Short communication: Mutual olfactory relationships in rabbits raised in individual cages

 P. Negretti, G. Bianconi, A. Finzi


A set of three contiguous cages was utilised to test the possibility that rabbits establish sniffing relationships when housed in contiguous cages as occurs on farms. The single cages were separated by a tin divider slide in which very small holes were made. This system allows the smell to be sensed while a visual relationship was not possible. The experimental set was then located in an open air shed under a roof with no walls, in order to allow olfactory stimuli and to make it possible to perceive its direction and possibly its origin. This set-up avoided the odours saturating the environment so that the animals could sense each other?s presence. Three 16 wk old does were housed in contiguous cages at the same time. The animals were video-recorded at one frame per minute for 8 consecutive days and a total of 11,500 frames per animal were recorded. The trial was replicated under the same conditions with three new does. Progressively decreasing sniffing behaviour (P<0.001) was observed. The behaviour of all the does in the lateral cages was similar and there were no significant differences. Frequent reciprocal sniffing was also observed, mainly in the first few days. The results indicate that a sniffing relationship is established among rabbits but this behaviour decreases rapidly. It is possible that after the initial interest shown, rabbits do not show any specific behavioural changes when sensing other animals.


rabbits; farm cages; sniffing; social behaviou

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 Universitat Politècnica de València

Official journal of the World Rabbit Science Association (WRSA)

e-ISSN: 1989-8886     ISSN: 1257-5011