Poggiagliolmi, S., Crowell-Davis, S. L., Alworth, L. C. et al. 2011. Environmental enrichment of New Zealand White rabbits living in laboratory cages. Journal of Veterinary Behavior 6(6), 343-350.
The primary goal of environmental enrichment should be the avoidance of abnormal behaviors in laboratory animals such as rodents, lagomorphs, dogs, cats, and nonhuman primates. A total of 13 male single-housed New Zealand White rabbits were offered 3 different toys, and the time spent chewing on the toys instead of on the cage was evaluated. Each rabbit was offered each of the toys for 2 separate 1-week periods. Each rabbit was monitored for 15 minutes 4 times a week for a total of total 1 hour per week. Observations included, 1-hour of baseline data before the toys were offered, for a total of 2 and 2 hours of observation per rabbit per toy. Having a toy available had a significant effect on the behavior of New Zealand White rabbits. Rabbits with toys spent significantly more time chewing than the rabbits without toys. They did not develop a preference between the offered toys and did not show stereotypies. This study highlights the importance of environmental enrichment to improve the welfare of laboratory animals.