Second Blog Post: Rabbits for Science? What about Dragons and Snakes?

            Moving on to the next three animals on the HOXZODIAC wheel, we begin with the rabbit. In Chinese culture, the rabbit represents the moon, some say because the shadows of the moon resemble a rabbit. Others say it’s because of the rabbit’s pure characteristics. This is not to mention that in Western Culture, the rabbit’s foot is considered lucky. Rabbits are earnest with everything they do; they just ask that others treat them the same way.

            Now onto the sciency side of things, beginning with the fact that rabbits are one of the most commonly used animals in research and testing. Rabbits are widely used for experimentation and testing mainly due to practical, rather than scientific, considerations. They are small and usually docile, easily restrained, cheap to maintain, and breed prodigiously. In 2018, about 43% of the rabbits used in research were subjected to procedures involving pain and distress. Rabbits are commonly used for toxicity and safety testing of substances such as drugs, chemicals and medical devices. They are used in skin and eye irritation studies, such as the archaic and painful Draize tests for cosmetics, personal care, household products and other chemicals. This controversial use of rabbits resulted in some of the first large-scale protests against animal experimentation in the 1970s and 1980s and pushed the scientific community to search for in vitro alternatives


            A number of rabbit models have been developed to study human diseases, the most common being cardiovascular disease, cancer and AIDS. They have also been used as “bioreactors” for the production of pharmaceutical proteins. The rabbit is the breed of choice for polyclonal antibody production, tools commonly used in a variety of research methodologies.

            Dragons and lizards don’t serve as big of a role as the rabbit in experimental studies, nonetheless they are essential to cultures and ecosystems. In Chinese culture, people who are dragons are strong and independent figures, but they yearn for support and love. Dragons are the most revered animal in Chinese culture; they call themselves descendants of the dragon. Lizards are sort of the dragon analogue and in terms of their role in our lives, they help to keep pest and insect populations in check.

            In Chinese culture those that are snakes have a deep and complex mind, but if they love, they love with their entire heart. In contrast, here in the west we see snakes usually as sinister and deceptive characters, not to be trusted, and always to be vigilant for. Snakes are implicated in biblical texts. On the scientific side of things, snake venom can act as antagonists or blockers for certain proteins in the human body and thus their derivatives are used for tagging targets and mapping tissues on a cellular and molecular level. The way these venoms affect our bodies also helps us to understand normal physiological mechanisms.

            That’s it for this post guys, hope I’ve provided some insight into these three animal friends of ours.

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