Development and establishment of a protocol of an individual aggressiveness test in breeding does


  • I. Olivas IVIA-Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Agrarias
  • A. Villagrá IVIA-Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Agrarias
  • L. Simarro IVIA-Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Agrarias



aggressiveness, behaviour, rabbits, resident-intruder


The present work aims to define the optimal conditions to perform a resident-intruder test in individually housed breeding does as a measure of aggressiveness and describe the biological characteristics of aggressiveness in rabbit does: severity, frequency, duration and latency of aggressive events. Sixty-four nulliparous does at 90 d of age were used for this experiment, half (32 does) as residents and the rest as intruders, testing them once a week for 14 wk. The time and duration of each aggressive behaviour was recorded and analysed to assess the aforementioned measures. According to the results, and regarding the studied effects, the origin of the animals caused no effect, whereas the level of aggressiveness seemed to be clearly increased in weeks 3-7 of the experiment, when animals were 110-140 d of age. In conclusion, a resident-intruder test lasting 1 min is enough to assess individual aggressiveness in adult breeding does, the response of which evolves with age and repetition.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biographies

I. Olivas, IVIA-Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Agrarias

Centro de Investigación y Tecnología Animal

A. Villagrá, IVIA-Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Agrarias

Centro de Investigación y Tecnología Animal

L. Simarro, IVIA-Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Agrarias

Centro de Investigación y Tecnología Animal


Albonetti M.E., Dessì-Fulgheri, F., Farabollini, F. 1991. Organization of behavior in unfamiliar female rabbits. Aggres. Behav., 17: 171-178.


Alves C.J., Magalhaes A., Melo P., de Sousa L., Tavarés M.A., Monteiro P.R.R., Summavielle T. 2014. Long-term effects of chronic cocaine exposure throughout adolescence on anxiety and stress responsivity in a Wistar rat model. Neuroscience, 277: 343-355. doi:10.1016/j.neuroscience.2014.07.008

Andrist C.A., Bigler L., Würbel H., Roth B.A. 2014. Masking odour when regrouping rabbit does: effect on aggression, stress and lesions. Livest. Sci., 170: 150-157. doi:10.1016/j.livsci.2014.10.017

Baselga M. 2002. Rabbit genetic resources in Mediterranean countries: Line A, Line V, Line H and Line R. Options méditerranéennes, 38: 221-252.

Brennan P.A., Zufall F. 2006. Pheromonal communication in vertebrates. Nature, 444: 308-315. doi:10.1038/nature05404

Chu L., Garner J.P., Mench J.A. 2004. A behavioural comparison of New Zealand White rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) housed individually or in pairs in conventional laboratory cages. Appl. Anim. Behav. Sci., 85: 121-139. doi:10.1016/j.applanim.2003.09.011

D’Eath R.B. 2002. Individual aggressiveness measured in a resident-intruder test predicts the persistence of aggressive behavior and weight gain of young pigs after mixing. Appl. Anim. Behav. Sci., 77: 267-283.


D’Eath R.B., Pickup H.E. 2002. Behaviour of young growing pigs in a resident-intruder test designed to measure aggressiveness. Aggres. Behav., 28: 401-415. doi:10.1002/ab.80010

D’Eath R.B., Lawrence A.B. 2004. Early life predictors of development of aggressive behavior in the domestic pig. Anim. Behav., 67: 501-509. doi:10.1016/j.anbehav.2003.06.010

Dudzinski M.L., Mykytowycz R., Gambale S. 1977. Behavioural characteristics of adolescence in young captive European rabbits, Oryctolagus cuniculus. Aggres. Behav., 3: 313- 330. doi:10.1002/1098-2337(1977)3:4%3C313::AIDAB2480030402%3E3.0.CO;2-Z

Erhard H.W., Mendl M. 1997. Measuring aggressiveness in growing pigs in a resident-intruder situation. Appl. Anim. Behav. Sci., 54: 123-136.


Farabollini F., Albonetti M.E., Dessì-Fulgheri F. 1991. Response to intruders in female rabbit colonies is related to sex of intruder and rank of residents. Behav. Processes, 24: 111-122. doi:10.1016/0376-6357(91)90003-I

Heath E. 1972. Sexual and related territorial behavior in laboratory rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus). Lab. Anim. Sci., 22: 684-690.

Hoy ST., Shchu D. 2004. Sociometric investigations in groups of wild and domestic rabbits with one buck and two or three does. In Proc.: 8th World Rabbit Congress, 7-10 September, 2004. Puebla, Mexico. 1: 1235-1240.

Jilge B. 1991. The Rabbit - A diurnal or a nocturnal animal. J. Exp. Anim. Sci., 34: 170-183.

Lebas F., Coudert P., Rochambeau H., Thebault R.G. 1996. El conejo. Cría y patología. FAO Producción y sanidad animal. Rome, Italy, 51-67.

Princz Z., Dalle Zotte A., Radnai I., Bíró-Németh E., Matics Z., Gerencsér Z., Nagy I., Szendrő Zs. 2008. Behaviour of rowing

rabbits under various housing conditions. Appl. Anim. Behav. Sci., 111: 342-356. doi:10.1016/j.applanim.2007.06.013

Rodríguez-Arias M., Navarrete F., Blanco-Gandía M.C., Arenas M.C., Aguilar M.A., Bartoll-Andrés A., Valverde O., Miñarro J., Manzanares J. 2015. Role of CB2 receptors in social and aggressive behaviour in mice. Psychopharmacology. 232: 3019-3031. doi:10.1007/s00213-015-3939-5

Rommers J.M., Boiti C., De Jong I., Brecchia G. 2006a. Performance and behaviour of rabbit does in a group-housing system with natural mating or artificial insemination. Reprod. Nutr. Dev., 46: 677-687. doi:10.1051/rnd:2006038

Rommers J.M., Maertens L., Kemp B. 2006b. New perspectives in rearing systems for rabbit does. In: Maertens L., Coudert P. Recent advances in rabbit sciences. Cost action. ILVO, Belgium, 39-51.

SAS. 2009. SAS/STAT User’s Guide (Release 9.1.3). SAS Inst. Inc., Cary NC, USA.

Szendrő Zs., McNitt J.I. 2012. Housing of rabbit does: group and individual systems: a review. Liv. Sci., 150: 1-10. doi:10.1016/j.livsci.2012.09.017

Trent S., Drew C.J.G., Mitchell P.J., Bailey S.J. 2009. Chronic treatment with 13-cis-retinoic acid changes aggressive behaviours in the resident-intruder paradigm in rats. Eur. Neuropsychopharmacol., 19: 876-886. doi:10.1016/j.euroneuro.2009.07.003

Yang C.R., Bai Y.Y., Ruan C.S., Zhou H.F., Liu D., Wang X.F., Shen L.J., Zheng H.Y., Zhou X.F. 2015. Enhanced aggressive behavior in a mouse model of depression. Neurotox. Res. 27:

-142. doi:10.1007/s12640-014-9498-4