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The Effect of an Environmental Enrichment Device on Individually Caged Rabbits in a Safety Assessment Facility

The primary enclosure of a laboratory animal’s environment should encourage species-typical behavior and enhancement of the animal’s well-being, as indicated by the Guide. Enrichment devices have been documented to decrease the incidence of stereotypical behaviors and increase overall activity of rabbits. An 8-week study was performed to evaluate the effect of an environmental enrichment device, stainless-steel rabbit rattles on spring clips, on individually housed rabbits in a Safety Assessment facility. We used 48 New Zealand White rabbits; the devices were placed on cages of 32 study rabbits, and 16 control rabbits had no devices. Food consumption measurements and observations of device manipulations (taken during a predetermined peak interaction 1-h timeframe) were collected 5 days per week

Evaluation of Objects and Food for Environmental Enrichment of NZW Rabbits

The Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals states that both structural and social environments should be considered when addressing the husbandry needs of laboratory animals. The purpose of this study was to investigate environmental enrichment strategies that could potentially enhance the well-being of rabbits. Male and female 6-week old New Zealand White rabbits were divided into three groups: food-enriched (Bunny Stix, Bunny Blocks, or celery), non-food enriched (Jingle Ball, Kong toy, or Nylabone), and not enriched. Animals were given a particular enrichment for 1 h daily for 15 days. Home cages were fitted with specially designed plexiglass doors, which allowed the animals’ interactions with the objects to be videotaped. The amount of time the animal interacted with each object and the total activity during the 1-h taped session were recorded for each rabbit.

Environmental Enrichment of New Zealand White Rabbits Living in Laboratory Cages

The primary goal of environmental enrichment should be the avoidance of abnormal behaviors in laboratory animals such as rodents, lagomorphs, dogs, cats, and nonhuman primates. A total of 13 male single-housed New Zealand White rabbits were offered 3 different toys, and the time spent chewing on the toys instead of on the cage was evaluated. Each rabbit was offered each of the toys for 2 separate 1-week periods. Each rabbit was monitored for 15 minutes 4 times a week for a total of total 1 hour per week. Observations included, 1-hour of baseline data before the toys were offered, for a total of 2 and 2 hours of observation per rabbit per toy.