Van Dyk, A., Rickers, M. 2010. A technique for single-person oral gavage in rabbits. American Association for Laboratory Animal Science [AALAS] Meeting Official Program, 749 (Abstract #P215).
The physiologic and anatomic structure of rabbits can cause high mortality rates in rabbit oral gavage. Rabbits are capable of a wide variety of jaw movement due to 3 jaw-closing muscle groups (masseter, temporalis, pterygoid). This complex and intricate architecture along with the jaw joint configuration allows a greater degree of jaw movement compared to other rodent models. Also, rabbits have a very limited amount of oral space, when compared with their size. Different types of feeding tubes have been used such as 13-gauge stainless steel feeding tubes, 16 to 18 in. soft rubber or 13-gauge plastic French feeding tube, and a pediatric feeding tube. Other rabbit techniques usually take multiple personnel, sedated animals, mouth speculums, laryngoscope, and rinses of the feeding tube and bite sticks (this prevents rabbits from damaging the feeding tube, but can cause rabbits to aspirate fluid into lungs). During this process the rabbits are required to be restrained in towels or bunny snuggles. With all these forms of rabbit oral gavage there is a higher incidence of perforation of the trachea, lung, or esophagus and fluid in thoracic cavity, which can cause adhesions. The technique shown here is extremely simple, because it only involves one person, it allows for a greater degree of control over the behavior, and better feel of the temperament of the animal. The dosing personnel uses an appropriate-sized plastic disposable syringe attached to a plastic feeding tube that is 13-gauge (2.4 mm OD × 1.6 mm ID) × 150 mm. The feeding tube is flexible enough to follow the pharyngeal curvature of the rabbit yet stiff enough to allow for its correct placement. This technique for rabbit gavage does not require the animal to be anesthetized.