Animal Behaviour and Welfare: Rabbits

Animal Behaviour and Welfare

Fact-finding undertaking Proposal

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  1. Introduction
  2. Proposal
  3. Materials and methods
  • Experimental design
  • Method
  • Variables
  • Datas analysis
  • Materials
  1. Timed action program


Appendix A– Rabbit nutrient guidelines

Appendix B– Safe list of veggies and fruit

Appendix C– Environment

Appendix D– Health cheque signifier

Appendix E– Table to enter experimental informations



  1. Introduction

Rabbits (Lepus curpaeums) are the 3rd most common pet in the UK after cats and Canis familiariss ( BBC News, 2006 ) , but are the most misunderstood domesticated animate being ( Guardian, 2011 ) . Many people take them on as pets believing they are both easy to look after and a good first pet for kids ( Vigil 2002 ) . However coneies have complex public assistance demands ( Leach, 1989 ) . Animal scientific discipline has developed in order to set up an nonsubjective manner to measure carnal public assistance. Indexs of these are now available that are easy mensurable. Good illustrations include engendering ability, wellness and unwellness, mortality rates, adrenal activity, animate being penchants and their biological demand ( Broom and Fraser, 2007 ) . The Animal Welfare Act 2006 ( UK Government Legislation, 2006 ) enforces the public assistance guideline known as ‘the five freedoms’ . The five freedom model, originally developed in the United Kingdom by the Farm Animal Welfare Council ( FAWC 2013 ) , ensures freedom from – hungriness and thirst, uncomfortableness, pain hurt or disease, fright and hurt, and freedom to show normal behavior. However grounds by the RSPCA ( RSPCA, 2013 ) and the Rabbit Welfare Association ( RWAFa, 2013 ) suggests that the public assistance needs of coneies are being badly neglected in many countries peculiarly in footings of nutrition.

With these public assistance issues in head it is of import to observe specializers including veterinary advisers are in understanding that “Feeding an appropriate diet to a coney is likely the individual most of import factor in keeping its wellness” ( Meredith, 2014 ) . The pick of diet for favored coneies is varied and there are many good books dedicated entirely to the nutritionary demands of coneies ( Bias and Wiseman, 2010 ) . Additionally recent surveies have examined the pelleted nutrient given to coneies and highlighted the negative impact of feeding a muesli type nutrient ( Prebble and Meredith, 2014 ) . Separately fluctuations within a rabbit’s diet have been examined in footings of specific wellness issues and diseases ( Crossley, 2003 ) .

All these surveies have highlighted that hay is the most of import portion of a rabbit’s diet ( Harrenstien, 1999 ) and conclude that in order to keep optimal wellness a coney needs to be fed a diet of 80 % hay, 15 % leafy vegetables and veggies and 5 % pellets ( RWAF 2013b ) ( see Appendix A Figure 1 ) . It is indispensable that coneies have a changeless supply of hay as they possess continuously turning dentitions in order to let for the scratchy nature of the nutrient they eat ( Arrington and Kelly 1976 ) . Due to its high sugar content fruit should merely be fed on occasion and any leafy vegetables or veggies from the safe list of nutrient for coneies ( see Appendix B ) .

In decision, there are suggestions on how to promote a coney to eat hay but there is no existent research to bespeak whether these suggestions really make a difference to a coneies hay ingestion. This spread in research is the basic premiss behind this fact-finding undertaking proposal.

  1. Proposal

Any fact-finding undertaking needs to stand for an country of survey that has non yet been carried out ( Pechenik, 2012 ) . It has been noted above in subdivision 2, that there is a deficiency of research available on the subject of bettering hay ingestion. As a consequence, during this proposed research, an experiment will be conducted to find whether:

Hydrogen1: – Puting hay within a tunnel improves the hay ingestion of confined coneies kept at Merrist Wood College in Worplesdon, Guildford

Hydrogen0: – Puting hay within a tunnel does non better the hay ingestion of confined coneies kept at Merrist Wood College in Worplesdon, Guildford

If proven, this hypothesis will assist show that the inclusion of hay within a fresh point, is a manner of promoting ingestion within confined coneies, thereby bettering public assistance.

