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Reptile & Aquatics

The Reptile and Aquatics team provides the Institute’s research staff with the highest quality laboratory animal care and support services for non-mammalian species.

Overview of Services

Research Services

The Reptile and Aquatics facility works with a wide variety of animal species to support the diverse research being conducted at the Institute. A knowledgeable, experienced, and trained staff provide specialized husbandry and technical services for each species. The facility is fully accredited with AAALAC International and all housing, husbandry practices, and veterinary care for the animals are in compliance with the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, and the Public Health Service Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, as well as all other institutional, state, and local regulations.

Species currently housed include:

  • Whiptail lizards (Aspidoscelis spp.)
  • Veiled Chameleons (Chamaeleo calyptratus)
  • Zebrafish (Danio rerio)
  • Mexican Tetra (Astyanax mexicanus)
  • Starlet Sea Anemones (Nematostella vectensis)
  • Planaria (Schmidtea spp., Dugesia spp., Phagocata spp., Girardia spp.)
  • Apple Snails (Pomacea canaliculata)

Our staff offer a wide variety of technical services based on the needs of the research programs supported. These include colony management, animal identification, breeding, embryo harvest, tissue sampling, genotyping, histology preparation, in vitro fertilization, cryopreservation, and the creation of genetically modified lines.


  • The Reptile and Aquatics Facility uses the following equipment in its work:
  • Pentair Fish Systems - Single and Multi-Rack Housing
  • Custom-built, Species-Specific Recirculating and Flow-through Housing Systems
  • Ocean Optics Spectrometer
  • Leica DM IL Series Inverted Microscopes
  • Leica Stereomicroscopes with Fluorescence and Microscope Cameras

Our research organisms


The Invertebrate Team is comprised of skilled and dedicated members devoted to providing the utmost care of the aquatic invertebrate animals studied at the Institute. We are on-site seven days a week to provide animal husbandry and technical services.



Cavefish: Otherwise known as the blind Mexican cavefish, this fish is proving to be useful in studying the genetic basis of developmental and behavioral evolution. These cavefish derived from surface fish populations that became geographically isolated in at least 29 different caves, independently evolving for millions of years.

Zebrafish: The Zebrafish team provides animal husbandry coverage and technical services seven days a week.

A bright green chameleon in the hand of a research scientist wearing blue latex medical gloves


The Reptile Facility provides the institute’s research staff with the highest quality laboratory animal care and support services for reptilian species. Specialized husbandry is provided for a wide variety of animal species.

Reptile Species currently housed include:

Featured Publications

Laboratory Fish in Biomedical Research

Baumann DP, Ingalls I. Mexican tetra (Astyanax mexicanus): biology, husbandry, and experimental protocols. In: 1st Edition, L D'Angelo, P de Girolamoeds. Elsevier Inc.; 2022:311-347

CRISPR-Cas13d Induces Efficient mRNA Knockdown in Animal Embryos

Kushawah G, Hernandez-Huertas L, Abugattas-Nunez Del Prado J, Martinez-Morales JR, DeVore ML, Hassan H, Moreno-Sanchez I, Tomas-Gallardo L, Diaz-Moscoso A, Monges DE, Guelfo JR, Theune WC, Brannan EO, Wang W, Corbin TJ, Moran AM, Sanchez Alvarado A, Malaga-Trillo E, Takacs CM, Bazzini AA, Moreno-Mateos MA.  Dev Cell. 2020;54:805-817 e807.

Gamete collection and in vitro fertilization of Astyanax mexicanus

Peuss R, Zakibe Z, Krishnan J, Merryman MS, Baumann DP, Rohner N.  J Vis Exp. 2019. doi: 10.3791/59334.

Management of animal care and use programs in research, education, and testing

O'Rourke DP, Cox JD, Baumann DP. Nontraditional Species. In: 2nd Edition, RH Weichbrod, GAH Thompson, and JN Norton, eds. Boca Raton (FL): CRC Press/Taylor & Francis; 2018:579-596.

Captive Care, Raising, and Breeding of the Veiled Chameleon (Chamaeleo calyptratus).

Diaz RE, Jr., Anderson CV, Baumann DP, Kupronis R, Jewell D, Piraquive C, Kupronis J, Winter K, Greek TJ, Trainor PA. Cold Spring Harb Protoc. 2015;10:943-9

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