Brown, A. 2023. Aced it! Performing large volume survival bleeds in rabbits. Laboratory Animal Science Professional 11(3) (May/June), 44-46.

New Zealand White rabbits are commonly used for polyclonal antibody production, which can require collecting no more than 10% of total body weight every two weeks (approximately 20 ml of blood for a 4 kg rabbit). In order to collect this volume, staff technicians needed to develop an efficient, repeatable process that maintains the integrity of the blood vessels used and ensures the safety of both animals and researchers. The rabbit is placed into a metal rabbit restrainer that allows it to hide its face while exposing its ears manipulation. The rabbit is secured snugly with the back and top plates so it cannot kick, but not so tightly that it can’t breathe or adjust its position. Lidocaine/prilocaine cream is applied to the ear. Rabbits may flinch during the initial injection of acepromazine, either dislodging the needle entirely or causing extravascular injection. Applying lidocaine/prilocaine cream to the ear 5 minutes before venipuncture can prevent this reaction. Creating this standardized process for large-volume blood sampling in rabbits has reduced the number of cannulation attempts per procedure and the length of time each rabbit is handled and restrained. This, in turn, preserves the vessels’ integrity, allowing for a longer and more comfortable term of study for each animal.

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