( The articles below have been information I have found through research that may be helpful to a new owner)
Bunny Bonding Information ( this can also mean with other pets)
How to make your “bunny bonding” Experience Easier
Bonding bunnies can be very tricky at times. After all, how would you like it if someone came into your home, began eating your food and sleeping on your bed? Many bunnies are not too fond of this either and they can become aggressive quickly. Sometimes bonding can be instantly easy, but other times not so much. Just expect challenges with it and you could possibly have a pleasant surprise. If , however you leave it to chance then expect some very serious injuries when they begin to fight.
Each bonding is a unique experience, but there are some basics. Through trial and error you will figure out what works for you. Each pair of bunnies is different. Some rabbits like to eat together while others will fight over their food. The same thing can happen at the litter box.
There is no set time line and though the average is a few weeks , it can be as short as a few days to a few months or even longer, and in some cases NEVER.
Staying calm and using patience are some of the biggest challenges. Our reactions can either hinder or help the process along. You can possibly learn something from this; I know I did, Patience.
Neuter & Spay First
When rabbits are not spayed or neutered their hormones that drive them to fight over territory are in full swing. So please spay or neuter first. Keep in mind that during the bonding process bunnies will mark more and seem to forget litter box training. Non spayed or non-neutered rabbits can have some quite strong urine and droppings scents. Even though freshly spayed, the hormones may still be very present in the rabbits. Be sure to wait about a month to let them die down. Please note that an altered male can still impregnate an unaltered female within a month of his surgery. He can still have viable sperm at that time.
Rescue centers can assist in helping you find a bunny that will bond with your bunny. They are experts at doing that.
Cages or pens should be placed next to each other.
Caution!!! Bunnies have been known to “bite” each other through the cage. Either use a thin net between cages or keep separated by a few inches. You can also change each bunny into the other bunny’s cage and switch their water an d potties into the other one’s cage to help them get used to the other bunny’s scent.
Another word of caution here… It is also possible that doing this may make the rabbits more aggressive to each other. If the aggression does not die down in a week or so then you may have to separate them and try again in a few weeks and then introduce them to each other in a neutral space. Somewhere neither of them has been.
Once you have chosen an area that neither bunny has been in to introduce them, you need to be prepared with a few supplies. You will need a pair of thick gloves to protect your hands in case of a scrap between the two and you have to break it up. A squirt bottle full of water can be handy also. Another idea I have found to be really helpful is a wire strainer to separate the dueling couple. Simply scoop and go.
Start with small 15 minute sessions in this neutral area. Do this a few times a day and increase or decrease time, depending on how well they are getting along.
Rabbits are bad to hold grudges. So don’t push your luck. Try to end each session on a positive note before it gets nasty. They don’t have to be all snuggly, just as long as they are not fighting. Even peacefully ignoring each other is a positive.
So if you are not having any positive experiences with the bunnies at this point, try a car ride. Place them both in the same carrier (have another person, with gloves on) ride with you, just in case of trouble. A lot of times, both of them in an unusual place will cause them to get along, even if for just a little bit. Make it a short 20 minute ride the 1st time.
Once you find you can trust them together, and then you can move them to a semi-neutral space. Again, this can take sometimes weeks to get this far.
Now by alone, I mean that I can walk off a few minutes here or there within earshot of them and they still get along with each other.
Once you have found a semi-neutral area place a pen or run in that area and then place the bunnies into the pen. Sometimes a change of area can make one or both of them become more dominant and therefore more aggressive. Doing this is normal, but if they digress drastically go back to the neutral territory for a while.
Final Step – Permanent Home
After you find that you can trust them together then it is time to place them in their permanent home. Before you do this be sure to clean the area with vinegar and water and put fresh bedding in the area because that way the original bunny’s scent won’t be in that area causing him to become more dominant. Be sure to supervise them here also. Once they seem to be getting along there I would consider them to be a bonded pair. But for the very 1st night I usually like to stay within hearing distance to make sure there won’t be a nasty tussle between the two.
Get a small stuffed animal and place it in each of the bunny’s pens. Leave it there for several days and get each bunny’s scent on the “stunt double”. You can even take fur from their brush and place it inside of the stuffed animal to give it more of their scent. After a few days switch each stuffed animal to the other bunny’s pen and see what their reaction is to the toy. Also it gives them the scent of the other rabbit to get used to them.
Litter Box Training thanks to ...(http://rabbit.org/faq-litter-training-2/)
By nature, rabbits choose one or a few places (usually corners) to deposit their urine and most of their pills. Urine-training involves little more than putting a litterbox where the rabbit chooses to go. Pill training requires only that you give them a place they know will not be invaded by others. Here are some suggestions to help you to train your rabbit to use the litterbox.
Does age make a difference?
Older rabbits are easier to train than younger rabbits, especially babies. A rabbit’s attention span and knack for learning increases as they grow up. If you have a baby, stick with it! And if you are deciding whether to adopt an older rabbit, or litter train your older rabbit, go for it!
Does spaying/neutering make a difference?
Yes! This is often the most important factor. When rabbits reach the age of 4-6 months, their hormones become active and they usually begin marking their territory. By spaying or neutering your rabbit, he will be more likely to use his litterbox (as well as be much healthier and happier).
