Bristol Rabbit Pain Scale – BRPS


Livia Benato
PhD Research Scholar

Dr Nicola Rooney
Senior Lecturer in Wildlife and Conservation

Dr Jo Murrell
Honorary Researcher in Veterinary Anaesthesia

We developed a pain scale specific for rabbits to assess acute pain in a clinical environment. The BRPS allows the assessment of pain in both straight and lop-eared rabbits.

The management of pain is essential for the health and welfare of rabbits and relies on detecting and measuring pain adequately. Multidimensional composite pain scales are used to carry out an objective pain evaluation of the animal and allow the intensity of the pain to be quantified: generally, the higher the score, the higher the level of pain. This can help the clinician to determine if successful pain management has been achieved or analgesic intervention is necessary.

The Bristol Rabbit Pain Scale (BRPS) was developed using a unique combination of focus group discussions (FGD) and behavioural observations. Firstly, we identified descriptors and categories describing rabbits in pain using FGD. Next, we confirmed the descriptors and categories through video observation of rabbits during the perioperative period of elective surgeries. Finally, we constructed the BRPS by refining the categories and ranking the descriptors each on an ordinal scale. This led to a multidimensional pain scale composed of six categories (Demeanour, Posture, Locomotion, Ears, Eyes and Grooming), four intensities of pain (0, 1, 2, and 3) and a total score of 0-18. The construct and criterion validity and the intra-rater and inter-rater reliability of the BRPS were then confirmed in a clinical environment.  A cut-off point of 5.5 was established for intervention analgesia.


L. Benato, J. Murrell, T. G. Knowles,  N. J. Rooney. 2021. Development of the Bristol Rabbit Pain Scale: A multidimension composite pain scale for assessing acute pain in rabbits. PLOS One, 16(6):e0252417.

L. Benato, J. Murrell,  N. J. Rooney. 2022. Bristol Rabbit Pain Scale (BRPS): a cut-off point for intervention analgesia. BMC veterinary Research. Accepted. 

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