Part 3.8 Transportation

This is Part 3.8 of the Code of Practice for the Housing and Care of Laboratory Mice, Rats, Guinea Pigs and Rabbits.

Minimum standards for transportation:

1. The International Air Transport Association and AQIS must be consulted in the first instance for regulations pertaining to the respective air travel or export of mice, rats, rabbits or guinea pigs.

2. Food and water must be provided to the animals wherever possible during transport.

3. Animals must not be transported for more than 24 hours without food and water.

4. The sender must ensure that the animals to be transported are in good health.

5. An assessment of the health and welfare of the animals must be made upon arrival.

6. Containers for domestic, local and internal transportation of animals must be:

  • adequately ventilated (with reduced stocking rates in containers with filters)
  • vermin- and escape-proof
  • durable (including crush-proof)
  • sufficiently spacious (higher stocking densities than normal housing may be required to prevent injury)
  • provided with appropriate bedding (for thermoregulation and impact absorption)
  • clearly labelled.

General recommendations:

  1. The general principles for animals obtained from interstate or overseas, transport of animals and admission of new animals into holding areas are covered in The Australian Code, which should be the first point of reference.
  2. Guidelines for space, height, stocking density and ventilation requirements for non-air transport can be found in Housing for Laboratory Rats, Mice, Guinea Pigs and Rabbits, A.L. Hargreaves ANZCCART 2000.
  3. Moist food (fruit, vegetables, mash or palatable glucose product) should be provided to avoid dehydration.
  4. Rodents should be transported in compatible groups of familiar animals, formed at least 24 hours before transport commences.
  5. Sick or injured animals should be transported only for purposes of treatment, diagnosis or euthanasia.
  6. Consideration should be given to the transport of pregnant animals.
  7. Appropriate facilities for acclimatisation, isolation or quarantine should be provided. Newly-arrived animals may take up to two weeks to acclimatise, depending on the duration and mode of travel, which should be considered in the planning stage of scientific procedures. These animals should be closely monitored, especially guinea pigs as they may be reluctant to eat or drink from unfamiliar systems. Consultation with the animal technician or laboratory veterinarian may be required.

Species specific recommendations

Guinea pigs:

  1. Guinea pigs are prone to stress during transport and can stampede. This risk can be minimised by ensuring only 2 to 3 animals per container and provision of hay for hiding and cushioning.


  1. Rabbits should be transported in insect-proof enclosures to prevent entry by vectors infected with myxomatosis or calicivirus.
Page last updated: 14 Jul 2020