What types of litter should I use?
It depends on what’s available in your area and what your rabbit’s habits are. Keep in mind the following as you choose your litter:
- most rabbits spend lots of time in their litter boxes
- rabbits will always nibble some of the litter
- rabbit urine has a very strong odor.
Stay away from litters made from softwoods, like pine or cedar shavings or chips, as these products are thought to cause liver damage in rabbits who use them. CatWorks litter has been linked to zinc poisoning. Swheat Scoop Litter should be avoided, because rabbits will often ingest it. Because it is comprised of wheat, it is very high in carbohydrates and can cause obesity, excessive cecal production, diarrhea, bacterial imbalance, and other health issues.
Another approach is to place a handful of hay in each box, or to simply use hay as litter. It is helpful to put several layers of newspaper under the hay, to absorb urine so that your rabbit is not standing in the urine. Most newspapers today are using soy-based ink, which is safe for your rabbit, but check with your local newspaper to make sure first. Obviously, you need to change the hay fairly frequently (daily), since your rabbit will be eating it. This method often helps to encourage good litter habits as well as to encourage hay consumption, since rabbits often eat at or near the same time as they use the litter box.
Pros and cons of the various types of litter include:
- clay litter is dusty–if your bunny is a digger, the dust can make her vulnerable to pneumonia
- the deodorant crystals in some clay litters are toxic
- clumping litters will clump inside the rabbit’s digestive and respiratory tracts (the latter if they manage to make enough dust to breathe) causing serious problems and often leading to death
- pine and cedar shavings emit gases that cause liver damage when breathed by the bunny
- corn cob litter isn’t absorbent and doesn’t control odor, and has the the risk of being eaten and casing a lethal blockage.
- oat- and alfalfa-based litters (available from Purina, Manna-Pro, and King-Soopers groceries [not sure what the geographical range of this chain is]) have excellent odor controlling qualities, but if a rabbit eats too much, they expand and cause bloating; these, too, can be added, with the bunny’s waste, to compost
- newspapers are absorbent, but don’t control odor
- citrus-based litters work well, offer no dangers, and can be composted, but may be hard to get and expensive in some areas of the country/world
- some people have reported success with peat moss which can also be composted
- Many people have great success with litter made from paper pulp or recycled paper products. These litters are very good at absorbing and cutting down on odors. A litter called Carefresh (use the Natural only product) is available at most pet stores, as is Yesterday’s News. A similar litter in a pelleted form is called Cellu-Dri. These litters are harmless if ingested.
- Compressed sawdust pellets are inexpensive, highly absorbent litters used in many foster homes. They are made from softwood or hardwood sawdust, but they are not toxic because the phenolic compounds are removed during their manufacture. Their wood composition helps control bacterial growth and odors. Wood stove fuel pellets and Feline Pine are two examples of this product.
- Litters made from Aspen bark are safe and good at absorbing odors. One brand is called GentleTouch 1-800-545-9853.
Clean litterboxes often, to encourage your rabbit to use them. Use white vinegar to rinse boxes out–for tough stains, let pans soak. Accidents outside of the cage can be cleaned up with white vinegar or club soda. If the urine has already dried, you can try products like “Nature’s Miracle” to remove the stain and odor. To dispose of organic litters, they can be used as mulch, or can be composted. Rabbit pills can be directly applied to plants as fertilizer.
What kinds of cages work best?
Use a cage large enough to contain a small litterbox (along with bunny’s food and water bows, toys, etc.) and still allow enough room for the rabbit to stretch out. Place the box in the corner of the cage that he goes in. With a litterbox in the cage, when the rabbit is confined to his cage when you’re not home, cage time is learning time.
What if my cage is on legs or has a door that opens on top so the bunny can’t get into it on his own?
If it is on legs, build a ramp or stairs, or pile boxes to make steps–anything so he can come and go on his own.
If the door is on top, put a small stool or box inside to help him get out, a board or piece of rug to help him walk to the edge of the cage, and a ramp, stairs, stool, or boxes to help him get down (and up again).
What if my cage is too small for a litter box or I don’t use a cage?
If your cage is too small for a litter box, you may have a cage that is too small for your rabbit. Our Housing FAQ has lots of info on appropriate cages and enclosures.
Or you may have a dwarf rabbit and can’t get a small litter box. A good substitute is a Pyrex baking dish. Even 9″ x 9″ is sufficient for a small 3 or 4 pound rabbit.
You may have a cage with wire on the bottom and a tray underneath that catches the urine. In this case, the tray is the litter box and the cage itself is where the bunny learns to go. You can often place the litter box in the tray, under the cage, so that you need not fill the entire bottom with litter. P> If you don’t use a cage, you need to give the bunny a particular area to call its own. Just put a litter box wherever the bunny seems to prefer.
Pills vs. urine
All rabbits will drop pills around their cages to mark it as their own. This is not failure to be litter-trained. It is very important for your rabbit to identify the cage as her property so that when she leaves the cage for the bigger world of your house, she will distinguish the family’s area from her own and avoid marking it. To encourage this, make the rabbit the king of his cage. Try not to force him in or out of it– coax him. Do not do things to his cage that he doesn’t like, or things to him that he doesn’t like while he’s in the cage.
