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Lab Anim Sci. 1991 Jan;41(1):31-4.

Adrenal and body temperature changes in rabbits exposed to varying effective temperatures.

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  • 1Department of Physiological Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville 32611-0633.


Eight adult New Zealand White rabbits were exposed individually, in series, to each of 23 effective temperatures (t(eff)) until body temperature (tb) increased 1.1 degrees C or for a period of 2 hours. Body temperature was measured to the nearest 0.1 degree C using FM radio transmitters in the pre-test (baseline) condition and at 2 minute intervals during the test conditions where t(eff) ranged between 21.7 and 34.7 degrees C. The frequency at which the rabbits displayed a 1.1 degree C rise in tb was related to the magnitude of the t(eff), with 100% of the rabbits manifesting this change at t(eff) greater than 30.2 degrees C. At t(eff) of 28.4 through 30.2 degrees C, some, but not all, of the rabbits showed a 1.1 degree C rise in tb whereas none displayed the 1.1 degree C rise in tb at t(eff) below 28.4 degrees C. The mean time necessary for the 1.1 degree C rise in tb was negatively correlated (P less than 0.01) to the magnitude of the t(eff). The significantly (P less than 0.01) elevated plasma corticosterone in rabbits exhibiting 0.6 degree C and 1.1 degree C rise in tb suggests that those animals were stressed physiologically by the experimental procedure. It is concluded that the conditions associated with increased tb induce physiological changes commonly associated with stressors and that the techniques reported herein should be useful in establishing upper environmental temperature limits for housing rabbits.

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