Rutgers LAS

Comparative Medicine Resources (CMR)


Pithing is an acceptable method of euthanasia for amphibious frogs such as Leopard Frogs. The following guidelines should be followed. Procedures other than those recommended below must be approved by the Animal Care and Facilities Committee.

  1. Pithing requires dexterity and skill and should be done only by trained personnel. Personnel who will perform pithing should be named in the animal use protocol.
  2. Faculty should use judgement in deciding whether to perform pithing in the presence of students. It may be upsetting to some students, and if the object of a lesson is not to teach the actual procedure, it may better to pith animals when students are not present.
  3. Frogs should be cooled to 4 degrees C. This may not affect pain thresholds but will facilitate handling.
  4. Frogs should be double pithed. Double pithing involves destroying the brain and spinal cord. To destroy the brain, the pithing needle should be inserted into the foramen magnum and the brain destroyed quickly by lateral and vertical movement of the needle tip inside the brain case. The pithing needle should then be inserted into the spinal column to destroy the spinal cord.
  5. Pithing should not be used for Xenopus laevis (African Clawed Frogs) as it is difficult to bend the head forward to expose the atlanto-occipital space.


  1. 1993 Report of the AVMA Panel on Euthanasia
  2. Guide to the Care and Use of Experimental Animals, vol. II Canadian Council on Animal Care, 1984
  3. Guidelines for the use of live amphibians and reptiles in field research, 1987
  4. Laboratory Animal Medicine, Fox, Cohen and Loew (eds), Academic Press, ACLAM series, 1984, p 555.