The trick to getting the rabbit to keep his pills in the cage is to give him ownership of his cage–respect the cage as HIS:
- Don’t reach into the cage to take him out; open the door and let him come out if and when HE wants to come;
- Don’t catch him and put him back in the cage or it will be his prison, not his home. Herd him back gently, and let him choose to go in to get away from you (I walk behind my buns, clap my hands, and say “bedtime.” They know that I’ll not stop harassing them with this until they go into their cage, so they run in except when they feel they haven’t gotten their fair share of time outside the cage.)
- It’s a bit like a child going home and closing the door, because someone is calling her names. They may make the playground an unpleasant place for her, but they can’t bother her in her own home.
- If the rabbit has been snuggling with you, it’s okay to carry him to the door of the cage and let him go in–just don’t put him directly into the cage, and never chase and trap him and put him in the cage.
- Don’t reach into the cage to get food dishes–anchor them near the door of the cage so they can be filled with a minimum of trespassing into the cage, or wait until the rabbit is out to fill them.
- Don’t clean the cage while the rabbit is in it–wait until he comes out. He’ll come over and supervise you, even help you move things around that you’ve set down outside the cage, but as long as he isn’t in the cage, he won’t see your cleaning as an invasion of his territory. (Smart rabbits–I wouldn’t object if someone were cleaning my house, either… )
Can the rabbit have a running space?
Even if your goal is to let your rabbit have full run of the house, you must start small. Start with a cage and a small running space, and when your rabbit is sufficiently well trained in that space, gradually give her more space. But do so gradually! If you overwhelm her with too much freedom before she’s ready, she will forget where her box is and will lose her good habits.
So what’s the actual method?
Start with a box in the cage, and one or more boxes in the rabbit’s running space. If she urinates in a corner of the cage not containing the box, move the box to that corner until she gets it right. Don’t be concerned if your bunny curls up in his litterbox–this is natural. Once she’s using the box in the cage, open her door and allow her into her running space. Watch her go in and out on her own. If she heads to a corner where there’s no box, or lifts up her tail in the characteristic fashion, cry “no” in a single, sharp burst of sound. Gently herd her back to her cage and her litterbox, or into one of the boxes in her room. Be careful, however. You don’t want to make the cage or the litterbox seem like punishment. A handful of hay in the box makes it a more welcoming place. After she first uses the box, praise her and give her her favorite treat. Once she uses the box in her room a couple of times, you’re well on your way, as her habits will be on their way to forming. As she gets better trained in her first room, you can increase her space. Don’t hurry this process. And if the area becomes very big, or includes a second floor, be sure to include more litterboxes, so as not to confuse her. Remember, as she becomes more confident and uses fewer boxes, you can start to remove some of her early, “training” boxes. Get your rabbit into a daily routine and try not to vary it. Rabbits are very habitual and once a routine is established, they usually prefer to stick with it.
How many litterboxes?
The more, the merrier, especially if your rabbit is a bit of a slow learner, or is especially obstinate about where she wants her box(es) to go. As her habits improve, you can decrease the number of litterboxes.
Kicking litter out of the box
Some rabbits love to kick their litter out of the box. You can get a covered litterbox (with a hood) to help solve this problem. You can also try experimenting with different litters.
Urinating over the edge of the litterbox
A second problem is that rabbits often back up so far in the litterbox that the urine goes over the edge. Again, a covered litterbox can solve this problem. Another solution would be to get a dishpan or other type of tub with much higher sides. Still another solution would be to get a “urine guard” to place around the back of the cage, to keep the litter from spraying outside of the cage.
What to do if your rabbit insists on using another spot?
Compromise. If your rabbit continually urinates in a spot where there is no litterbox, put his box where he will use it, even if it means rearranging his cage or moving a table in the living room. It is much easier to oblige him than to try to work against a determined bunny!
What are the most common litter training mistakes?
- Letting the bunny out of the cage and not watching her with undivided attention; You can’t watch TV or read the paper or knit or talk on the phone and expect to keep your mind on what the bunny is doing every second–if she urinates without being “caught” and herded to the litter box, she’ll be that much slower in learning what she’s supposed to do.
- Getting in a hurry. Bunnies take time. Perhaps that’s one of their special gifts to us in this hectic world. They require that we take time out to sit and watch and do nothing else. Besides getting a well-trained bunny for your efforts, you also get a short period of time each day to watch one of the most charming little creatures on earth explore, skip for joy, and in general entertain you with her bunny-ness.
Dribbles usually indicate a bladder infection. Get your bunny to a rabbit-veterinarian who will probably put her on an antibiotic. If the dribbling stops, you know that that was the problem. (Watch out for antibiotics given by veterinarians not familiar with rabbits as companion animals!)
If the “dribbles” are more than dribbles, or if the antibiotic doesn’t stop the problem, consider any factors that may be making your bunny feel insecure (new pet, house guests, change in location of cage, etc.), any of which can cause a bunny to mark her cage more enthusiastically (similar to someone having a dispute with a neighbor about the location of a fence setting up a flag at the property boundary marker).
Why does my rabbit urinate or leave pills right beside the litterbox?