4 Materials and method

Experiment design

In order to prove this hypothesis an experiment will be conducted with the coneies at Merrist Wood. The research topics will be the coneies that are all housed within indistinguishable enclosures in footings of size and put up hence guaranting consistence ( see Appendix C Figure 2 ) . Empirical informations will be collected in the signifier of hay weight ingestion. At the terminal of the experiment there will be three yearss of normal mean hay ingestion and five yearss of hay ingestion with hay placed inside a tunnel. This will let for meaningful quantitative informations to be collected in order to carry on statistical analysis ( Creswell, 2013 ) .


To guarantee statistical truth all hay should be weighed outside of the subject’s enclosure. The following tabular array illustrates the method that should be utilised for each twenty-four hours of the experiment.

Table 3. Table to demo experiment method ( Stretton, 2014 )

See Appendix E for tabular array to enter experimental informations.


Within any research undertaking there will be variables which need to be considered and addressed throughout the process ( Pechenik, 2012 ) . Guaranting the information collected is accurately defined will increase scientific asperity and set up cogency ( Smith and Brandon, 2007 ) .

In this case the undermentioned issues may necessitate to see

Variable making possible statistical prejudice


Extenuation Scheme

Weather conditions

Strong air currents may play a factor in hay resettlement

Rain may be absorbed by hay, botching it as a nutrient beginning

Track conditions conditions, and place where variable might impact results.

Ensure hay is placed in an country that is dry and covered from the rain.

Defecation / Urination in Hay

Faecal pellets and piss may consequence weight of hay

Observe lavatory wonts of the topics, and guarantee that hay is placed in separate countries. Do non use informations that has soiled hay in.

Health position of coney

A focal coney may go unwell during the experiment impacting the sum of hay consumed.

Perform day-to-day wellness cheques and observe coneies for marks of unwellness.

Table 5. Variables impacting experiment ( Stretton, 2014 ) .

To safeguard against these variables holding an impact on informations, it is indispensable that all hay strands are collected from within the whole enclosure. Additionally all weights recorded must be completed at the same clip every twenty-four hours.

Merrist Wood College feed their coneies 70 g of excel pellet nutrient every twenty-four hours in the forenoon and H2O is placed in a H2O bottle. This will go on throughout this experiment.

Individually this probe will be conducted at a clip when the decision maker is the lone individual responsible for the attention of the topics.

This considered attack to placing and pull offing statistical variables will keep dependability and cogency to the result.

Datas Analysis

The end product from the experiment will be a set of hay weight measurings, which will bespeak whether the ingestion of hay has increased as a direct consequence of a tunnel being included within the environment.

This information for each topic will be analysed in footings of single topics hay ingestion to set up if there is a directional alteration in hay eating behavior.

This information will besides be examined to see if there are any differences in consequences based on coney strain, age and weight.

Where possible, extra statistical attacks will besides be researched and utilized, to statistically show the truth of the hypothesis.


To guarantee truth in weight measurings, all stuffs will be purchased prior to the undertaking execution and utilized systematically and entirely for the intent of this probe.

Materials Required


Digital Scales

Flat base. Suitable for weighing coneies.

Digital Scales

Hay weighing graduated tables, suited for weighing bags of hay.

Receptacle for roll uping hay

Required to guarantee hay is measured in entirety and no strands are lost.


Consistent batch / type of hay to guarantee statistical prejudice from this variable is minimised.

Cleaning Equipment

To guarantee that the enclosure is cleaned adequately each twenty-four hours.


To move as a fresh point, in which hay can be placed.

