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The Sprague Dawley rat is an outbred multipurpose breed of albino rat used extensively in medical research.[1][2][3][4] Its main advantage is its calmness and ease of handling.[5] This breed of rat was first produced by the Sprague Dawley farms in Madison, Wisconsin (later to become the Sprague Dawley Animal Company). The breeding facilities were purchased first by Gibco and then by Harlan (now Harlan Sprague Dawley) in January 1980.[6]

The average litter size of the Sprague Dawley rat is 10.5. The adult body weight is 250-300g for females, and 450-520g for males. The typical life span is 2.5 - 3.5 years.[7]. These rats typically have increased tail to body length ratio compared with Wistar rats.


  1. Drachman RH, Root RK, Wood WB Jr. (1966). Studies on the effect of experimental nonketotic diabetic mellitus on antibacterial defense. J Exp Med 124: 227–40.
  2. Hsu CC, Lai SC (2007). Matrix metalloproteinase-2, -9 and -13 are involved in fibronectin degradation of rat lung granulomatous fibrosis caused by Angiostrongylus cantonensis. Int J Exp Pathol 88: 437–43.
  3. Horiuchi N, Suda T, Sasaki S, Takahashi H, Shimazawa E, Ogata E. (1976). Absence of regulatory effects of 1alpha25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 on 25-hydroxyvitamin D metabolism in rats constantly infused with parathyroid hormone. Biochem Biophys Res Commun 73: 869–75.
  4. Sukov W, Barth DS (1998). Three-dimensional analysis of spontaneous and thalamically evoked gamma oscillations in auditory cortex. J Neurophysiol 79: 2875–84.
  5. "Online Medical Dictionary". URL accessed on 2007-12-15.
  6. Harlan Sprague Dawley. URL accessed on 2007-12-15.
  7. Ace Animals website Retrieved on 2008-3-15.