Policy on the Restraint of Research Animals

Institutional Animal Care & Use Committee
May 3, 2021 12:00 am

This policy outlines the IACUCs expectations for the use of devices for physically restraining animals, defines “prolonged physical restraint”, and is intended to ensure that the use of devices for prolonged physical restraint is essential for achieving research objectives and that the period of restraint is the minimum required to accomplish the research objectives.

  • Background

    Physical restraint of an animal for the purposes of obtaining samples, administering medication or accomplishing study objectives is an important component of many studies using research animals. In most cases, this period of immobility is short term. On occasion, a prolonged period of restraint may be required to achieve the project objectives.

  • Applicability

    This policy is applicable to all vertebrate animal activities conducted under the auspices of the University, and applies to all campus locations, including Ann Arbor, Flint, and Dearborn.

  • Glossary Definitions


    For the purpose of this policy, acclimation is defined as the process used to train ­animals to adapt to the equipment and personnel.

    Physical Restraint

    “The use of manual or mechanical means to limit some or all of an animal’s normal movement for the purpose of examination, collection of samples, drug administration, therapy, or experimental manipulation.” (The Guide, pg 29)

    Prolonged Physical Restraint

    The U-M IACUC has defined prolonged physical restraint as the use of devices to physically restrain an animal for periods exceeding 30 minutes.

    Restraint Devices

    A device used to physically restrain an animal. Examples of devices used to physically restrain animals include:

    • Chair
    • Mist Net
    • Rodent Restrainers (e.g., tube, Decapicone)
    • Sling (e.g., Panepinto)
    • Stall/Stanchion
    • Unconventional tethering - tethering that suspends the rear legs above the cage floor or short tethering that actually restricts movement
    • Wrap
  • Policy

    When restraint devices are used, they should be specifically designed to accomplish research goals that are impossible or impractical to accomplish by other means or to prevent injury to animals or personnel. (The Guide)

    IACUC approval for the use of devices for physical restraint is required and special considerations are given to the use of devices for prolonged physical restraint, which is the application of physical restraint for periods exceeding 30 minutes. Prolonged physical restraint should be avoided unless it is essential for achieving research objectives.

    Veterinary care must be provided if lesions or illness associated with restraint are observed. The presence of lesions, illness, or severe behavioral change often necessitates the temporary or per­manent removal of the animal from restraint. In addition, the purpose of the use of devices to physically restrain animals must be clearly explained to personnel involved with the study.

  • Compliance

    The provisions of this policy are under the direction and oversight of the U-M’s IACUC. The IACUC will, if necessary, suspend research or implement sanctions if policy infractions should occur.


For questions, additional detail, or to request changes to this policy, please contact the Office of the Assistant Vice President for Research, Director of the Animal Care & Use Office at acuoffice@umich.edu or (734) 763-8028.