Environmental heat stress in rabbits: implications and ameliorations

Int J Biometeorol. 2022 Jan;66(1):1-11. doi: 10.1007/s00484-021-02191-0. Epub 2021 Sep 14.


Profitable production of rabbit meat requires comfortable environment for expression of good quality traits embedded in the genetic components of rabbits. One of the major problems facing rabbit production is heat stress, especially in hot regions of the world. This is further aggravated by global warming being experienced as a result of climate change. Rabbits have no or few sweat glands, complicating the problem of heat dissipation, thereby predisposing the animals to heat stress (HS). Heat stress adversely affect welfare and adaptation, feed consumption and utilization, immunity and health status, growth, reproduction, and milk production in rabbits. Rabbits are homoeothermic animals. They should be capable of body temperature regulation within a narrow range. Thermoregulation is extremely poor in rabbits because of lack of sweat glands. Rabbits are highly sensitive to high ambient temperature. The presence of thick insulator fur on the skin further impedes heat loss in rabbits. This review summarizes data available literatures in the last two decades (2000-2020). Short compilation on management techniques adopted in rearing rabbits under hot conditions is included.

Keywords: Adaptation; Carcass yield; Global warming; Heat stress; Meat quality; Tropics.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Temperature Regulation
  • Heat Stress Disorders* / veterinary
  • Heat-Shock Response
  • Hot Temperature
  • Rabbits
  • Stress, Physiological