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Lab animal identification methods during preclinical research


Lab Animal Identification

Accurate, reliable and reproducible preclinical research data is directly related to the identification of lab animals within a study. Responsible for a lengthy strain of valuable information, these preclinical research details are only traceable effectively if an unmistakeable lab animal identification method has been deployed throughout the study.  

What are the laboratory animal identification tools?

Although it depends on the length and size of the preclinical research study as to which lab animal identification route is taken, many tried and tested methods include: 

Ear notching  

Ear tagging  

Radio frequency identification technology 

Branding / Tattooing 

Pairing a chosen method with the typical equipment and laboratory animal management instruments, including racks, cages, and cage cards to name a few, forms the basis of the identification process.  

lab animal identification of mice

Why is lab animal identification important?

Preclinical research is a pivotal stage of the drug development journey, with in vivo research studies being conducted for lead optimisation, generation and assay development.  

Producing an effective report outlines preclinical study activity in line with pharmacological efficacy, pharmacokinetics, toxicity, behavioural assessment and much more. These regulatory bodies evaluate the efficacy and safety of preclinical research data before successfully accelerating the candidate to phase 1 clinical/human trial.  

The journey from discovery to development, and approval to launch depends on the accurate collection of study data. The preclinical phase lasts anywhere from five to eight years, and the lifetime of the mouse averages up to 2 years. Throughout this period, data is generated, collected and assessed frequently.

The only way to achieve FDA review and market distribution is by gathering highly reliable and reproducible data which shows the compound meets basic safe-to-consume queries. If this data is not acquired due to mortality rates of stressed mice, or the data is skewed due to semi-permanent or misread identifications, approval cannot be granted. It’s that simple.

lab animal identification of colony cages
browse our lab identification methods

Somark are lab animal identification specialists

At Somark we are reforming and modernizing the way animal-based laboratory research takes place. Traditional methods of lab animal identification introduce inadvertent human error and inaccurate record keeping.   

Up to 9 out of 10 clinical trials fail; a key factor is human error during the animal-based research phase. Somark therefore spent over a decade developing two new methods of lab animal identification which fall outside of the typical notching and tagging approach.  

After assessing what challenges are important to overcome with laboratory animal management and respective identification methods, Somark set out to create a product and platform which allows for accurate, real time recording of animals’ characteristics during ongoing study.  

Download our brochure to see how the products were designed specifically for preclinical research


Welfare in lab animal identifications 

Since the most common laboratory animal is various strains of mice, both Labstamp and Digitail were developed specifically for use in laboratory rodents. These preclinical animal models are the only present method of ensuring that only the safest candidates progress to human trials, opening new opportunities for advancements in medical treatments.  

The use of these animal models however is governed by regulatory bodies, for example, the FDA expects a report that delves into the use of the rodents, the quantity and the justification of their usage. This aligns with the three Rs of laboratory animal use during research as many R&D businesses replace, reduce or refine their approaches.  

The lab animal identification methods available to the everyday researcher can vary from ear notching, tagging, microchipping or branding. Some of these methods are seen to put animal welfare to the back of the priority queue which has a significant impact on the collection and overall accuracy of research data.  

Universal IACUC/Ethics approval 

find your ideal mouse identification methods at Somark

What is the most popular way of animal identification?

The most common form of identification used in laboratory animals are ear tags. Since 95% of laboratory animals are made up of mice and rats, tagging and notching became simultaneously popular for its cost effective approach to identification of hundreds of thousands of lab rodents (depending on study size).  

It is often perceived that these manual methods of lab animal identification are less painful and stressful than tattooing or RFID technology.  

In actual fact, an in-depth comparison conducted by our ConfiDence Manager, along with a journal entry from the JAALAS, shows that due to the difficulty in reading tags and notches at greater distances, throughout the lifetime of a study, a laboratory rodent will be subject to more handling, more replacement tags and more restraint than if they were to have the permanent Labstamp tail tattoo or the Digitail Tag. 


Browse our comparisons:

Improved animal welfare

Ear tagging vs Labstamp
Cost effective

Ear notching and tagging vs RFID technology

Ear notching vs Labstamp

The benefits of using Somark for lab animal identification

As mentioned, both our laboratory animal identification methods are designed purposefully for the preclinical research lab. Their usage comes with several features and benefits: 

Accurate – Both products eliminate misreads and errors in data by removing the involvement of human interaction, transforming ID reads into an automated process.  

Permanent – Both Labstamp and Digitail are assured to last the lifetime of the lab rodent during their study involvement, even longitudinal studies.  

Unique and individual – We’ve ensured that our approach to unique ID is scalable, with over 120 million lab rodents used each year our 3 alpha-numeric character sequence and 24 character ID can be amended per mouse per study.  

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What next?

Schedule a free no-obligation demo with an expert technician and experience the full functionality from Somark.

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