Key steps to help reduce zoonotic disease transmission from rodents

Zoonotic diseases are caused by germs that can spread from animals to humans. Rodent producers and distributors play a key role in preventing zoonotic diseases through good management practices, and educating clients on safe handling and careFootnote 1, Footnote 2.

You can take steps to help keep animals and people healthy!

Housing and Equipment

  • Keep housing in good repair and prevent access of wild rodents or other pests
  • Enclosures and equipment should be made of materials that can be easily cleaned and sanitized


  • Source new animals from reputable breeders that use good disease control practices
  • Isolate new animals and screen for diseases before mixing them with your colony
  • Prevent stress through good nutrition, adequate spacing and environmental enrichment
  • Use antibiotics only when needed, and follow your veterinarian's directions. Treating otherwise healthy animals increases the risk of shedding pathogens and leads to antimicrobial resistance
  • Keep records on sick animals (e.g., location, date, # animals affected)

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Organization: Public Health Agency of Canada

Educate your customers

Anyone can become sick with a Salmonella infection, but children aged 5 years and under, older adults, pregnant women or people with weakened immune systems are at higher risk for contracting serious illness. They should not directly handle rodents or their enclosures.

Hygiene and Cleaning

For all surfaces that animals and animal waste come in contact with:

  1. Clean
    Regularly remove organic material from surfaces by scraping and sweeping BEFORE washing and disinfecting. Dampen surfaces before sweeping to reduce dust
  2. Wash
    Regularly wash surfaces with a detergent, soak equipment in warm soapy water, rinse surfaces and equipment with clean water and let dry completely
  3. Disinfect
    Use animal-friendly disinfectants preferring phenols or quaternary ammonias, following manufacturer's recommendations Footnote 3. Apply with a sprayer, completely covering surfaces or submerge equipment in a bucket, then rinse
  4. Air dry
    All cleaned surfaces, if possible for 24h

For individuals involved with rodent handling:

For feeder rodents:

Useful references:

Footnote 1

PIJAC's Best Management Practices for Feeder Rodent Production and Distribution (July 2017):

Return to footnote 1 referrer

Footnote 2

PIJAC Small Animal Care Standards:

Return to footnote 2 referrer

Footnote 3

Health Canada has a list of approved disinfectants:

Return to footnote 3 referrer

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