Hube, D., van Meegen, C., Herbrandt, S. et al. 2023. Hair corticosterone concentration as a potential stress marker in pet rabbits. Veterinary Record 193(9), e3464.

Background As a prey species, rabbits tend to hide their illnesses and injuries. Consequently, pet rabbit owners often do not notice that their pet may be suffering. Methods Data on the housing and health of 34 dwarf rabbits were collected from a total of 22 rabbit owners. A score from 0 (not stressed) to 3 (highly stressed) was assigned to each rabbit based on the owners’ reports. Afterwards, the hair corticosterone concentration (HCC) of the rabbits was analysed as an indicator of long-term stress. Results The mean HCC of all rabbits was 1.54 ± 0.64 pg/mg. Animals with a stress score of 3 had a higher HCC (2.17 pg/mg) than those with a score of 0 (1.09 pg/mg) or 1 (1.44 pg/mg) (p < 0.05). HCC was not significantly affected by sex or age (p > 0.05). Limitation Only a small number of rabbits were included in the study. Therefore, the findings need to be confirmed in a larger cohort of animals. Conclusion HCC seems to be a promising stress marker in pet rabbits.

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