Dal Bosco, A., Cartoni Mancinelli, A., Hoy, S. et al. 2020. Assessing the preference of rabbit does to social contact or seclusion: Results of different investigations. Animals 10(2), 286.
The aim of this study was to verify the motivation of rabbit does to social contact or seclusion. The results of two different research activities assessed in Italy (experiment 1) and Germany (experiment 2) through the use of motivational cages are reported. In experiment 1, only the average time of occupation of the group or seclusion zone was recorded of four nulliparous does, while, in experiment 2, the group-housing system provided space for does with kits and consisted of four single areas (nest boxes with individual electronic nest box recognition systems). Experiment 1 showed that does spent a similar amount of time in seclusion or in group (49.61% vs 50.39%, respectively). On the contrary, in experiment 2, does with kits appeared to prefer spending time alone (71.90%) rather than in groups. The presence of kits probably stimulates a hierarchical and aggressive response of the dominant does, with the low-ranking does staying secluded to avoid violent interactions. In fact, in each reproductive cycle, one doe did stay in the group area whereas the other three does used this area in different percentages of time. Further researches are needed to find a good combination of the cage with the does’ physiological phases.