IACUC Policy: Sharpening of Guillotines and Scissors Used for Decapitation of Rodents    
Policy # IBT-209.00 IACUC Approval: March 24, 2014

PHS Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals requires IACUCs to use the recommendations of the AVMA Guidelines on Euthanasia which states: “This method is acceptable with conditions if performed correctly, and it may be used in research settings when its use is required by the experimental design and approved by the IACUC. The equipment used to perform decapitation should be maintained in good working order and serviced on a regular basis to ensure sharpness of blades.” 

This policy applies to all animal care and use subject to oversight by Texas A&M Health Science Center animal facilities and labs. 

IACUC must review and approve methods of euthanasia submitted by the Principal Investigator. 

Principal Investigator (PI) is responsible for ensuring that anyone performing decapitation is properly trained. The responsibility for ensuring sharpness of the guillotine/scissors rests with the PI.

AVMA – American Veterinary Medical Association

Euthanasia – “Good Death” in the Greek

I.  The Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) requires that individuals using guillotines and scissors are well versed in the correct use and maintenance in order to assure proper function and humane euthanasia. The guillotine/scissor action should be smooth with no perceptible binding or resistance. The IACUC recommends the following technique to assess the sharpness of guillotine/scissors: guillotine/scissors is/are sharp enough if it will cut through a wet piece of weighing paper without dragging it between the blades and sticking. Problems should be reported to the PI. Guillotines should also be periodically lubricated.

  1. Blades must be rust-free, sharp, and decapitate with minimal force.
  2. Personnel using a guillotine/scissors should make sure that it is free of rust, operates smoothly, and is clean prior to use.
  3. The frequency of guillotine and scissors sharpening will depend on the animal species involved and volume of use.
  4. All laboratories using a guillotine/scissors for euthanasia should be prepared to explain methods of maintaining sharpness during inspections.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the Attending Veterinarian at 281-410-8164.

1. AVMA Guidelines on Euthanasia. 2013.


Version 00 -  Initial Approval: March 24, 2014