Rabbits

The traditional way to keep rabbits is to house them one to a cage to facilitate handling, preclude fighting, and minimize the risk for spread of infections. During the last 10 years, there has been movement away from fabricating rabbit cages with stainless steel toward warmer plastics, such as NORYL® (GE), which is opaque, lightweight, nontoxic, and withstands the sanitizing temperatures of cage washers. In-cage enrichment strategies have included a shelf in the cage, making it possible for the rabbits to utilize more of the cage volume than just the floor and to find a hiding or "burrowing" place underneath. the shelf.

Figure 8.28 Rabbits group housed on the room floor. Certain types of studies that involve holding rabbits for long periods of time, such as polyclonal antibody production protocols, allow for group housing of rabbits. Experience shows that most female rabbits readily adapt to being housed in groups, where they benefit from social interactions and exercise.

Figure 8.28 Rabbits group housed on the room floor. Certain types of studies that involve holding rabbits for long periods of time, such as polyclonal antibody production protocols, allow for group housing of rabbits. Experience shows that most female rabbits readily adapt to being housed in groups, where they benefit from social interactions and exercise.

Single housing is usually the sole alternative for housing male rabbits that have a strong tendency to fight when housed together. Female rabbits housed together may also fight, but with careful management and observation to reduce fighting and the resulting fight wounds, it is possible to successfully house them in groups of two or more in cages or on the floor (Figure 8.28). Some rabbit cage racks are designed with pairs of cages separated with a removable divider. This allows doubling the floor area for housing two adult females together or for using it as a kindling cage and for housing a female and her nursing young. Pair housing females is especially beneficial when rabbits are kept for longer periods, as those that are used for antibody production.

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