There is a considerable interest and need for evidence-based recommendations regarding the social housing of laboratory rabbits. This presentation will review the principles surrounding the social housing of laboratory rabbits including; the natural history of the New Zealand White (NZW) rabbit, current regulatory guidelines that provide oversight to rabbit social housing and a brief overview of peer-reviewed literature that provides insight into laboratory rabbit behavior. Rabbits benefit significantly from social housing in a myriad of physical and psychological ways and should be housed accordingly whenever possible. However, many challenges arise from housing adult paired rabbits within a cage setting, which if not mitigated, can be severe. We have developed a process of pair housing our extensive colony of approximately 400 rabbits annually by pairing adult non-related females in addition to related male and related female weanlings. We have developed a behavioral ethogram categorizing expected behaviors during social interactions and what these behaviors may indicate. To provide stable pair maintenance across the lifespan of the pair, we have developed a structured process for intervening with various treatments when certain behaviors are observed. Utilizing these methods over the last 12-month period, we have maintained 172 NZW laboratory rabbit pairs (62% female, 38% male) with only 8% having to be separated for excessive aggression.
Research And Development
Medical Laboratory Technician26%
Animal Care Lab Technician11%
Contract Research Organization (Cro)4%
Manufacturer - Other4%