Burrows in labs

Sulaiman Mohd Dom of the Faculty of Health Sciences, Universiti Teknologi MARA has created "MyRabbitBurrow" to calm rabbits in the lab.

Reported by Dr Megawati Omar
Research Management Institute
UiTM Shah Alam

Scientists often suffer scratches and bites when conducting experiments involving rabbits. While rabbit lovers can avoid scratches by caressing their pets, scientists are generally too busy to do so. Instead of the standard practise of using chemicals to ease rabbits, Sulaiman has created a device, MyRabbitBurrow, to relax and ready them for research.

Having a rabbit's burrow in mind, Sulaiman has created a burrow-like device using Perspex rolled into a cylinder. Adult rabbits fit comfortably in the cylinder, allowing them a taste of a home back in their burrows. To prevent the cylinder from rolling over it is fixed with base stabilisers. A door is fixed to the head end of the cylinder and another at the tail, while a square opening is cut out within the stomach region of the rabbit.

Sulaiman said he had the idea for restraining rabbits in a natural manner by emulating their underground habitat in the wild. With MyRabbitBurrow, he said intervention on rabbits can be done much more easily. For example, a rabbit can easily be shaved on its stomach through the ‘window’ of the cylinder - the cut-out window matches the shaving area, usually on the left side of the abdominal wall between the rabbit's lower rib margin and thigh. The window is big enough for devices such as transducers to carry out insonation sliding, rotating and fanning manoeuvres. Importantly, it helps scientists perform procedures with little resistance from the animals during the long course of experimental intervention.

The burrow minimises risk of injury to the animal as well as the handler. While transferring rabbits for procedures, despite being trained in handling procedures, it is not easy for researchers to keep the animals calm. Furthermore, some procedures require animals to sit still for a long time. Standard methods of restraint, such as using chloroform or ether, can result in miscarriage for pregnant animals, disrupting experiments. Using MyRabbitBurrow, scientists can lay pregnant rabbits in a pleasant environment for procedures such as ultrasound treatments. It was found that a rabbit can stay voluntarily in the cylinder for an ultrasound or shaving for up to 1½ hours, and Sulaiman said he had often observed his specimens fall asleep in it.

While the invention is practical for experimental research involving abdominal intervention, it can utilised by researchers using rabbits in other fields such as clinical chemistry, endocrinology, veterinary science, and rabbit husbandry.

Information Contacts:

Sulaiman Mohd Dom
Md.Saion Salikin
Hamzah Fansuri Hassan

Faculty of Health Sciences
UiTM Puncak Alam


Published: 04 Mar 2011

Contact details:

Chief Information Officer (CIO)

Institute of Research, Development and Commersialisation (IRDC) Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) Shah Alam, 50450 Shah Alam Selangor Malaysia

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