The three most common things that are related to poor litter habbits (especially if the bun had been using the litterbox in the past) are:
- Urinary Tract infections; sludge in the bladder; bladder stones; kidney disease. This should be treated by a qualified doctor. A common example is Oreo, a 8.5 year Dutch who had 75% kidney failure and began urinating on the floor next to the litterbox when her problems first began. Hershey (her mate) did the same thing when he had a severe UTI last year. After the UTI was cleared up, he began to use the litterbox again.
- Behavior related. Once the possibility of physiological causes is eliminated, the behavioral reasons seem to go something like this: Miz Bun eliminates next to her litterbox because of some stress, eg, a break in her routine such as less or more running time than usual, visitors at home, kids home from college or summer camp, any intensely emotional event whether good or bad. It could even be a single incident such as being frightened by a sudden noise (car backfiring, etc) while she’s in her box, which she then associates with being in the box. Whatever the reason, she’s feeling insecure and tries to rebuild her confidence by “underlining her signature” (signature being her droppings in the box; underlining, the puddles/piles beside it). Unless it’s an ongoing stress that can be removed, figuring out the cause is not particularly relevant. The important factor is not what happened the first time but the habit that often grows from it. She pees beside the box today because she did it yesterday. Many people do not take action for the first few incidents, especially with a rabbit who’s always been good about using the litterbox. They figure it’s a fluke that will disappear as suddenly as it started. this gives the habit time to take firm root. By day 3, the habit is fairly entrenched, and correction of the perceived cause will not solve the problem. What WILL solve it? The usual: confinement, praise, rewards, vigilant observation and supervision during free-run time. But there’s a catch-22 to this method. It generally requires a change in Miz Bun’s routine, which is a common cause for the behavior in the first place. I know of no easy way around this knot. The hard way is to confine, praise, etc with minimal change to her usual routine. Sometimes I add a box to the rabbit’s area. The novelty makes the box attractive (as do treats placed in it). She hops in to investigate, and voila! she eliminates IN A BOX. This is good behavior, worthy of lavish rewards. It’s often easier to get her to go in a new box than to go in the one she’s been eliminating next to. It’s important for people to understand that this process can take time. A rabbit who’s been perfectly box-trained for three years and has peed next to the box for three days may need three weeks of intensive training to get back to her old, good behavior. Why is it that bad habits take longer to undo than to initiate while the reverse is true of good habits?
- Territory related. Winston, a religious litterbox user began urinating on the floor next to the litterbox near the gate…when Buttercup arrived on the opposite side of the gate. After Winston got used to Buttercup, and had “his” territory sufficiently marked, he stopped using the floor and resumed using the litterbox.
I feel the need to inform all of you "new" bunny owners about a horrible thing that can possibly happen to your bunny if this particular chain of events begins. GI Stasis is the shutting down of the digestive tract. It is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT to keep hay for your bunny AT ALL TIMES!!! A bunny's digestive tract is unlike ours. They absolutely MUST have "roughage" such as hay or even their feed available at all times! If they go without eating, even as little as a few hours sometimes, this can start a chain of events inside of their digestive tract that will completely shut down their digestion and ultimately cause extreme pain and bloating, dehydration and eventually death. And usually it cannot be "undone" or fixed.
Please , please watch your bunny carefully , especially their "poo". I know ,it can be a bit disgusting, but it is necessary! Their normal daily poo should be hard little balls , firm and not mushy. They also have a night time poo called "cecum" that will appear to be a bit softer and formed like a batch of much smaller grapes stuck together. Now , again, I realize a lot of folks find this disgusting, but it is necessary for the bunny to be able to "digest" his own cecum , at least in part. This special night time poo contains the necessary "good" bacteria that helps the bunny's digestion... much like when we humans eat yogurt with the special enzymes that help our digestive system.
Whatever you do, please be sure your bunny has a steady supply of hay (alfalfa or timothy) at all times. Of course fresh water is also very important.
Check your bunny's bottom fairly often for this. If you see a sticky stuck mess on its bottom clean it off immediately , especially if it is an outside bunny! This sticky mess can cause several problems. It can actually "plug" the anal and urine producing holes and make your bunny even sicker and possibly cause death. If your bunny is an outside bunny, it can lure flies to your bunny and cause them to lay eggs in the mess and cause something to happen called "fly strike" which will also kill your bunny. The best way to stop any of the above is "prevention"! In order to prevent any of this from happening or at least give it less chance of happening, a person needs to make sure their bunny's digestive system is working properly. Here at Wabbit Habitat, we feed our bunnies only the best feed with 16% protein bought from the nearby Tractor Supply store. In addition to that we add dried uncooked oats which assist the gut of the bunny in digestion. I give them fresh dried alfalfa or timothy hay on a daily basis and keep the hay bins full. We also provide water which has Apple Cider Vinegar with "Mother" in it to help in digestion.
