Peric, T., Comin, A., Corazzin, M. et al. 2017. Relocation and hair cortisol concentrations in New Zealand White rabbits. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science 20(1), 1-8.
To investigate how long relocation modified hair cortisol concentrations in New Zealand white rabbits, 19 rabbits were subjected to a change in their breeding facility at the beginning of the trial and then were kept under stable environmental conditions. Hair samples were collected at the time of arrival to the nonhuman animal facility and at 40-day intervals from the same skin area for up to 440 days after the animals’ arrival to the facility. A period effect on the hair cortisol concentration was found (p , .01). The transfer of the rabbits to the new facility might have induced an increase in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis activity (p , .01). A second increase in hair cortisol concentration (p , .01) occurred at 320 days, after a change of personnel at the facility that occurred at 280 days, which was the only environmental change. The relocation of rabbits to the facility resulted in a stress response leading to elevated cortisol levels. The effect of relocation on mean cortisol concentrations was exhausted within 120 days when all environmental factors were kept stable.