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A novel zoometric index for assessing body composition in adult rabbits
  1. H. Sweet, MA VetMB MRCVS1,
  2. A. J. Pearson, BA VetMB MRCVS2,
  3. P. J. Watson, MA VetMD CertVR DSAM DipECVIM MRCVS1 and
  4. A. J. German, BVSc PhD CertSAM DipECVIM-CA MRCVS3
  1. 1Queen's Veterinary School Hospital, University of Cambridge, Madingley Road, Cambridge CB3 OES, UK
  2. 2Cambridge Veterinary Group, 89a Cherry Hinton Road, Cambridge CB1 7BS, UK
  3. 3Department of Obesity and Endocrinology, University of Liverpool, Leahurst Campus, Chester High Road, Neston, Wirral CH64 7TE, UK;
  1. E-mail for correspondence: ajgerman{at}


Obesity is an emerging problem in domesticated rabbits, and an easy-to-use measure of adipose tissue mass is needed. The current study aimed to develop a zoometric ratio, capable of estimating body condition in rabbits. Body weight (BW), body condition score (BCS), and zoometric measures (distal forelimb length, DFL; vertebral length, VL were measured in 150 pet rabbits. Zoometric formulae were created, combining BW with a zoometric measure, and these were tested for their ability to predict adipose tissue mass judged by BCS. Seventy-five (50 per cent) of the rabbits were in ideal condition (BCS 2.5–3.5), 52 (35 per cent) were overweight (BCS>3.5), and 23 (15 per cent) were underweight (BCS<2.5). Median (range) DFL and VL measurements were 12.1 (8.8–16.4 cm) and 34.0 (26.5–50.5 cm), respectively. In rabbits of medium breed size, the BW/DFL ratio was most strongly associated with BCS (Kendall's τ 0.80, P<0.001). Using BW/DFL limits for optimum body condition (eg, minimum 0.16; maximum 0.21), all underweight and overweight rabbits were correctly classified, while only 2/61 (3 per cent) rabbits with an optimum BCS were incorrectly classified as overweight. This study provides preliminary evidence that the BW/DFL might be a useful indirect measure of adipose tissue mass in rabbits of medium breed size.

  • Rabbits
  • Obesity
  • Nutrition
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