Dark Rearing Schematics


The dark chamber has been created and constructed by Daniel Shin, Zoey Keeley and Noah Gilman with invaluable input from Frank Mello and Steve Van Hooser

It is conveniently located in the ferret room in Foster, such that personnel doing ferret care can also do dark rearing care.

There are two motor fans sucking in air from each chamber and exhausting it outside. These motor fans should always stay on.

If you have any additional questions, please contact Daniel Shin (dshin@brandeis.edu)

Protocol for Dark Rearing

1. Locate two night vision goggles and spare batteries

2. Locate keys to dark and ante chamber doors. Both doors use the same key.

3. Bring with you into the ante chamber:

- paper towels

- scale with non LED light

- plastic bin

- black trash bag

- construction paper sheets for the cage.

- scoop of purine food

4. Equip night vision goggle

5. Put the key into the dark chamber door but do not open the door

6. Close the ante chamber door and turn on night vision goggle

7. Carefully step into the dark chamber and do the following

- Weigh each ferret

- Temporarily move the ferrets into an empty cage

- With a paper towel, remove any waste/poop

- Carefully fold the construction paper sheet and put it in the black trash bag

- Put in the new construction paper sheet

- Transfer ferrets back into cage

- Replenish dry food, wet food and water

8. Move out of the dark chamber and close the dark chamber door

9. Ensure that the dark chamber door is locked.

10. Open the ante chamber door.

Light Proof Inspection

Test the room regularly to ensure no light is coming in by leaving a roll of film in the room. On the first day, pull out a small portion of the film (1 or 2 squares). The next day, pull out another 1 or 2 squares, etc. Test the film by having it developed at CVS. If the room is 99.99% dark, the CVS should return blanks and charge $0.00

In theory, if there is no light leaking into the dark chamber, there should be no light being captured by the film. Hence, there is nothing to develop.

Dark & Ante Chamber Construction

Before building the dark rearing room, ensure that you have:

- Saw that can cut through 80/20 material

- An open space to paint and dry plywood

- A supplier for large dimensioned plywood

- A powersaw to cut plywood

- Personnel to cut 80/20 and plywood to specific dimensions

- A supplier for 80/20 material

- Permission to build dark rearing room inside ferret/rodent room with facilities manager

Step by Step Instructions

1. Order 80/20 supplies and give specific dimensions to personnel qualified to cut 80/20 material.

2. Pick up 80/20 supplies and bring to area where you'll be making the dark rearing room

3. Leave out 80/20 material for doors. It may be easier to build the 80/20 frame around the wood.

4. Identify and differentiate dark chamber and ante chamber and whic direction the room will be facing. Remember that the general entrance will be through the ante chamber.

5. Carefully assemble the 80/20 material by attaching the 80'' bars and assemble one corner of the dark chamber using L connectors. You should have used three 80'' bars.

6. Assemble the other corner of the dark chamber by using two 80" bars and L connectors. Three bars should be lying flat on the ground and two bars should be vertical (acting as columns) in respect to the ground.

7. Attach one 78'' bar in the middle of each 80'' bar lying on the floor with either T or straight connectors. The 78" bars should all be vertical in respect to the ground and will act as support columns. Note that they're 78" as we will be adding a 1" bar horizontally on top later.

8. At this point, you should have used three 78" bars and five 80'' bars.

9. Obtain a 76" bar. Attach two 77" bars with at least 32'' in between the two 77" bars. The 77" bars will be the door frames/columns.

10. Repeat step 9 with another 76" bar and two 77" bars.

11. Attach two 80'' double extrusion bars with T connectors, completing the corners of the dark chamber. The two 80" double extrusion bars should be vertical in respect to the ground and acting as columns. The double extrusion bar should face inward. If the bar is not facing inward, this will create obvious problems and not allow you to connect bars for the door frame.

12. With the door frame assembly you made in step 9, simply attach it such that the dark chamber has 4 walls with one of the walls having a door frame.

13. The dark chamber should be built with bars lying on the ground and vertical columns (we will do the roof later)

14. Obtain two 60" bars and attach them to the double extrusion bars. The bars should be lying downwards, parallel of each other. This is the start of the ante chamber.

15. Similiar to step 7, attach a 78" bar in the middle of both 60" bars. The 78" bar should be vertical in respect to the ground.

16. To the additional door frame that was made in step 10, attach an 80" bar on each side such that the 80" bars are vertical in respect to the ground.

17. Attach the door frame to the ante chamber. By now, all vertical columns should be assembled.

18. Add hinges to the right side of the door frame such that the door is opened via pulling rather than pushing (in case an individual bumps into the door).

19. Carefully attach a 78" bar bisecting the square-like ceiling of the dark chamber.

20. Carefully attach a 58" bar bisecting the rectangular-like ceiling of the ante chamber.

21. Simple insert and secure a 78" double extrusion bar on top of each door frame. The 78" doulble extrusion bar should align tightly with all 80" vertical bars/columns.

22. Pause at this step. Re-measure all sides, doors and frames. Record dimensions for plywood.

23. Designate an area to paint and dry wood. the larger the room, the better. The Majic Paints 8-0048-1 Latex Flat Barn & Fence Paint is almost odorless and will not have strong odors.

24. Obtain necessary painting equipment (rollers may be ideal), paint (Majic Paints 8-0048-1 Latex Flat Barn & Fence Paint) and material to cover the floor (old bed sheets, newspapers, etc.)

25. Obtain plywood with appropriate measurments and paint black. Wait for one day minimum to dry and repaint any areas as necessary

26. Carefully transport plywood to dark rearing room. The boards will be heavy.

27. Carefully fit plywood into the slots of the 80/20 material. Be very careful. The plywood should be somewhat bendable, but do not bend too much or it will break.

28. Check to see that the 80/20 door with hinges is working properly.

29. Measure dimensions of the 80/20 door and obtain plywood. Paint plywood similar to step 25. Transport plywood to dark rearing room and fit into the slots of the 80/20 door.

30. Cut one hole (diameter 4") near the bottom left of one wall of the ante chamber and one wall of the dark chamber. Use a powersaw if available.

31. Carefully insert black air duct and fold such that no light can enter. This will be the vent.

32. Cut one 4" hole on the upper right on the wall opposite of the dark chamber and ante chamber. Carefully install the 4" inline fan such that the fan is pulling air from inside the room and blowing it out.

33. Install black air duct to the rear and front of each inline fine. Create corners with the black air duct such that no light can enter.

34. Furnish both chambers with a small table. Ensure that the door can still open without hitting the table.

35. Wheel in animal cage and leave in dark chamber.

36. Check to see that the dark chamber is light proof with Black and White Print Film Tri-X 400TX 35mm

37. Label outside of room with warning signs. May be best to tape around the dark room such that individuals do not accidentally touch the room (museum style).


80/20 material - 80/20 T Slotted Stock Bar and 80/20 T Extrusion Stock Bar

Dark chamber - room where animals will be kept in complete darkness

Ante chamber - room where individuals can put on night vision goggles and prepare for dark chamber

Plywood - plywood that is not already painted is ideal as paint will be more adhesive

Further information can be found here https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1RpFJ3O-YyANYl_EF1vxc1qKaRe00RRLWqHqIDxhKnuc/edit?usp=sharing

**Dark Room Adjustments to be made 6/2022:

Dark Room Adjustments/Improvements

  • Widen doors to allow for easier movement of racks into and out of room

    • It would be ideal to have the doors wide enough to allow the racks to be moved in/out while food containers are attached to the outside of the doors

  • Fix doorknob of inner door

  • Cut ramp to fit inner door