Santos, R. V., Bhatt, S., Foote, S. et al. 2023. Method of measuring effects of study procedures in single and pair housed New Zealand White rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus). Journal of Pharmacological and Toxicological Methods 119, 107204.

Social housing of laboratory rabbits is encouraged and thought to improve animal welfare due to the social nature of this species. However, there is limited published information comparing the physiologic and cardiovascular (CV) effects of paired and single housed adult female rabbits in commonly used laboratory caging. This study describes measurement of heart rate, systolic blood pressure, activity level, body temperature and pairing methods in four female New Zealand White rabbits that were previously implanted with M10 cardiovascular telemetry devices. Data was collected in single housed rabbits having no history of social housing while they were undisturbed in the home cage, during restraint, intramuscular injections and intravenous blood collection. The same animals were then placed in compatible pairs and housed in conventional Allentown caging. As expected, we found increased activity in paired rabbits but no significant differences in body temperatures, and CV parameters in single and paired rabbits undergoing the same procedures. These data suggest that paired rabbits can be used for safety pharmacology studies with minimal impact to data, while supporting improved animal welfare.

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