I try never to feed too many vegetables at one time or too much fruit which can cause diarrhea and start a vicious cycle that is hard to stop. I also introduce new fruit or vegetables one at a time with a very small amount to start with. I always watch my bunny's potty boxes and make sure their poo is round and firm and not mushy. You will find that bunnies have 2 different kinds of poo. One is the normal round hard poo's that you want to see in their potty, the other is called cecum , which is often shaped like clusters of grapes, very small and usually found where they sit at night. Rabbits are supposed to digest this cecum again to help with their digestion, ( yes that means they will eat their night time poo) that is nature, it happens. Once in a while this cecum is too much and they will leave some of it on the floor of their pen or in their bedding. That is what you will usually find stuck to their bottom if anything. But if it becomes a sticky mess, your bunny's digestive system is a bit upset. This is nothing to take lightly. You can also purchase good digestive enzymes that help with this at stores such as Pet Smart. You may also contact me if this problem arises and I may have other helpful advise, but don't let this go on too long, get that bunny to a bunny vet! ASAP
Wry Neck (e. cuniculi)
Wry Neck, or head tilt, is when a rabbit's head starts to turn to the side. The rabbit will also lose it's balance and be very unstable. In later stages, the rabbit will walk in constant circles, to one side. The rabbit's eye will typically dart (go back & forth), from one side to the other. Hind end paralysis can also be a sign of Wry Neck.
One initial sign can be a rabbit who goes off feed. Any time a rabbit goes off feed, they should be watched for signs of Wry Neck. If Wry Neck is caught early enough, it is easily treatable.
Wry Neck is most commonly caused by the parasite, Encephalitozoon cuniculi, or commonly referred to as e. cuniculi. This parasite attacks the brain and causes cysts on the brain. Which therefore causes all the above symptoms. Head tilt can also be caused by an ear infection. While this is not the most common form, in my experience, it is something to keep in mind. Wry Neck is often triggered by stress or dehydration, although it may show up at unexplainable times as well.
Some people say that Wry Neck is caused by pasturella, but I have never seen it to be caused by that. That is certainly something to keep in mind, but typically there will be other signs if it were to be caused by that. The other signs would include congestion and snot in the nose.
There are a lot of thoughts that swirl around online about how to treat Wry Neck. Over the years of raising rabbits, I have successfully treated several cases of Wry Neck. I have only had to put down one rabbit with Wry Neck over the years, but I believe that if I would have used the full treatment which I will mention below, I could've saved her. But, at the time, I did not know about the full treatment options.
What I have found to work the best for treating rabbits with Wry Neck are treatments for parasites:
-20mg per kg (2.5 lbs) of Fenbendazole given orally every day for 4 weeks. Fenbendazole can be found as the puppy wormer, Panacur.
Panacur is an over-the-countermedication which you can get at any vet. This is probably the most important part of treatment. Fenbendazole works *very* well to completely rid the rabbit of Wry Neck.
The treatment I used to use was 1/10cc per lb of Ivomec orally, repeated in 7 days. But, that did not always work. And new research has shown that the above treatment works better. From my experience it works FAR better and the rabbits get better much easier. With Ivomec, the rabbits would almost get worse and then get better after the second treatment. I have used both Ivomec and Panacur for treating Wry Neck. But, I find no reason to use the Ivomec anymore, as the Panacur works amazingly well. ( Note, I have used this myself and saved 1 baby from this awful disease. The only one I have ever had to come down with that disease)
A rabbit with Wry Neck is likely to go off feed and possibly even water. It is of utmost importance to make sure the rabbit is consuming a good amount of both water & feed (even if it's not pellets, it needs to be something nutritious). If the rabbit is not eating or drinking well, the treatment is not going to be as successful. Whether the rabbit is eating well or not, I always give the rabbit a bowl of water (to make sure they are drinking enough), oats/barley with their feed, and some sort of fruit or veggie to help keep the appetite up (usuall use carrots or a banana). Hay is important also. Rabbit Nutri-drops and/or vitamins in the animal's water can also be helpful.
There are some who say anti-inflammatory medications should be used, but that is debateable. I have never used anti-inflammatoy medications and have never felt the need to use them.
If Wry Neck is being caused by something other than e. cuniculi, proper antibiotics to treat an upper respiratory infection and ear infection should be used. But, caution should be taken in treating a rabbit with an uppper respiratory infection, as it can be a sign of a more serious problems. In that case, the rabbit should be culled.
The common symptoms include, but are not limited to, the following:
Tilted head Walking in circles Rolling (in later stages) Paralysis of the hind quarters
Early symptoms frequently overlooked are:
Lack of movement around the cage - huddling in corner Loss of appetite Darting eye(nystygmus)
Weepy eye Lying close to the floor with head down Weight loss Dehydration Weaving from side to side Staggering gait Stargazing (starring up at nothing)
Patterns seem to be as follows:
It generally presents symptoms 7 days after stress of dehydration, illness or abrupt weather change.
Wry neck symptom is more common in lightweight breeds : More common in very young or very old
More common in litters of does that are nest box wetters
Larger breeds tend to have less severe symptoms (due to body mass I presume)
Unexplained weight loss symptoms are more common in breeds like Mini Rex and Rex that have solid surface resting boards in their cage (presumably because they lick their feet and re-infect themselves.)
I have RARELY seen it in a fat rabbit, generally only in thin and debilitated animals
It does not appear to be contagious among healthy animals although some studies indicate the spores can live outside the body for up to 30 days.
I have never seen more than one kit in a litter with symptoms.
