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Title: Laboratory rabbit welfare : an investigation of the social and physical environment
Author: Seaman, Shirley C.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2002
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The aims of this thesis were: 1) to identify resources that may be important in the housing of laboratory rabbits (from a survey of the pharmaceutical industry, visits to laboratories and consultation with the industry) and 2) to test the motivation of rabbits for the identified resources. From the survey and behavioural observations of rabbits in different housing systems, it was decided that further investigations would focus on female New Zealand White rabbits and the importance of social contact and platforms within cages. The importance of these resources for rabbits was assessed using both short and long-term motivational tests and observations in laboratory cages. An initial experiment to develop motivational tests identified that weighted push-doors were perceived as costly, but moving through a water bath and approaching an air-stream were not. Short-term motivational tests were set up to give singly and pair caged rabbits the opportunity to push through a weighted push-door to gain a short period of visual and minimal tactile contact with another rabbit. The rabbits pushed through heavier weights to gain social contact than for no reward. Olfactory cues were found to be important, as several rabbits did not push through even the unweighted push-door when the other rabbit was removed. Also, socially housed rabbits pushed through heavier weights for social contact when they were housed out of olfactory contact with their cage-mate. A closed economy consumer demand experiment using weighted push-doors was set-up to test longer term motivation for resources. Two different economic measures (maximum price paid and total expenditure) were used to rank the importance of food, visual and minimal tactile contact, a platform and an empty cage. Both measures showed food and social contact to be of equal and most importance, whilst the importance of the platform varied with the economic measure used.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available