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Response of adult New Zealand white rabbits to enrichment objects and paired housing.

Authors
  • Huls, W L
  • Brooks, D L
  • Bean-Knudsen, D
Type
Published Article
Journal
Laboratory animal science
Publication Date
Dec 01, 1991
Volume
41
Issue
6
Pages
609–612
Identifiers
PMID: 1667208
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

Enhancing the psychological well-being of laboratory animals has received much attention recently. Although many studies have been undertaken to determine the effects of cage enrichment techniques on dogs and nonhuman primates, other than scant empirical observations, little has been done to measure these events objectively in lagomorphs. We studied adult female New Zealand White (NZW) rabbits to learn if, when given the opportunity, individual rabbits would use different enrichment objects placed in their cages, and to determine if rabbits preferred to be in proximity to one another, or apart. Three different objects were evaluated with eight rabbits individually housed in conventional cages. Each object introduced into individual rabbit cages stimulated substantial interaction, especially chewing behavior. Eight other rabbits were pair-housed in a modified caging system with a special access port between two separate cages. When given a choice, rabbits preferred to be in the same cage with other rabbits. In both studies, individual behaviors were monitored, as well as either the type of interaction and percentage of observations spent with each object or, in the housing study, percentage of observations involved with different types of activity, and relative location of the paired rabbits.

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