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Rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus Biology and Uses in Research

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  • Slide 1
  • Rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus Biology and Uses in Research
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  • TAXONOMY ClassMammalia ClassMammalia OrderLagamorpha OrderLagamorpha FamilyLeporidae FamilyLeporidae GenusOryctolagus GenusOryctolagus Speciescuninulus Speciescuninulus Lagomorphs are distinguished from rodents by their incisor teeth.
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  • Teeth Lagomorphs have six incisor teeth, including the small teeth (frequently called peg teeth) directly behind the large upper incisors. By contrast, rodents have only four incisors. Lagomorphs have six incisor teeth, including the small teeth (frequently called peg teeth) directly behind the large upper incisors. By contrast, rodents have only four incisors.
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  • General Information Known as the domestic rabbit Derived from European wild rabbit Used as pets, meat producers or research Oryctolagus cuniculus is the only genus of the European rabbit Hares (lepus) and Cottontails (Sylvilagus) are in a different genera Fertile cross-genera mating do occur but offspring are infertile
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  • Breeds and Varieties Over 40 different breeds/varieties recognized by the American Rabbit Breeder Assn Over 40 different breeds/varieties recognized by the American Rabbit Breeder Assn Only a few used in meat production and labs Only a few used in meat production and labs Many bred just for show quality Many bred just for show quality Most have definite molting period Most have definite molting period
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  • Breeds Of the six genus in the Subfamily Leporinae, only the European rabbit, Oryctolagus cuniculus is commonly used in research, testing, or teaching. Of the six genus in the Subfamily Leporinae, only the European rabbit, Oryctolagus cuniculus is commonly used in research, testing, or teaching. Three of the most commonly used breeds are the New Zealand White, American Dutch, and Californian. Three of the most commonly used breeds are the New Zealand White, American Dutch, and Californian.
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  • New Zealand White Most commonly used Most commonly used White White Most popular Most popular Used for food and laboratory Used for food and laboratory Mature weight 10 lbs/4.5 kgs Mature weight 10 lbs/4.5 kgs Docile Docile
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  • American Dutch The American Dutch rabbit, is less than half the size of the New Zealand White, reaching a mature weight of only two kilograms. The American Dutch rabbit, is less than half the size of the New Zealand White, reaching a mature weight of only two kilograms. There are several color varieties of the American Dutch breed, but the most common is the black and white There are several color varieties of the American Dutch breed, but the most common is the black and white Second most popular in research Second most popular in research
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  • California Rabbit Primarily for food Primarily for food White fur with dark brown tips on feet, ears, nose and tail White fur with dark brown tips on feet, ears, nose and tail Pigmentation thermolabile Pigmentation thermolabile Mature weight 10 lbs/4.5 kg Mature weight 10 lbs/4.5 kg
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  • Chinchilla rabbit Mature weight 10 lbs/4.5 kgs Mature weight 10 lbs/4.5 kgs Steel grey Steel grey
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  • Flemish Giant Checkered giant Largest breed Weight 13 lbs Not commonly used too big Mature slowly
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  • Angora Used for fur Fur is plucked every 3 months 2 2 1/2 inches
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  • Netherland Dwarf Smallest Weight 2-3 lbs
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  • Lop Eared Medium size Weight 5-6 lbs Lop ears
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  • Hair growth patterns The hair growth patterns of the rabbit are somewhat unusual. After the rabbit's hair has been clipped, it may not grow back uniformly. The hair growth patterns of the rabbit are somewhat unusual. After the rabbit's hair has been clipped, it may not grow back uniformly. Notice in this rabbit that some patches of hair are longer than others. This can make interpretation of some skin tests difficult. Notice in this rabbit that some patches of hair are longer than others. This can make interpretation of some skin tests difficult.
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  • Skeletal mass Only about 7% of the body weight of a rabbit is skeletal structure. Only about 7% of the body weight of a rabbit is skeletal structure. Compare the bone density of a cat (on the top) with the rabbit of approximately the same weight (on the bottom). Compare the bone density of a cat (on the top) with the rabbit of approximately the same weight (on the bottom). This is a lateral view radiograph. This is a lateral view radiograph. The muscle mass of a rabbit relative to bone structure makes it highly susceptible to lumbar fracture or dislocation. The muscle mass of a rabbit relative to bone structure makes it highly susceptible to lumbar fracture or dislocation.
