Use of infrared thermography to assess the influence of high environmental temperature on rabbits

V. de Lima, M. Piles, O. Rafel, M. López-Béjar, J. Ramón, A. Velarde, A. Dalmau

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27 Citations (Scopus)


The aim of this work was to ascertain if infrared thermography (IRT) can be used on rabbits to assess differences in surface body temperature when they are subjected to two different environmental temperatures outside the comfort zone. Rabbits housed in room A were maintained at a temperature of below 30 °C and rabbits in room B at a temperature of above 32 °C for a year. Faeces were collected six times during the year to assess stress by means of faecal cortisol metabolites (FCM). The assessment of IRT was carried out to assess maximum and minimum temperatures on the eyes, nose and ears. FCM concentration was higher in room B than A, to confirm that stress conditions were higher in room B. Significant differences in IRT were found between the animals housed in both rooms. It was observed that it was more difficult for animals from room B to maintain a regular heat loss. Although all the body zones used to assess temperature with IRT gave statistical differences, the correlations found between the eyes, nose and ears were moderate, suggesting that they were giving different information. In addition, differences up to 3.36 °C were found in the eye temperature of rabbits housed in the same room, with a clear effect of their position in relation to extractors and heating equipments. Therefore, IRT could be a good tool to assess heat stress in animals housed on typical rabbit farm buildings, giving a measure of how the animal is perceiving a combination of humidity, temperature and ventilation. Some face areas were better for analysing images. Minimum temperature on eyes and temperatures on nose are suggested to assess heat losses and critical areas of the farm for heat stress in rabbits. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)802-810
JournalResearch in Veterinary Science
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2013


  • Animal welfare
  • Faecal cortisol metabolites
  • Heat
  • Infrared thermography
  • Rabbit


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