Prep Lab FAQs

If I find a dead animal, does the MVZ want it for the collection?
MVZ curatorial staff welcomes salvaged material. To donate a salvaged animal, please fill out a MVZ Salvaged Specimen Data Slip and an Accession Donation Form (PDF). Both are available on the door of the 3rd floor freezer in the curatorial area. Carcasses should be placed in a sealed plastic freezer bag and the specimen data slip should go into the bag with the animal. If the carcass is bloody, please protect the data slip by double-bagging. The animal should go into the 3rd floor chest freezer into the “new donations” box (for larger carcasses, contact Terri Barclay (tlynnwong[at] The Accession Donation Form should go to the appropriate Staff Curator (birds, herps, or mammals). If you place an unlabeled animal in any freezer, it will be discarded by curatorial staff. Be aware that some carcasses may be too damaged or degraded to be usable and may be discarded.

Where do I dispose of chemicals and biohazard waste?
Limited amounts of some chemicals (formalin, ethanol) can be poured down the sink, but it is illegal to pour many other chemicals down the sink. Check with Chris Conroy (ondatra[at] or Carol Spencer (atrox[at] before disposal of any chemical, including ethanol and formalin. We re-use chemicals such as ethanol and formalin when possible. Please add these to containers labeled “used ethanol” or “used formalin” in the Herp Lab. Squeeze out any towels or cheesecloth covered in these chemicals into the labeled containers, rinse towels/cheesecloth well in water, and hang to dry above the sink. When in doubt, contact Chris Conroy, the MVZ Safety Officer, or Carol Spencer, Herp Lab Manager.

Any fresh animal materials/residues are considered a bio-hazard (e.g., blood and guts, bloody paper towels, used gloves, etc). It is against VLSB rules to put bio-hazard waste in the trash. It is also inconsiderate to our custodian who has to dispose of our garbage. There is a bio-hazard waste bag in the Prep Lab walk-in freezer on the 1st floor. EH&S removes bio-hazard waste from Prep Lab on a regular basis, and the museum is charged per barrel. If you know you will be working with materials that will create bio-hazardous waste, please contact Terri Barclay (tlynnwong[at]

How can I learn to prepare an animal as a museum specimen?
If you want training in specimen preparation, start by contacting Terri Barclay (tlynnwong[at] Terri runs regular training sessions in the Prep Lab. The other Staff Curators can also train people in specific areas. Please do not ask for help in this area on short notice (e.g., for a research trip). Skilled preparation of specimens takes a good deal of practice. Most people need several days of training, so it’s best to give yourself at least a month to learn.

How can I get access to the specimen prep lab?
Prep Lab is accessed with a Cal 1 ID Card. Contact Terri Barclay (tlynnwong[at] for access permission. Use of the lab must be previously arranged with Terri with at least a week’s notice as the lab has limited space and many people use it. Do not access the walk-in freezer, the Prep Lab supplies, the liquid nitrogen tanks, or the field supplies without contacting Terri first.

How do I euthanize an animal?
Anyone needing to euthanize an animal in the MVZ must be trained by a staff member and listed on an animal use protocol. Isoflurane for euthanizing mammals and birds must be obtained by a Principle Investigator (PI) from the Office of Laboratory Animal Care (OLAC). MS-222, commonly used for euthanizing amphibians and reptiles, is kept in the Herp Lab or in Chris Conroy’s office. Sodium pentobarbitol (Nembutal) is a controlled substance and can only be purchased from OLAC and used by those with extensive background checks. Contact Chris Conroy (ondatra[at] for more information.