transport by UCR personnel intra-institutionally (outside of a single vivarium), inter-institutionally via ground vehicle transportation, and wildlife capture and transportation. Covered transport may include, but is not limited to, pick-up of animals from suppliers, transport between UCR vivaria and laboratories, transport of wildlife from the capture site to a holding site, or transport to/from other institutions.

This policy does not address the transport of animals by outside services, such as mail, paid carriers or suppliers, or air transportation. Guidance for these areas can be found in The Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, 8th Ed. (2011) and the NRC publication Guidelines for the Humane Transportation of Research Animals (2006).

All transportation of animals, including intra-institutional transportation, should be planned to minimize transit time and the risk of public exposure to allergens and/or zoonotic agents, protect against environmental extremes, avoid overcrowding, provide food and water when indicated, and protect against physical trauma. Points to consider include:
  • Physical transportation stressors, i.e., changes in temperature, noise, vibration, air flow, humidity, human handling
  • Physiological transportation stressors, i.e., limitation of access to food and water
  • Animal density/space allocation
  • Length of transport time
  • Species specific considerations, e.g., aqueous or sufficiently moist environments for aquatic species and amphibians; avoiding temperature extremes for poikilotherms.
The majority of animal research at UC Riverside involves rodents. However, the IACUC recognizes that different species may have different transportation parameters and recommends that the PI consult with the Campus Veterinarian on the appropriate transportation method(s) for specific species. Any concerns regarding animal transportation will be reviewed by the UCR IACUC. The IACUC may grant exceptions when deemed in the best interest of the animals if the requests for exceptions are justified in the AUP and approved by the IACUC.

The following information/documentation should be addressed in the animal use protocol or an IACUC reviewed SOP.


  • Be made of a material that is either disposable or can be cleaned and sanitized between uses.
  • Provide a secure environment that is escape-proof, and is free of sharp edges, internal clasps, or other features that could be reasonably anticipated to injure the animal.
  • Provide adequate ventilation during transport.
  • If transparent, containers must be draped with cloth or other covering to ensure animals and cages are completely shielded from public view. Note that the disposable gowns provided as personal protective equipment (PPE) are not adequate for use as a drape or covering and should not leave the animal facility.
  • Be designed to not tip over or be secured (e.g., with straps) during transportation.
  • Cages should be marked with: PI name, PI contact information, UCR Campus Veterinarian contact information, AUP protocol #, species, date of birth (if available), source, and permit numbers (e.g., from CDFW) if applicable.
  • Containers are compliant with above transport container requirements.
  • Animals may not be left unattended during transport.
  • The transportation method, e.g., cart with pneumatic wheels, should be described in the approved AUP/SOP.
  • Off campus transport should adhere to all on campus transport requirements.
  • Containers for transporting animals longer distances should provide allergen control. For rodents, standard shipping containers are recommended.
  • Vivarium cages and equipment may not be removed from campus.

Transportation in Vehicles

Vehicle transportation of animals must be described in an approved AUP/SOP.

Any vehicle used to transport animals must:
  • Be capable of maintaining the temperature to standards acceptable for the species being transported.
  • Have a safe animal holding space appropriate for the species that is free of exhaust fumes, smoke or aerosols from cigarettes or e-cigarettes, or other potentially harmful aerosols including cleaning solutions and air fresheners.
  • It is recommended that University-owned vehicles be used.
  • A copy of the AUP/SOP and the emergency contact information for the PI and the UCR Campus Veterinarian must be kept in the vehicle during transport.
  • For all animals, a secondary barrier must be used to minimize the allergen transfer or other biosecurity hazards into the transport vehicles (e.g., impermeable plastic sheet over upholstery, a disposable absorbent pad, lab bench paper, a plastic tub, a clean Tyvek lab coat).
“Transportation of animals in private vehicles is discouraged because of potential animal biosecurity, safety, health, and liability risks for the animals, personnel, and institution.” (The Guide, p 108). In cases where a private vehicle is used:
  • The vehicle must meet the requirements stated above.
  • The rationale for the use of a private vehicle must be in the approved AUP/SOP.
  • Current registration and proof of insurance must be maintained in the vehicle.
  • If animals are to be removed from or returned to campus in private vehicles, the Animal Transport Vehicle Inspection form must be completed and on file with the IACUC.
  • Transported animals must be accompanied by personnel listed on the approved AUP describing the animal transport.
  • Only individuals directly assisting with the study or animal transport should be present in the vehicle.
  • The driver must be at least 18 years old and have an active (not expired) license at the time of transport.
Personnel must be properly trained in routine and emergency procedures for the species they handle. Training procedures applicable to the mode of transportation should cover:
  • Inspection of primary cages
  • Documentation
  • Precautions, animal handling, emergency procedures (e.g., an accident or an animal escapes)
  • Loading and off-loading procedures
  • Ability to recognize signs of stress and alleviate the cause, if possible
  • The number of cages to be transported at one time and number of animals per cage should be described in the approved AUP/SOP.
  • The placement of the cages should be done with consideration for proper ventilation.
  • The AUP/SOP should state the vehicle compartment the animals will be kept in during travel, how long the transport will take, the frequency and duration of planned stops, and how frequently animal welfare checks will be performed.
  • To minimize transport time, the transport should be direct and unnecessary stops are strongly discouraged. Ideally, at least two personnel should be involved in the transport. If exigencies arise that make it essential to park the vehicle with the animals inside, the vehicle must be parked in a location where the animals are not visible to the public and the internal temperature of the vehicle will not deviate from acceptable temperature ranges for the animal, i.e., the investigator must not park in the sun. Animals must never be left unattended in a vehicle for periods of time that would be dangerous to the animals or in conditions that would affect the animals’ welfare.
  • Most species should not be transported in the trunk, on top of a vehicle, or the bed of a pickup. Exceptions may be permitted for field study or agricultural animals if described in the IACUC-approved protocol. Temperature, season, and time of day must be considered to minimize animal welfare concerns.
  • Food and water should be provided during transport in vessels designed not to leak during transport, unless specifically stated otherwise in the AUP/SOP.
  • Two different species may not be transported at the same time unless specifically approved in the AUP/SOP.
  • Loud music should not be played while animals are present.

  • The AUP must address any distress or health concerns likely to be caused by this transport, as well as any possible actions taken.
  • If the animals will receive sedation, this must be described in the AUP/SOP.
  • Any severe distress/mortality must be reported to the UCR Campus Veterinarian.

Transportation over longer periods of time

For longer transit times, a detailed transportation SOP (see Off Campus Animal Transport SOP template as a guideline) must be submitted to address all the points above and approved by the IACUC. As the definition of ‘longer transit time’ will vary by species, investigators should consult with the Campus Veterinarian for questions.


It is the responsibility of the PI to secure the appropriate documentation before the animal transfer occurs. This may include, but is not limited to, the Animal Transport Vehicle Inspection form, interinstitutional MOUs, MTAs, health certificate(s) from the OCV, and/or state, federal, and international permits.


  • The Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, 8th Ed. (2011)
  • NRC publication Guidelines for the Humane Transportation of Research Animals (2006)
  • Animal Welfare Act: 9 CFR Parts 1, 2, and 3

Approved: 12/4/06; Revised 11/5/15; 8/16/2021