Sound levels in rooms housing laboratory animals: an uncontrolled daily variable

Physiol Behav. 1993 Jun;53(6):1067-76. doi: 10.1016/0031-9384(93)90361-i.


High sound levels are known to have adverse effects on the behaviour and physiology of laboratory animals, yet their acoustic environment is rarely monitored. In particular, high-frequency sounds that are above the limit of human hearing, but are well within the limits of many laboratory species (i.e., ultrasounds), are usually ignored. In this study, the acoustic environment of laboratory animals was investigated in a variety of different animal facilities. Sound pressure levels (dB SPL) were monitored for periods up to 24 h over two frequency ranges: a relatively low range (0.01-12.5 kHz), and a high range (12.5-70 kHz). While background sound levels in undisturbed situations were generally low (i.e., below 50 dB SPL), marked increases in sound levels often occurred during the working day, producing characteristic daily variations in the sound profile. Peak SPLs commonly reached values of 80-95 dB in the low-frequency range and 50-75 dB in the higher range. In most cases, sound levels were low over weekends. The results suggested that human activities were a very important source of sound in most animal facilities. In a few situations (e.g., rabbits, marmosets, dogs), the animals themselves provided a significant contribution to the acoustic environment. It is clear that the acoustic environment of laboratory animals is a daily variable that is usually uncontrolled and that may have important implications for behavioural and physiological experiments and for animal welfare.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animal Welfare*
  • Animals
  • Animals, Laboratory*
  • Arousal*
  • Callithrix
  • Cats
  • Circadian Rhythm
  • Ferrets
  • Loudness Perception
  • Mice
  • Noise*
  • Pitch Perception
  • Psychoacoustics
  • Rabbits
  • Rats
  • Social Environment*
  • Sound Spectrography
  • Species Specificity
  • Ultrasonics