Advantages & Challenges

Lab dish

Rabbits and pigs have unique advantages as animal models for biomedical research.

The rabbit has a short gestation period (30-31 days) and large litter size (4-12 per litter), and can be housed conveniently in an indoor facility.

Adult rabbits (2-5 kg, depending on breed) are closer in weight and size to humans than are smaller animals, allowing technology and equipment developed for humans to be easily tested.

Compared to mice, rabbits are also phylogenetically closer to humans. Because of the anatomical, physiological, genetic and biochemical similarities between the rabbit and the human, this species is preferentially used in pulmonary, cardiovascular and metabolic studies. These include:

  • airway obstructive disease 
  • embolic stroke 
  • arteriosclerosis 
  • cholera 
  • cystic fibrosis 
  • neoplasia 
  • diabetes 
  • acute respiratory distress syndrome 
  • malignant lymphoma 
  • acquired immunodeficiency syndrome 
  • hypercalcemia of malignancy

The rabbit is used for drug screening, antibody production and therapeutic proteins production.

The pig is an important agricultural and biomedical species. Pigs are considered by many as the “second to mouse” animal species for the study of human physiology.

Known to have physiological and anatomical similarities with humans, pigs are more suitable experimental models than rodents for studying many human diseases. They are also potential donors for xenotransplantation, and they are valuable models for regenerative medicine.