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Rodent and Tissue Bank Resources Information

Rodent Resources

Notice: The NIA has long provided biological resources to the research community to facilitate research on the biology of aging. As of January 1, 2014, the NIA will no longer charge users for the biological resources, nor any related shipping fees due to a new interpretation of the regulations that govern contracting.

Miscellaneous Feed Information

Feed remains fresh for 6 months, and NIA only will provide a 3-month supply at a time.

Feed Supply Calculation for caloric restricted animals

Food is only provided for CR (and AL control) animals purchased from the NIA caloric restricted colony. The NIA does not provide food for animals purchased from the aging colonies. Food is shipped on the trucks with the animals; shipment by overnight commercial shippers is not allowed unless the recipient is not on one of the Contractor’s truck routes.

On request, the contractor can calculate the feed supply amount necessary for the caloric restricted animals. All requests for calculations must be included in the "Special Instructions" section on the NIA order form. Specify the selected feed type used to maintain the animals, quantity of animals, strain, gender, date of birth (DOB), and the length of time the animals will be maintained.

Pellet Sizes

  • 2.5 g up to 3.5 in increments of .5–1 kg = 2.2 lbs
  • Fortified 2.5–3.5 g pellet size
  • NIH31: random-weight chunk formula, approximately 2.0–3.0 g various sized pellets
Caloric-Restricted (CR) Feeding Schedule
Weeks Amount
13 100% (regular feed)
14 *90% (fortified)
15 75%
16+ 60%

*CR begins at 4 months of age.

Miscellaneous Shipping Information

Overseas Shipping (NIH grantees only)

The maximum age for shipping F344 rats overseas is 26 months. The maximum age for shipping F344 x BN rats overseas is 36 months. There is a 2- to 3-week turnaround time from order placement to delivery.


Animals are packed one age group per crate.

Packing Information
Animal Type Maximum Number per Crate
Rats 4 male 3mo and younger, 3 male older than 4mo & 6 female
Mice 12 for regular aging colony, 3 for CR colony
BALB/c Mice 5 (compartmentalized)


C57BL/6 animals are always shipped as cagemates. Other strains are not shipped as cagemates, unless specifically requested by customer on the NIA order form.

Air Delivery Customers

All air deliveries are shipped on Monday for Tuesday/Wednesday delivery. Animals must originate from the same barrier; barriers cannot be split.

Water Kits vs. Gel Packs

Both the water kit and gel pack are safe and effective. However:

  • Gel packs have more stability
  • Gel packs can leak and adhere to the bedding and the animals' hair
  • Water packs may damage the box if the water kit valve is broken

Miscellaneous Health Information


Tumors are considered normal in rodents aged 16 months and older.


There is a 2- to 3-week turnaround time from order placement to delivery for orders involving surgery.

Age of Maturity

Regarding age and reproductive function, F344 males and females reach their sexual maturity at approximately 7 weeks of age.

General Information

Animal Replacement

For animal replacement, the Office of Biological Resources and Resource Development (OBRRD) must be notified within 48 hours of delivery. OBRRD will provide replacement animals under the following conditions:

  • If animals are "dead on arrival"
  • If animals die within 48 hours of arrival
  • If the incorrect animal type is delivered

Age of Replacement Animals

Animals will be replaced at the same age as the original order, unless the customer specifically indicates the same DOB.

Vendor Location for Animal Research Papers

The vendor, NIA at Harlan Sprague Dawley, or Charles River Laboratories, or Taconic Farms.

Orders for Collaborators

NIA grantees may order animals to be delivered to collaborators; however, the animals must be billed to the grantee.

Inclement Weather Policy

NIA will not make any shipments when the atmospheric temperature and/or the temperature within the transportation carrier are harmful to the shipment.

Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Grantees

SBIR grantees are permitted to order if they are funded by NIA.

Miscellaneous Animal Information

Strain Colors: Rats
Rat Strain Color
F344 White Albino
F344 x BN *Brownish-Black
BN Brown

*Includes white area on chest and underbelly.

Strain Colors: Mice
Mouse Strain Color
BALB/c White Albino
C57BL/6 Intense Black
CBA Agouti (brownish-gray)
DBA Dilute Brown/Non-Agouti (silvery-light gray)
B6D2F1 Black
CB63F1 Agouti (brownish-gray)
CB6F1 Agouti (brownish-gray)

Weight of Animals

Customers are permitted to specify a weight range, but they are not permitted to request a specific weight.

Information Regarding DOB

NIA only can provide dates in a "month/year" format because the contractor weans several litters born in the same week at the same time and randomly assigns them to cages. Animals in the same cage do not have the same actual day of birth. NIA does not require the contractor to record the specific day of birth on the aging cage cards, only the month of birth.


If any animals die, no additional animals are added to their cage. Animals in the CR colonies are individually housed.

Tissue Bank Resources

Tumor Tissue Identification

To indicate tumor tissue, vials have a red top, and larger vials are marked with a red "dot".

Vital Statistics Sheet

The Vital Statistics Sheet lists all information, including tumors.

Sample Numbers

Number of Samples Packed in a "Normal" Sized Shipping Box
Vial Size Number of Samples Comments
Small 200 Most mouse tissue is in small vials.
Large 25 Includes some rat tissue and larger mouse organs.