Supportively they are removed from any source of draft or extreme heat, loud noises or other stress factors. Bene-Bac or other lactobacillus, and Nutri-Cal are added to maintain gut stability. Providing water at a level they can access easily can present a challenge but it is imperative to reduce dehydration. Feeding alfalfa hay, carrot tops or parsley drenched in water, bananas, apples etc. make eating in an upside down position easier for them.
Keep food and water securely fastened and down low to assure easy access. A good appetite is imperative to recovery.
We offer alfalfa hay which is easy to eat from a tilted position. Carrot tops or parsley drenched in water are an easy source of liquid and seems to be well tolerated. We also offer banana slices, apples etc. since they are easy to eat as well as nourishing.
Grocery stores often sell wheat grass in little tubs and I put the entire contents of the plastic tub in the cage on it's side. The rabbit will eat the grass easily and then will eat all the roots, dirt and all! They love it and it seems to help.
Syringe feeding may be necessary but can add additional stress so we only recommend it in cases that simply refuse nourishment otherwise.
Nutri-Cal is a paste type of high calorie supplement that can be fed or even wiped on the front feet. The rabbit will lick it off the feet.
Sticking front feet into pureed feed like Oxbow's "Critical Care" or Barbi Brown's "Magic" will also get some high powered nourishment in a sick bunny.
Fluids of any kind are VERY IMPORTANT. If the rabbit refuses to drink the vet may need to administer sub-cutaneous fluids to keep them hydrated. Fragrant liquids like apple juice, creme soda, fruit flavored teas are good ways to coax more fluid intake.
Bene-Bac or other probiotics are required if using antibiotics.
The cage, feeders, watering supply must be regularly disinfected with 10% bleach solution (rinsed well). NO OTHER DISINFECTANT WILL KILL THE SPORES. Spores can live outside the body for months if left untreated and will result in reinfection.
Remove anything from the cage that they can urinate on. Resting boards, towels, carpets, sheetrock, nest box etc. and disinfect them. If the urine is on anything they sit on they will reinfect themselves while grooming.
For rabbits who have started to roll, you can put them in a carrier and roll towels around the side to prevent injury but be sure to launder them daily in bleach solution.
Gentle massage of the neck and back can offer some relief from the torqued position. Some rabbits will find it helpful but some will be more stressed by it. Use your best judgment here.
I have one reader who actually took her rabbit to a Chiropractor and got adjustments to her spine. She said it really helped.
In cases of hind quarter paralysis I find exercise on the grass is helpful in regaining muscle tone.
For rabbits in great distress I find a warm bath often helps to relax them. I fill the tub or sink with very warm water a let the rabbit float in it with the head cradled in my hand. A gentle massage over the back and neck seem to help reduce stress. But a bath is best done with two people in case the rabbit begins to roll.
Since the posting of this page I have received many letters telling of success in treating Wry Neck using my methods. I hope to be able to provide a list of the veterinarians that have treated this disease successfully as a resource for vets seeing this disease for the first time.
As always prevention is far better than treatment and is particularly important if you have multiple pets in your household. There are several different products available to treat or prevent worm infestation in rabbits. These include:
Panacur Rabbit is a paste that is administered orally and should be repeated 2-4 times a year. It aids in the control of Encephalitozoon cuniculi and protects against intestinal worms.
Xeno 450 Spot-on is directly put on the back of the neck and protects the rabbit from both internal and external parasites. This product should be administered monthly to the animal to ensure full protection.
Verm-X Nuggets are suitable for use in rabbits, guinea pigs and hamsters. They are a great source of fibre and make a tasty treat for your bunny. They should be used daily.
INFECTIOUS DISEASES OF RABBITS
Two serious diseases caused by viruses are rarely seen in indoor pet. They are myxomatosis and viral hemorrhagic disease. Because they are viral diseases there are no effective treatments once the rabbit is infected.
This is caused by the myxoma virus, which is widely distributed in the wild rabbit population. You might argue that your rabbit never comes into direct contact with animals from the wild. The problem is that the virus is carried by rabbit fleas and mosquitoes so the disease can be passed on without direct contact. The incubation period is two days to a week and the first sign is the development of puffy eyelids and a purulent (pus-producing) conjunctivitis. Swelling under the skin extends around the eyes, ears and genital region. Death is usually 18 days to three weeks after infection but occasionally animals will survive and signs regress over three months.
Pregnant animals should not be vaccinated, nor rabbits less than six weeks old. Occasionally there is a local reaction at the injection site but compared with the lethal infection seen of many unvaccinated animals this is insignificant.
Viral hemorrhagic disease
This disease was first noticed in China many years ago but now has an almost worldwide distribution. Viral hemorrhagic disease is caused by a calicivirus and, although the incubation period is up to three days, animals may die suddenly without any clinical signs. If there are signs they include anorexia (not eating), pyrexia (fever) apathy and prostration. There may be convulsions and coma, dyspnea (difficulty breathing), a mucoid foaming at the mouth or a bloody nasal discharge. Some animals survive this acute phase but die a few weeks later of liver disease and jaundice.
Given the horrendous death experienced by affected rabbits, every rabbit should be vaccinated annually or even every six months in areas where the disease is rampant.
