Domesticated amphibians, fish, birds and reptiles

Fish in a fish tank

Species which are threatened, endangered or Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of flora and fauna (CITES)-listed must be conserved, and every effort should be made to replace these animals after study, either through reintroduction to the environment of origin, or placement in captive breeding-release projects.

Researchers planning to use large numbers of animals should, where feasible, breed replacement stock rather than continuing to remove animals from the wild.

The CCAC has guidelines on wildlife which are comprehensive and wide-ranging and should constitute the primary source of information and guidance, along with the Categories of Invasiveness.

Such animals should only be brought into an institution after the investigator proposing to use them has demonstrated adequate knowledge of the animals' social and behavioral requirements or those of a closely related species. Those who will be responsible for such animals must also be able to provide for appropriate management and housing before the animals are introduced into the laboratory.

When dealing with wildlife species in a lab setting, several critical aspects need to be covered and understood within the lab group.

Questions to answer before starting a project:

  • Is the housing of the animals appropriate for species size, activity and is group housing possible? What is the minimal cage size and can you possibly accommodate a larger enclosure and/or provide environmental enrichment?
  • If dealing with aquatic species, when and how is the water testing done? What about filtration systems, water changes?
  • What are the best foods and medications for that particular species?
  • What is the daily routine plan for daily inspection, feeding, cleaning?
  • Who is the emergency contact? What do you do with a dead or sick animal?


Prevention and control of animal disease

The investigator and all animal care staff should observe all laboratory animals closely at least once a day for clinical signs of illness, injury, or abnormal behavior. Investigators and animal care staff should familiarize themselves with common problems and signs of illness. All deviations from normal conditions and deaths from unknown causes should be reported at once to the investigator and person responsible for veterinary care. Common signs of illness include:

  • a. unwillingness to move; listlessness;
  • b. "scruffiness", dirty or unkempt;
  • c. closed or crusty eyes;
  • d. drooping wings in birds;
  • e. limping or unwillingness to put weight on a foot;
  • f. any change in stool consistency;
  • g. feces adhering to anal area;
  • h. obstructed nostrils;
  • i. decreased consumption of food, increased consumption of water;
  • j. open-mouthed breathing, panting
For more details concerning Experimental Fish (Anesthesia, blood sampling, euthanasia, length and weight mesurement, marking and tagging) CCAC FISH STREAM

Generally speaking, by the time a wild animal looks ill, the illness is usually well advanced. Therefore, an immediate response to apparent illness is required. You must take contagiousness and quarantine into consideration.

McGill already has several reptile, amphibian and fish SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures). Please consult them here.

Analgesia, anesthesia, euthanasia, experimental guidelines, animal care, veterinary care and occupational health and safety are all included.

End of the section on Domesticated amphibians, fish, birds and reptiles. 

If you are ready to take the test, send an email to the animalcare [at] (Training Advisor) (the test is requested, received and submitted by email). 

Please note that EACH participant must make the request using his/her own email account. The participant must identify in which investigator’s lab they are working or the course title for which this test is a requirement (if applicable). 

Back to top