Rabbits

Rabbits of all strains are used in laboratory research, especially in studies of bacteriology, physiology, and nutrition. Researchers also use them in clinical laboratories to conduct hormone studies and to produce biologics.

Rabbits are usually obtained from an outside source in the size and number required for a particular experiment. To make sure you have a good supply of uniform animals, it is best to plan well ahead and order from one supplier. This eliminates having to introduce undesirable variations into the experiment.

Except for future breeders, rabbits should be handled as little as possible. It is easy to injure the rabbit's back unless proper support is provided. Occasionally handling the breeders will accustom them to the cage transfers required for mating. To hold them, firmly grasp the loose skin over the shoulders with one hand and support the weight by placing the other hand under the hindquarters. Rabbits usually will not resist handling by someone they trust. If they need to be restrained, wrapping them in a cloth will help prevent scratching.

The rabbit eliminated two kinds of feces. The "day" feces are hard, round and dry. The "night" feces are soft and encased in a membrane. These night feces are consumed by the rabbits as an important source of nutrients. Fasted rabbits with empty stomachs are difficult to gain because of this practice of coprophagy. The day droppings should be cleaned out regularly by the caretakers.

Newly purchased rabbits should be isolated for at least 21 days. When the rabbit is caged, it should have enough room to stretch out full length to its normal resting position. The cage also should be high enough to permit the rabbit to sit up on its haunches.