Feasibility of using rice hulls as bedding for laboratory mice

Elizabeth T. Carbone, Philip H Kass, Kristin D. Evans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Factors that are considered when selecting laboratory mouse bedding include animal health and comfort, cost, effects on personnel, and bioactive properties. Corncob is economical and facilitates low intracage ammonia but has undesirable influences on some endocrine studies. Rice hulls are an economical material that has not been well characterized as a bedding substrate. In this pilot study, we compared various aspects of bedding performance of rice hulls and other materials. On a per-volume basis, rice hulls were less absorbent than was corncob bedding. Rice hulls had higher odds than did corncob or reclaimed wood pulp of having moisture present at the bedding surface. The results of the absorbency tests coupled with the results of preliminary monitoring of intracage ammonia raised concern about the ability of rice hulls to control ammonia levels sufficiently in cages with high occupancy. However, ammonia was negligible when cages contained 5 young adult female mice. The relative expression of 3 cytochrome p450 genes was compared among mice housed on rice hulls, corncob, reclaimed wood pulp, or pine shavings. The expression of Cyp1a2 was 1.7 times higher in the livers of mice housed on rice hulls than on pine shavings, but other differences were not statistically significant. This study provides information on the merits of rice hulls as laboratory mouse bedding. Their relatively poor moisture control is a major disadvantage that might preclude their widespread use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)268-276
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology


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