Recent studies have suggested that rats prefer an ambient temperature (Tamb) of approximately 27°C (Brown and Le 2011). However, following surgical stress, most rats are allowed to recover at normal room temperature (approximately 22°C). Housing rats at temperatures below or above the ambient temperature of 27°C will lead to a cold or heat stress response which hinders surgical recovery. Indications of thermal stress during recovery include changes in food and water consumption, inadequate weight gain, and poor maintenance of core temperature including alterations in circadian rhythm. Long term consequences of cold and heat stress post-surgery remain unexplored despite the significant physiologic effects on the animal. The eventual goal of this study is to determine if housing rats at various Tambs will lead to a significant difference in surgical outcomes based on the ambient recovery temperature. These data will enable a better understanding of how current animal care guidelines may enable a significant thermal stress following surgical instrumentation in laboratory animals and how these stressors will potentially affect an animal’s viability for use in animal research.

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