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An animal technician is responsible for the care and welfare of laboratory animals used in scientific and medical research.
The work contributes to developing treatments for diseases and new methods of diagnosis. Some technologists at certain levels are also directly involved in experimental work.
The majority of animals used are rats and mice, but other species are needed. The different requirements of each species and each set of experiments means the working environment varies considerably.
Animal research is strictly regulated in the UK and a high level of animal welfare is required. Animal technicians must understand this law and make sure it is adhered to, as well as trying to improve the quality of life for laboratory animals.
Animal technicians are in daily contact with animals, therefore much of the work involves routine tasks essential to the care and welfare of the animals, including:
Technicians may be involved in designing studies and setting the conditions and protocols that will provide scientists with the information required. They need to understand the physical, behavioural and environmental requirements of individual species and be able to predict and interpret the animals' responses.
Experienced technicians help to breed animals especially for use in research. They monitor pregnancies, care for newborn animals and measure weight gain and growth.
Technicians play a key role in selecting animals for studies as well as carrying out and developing dosing, assessment and sampling techniques. Some understanding of the science supporting individual studies is required in such cases.
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