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A Behavioral Comparison of New Zealand White rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) Housed Individually or in Pairs in conventional laboratory cages

Despite their gregarious nature, rabbits used for research are often housed individually due to concerns about aggression and disease transmission. However, conventional laboratory cages restrict movement, and rabbits housed singly in these cages often perform abnormal behaviors, an indication of compromised welfare. Pairing rabbits in double-sized cages could potentially improve welfare by providing both increased space and social stimulation.

Social Behavior of Adult Male New Zealand White Rabbits Housed in Groups or Pairs in the Laboratory

Rabbits are usually singly housed in laboratories, but a new emphasis on providing social housing for social species has prompted exploration of alternative housing for this species. However, a paucity of literature on the social behavior of rabbits in captivity has prevented scientific-based recommendations for appropriate housing. This study involved a descriptive analysis of the social behavior of rabbit bucks in the laboratory in 3 different housing situations: in groups in pens, in pairs in cages, and singly in cages. Based on study observations and the natural history of wild rabbits, bucks engage in affiliative social behaviors, but current caging may not allow for the expression of species-typical behaviors, thereby resulting in continued aggression.

The Social Nature of European Rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus)

ncreasing concerns regarding the wellbeing of laboratory animals have caused biomedical research stakeholders to reconsider traditional housing of laboratory species and to provide social companionship for social species. European rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) are commonly individually housed in research facilities despite the occurrence of social groups in the wild. Here we review the current literature to provide a comprehensive description of the social behaviors and preferences of rabbits in the wild and in captivity. The implications of these studies regarding social housing of laboratory rabbits are discussed.

Human Infant Pants for Postoperative Protection
during Social Housing of New Zealand White
Rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus)

Elizabethan collars (E-collars) are commonly used in various species to safeguard healing wounds. However, E-collars inadvertently restrict the expression of normal species-typical behaviors, including coprophagy, self-grooming, and social housing. To maintain social housing in accordance with recommendations in the 8th edition of the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, we implemented the use of human infant pants instead of E-collars for postsurgical protection. We retrospectively reviewed the medical records of 154 intact male New Zealand white rabbits (age, 2 to 3 mo) regarding the use of E-collars (group 1; n = 72) compared with human infant pants (group 2; n = 82) for postoperative protection after 308 femoral angioplasty procedures.