A Day as an Animal Technician
My day starts by showering into the unit (quite nice on a cold morning!) and changing into a clean uniform; this helps protect the health barrier of the building. Morning checks are then started. Every cage is checked individually to ensure there is adequate food and water available and that all animals within the cage are healthy. These checks are done daily, including weekends. I am part of a rota, which includes a duty weekend once a month.
Once checks are complete I move on to daily husbandry tasks which include setting up new mating pairs, weaning pups from their parents and cleaning out animal cages. Cleaning out involves moving animals into a new cage with fresh bedding and nesting material and taking the opportunity to carry out in-hand checks on each animal.
The remainder of the day is spent completing requests sent in by researchers concerning their animals. This may include tasks such as transferring animals to other units or setting up new breeding pairs. I have a group of researchers whose mice I care for. By looking after the same colonies over a period of time I have become familiar with the characteristics of each colony, allowing me to give them the best possible care and ensure breeding programmes are as efficient as possible. By understanding how well each colony performs I can help the researchers ensure we provide them with appropriate numbers of animals for their work.
A part of my working week involves performing ‘regulated’ procedures which require a personal licence granted by the Home Office after attending and passing relevant training modules. In addition, animals need to be individually identified, which is done with a microchip.
We are required by law to keep accurate records of every animal produced. The records include details of any regulated procedures and of when animals are allocated to researchers. A key part of my job is to ensure that accurate records are kept at all times.
At the end of the day when all work is complete the area must be cleaned ready for use the next day. This involves the cleaning down of work stations, vacuuming and disinfecting of floors and general tidying up in order to maintain the standards of cleanliness within the facility.
I enjoy how the job varies between manual tasks and work requiring both thought and initiative. It can be very interesting and a lot can be learnt from the researchers and the work being carried out by them. We have a large team within the unit so it’s nice to have tea breaks together when we can watch TV and chat in the tearoom or venture outside at lunchtimes.”