Specificity of early handling: Are rabbit pups able to distinguish between people?

Katalin Csatádi, Bilkó Ágnes, Altbäcker Vilmos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Citations (Scopus)


Rabbits' early life contains a short period when pups are extremely sensitive to novel stimuli and become accustomed to it. If they are handled by the hand during this period their avoidance toward humans decreases. The present study investigated whether pups could distinguish between humans by performing an experiment where different persons handled and tested the rabbits' behaviour toward humans while the control group was left untouched. Handling occurred during the first week of the pups' life and their behaviour in an approach test was measured when they were 4 weeks old. We found that the pups did not behave differently toward neither of the testers, but they interacted significantly more frequently with the familiar person than with the unfamiliar one. Rabbits in the handling treatment approached the experimenters significantly sooner than the non-handled ones, regardless of whether the familiar or the unfamiliar person conducted the test. We also found that non-handled pups compared to both of the handled groups moved significantly less during the test. We can conclude that rabbits might be able to distinguish between humans and this may have applied indications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)322-327
Number of pages6
JournalApplied Animal Behaviour Science
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1 2007


  • Distinguish
  • Handling
  • Human
  • Rabbit

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Animals
  • Animal Science and Zoology

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