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Water Requirements of Rabbits and Guinea Pigs


THE prevalent idea that rabbits and guinea pigs do not drink still persists widely in spite of all that has been written, said and broadcast. Prof. E. L. Kennaway directs attention to this false impression in a recent issue of the British Medical Journal (1, 760 ; 1943), where he reports that a 2-5-kilo rabbit on a dry diet will take approximately 160 c.c. of water, or 65 c.c. per kilo, daily, which is approximately twice the intake of an average human adult derived from both food and drink. It appears that rabbits fed mainly on a dry diet suffer from both water and food starvation, which is indicated by poor condition and scanty contents of the gut found post-mortem. If such an animal is provided with water, it takes a long drink and then greedily eats the dry food. It is obvious that water is essential for the normal physiology of the rabbit ; the flesh (muscle and fat) of mature rabbits contains approximately 67 per cent moisture (King Wilson and Botham, 1934), being higher in males than females fed on similar diets. In comparative tests in feeding (a) dry mash and greenstuff, (b) dry mash and water and (c) dry mash, greenstuff and water (Christian, 1936) the best growth and development was obtained by (c), whereas (a) without drinking water caused impaction of the caecum. Deprivation of water results in loss of appetite and a decline of 20 percent in fur growth (Wirth, 1936).

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Water Requirements of Rabbits and Guinea Pigs. Nature 152, 157 (1943).

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