2Identification All adult rabbits should be identified individually. The most common identification method is an ear tattoo.A permanent number is tattooed on the central groove inside the pinna, where the number is easy to see
3Ear clipAnother acceptable method of identification is an ear clip that contains a unique identification number. A disadvantage of ear tags is that they may cause a local infection that will not heal until the tag is removed
4CAGING Cage interiorAdult rabbits are housed individually, preferably in cages made of stainless steel. The sides are perforated or made of fine wire mesh to provide circulation, and the front door should allow visualization of the animal.
5CageA mature animal weighing kg requires 4 sq feet, and an animal heavier than 5.4 kg requires 5 sq ft. The USDA, which enforces the Animal Welfare Act regulations, may require more spacious cages than stated in the Guide, and it is important for all facilities subject to USDA inspection to comply with their standards.
6Racks of cagesRabbit cages can be tiered to utilize vertical space within the room. The room, however, should not contain any other animal species. In addition, it is wise to house rabbits where they cannot hear noisy species, such as dogs and nonhuman primates, as they are disturbed by intermittent loud noises
7HousingGood ventilation in the room is important as it supplies oxygen; ventilation dilutes accumulations of ammonia caused by evaporating urine; removes heat generated by the animal's respiration, lights, and equipment; and carries away airborne hair
8Temperature / Humidity Rabbits can tolerate a reasonably wide fluctuation in room temperature; but because of their very dense hair coats, they are susceptible to overheating.Their most comfortable environment is a temperature between 60.8° and 69.8°F with a humidity level of %.
9LightA cycle of 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness is satisfactory for routine housing of rabbits, but increasing the light period to 16 hours, with 8 hours of darkness, facilitates breeding activity
11Nutrition (cont) Cecotropes: Special feces eaten directly from anus, then digestedNot waste materials – rich in organisms from cecumContains nutrients:Amino acidsFatty acidsVitaminShould not see these droppings on bottom of cageAppearance: elongated, green, coated with mucous, strong odor
12Pellet dietUnder natural conditions, rabbits normally live on green herbage nutrients and other plant material.However, in a laboratory setting they are normally fed a pelleted diet that contains % crude protein, not less than 1.5% fat, and % crude fiber
13Nutrition (cont) Commercially prepared pelleted diet Ad lib or restrictedGrass Hay – very importantRich in vitamins, minerals and proteinsTypes available:Timothy grassMeadow grassOat grassRye grassBarley grassBermuda grass
14Nutrition (cont) Fat rabbits do not breed Rabbits that do not breed become fatExcessive Vit A and/or D can lead to toxicityReluctant to move and anorexic
15Acid treatmentAn acid solution should be used on all surfaces, as necessary, to dissolve solidified particulate matter that results from rabbit urine. This is followed by thorough rinsing.
17Pick Up Grasp by scruff with one hand Support Hind quarters with other handNEVERPick up by earsLet rear legs dangle
18Removing the rabbit from its cage With your dominant hand, firmly grasp the rabbit by the scruff of fur behind its neckHave the rabbit face the back of the cageLift gently by the scruffScoop under the hindquarters with your other hand and remove the rabbit from its cage
19Replacing the rabbit into its cage Using the restraint described before, gently place the rabbit into its cage, facing toward the backPlace the hind feet down firstIf the rabbit takes off, it will run toward the back of its cage
20General transport techniques Scruff the rabbit by its neckPlace the rabbit's head under your arm (armpit)Allow the rabbit's body to lie on your lower arm and spread your fingers on either side of the tail, supporting the hindquartersPlace the hand of your upper arm on the dorsal surface of the rabbit to maintain control
21Flying bunny" transport This method is used for aggressive and hard-to-handle rabbitsScruff the rabbit's neck with one hand and grab the skin over the hindquarters with your other handWhile lifting, rotate your fists inward, gently arching the rabbit's backHold firmly- the rabbit may struggle and you don't want to drop it or allow it to hurt itself
22Wiggly RabbitsBunny burritoRabbit restraint devicesCat bag
23HypnotismMethod-Firmly scruff the rabbit's neck with your dominant handCross your nondominant hand underneath to scruff the rumpInvert the rabbit onto its back-Roll the rabbit onto its rumpQuickly lie it on its backTransfer your hand from the rump to the abdomenKeep the rabbit's spine and head straightGently stroke the rabbit's abdomen (the nictitating membrane- 3rd eyelid- should move over the pupil when the rabbit is hypnotizedCheck the pedal reflex by pinching the toes- a properly hypnotized rabbit won't moveTo end the hypnotism, slowly and gently sit the rabbit on its rump and then onto its feet
24Towel wrap (bunny burrito) Place the rabbit on an opened towel Snuggly wrap the towel around the rabbit's body Gently pull out the part you need to work on IMPORTANT: ensure that the rabbit has proper ventilation when using this restraint. Rabbits overheat readily, so constant monitoring is essential!!
25Cat bag-A nylon bag made for restraining cats may be useful for rabbits. Unzipping the appropriate zipper makes the needed body parts readily accessible
26Restraint boxesSeveral different types of restraint boxes specifically made to hold rabbits are commercially available. It is imperative that the box properly fit the size of the rabbit that you are working with in order to avoid injury to the rabbit.
