Breeding, husbandry, veterinary care, and hematology of marsh rice rats (Oryzomys palustris), a small animal model for periodontitis

J. Ignacio Aguirre, Kent Edmonds, Bernadette Zamora, Jennifer Pingel, Linda Thomas, Denisse Cancel, Laura Schneider, Mary K. Reinhard, August H. Battles, Mohammed P. Akhter, Donald B. Kimmel, Thomas J. Wronski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Rice rats (Oryzomys palustris) are a recognized animal model for studying periodontal disease and the photoperiodic regulation of reproduction. Here we share information regarding the breeding, husbandry, veterinary care, and hematologic findings about this animal species to facilitate its use in studies at other research institutions. Rice rats initially were quarantined and monitored for excluded pathogens by using microbiologic, parasitologic, and serologic methods with adult female Mus musculus and Rattus norvegicus sentinel animals. Breeders were paired in a monogamous, continuous-breeding system. Rats were housed in static filter-top cages, maintained on commercial chow under 14:10-h light:dark cycles at 68 to 79 °F (20.0 to 26.1 °C) and 30% to 70% humidity. Rice rats apparently adapt relatively well to standard laboratory conditions, despite their aggressive behavior toward conspecifics and humans. Our analysis of 97 litters revealed that dams gave birth to an average of 5.2 pups per dam and weaned 4.2 pups per dam. Several procedures and biologic reagents normally used in standard laboratory rodents (mice and rats) can be used with rice rats. In addition, we present hematologic and serum chemistry values that can be used as preliminary reference values for future studies involving rice rats.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)51-58
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Animal Science and Zoology


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