Activities with rabbits

Information about the approved activities that may be carried out using rabbits in schools.

Rabbits – introduction to activities

As required by the Animal Research Act, the Schools Animal Care and Ethics Committee have prepared a list of approved activities. These activities are those that may need to be carried out in the school setting and have been deemed appropriate, when carried out by a person with the appropriate skill and experience and educationally justified.

The activities have been organised into categories 1-5. The category reflects the potential impact on the animal and requires a greater justification and expertise of those carrying out the activity. Visit Categories of activities for further explanation.

Taking measurements from rabbits.

Rabbits – non-invasive measurement

Approved activities Category
Body weight 2
Growth 2
Body proportions 2
Pulse or bloodflow 2
Respiration 3

When measuring body condition, proportions, weight and growth in relation to age, it is possible to set up a weight–age and size–age chart for a number of rabbits and monitor them over a period of 10 weeks. Use a pre-weighed container of appropriate size and a triple beam balance or a bucket balance to determine the weight. A measuring tape can be used to determine overall length, girth, body proportions and size of skull. When measuring a rabbit’s dimensions, care should be taken not to exert too much pressure on the trunk, particularly of pregnant females.

Rabbit husbandry practices.

Rabbits – husbandry

Approved activities Category
Administering treatments — topical 3
Coat care and grooming 2

Topical treatments

Lice and fleas can be controlled by dusting the animals with insecticide powder suitable for use on pets.

Coat care and grooming

In laboratory and school situations, a rabbit’s claws grow continually and need to be cut regularly by an experienced handler. Care must be taken not to cut blood vessels. Angora rabbits need their fur clipped at regular intervals. This activity should be carried out in a way that does not stress the rabbit. Cuts and scratches should be treated with antiseptic creams or powders.

Humane treatment of sick, diseased and injured animals.

Rabbits – euthanasia

Approved activities Category
Slaughter/euthanasia of stock 5

Where an animal has become so sick, diseased or injured that recovery is unlikely or undesirable on humane grounds, euthanasia must be arranged with a local veterinarian.

Students are permitted to watch a post-mortem of an animal provided there is no disease risk posed.


Rabbits may be sold privately, at auction or consigned to an abattoir.

Carcases must be disposed of in accordance with local council regulations.

It is illegal to kill any animal and sell the meat for human consumption unless it has been slaughtered and prepared in a licensed processing facility.

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