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  • Dental Formula 2x (2/1 I, 0/0 C, 3/3 P, 3/2 M) = 28 Teeth grown and wear continuously Teeth grown and wear continuously
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  • Vital signs Normal vital signs will vary with the age and breed of the rabbit, but for a healthy animal they should fall within these ranges: Normal vital signs will vary with the age and breed of the rabbit, but for a healthy animal they should fall within these ranges: heart rate 130 - 325 heart rate 130 - 325 respiratory rate 32 -60 respiratory rate 32 -60 rectal temp 101.3 F 104 F rectal temp 101.3 F 104 F
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  • Urine A healthy rabbit will produce about 50-75 mL of urine per kilogram of body weight each day. It will normally be dark yellow to brown and will appear turbid. This turbidity is due to mineral precipitates. Rabbit urine is normally alkaline with a pH of over 8.2 A healthy rabbit will produce about 50-75 mL of urine per kilogram of body weight each day. It will normally be dark yellow to brown and will appear turbid. This turbidity is due to mineral precipitates. Rabbit urine is normally alkaline with a pH of over 8.2 The urine forms scale (a thick mineral coating) on cages as it dries. The urine forms scale (a thick mineral coating) on cages as it dries.
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  • Feces Healthy rabbits produce two types of feces. Healthy rabbits produce two types of feces. The droppings seen in the pan under the cage are hard fecal pellets that contain mostly waste fiber. The droppings seen in the pan under the cage are hard fecal pellets that contain mostly waste fiber. The other type is a softer feces that is produced in the cecum, and is often called cecotrophs or night feces. This material is rich in vitamins and protein, and the rabbit may consume it directly from the anus The other type is a softer feces that is produced in the cecum, and is often called cecotrophs or night feces. This material is rich in vitamins and protein, and the rabbit may consume it directly from the anus
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  • Ear An important feature of rabbits is the prominent blood vessels in their ears. An important feature of rabbits is the prominent blood vessels in their ears. Rabbit ears are NOT handles and must never be used for restraint! Rabbit ears are NOT handles and must never be used for restraint! The central artery is used for collecting large quantities of blood. The marginal ear vein is used for giving IV injections or collecting smaller quantities of blood The central artery is used for collecting large quantities of blood. The marginal ear vein is used for giving IV injections or collecting smaller quantities of blood
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  • Hematology The blood volume of a rabbit is approximately 56 ml/kg body weight. The blood volume of a rabbit is approximately 56 ml/kg body weight. Generally, 10 - 15% of the total volume can be taken as frequently as every two weeks without endangering the rabbit. Generally, 10 - 15% of the total volume can be taken as frequently as every two weeks without endangering the rabbit.
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  • Hematology The normal range for the red blood cell count is 4.5 - 7.0 x 103. The total white blood cell count and differential fall within the range expected of most other species of laboratory animals, as shown here: The normal range for the red blood cell count is 4.5 - 7.0 x 103. The total white blood cell count and differential fall within the range expected of most other species of laboratory animals, as shown here: Total WBC 4.6 - 13 X 103 Lymphocytes 30 - 50% Neutrophils 30 - 50% Monocytes 0 - 3% Eosinophils 0 - 2% Basophils 0- 7% (Ref Kozma, et al.).
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  • Neutrophil, eosinophil The rabbit neutrophil, shown on the left, contains granules that stain red with eosin. The rabbit neutrophil, shown on the left, contains granules that stain red with eosin. Because of this staining characteristic, rabbit neutrophils are sometimes called pseudoeosinophils, amphophils, or heterophils. Because of this staining characteristic, rabbit neutrophils are sometimes called pseudoeosinophils, amphophils, or heterophils.
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  • Let's look at a dissection of a rabbit to study the internal organs that are most commonly relevant to research uses This is a sagittal section of the head showing the long oropharynx (red pin), large fleshy tongue, and the sagittal niches. It also shows the relationship of the esophagus (yellow pin), to the trachea (blue pin), epiglottis (below the red pin), and nasopharynx (white pin). All of these features combine to make passing an endotr

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