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Open Access Physiology and Clinical Pathology of Laboratory New Zealand White Rabbits Housed Individually and in Groups

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Rabbits used in the production of antibodies can be housed individually or in groups. This study compared the serum chemistries, antibody production, physiologic plasma cortisol levels, and white blood cell (WBC) counts of female New Zealand White rabbits housed in 2 different housing systems. The control group was housed individually in stainless steel cages, and the experimental group was group-housed on aspen shavings spread on the floor of the animal room. Plastic crates were placed in the group-housing area to provide opportunities for rabbits to hide, and a litter box was available at all times. Both groups received the same food and water and similar environmental enrichment devices. Clinical pathology laboratory evaluations of serum chemistries, immune responses, physiologic parameters such as plasma cortisol, and WBC counts were compared. The group-housed animals had lower WBC counts and higher levels of plasma cortisol than did rabbits individually housed. In addition, the group-housed animals had significantly less weight gain during the first week. Antibody production did not differ between the 2 groups. Group housing appeared to be an appropriate method of housing rabbits for use in research.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2008-03-01

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  • The Journal of the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (JAALAS) serves as an official communication vehicle for the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS). The journal includes a section of refereed articles and a section of AALAS association news. The mission of the refereed section of the journal is to disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed information on animal biology, technology, facility operations, management, and compliance as relevant to the AALAS membership. JAALAS accepts research reports (data-based) or scholarly reports (literature-based), with the caveat that all articles, including solicited manuscripts, must include appropriate references and must undergo peer review.

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