Senior Honors Projects, 2020-current

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (BS)


Department of Biology


Justin Brown

Terrie Rife

George Vidal


Based on current guidelines for housing rodents after surgical instrumentation, rodents may be housed at temperatures that hinder surgical recovery and cause thermal stress– room temperature (21°C) being one of them. Rodents are often housed at room temperature since this temperature is easy for humans to be caring for them. However, if recovering rodents are thermally stressed, experimental results will be confounded. To address this issue, Sprague-Dawley rats were surgically instrumented with radiotelemtry thermoprobes (Data Sciences, #TA-10F40) to monitor their core temperatures, then housed at one of five temperatures to assess the effect ambient temperature had on multiple aspects of their recovery from surgical instrumentation. Previous studies have found that when rats, which have not gone undergone surgical instrumentation, can choose their ambient temperature they choose 27°C (Pham-Le and Brown 2012). Knowing this, rats recovering from surgery may benefit from a slightly warmer temperature than their preferred temperature since heat was lost to the environment from the exposing of body cavities during surgery. In this project it was hypothesized that rats recovering at slightly warmer temperatures (30°C and 33°C) than their preferred temperature of 27°C would recover more quickly than rats recovering at colder temperatures (21°C and 24°C). To test the hypothesis, various aspects of recovery were assessed among the groups such as survival rate, return to a normal core temperature (36.5°C), return to pre-surgical weight, food consumption, and water consumption. It was found that rats in the 27°C group had a higher survival rate (80%) than the rats at the warmer groups, which partially rejects the hypothesis.

Surprisingly, there was no trend in the effect of Tamb to the time to return to a normal core temperature of 36.5°C. The statistical analysis for the return to pre-surgical weight, food consumption, and water consumption were not accomplished due to time constraints from COVID-19. The statistically tested data suggests that mild heating may not facilitate surgical recovery as hypothesized. Although, accurate conclusions cannot be made because the sample sizes were too small and further statistical analysis must be done. In the future, larger samples sizes will be obtained to gain more clarification on the effect temperature has on surgical recovery.



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