Measuring Rabbit Pain

Researchers develop a scale for rabbits, akin to the grimace scale used for laboratory mice, to help assess pain during routine lab procedures.

By | September 10, 2012

Lynn Gardner" > Wikimedia, Lynn Gardner

Researchers at Newcastle University in the United Kingdom and the University of Guelph in Canada this week released the Rabbit Grimace Scale—an attempt to quantify the pain felt by laboratory rabbits during routine ear tattooing used to mark individuals. A previously released grimace scale study on mice has been shown to be an effective way of measuring the animals' pain and discomfort, and has been quickly adopted by researchers to access post-operative pain in laboratory rodents.

Before and after both sham and real ear tattooing, the researchers measured behavioral changes—including whisker movement, narrowed eyes, and cheek and nose bulging—on a scale of 0 to 2, with 0 being no discernible change and 2 being obvious discomfort. A combined score out of 8 indicates total pain. When a rabbit was tattooed without anaesthetic, the Rabbit Grimace Scale averaged 4, but with the addition of a local anaesthetic, the rabbits averaged a RGS score of less than 2. The researchers published their results last week (September 7) in PLoS ONE.

"The only way you can alleviate pain is to be able to identify it, and to understand how much pain an animal is in,” Matthew Leach of Newcastle University in the U.K., who helped develop this scale, told Nature. "There is a broad interest in grimace scales” for all sorts of lab animals, he added, noting that his team is currently developing a grimace scale for rhesus macaque monkeys.

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Avatar of: Marc R. Jurnove

Marc R. Jurnove

Posts: 1457

September 11, 2012

The USDA had so many complaints about Animal Welfare Act violations with rabbits they handled it by changing the status of rabbits to being classified as poultry. Poultry - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Poultry is a category of domesticated birds kept by humans for the purpose of collecting their eggs, or killing for their meat and/or feathers. These most typically ... Fowl species are not covered under the AWA. Maybe the USDA can explain to rabbits why they can not fly ?

Avatar of: agelbert


Posts: 50

September 12, 2012

If the desired result is to learn how much pain a human experiences, then I suggest these well paid researchers volunteer to do their duty to humanity and test themselves. If the number of volunteer human test subjects is too low to be statistically valid, then I'm sure there are lots of people out there that, if they are paid sufficiently well, would volunteer as well. It's not ike you are testing mortality dose here, after all. If you want a pain scale for some substance on humans, USE wel paid, fully cognizant VOLUNTEER HUMANS! No "mammalian model" that isn't human will get you truly accurate results and it is unethical to use any complex creature like a mammal against its will. Don't tell me it can't be done. You are not gods.

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