Standard on Disposal of Rodent Carcasses


University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Standard on Disposal of Rodent Carcasses



The standards and procedures described below provide guidance to all researchers and animal handlers for safely disposing of rodent carcasses across research animal facilities at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-Chapel Hill).


This Standard applies to all personnel engaged in the euthanasia of laboratory rodents and/or disposal of carcasses. The standards described in this document apply to the euthanasia (the act of inducing humane death in an animal with minimal pain and distress) and carcass disposal of all laboratory rodents.

Animals, carcasses, and other items identifiable to the public as animal research related materials must remain covered at all times when not inside an animal housing facility or laboratory designated for animal work.

It is essential to follow these procedures to ensure that animals are humanely euthanized, and that personnel coming into contact with rodent carcasses are not exposed to chemical, radioactive, or biological hazards.

The UNC-Chapel Hill Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) expects that anyone involved in animal work at UNC-Chapel Hill will comply with this Standard. Requests for exceptions to this Standard must be reviewed and approved by the IACUC.


Research personnel MUST remove all animals, dead or alive, from the cage before leaving the cage in Division of Comparative Medicine (DCM) for autoclave or cage wash processing.

It is essential to euthanize all animals properly. Research personnel MUST ensure death before placing animal carcass(es) in the designated carcass containers, located in designated carcass refrigerators/freezers within DCM facilities.

  1. Empty cages must be returned to DCM promptly, following their removal from the DCM facility. Cages (including empty cages) must remain covered while outside the animal facility or lab space (including hallways, during transport, etc.). Please see complete DCM Orientation Packet for full instructions when transporting animals and caging within and between DCM animal facilities.
  2. Following euthanasia (injectable or inhalational) and before disposal, ensure death by performing an approved secondary method. Approved secondary methods include 1) major organ harvest, 2) thoracotomy (surgical incision into the chest wall), 3) cervical dislocation (dislocating the spinal column from the skull or brain), and 4) decapitation (removing the head). See IACUC's Standard on Rat and Mouse Euthanasia for exceptions to secondary physical method requirement.
  3. Place the carcass(es) in a non-polyvinyl chloride (PVC) containing, sealable, transparent plastic bag. These plastic bags are supplied by DCM and are located in the CO2 chamber area and supply carts.
  4. Label the bag with the application identification (protocol) number only. Seal the bag securely. Place the bag with the carcass(es) into the DCM carcass container (ex: Stericycle box) located within designated carcass refrigerators/freezers in each building. (Note: carcasses from DCM diagnostic testing will be labeled ‘DCM necropsy’, and carcasses euthanized via the Euthanex Smartbox System will be labelled ‘ESB’.)
  5. All carcasses are incinerated unless they require special handling procedures as defined by UNC-Chapel Hill Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) on the IACUC hazard forms.
  6. Animals containing some radioactive agents or chemical agents that are classified as hazardous waste must be stored according to EHS recommendations. EHS will retrieve and dispose of these carcasses as defined on the IACUC hazard forms.


Requests for exceptions to this Standard must be reviewed and approved by the IACUC.


IACUC approved Standards:

Related Requirements

External Regulations and Consequences

Failure to comply with this standard may result in a report filed by UNC-Chapel Hill to the National Institutes of Health's Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW) and possible sanctions on the investigator.

University Policies, Standards, and Procedures

For more detailed guidance, please refer to the UNC-Chapel Hill Policy on the Care and Use of Vertebrate Animals for Research, Training and Teaching Purposes.

Contact Information

Contact Information
Subject Contact Telephone

Biosecurity Hazardous agents

Environment, Health and Safety (EHS)


Animal Health and Husbandry

Division of Comparative Medicine (DCM)


Important Dates

Effective Date and title of Approver: 9/25/02; UNC-Chapel Hill IACUC

Revision and Review Dates, Change notes, title of Reviewer or Approver: February 29, 2004; September 14, 2007; August 5, 2010, June 2013, June 2017, November 2017, May 2019 – Replaced DCM references to reflect the new department name DCM; 7/12/2022. September 2023.

Approved by: UNC-Chapel Hill IACUC

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Article ID: 132194
Thu 4/8/21 9:25 PM
Wed 2/14/24 11:46 AM
Effective Date
If the date on which this document became/becomes enforceable differs from the Origination or Last Revision, this attribute reflects the date on which it is/was enforcable.
07/12/2022 12:00 AM
Issuing Officer
Name of the document Issuing Officer. This is the individual whose organizational authority covers the policy scope and who is primarily responsible for the policy.
Issuing Officer Title
Title of the person who is primarily responsible for issuing this policy.
Vice Chancellor
Last Review
Date on which the most recent document review was completed.
10/18/2023 12:00 AM
Last Revised
Date on which the most recent changes to this document were approved.
07/12/2022 12:00 AM
Next Review
Date on which the next document review is due.
10/18/2024 12:00 AM
Date on which the original version of this document was first made official.
09/10/2019 12:00 AM
Responsible Unit
School, Department, or other organizational unit issuing this document.
Research-Institutional Animal Care & Use Committee