Two other infectious diseases of rabbits are Encephalitozoan cuniculi and Pasteurella multocida.
Encephalitozoan cuniculi (Wry Neck)
This disease, also known as Nosema cuniculi, causes a chronic latent condition in rabbits, with active disease being characterized by neurological signs such as seizures, paralysis and eventually coma. There are no particularly effective drugs to treat the disease although sulfonamide antibiotics may be useful. Encephalitozoonosis has been described in a few cases in people but its significance is not really known. This underlines the importance of always washing your hands after handling any animal and before eating or preparing food.
Pasteurella multocida ( Highly contagious from rabbit to rabbit!!! often called Snuffles)
Pasteurella is a bacterium which commonly causes abscesses and inflammatory disease in rabbits. It can infect the nasolacrimal (tear) duct, and can cause abscesses of tooth roots, skin or internal organs. A very common problem associated with the organism is upper respiratory tract infection causing snuffles. Indeed it may be that most rabbits have this organism in their noses but the immune system keeps it at bay. Only when the rabbit is under stress can the bacterium start to cause overt clinical problems. Treatment may include antibiotics but these do not penetrate well into the pus produced by Pasteurella infection. Also, rabbits do not take kindly to antibiotics since they upset the delicate balance of normal bacteria in their gut, so vital for digestion. Surgery is possible if the abscess is in or under the skin but abscesses in the middle ear (causing balance problems), in the eyeball (causing blindness) or in the internal organs, are less easy to treat. Because some form of stress probably triggers clinical disease, it is important to keep your rabbit as healthy as possible and this will mean taking him or her to your veterinarian at least once a year for a thorough general examination. ( They now have a vaccine for this, it both protects against it and gives you a 97% cure rate) check out www.bunnyvac.com.
Epizootic Rabbit Enteropathy
Epizootic Rabbit Enteropathy (ERE) Sometimes called "the bloat".
Symptoms of ERE
Rumbling in the stomach area of a rabbit that has ERE within the first day of exposure. . The abdomen becomes very distended, and mucoid droppings are eventually seen under the cage. Within 4-6 days, rabbits with ERE will exhibit most of the following symptoms,
- Cecal impaction
- Watery Diarrhea
- Distended abdomen
- Mucus excretion (after 4th day)
- No fever
If you were to perform a necropsy of the dead rabbits, you might find an impaction 20-30% of the time. You’d find a tremendous lot of gas and liquid ballooning the stomach. You’d also find considerable distention of the small intestine with liquid and a bit of gas.
You won’t find are any outward signs of inflammation or other lesions.
In the studies performed, up to 40% of infected rabbits died, and 100% of study animals got sick. It didn’t seem to matter how much exposure a rabbit received, whether small or large. All rabbits exposed became equally sick and experienced the same mortality rates.
In all these years, scientists have yet to identify the causative agent. Nevertheless, scientists have identified rotavirus and Clostridium perfringens in all the ‘inocula’ taken from animals sick with ERE and used to infect the study rabbits. Researchers were unsure of the role these germs played in the development of epizootic rabbit enteropathy without further study
- Always give hay to your rabbits! Especially to your young bunnies. If your herd or house bunny gets sick, hay or stemmy alfalfa doesn’t prevent or cure ERE, but it helps the infection work its way out of the body, helps prevent a fatal intestinal impaction, and may reduce fatalities.
- Don’t allow your adult rabbits to get fat. Limit their daily ration, letting their weight be the guide
Spaying a Female Rabbit
This is just a little information I found on spaying a FEMALE rabbit. It covers the reason they are more expensive to have done verses having your dog or cat spayed.
The surgery is both "time sensitive" and "accuracy sensitive" .
Fasting for 12 hours before surgery is the general procedure for most animals. Fasting for rabbits any longer than a mere 4 hours can send them into GI Stasis. Vets usually only ask you to not feed them the morning before the surgery.
The reason they should fast in most reasons are 1 of 2 reasons...
1 - So there is no chance of accidentally introducing bacteria from the colon into the peritoneal cavity ( inner lining of the abdominal cavity)
2- The other reason is to avoid reactions to anesthesia that may cause digestive tract distress.
The sensitive time frame is thus... the vet's goal is to get the animal spayed, sutured, and fully awake and eating within just a few hours
A rabbit's skin is not like other mammals. Their skin is extremely thin and can tear easily. The vet must be very careful while working with this sensitive skin.
On top of all of that issue, a rabbit has 2 uterous, meaning the vet has to do a double hysterectomy on them.
The average price for a vet that knows what they are doing for this type of procedure is $275 to $300. They may be small, but they are much more delicate.
Most vets who spay rabbits are well aware and thoroughly trained in performing the spay. However, now you know why the majority of vets don't offer to spay rabbits. In my opinion, the ones who do, are worth every penny. These vets are SKILLED!
I am just posting this, it does not mean that I myself have used this product. All products come with risk. Especially with rabbits , each bunny may react differently to any product. One may do just fine with it, whereas its mate or sibling may have a reaction. Wabbit Habitat is not held "accountable" for any thing that is posted in this information. This is just knowledge I have found from other rabbitry sites or informative sites. Please research for yourself before you try anything on your rabbit, better yet, ask your veterinarian.
