The effect of different oral antibiotics on the gastrointestinal microflora of a wild rodent (Aethomys namaquensis)

Comp Biochem Physiol A Mol Integr Physiol. 2004 Aug;138(4):475-83. doi: 10.1016/j.cbpb.2004.06.010.


Gut sterilization via the oral administration of antibiotics facilitates physiological studies of the nutritionally important relationship between intestinal microflora and the host. However, the composition of gut flora is extremely variable, and as a result, the efficacy of antibiotics in achieving gut sterilization varies considerably between species. We tested the effectiveness of three antibiotic cocktails in sterilizing the gut of a rodent pollinator, the Namaqua rock mouse (Aethomys namaquensis). The cocktails were (1) streptomycin sulfate and bacitracin (previously used with domestic mice and rats), (2) chloramphenicol and bacitracin (based on antibiotic screening tests performed on faecal flora) and (3) Baytril 10% oral solution (a veterinary antimicrobial agent containing enrofloxacin). We tested for antibiotic inactivation by determining bacterial viability through fluorescence staining of faecal samples. We also tested techniques to maintain sterility during antibiotic treatment without the benefit of a laminar flow cabinet. Antibiotics were administered orally in food and water consumed ad libitum over 4 consecutive days. Antibiotic effectiveness was assessed by culturing anaerobic bacteria from faecal samples collected before and after each antibiotic treatment. Treatment with Baytril 10% oral solution eliminated or significantly reduced faecal flora, whereas other antibiotics did not. This study clearly demonstrates the importance of testing the effectiveness of antibiotics before their use in studies that involve antibiotic-treated subjects, particularly if these are species previously untested.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Animals
  • Animals, Wild
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / administration & dosage
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Body Weight / drug effects
  • Face / microbiology*
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / drug effects*
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / microbiology*
  • Mice
  • Muridae / microbiology*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents