Monash Animal Services

Rachel Borg, Operations Manager

Monash Animal Services (MAS) is a department within Monash University charged with the responsibility for providing quality laboratory animals and technical services to the University’s research base. MAS is comprised of nine centrally managed facilities and seven regional facilities. MAS employ approximately 80 staff in predominantly technical positions.

The Central Animal Facilities provide a range of services to researchers at Monash and for over 250 departments/institutions Australia wide. Servicing over 1,000 researchers and over 2,000 research projects, underwriting an estimated $200m of research.

The Central Animal Facilities breed mice, rats, guinea pigs and rabbits and are responsible for the management of the National Non-Human Primate Breeding and Research Facility. In addition to breeding animals, the Central Facilities provide a range of services including –

  • Animal agistment (general husbandry for all species)
  • Custom experimental breeding programs
  • Surgical facilities and services
  • Breeding high quality virus free mouse and rat lines
  • Specialized technical services including chimera production, ICSI, IVF and cloning in rodents
  • Animal procurement for users from local, national and international services.

One of the integral components of managing a successful animal facility is the equipment. In the past we have used a combination of Individually Ventilated & Static Caging. During recent times and with the expansion and refurbishment of existing facilities we have reviewed a variety of different caging systems that would better suit our growing needs.

We initially chose the OptiMice system due to it’s’ space efficiency which literally doubled our rooms stocking density. Another important consideration, as the University works towards a “Greener Monash”, is that this EVC system reduces energy consumption as it does not rely on individual motors to pump HEPA filtered air into the cages, but rather uses the facility’s existing HVAC system to draw air through the cages, whilst providing individualised cage protection.

In addition to this, other features which appealed to us included clear cages for ease of observation, the ability to divide cages and fewer components which mean less parts to maintain and replace.

The cages have been placed in our high barrier area and in particular, to house the post irradiated mice, which need a very high degree of care. It is difficult to quantify whether the animals find it a better caging system, but to date there have been no complaints and the animals seem quite content with this style of cage.

Lastly, but importantly for us when considering purchasing any new equipment from a supplier is the after sales service and I must say the level of service and response time from both the ACS team in the US and more importantly on a local level AACS, Graham Murray, has been second to none. He has been hands on during every step of the process, from initial queries by providing quotations and room layouts, to the purchase including overseeing the shipping process and installation, to ensure the systems were running correctly. We have had this caging system in operation now for two years with the only issue being initially when we had a couple of design issues with the feeder and water bottle, which were since promptly rectified. I have also had favourable reports from the staff regarding the ease of use of the OptiMice system as opposed to the older systems we have in place.

We are also currently in the process of purchasing OptiMice & OptiRat systems to completely fit out the latest animal facility development at Monash University - Animal Research Laboratory at the new Science Technology Research and Innovation Precinct.

I have no hesitation in recommending this system to other institutions wanting to adopt this system in their animal facilities and would be more than happy to be contacted for further information on our experiences.