How to effectively blood sample bunnies

Blood collection
Blood collection from the marginal ear vein of a rabbit. Image courtesy Vicki Baldrey.

A venipuncture site should be chosen where the skin is clean and has no obvious inflammation or infection. The marginal ear vein or the lateral saphenous vein are usually good choices.

The fur should be clipped and the skin cleaned. EMLA cream can be applied over the site 45-60 minutes prior to venipuncture and covered with a dressing or cling film. The site should then be wiped with surgical spirit.

The vein is raised and the needle should be inserted at a very acute angle, almost parallel to the skin.

Use only very gentle pressure to draw back on the syringe plunger, to prevent the vein from collapsing.

Too great a pressure may also damage the blood cells, especially when using a small gauge needle. Rotating the needle around its long axis so the bevel faces sideways or downwards may improve blood flow if the vein appears collapsed.

After taking the blood, pressure over the venipuncture site should be applied as rabbit veins are prone to haematomas.