27Venipuncture20 to 25 g needle of suitable length with syringe. (A short bevel needle not more than 1 inch long and a syringe of 5 ml capacity or less is recommended.)Butterfly infusion sets also work well
28VenipunctureVenipuncture of rabbit lateral saphenous veinRabbit jugular stickYou can use the lateral saphenous vein or jugular vein to obtain blood from a rabbit.
29The marginal ear vein is NOT recommended; if a thrombus forms in this vein, it can lead to sloughing of the ear pinna.Use the central artery
30IM- Lumbar musclesIntramuscular injections may be given into the lumbar muscles on either side of the backbone, or into the large muscle groups in the back leg, either anterior or posterior to the femur
32Grooming Nail Trimming: The nails of rabbits can be trimmed, just like the nails of dogs and cats. It is very useful to trim the sharp tips of the nails of rabbits that struggle or are aggressive.The screws of a guillotine-type nail trimmer should face the rabbit, and your fingers should move the hinged part of the handle; the stationary side of the handle should be placed against your thumb.
33It is easy to see the blood vessels (called the "quick") that are located in the nail. It is important not to cut the quick, because bleeding and pain will occur. Use the trimmers to cut the sharp tip that extends beyond the quick. If bleeding does occur, apply a silver nitrate stick to the quick until bleeding ceases (this is painful, because nerves have been exposed, so be as gentle as possible.
34Physical Examination: Research animals must be maintained in a health condition for experimental results to be valid.Look at the rabbit in its cage BEFORE you open the door of the cage.Initial examination- The initial exam should be performed before the rabbit has been handled extensively (i.e. before it's excited).
35Observe the general appearance of the rabbit and how it has been cared for. Does it look well-cared for, unthrifty (with poor hair coat and sunken eyes) or over- or underweight?Describe the rabbit's attitude: is it BAR (bright, alert and responsive), QAR (quiet, alert and responsive), depressed, lethargic, excited or aggressive?
36WeightChanges in an animal's weight are an easy way to monitor its overall health. Gently place the rabbit on the scale and weigh it Record the weight to kilograms
37Vital signsAlong with body weight, the vital signs--temperature, pulse rate and respiratory rate-- are important parameters used to monitor the health of an animal. These values should be obtained early in an exam, before the animal becomes excited.Temperature.– 101.3º-104ºHeart rate beats per minuteRespiratory rate breaths per minute
38Pulse - Respiratory rate Place your index finger on the medial (inside) thigh over the femoral artery. Palpate (feel for) a slight groove and apply gentle pressure until you feel the pulse.Watch the sides of the rabbit or listen with a stethoscope to the animal's breath.
39Systems Examination:When performing a physical examination, it is essential that the entire animal be evaluated in a systematic manner. You should examine the rabbit from its nose to its tail. Develop a routine and follow the same pattern every time that you perform an exam, and you will be less likely to overlook a problem.
40Restraint for Physical Exam One handed palpation-Hold with forearm and tuck into abdomenTwo handed palpation- tuck hindquarter into abdomen and face nose away
47MaturationThe sexual development of a rabbit is strongly dependent on breed, sex, nutrition, and season of birth.In the small and medium breeds of rabbits, females are sexually mature and ready for breeding at 4-1/2 to 5 months.The larger breeds are not ready until 8 or 9 months of age, with the bucks maturing approximately one month later than the does.
48Reproduction (cont) Copulation: Kindling = parturition Take doe to buck’s cageVery fastBuck screams and falls over backward when doneKindling = parturitionSplit parturition can occur – up to 3 daysBabies – “bunnies” or “kits”No postpartum breeding
49Reproductive behaviors In breeding colonies, one buck is maintained for does. The doe is usually taken to the buck's cage and left for minutes. Mating normally occurs rapidly; however the buck may display a form of courtship behavior that includes rapid circling around the female, elevating his hind quarters, walking stiff-legged, and laying his tail flat down against his back or flagging it
50Reproduction (cont) Do not touch bunnies for 3 days after birth Cannibalism does occurYoung doesExcitement, thirst, malnutritionPseudopregnancy commonSterile matingsExcitement by nearby buckMounting by other doesSigns: nest building, mammary enlargement
51PregnancyIf the doe is receptive and the buck is experienced, copulation occurs rapidly, and she will normally ovulate hours after mating. Eighty percent of matings will result in pregnancy, which can be confirmed by marble-sized uterine swellings that can be palpated through the abdominal wall by the th day of gestation.
52Nest boxA nest box should be provided for the pregnant doe as a secluded place for kindling, or giving birth. Nest boxes vary in size, but in general measure " long, " wide, 12" high at the back and 9" high at the front. Hay, straw, or some other form of nesting material should be provided.Several days prior to parturition, the doe will carry the nesting material into the nest box and mix it with fur plucked from her body to form a nest. The nesting box can be removed when the young are 3 weeks of age.
53NewbornAfter a day gestation period, the doe will normally give birth to a litter of 7 or 8 young, weighing grams each.They are hairless for 4 days, have closed eyelids for 7 days, and are poikilothermic; i.e., unable to control their body temperature, for 7 days or more.The doe will normally nurse them for approximately ten minutes in the early morning, and then leave the nest alone
54Reproduction (cont) Kits – Eyes open 7-10 days Begin solid food at 3 weeksWean at 4-6 weeksLactation – milk very richNurse 2-3 times daily as petsWild - nurse only once a day
55JuvenilesIn most commercial production systems, the young are separated from the doe at about 4-1/2 weeks.Does are usually rebred weeks after kindling, when the young are weaned, but they can be mated 15 days after parturition