5. Timed action program

To let adequate clip for readjustment and redirection of research it is necessary to make a timetable of planned action ( Blaxteret al. ,2010 ) . This program is based on two subdivisions. The first reflects the expected advancement against the standard four stages of a undertaking, viz. Definition, Initiation, Execution and Monitoring and Control ( Project insight, 2014 ) .The 2nd reflects the actions that need to be taken each hebdomad under these phase headers.

Within the undertaking program, four key mileposts have been included, which will guarantee that the advancement of the undertaking is in line with the demands. Undertaking mileposts are an of import portion of fact-finding undertaking planning, as a failure to run into these mileposts, indicates that the undertaking deadline is at hazard ( Inmotion, 2014 ) .

Finally, it’s of import to observe that the undermentioned program has been created to be used as a working papers to be adjusted as and when necessary.

Word Count 1092


Appendix A


Figure 1: Rabbit nutrient guidelines ( RWAF 2013b ) .

Appendix B

Table 1: Safe fruit and veggies for coneies ( RWAF 2013b ) .

Appendix C

Figure 2. Focal rabbit’s environment ( Stretton 2014 ) .

Appendix D

Health Check Sheet – Small Mammals



Sexual activity:

Scientific Name:


Weight: ( g )

Physical Diagnosis:

Body portion

Describe what you find when look intoing each organic structure portion.

“All fine”is NOT plenty!

Head & A ; Face


Legs / Feet

Anus / Genitals

Skin / Fur

Behavioral Diagnosis:

Here, you will necessitate to detect the animal’s behavior and remark on each country. “All fine” is NOT plenty!


Is the animate being interested in nutrient?

General Behaviour:

Describe what you see the carnal making.


How does the animate being react when you pick it up?

Other Remarks:

Make a note of anything else you have seen that you have non written anyplace else.

Write any recommendations that you would do following your diagnosing:

Research workers name:

Research workers Signature:


Table 2: Health Check Sheet – Small Mammals ( Adapted tabular array from Merrist Wood College pupil resources )

Appendix E

Table 4. Table to enter experimental informations. ( Stretton,2014 )

Reference List

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Blaxter, L. , Hughes, C. , Tight, M. ( 2010 ) .How to research. 4Thursdayedition United kingdom: Open University Press

Broom, D.M. , Fraser, A.F. , ( 2007 ) .Domestic Animal Behaviour and Welfare. 4ThursdayEd.

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Inmotion ( 2014 ) . The importance of mileposts. [ Internet ] Available at ) [ Accessed 30th September 2014 ] .

Leach, M. , ( 1989 ) .The Rabbit. United kingdom: Shire Publications

Meredith, A. , ( 2014 ) .The Importance of Diet in Rabbits. [ Internet ] . Available at [ Accessed 19ThursdaySeptember 2014 ] .

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Undertaking penetration, ( 2014 )Phases of undertaking direction. [ Internet ] . Available at

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Prebble, J. and Meredith, A. ( 2014 ) . Food and H2O consumption and selective eating in coneies on four feeding governments.Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition.Vol. 98 ( 5 ) pp 991–1000

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Figure mention list

Figure 1: RWAF ( 2013b ) .Hop to it. The RWA usher to rabbit attention.[ Internet ] . Available at hypertext transfer protocol: // [ Accessed 10ThursdayOctober 2014 ] .

Figure 2. Stretton, N. ( 2014 ) . Focal rabbit’s environment. ( Photograph ) ( Authors own aggregation )

Table mention list

Table 1: Safe fruit and veggies for coneies ( RWAF 2013b )

Table 2: Health Check Sheet – Small Mammals ( Adapted tabular array from Merrist Wood College pupil resources. 2013 )

Table 3. Table to demo experiment method. Stretton, N. , Authors ain aggregation ( 2014 )

Table 4. Table to enter experimental informations. Stretton, N. , Authors ain aggregation ( 2014 )

Table 5. Variables impacting experiment. Stretton, N. , Authors ain aggregation ( 2014 )

Table 6. Weekly timetable of fact-finding undertaking execution. Stretton, N. , Authors ain aggregation ( 2014 )


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