Dorman, B., Weir, D. E. 2014. From swinging single to peacefully cohabitating: A DIY way to managing rabbit socialization without breaking your budget. American Association for Laboratory Animal Science [AALAS] Meeting Official Program, 563 (Abstract #P54).
The Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals requires that all animals, without veterinary or study exemptions, be socially housed. Our current caging only allows enough floor space to house one large rabbit per cage. With the Guide requirement in mind, our animal resources department has been housing rabbits in individual caging and socializing them three times a week in a socialization cubicle. The three main problems with this socialization technique is having an additional room or cubicle is needed to set up the socialization area, the time required to move the rabbits and watch them to ensure they do not fight with each other, and then sanitizing the cubicle for the next group of rabbits to use. From moving the rabbits to the socialization area, observing and moving them back to their cages, to cleaning time, it takes the care staff approximately 1 h/d to socialize just a few rabbits. To fix this problem, we collaborated with a machine shop on campus to develop a tunnel system that is built into the existing rabbit cages. This tunnel system was built using inexpensive materials from a local home improvement store. This tunnel system has the ability to be capped if two rabbits do not get along with each other or it can be left open indefinitely. It is easily sanitized in the cage wash machine with the rack. After observing the rabbits on a daily basis they use the tunnel and move from cage to cage frequently. Being able to house our rabbits with this tunnel system has saved us approximately 2.5 h/wk in setup and observation, saved our department money by not having to purchase new caging, and allowed our department to save floor space for other animal use.