One of the goals of environmental enrichment is to encourage species-typical behaviors, while discouraging abnormal behaviors or stereotypies. Assessing the effectiveness of various enrichment modalities can be challenging, particularly for prey species such as rabbits that exhibit
freezing responses in the presence of people. In this study, we housed rabbits in 3 different sized cages and observed their behaviors. The 3 cage sizes were our standard rabbit housing cage, a medium sized cage, and a large run. Based on analysis of the recordings, ethograms were constructed
and behaviors were quantified. The rabbits in large runs spent more time performing active, exploratory behaviors (431 ± 74 s) than rabbits in the standard cages (184 ± 55 s). However, space constraints inside research facilities often make it impractical to house rabbits in
large runs. Therefore, we decided to explore if enrichment devices could promote the expression of active behaviors, similar to those displayed by rabbits housed in the large runs. We selected 3 devices: a hanging toy, a destructible device, and a dig bin. All 3 enrichment devices promoted
more time spent performing active, exploratory behaviors (389 ± 48, 463 ± 50, and 420 ± 44 s, respectively), compared with control rabbits housed without an enrichment device (226 ± 53 s). We also analyzed the fecal glucocorticoids of rabbits after shipping or surgery
to determine if enrichment devices could mitigate the physiologic impact of these stressors. We found no significant differences in fecal glucocorticoid levels between rabbits that experienced the stressor and rabbits that did not, or between rabbits with or without enrichment devices. Overall,
the provision of larger caging and/or addition of enrichment devices encouraged a broad spectrum of active, species-typical rabbit behaviors, suggestive of improved animal welfare.
No References for this article.
No Supplementary Data.
No Article Media
Document Type: Research Article
Biologic Resources Laboratory, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois;, Email: [email protected]
Biologic Resources Laboratory, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
July 1, 2020
This article was made available online on June 10, 2020 as a Fast Track article with title: "Behavioral Effects of Cage Size and Environmental Enrichment in New Zealand White Rabbits".
More about this publication?
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.
Attention Members: To access the full text of the articles, be sure you are logged in to the AALAS website.
Attention: please note, due to a temporary technical problem, reference linking within the content is not available at this time
- Editorial Board
- Information for Authors
- Submit a Paper
- Subscribe to this Title
- Membership Information
- Information for Advertisers
- For issues prior to 1997
- Institutional Subscription Activation
- Ingenta Connect is not responsible for the content or availability of external websites