Use heartgard or revolution (yes these are dog products) for mites - do not put It down their backs just at base of neck – I cannot get the dosage chart attached for some reason... guess you will have to ask your bunny vet what is right for your rabbit, sorry.
As before- The following information was found on the Internet. I have NOT tried it , nor do I condone its use. This is just information only, to be used or not be used is up to you, but further research could be done on your part to make the best decision for your rabbit.
I use Diatomaceous earth (food grade only) , which is a powdery substance that can be sprinkled lightly on the bunny and surrounding areas. It not only kills mites, fleas and any hard shelled bug but also keeps slugs away and it is edible for the bunny and will kill internal parasites as well. So the Internet says. Just remember if the bunny gets wet by being outside or something it needs to be reapplied sooner.
Rabbit Eye Infection Home Treatment
If your rabbit develops an eye infection, there’s no need to panic. Rabbit eye infection treatment doesn’t have to be a scary prospect. Symptoms of eye infection include puss in and/or around the eyes, bleeding or swelling in the eye region, excessive tearing, and rabbit hair loss around the eye sockets. There are several things that can cause an infection in your rabbit’s eyes, some much more dangerous than others. Rabbit conjunctivitis and bacterial infections are two very common causes, and most vets will recommend antibiotics. While it is true that treating the infection as soon as possible is necessary to avoid complications as serious as encephalitis, there are some home remedies you can try before resorting to prescription meds. Here is a simple rabbit eye infection hometreatment that you can administer using over the counter items and even ingredients that you may already have on hand at home:
1. Boil some turmeric powder in water to create a natural anesthetic and clean the eye area thoroughly with it.
2. Squeeze the gel from fresh aloe vera leaves and massage it into the area of rabbit eye infection. Let the gel dry completely before moving on to the next step.
3. Prepare a mixture of one part betadine to one part cortisone and spread over the regions that show hair loss. Continue this treatment daily until the hair grows back.
4. Rabbit eye infection can also be cured with a mild solution of tea tree oil, a natural antiseptic that has been proven to kill microbial infections. Check with your vet before using this remedy.
As with any type of pet, caring for rabbits is a big responsibility. When your furry friend gets sick, it can sometimes seem a little overwhelming. If you see the signs of eye infection, don’t worry. While it is always necessary to first consult with a veterinarian to determine what, exactly, is the cause of rabbit eye problems, rest assured that they can always be treated, and most often in a simple and painless manner.
Home Remedies: For conjunctivitis and other eye issues, rabbit owners often use echinacea (dietary or as an eye drop) or chamomile drops to soothe and restore eye health. Pumpkin mash can be used to help restore digestive health in a rabbit with constipation or wool block. Make sure you use pure 100% canned pumpkin
Critical Care quickly eliminates wool block, a condition when an animal swallows too much of its own fur during grooming and it gets stuck and cannot pass it.
I have raised rabbits for about 15 years, when they get ear mites I use a medicine dropper and put about 15 drops of olive oil in each ear. You will have to hold the ear and kind of massage it down in the ear. As the oil is running down the ear, the rabbit will try to shake the oil out. Keep this up until the mites are gone.
Goldenseal tincture is a homeopathic antibiotic you can use for your pets and humans it is good for upper and lower body infections such as ear, nose, urinary tract, headtilt and other illnesses where antibiotics are needed.
Polysporin pinkeye is an antibiotic on the shelf brand, I found through a lot of research that Natures Way coconut oil is non GMO WITH 93% MCT's so I got an eye dropper and used that with Johnson wipes and added 500mg of L-Lysine to the bunnies food per day instead of using the other rubbish like Vetericyn Ophthalmic gel or a 1% solution of hydrogen peroxide mixed with a couple of table spoons of Borax.
I then used some "Tea Tree Oil"- one drop into a tablespoon of mineral oil and dabbed a little just under his eye which has cleared up the fungal infection along with all the redness. I do hope that this helps others who have animals with fungal infections of the eye. Better that antibiotics which can cause major problems in rabbits due to their digestive system.
I use flea free in there water it keeps fleas, flys, tick, mosqetios and other blood sucking hungery animals off them. All flea free has over 200 hundred natural vitamins and minerals treat ear mites, ring worm and more. Hope this helps. The taylor's Family rabbit farm Ottawa, Ks
Eucalyptus is great for repelling fleas. I am not sure if you can put it directly on the rabbit, but you can sprinkle the oil outside. Be careful not to put it where he eats. And make sure you get pure oil and not just the fragrance.
About the Ivomec - not a big fan but it does have its place in certain situations. Ivomec is an immune depressant. The sluggish behavior after dosing is very likely a Herx reaction; the Ivomec causes the parasites to die off enmasse which makes bun not feel so good for a few days as the toxins caused by the parasite die off work their way out of his system.
I like the ACV in the water bottle - be sure to use the raw, unpasturized unfiltered kind with the active cultures/"mother". Another thought would be to alkalize with baking soda; you might consider hanging two bottles and letting the bun decide for himself which one [ACV/baking soda] he needs.
Read up on alkalizing remedies on EC here:
Read up on remedies for parasites on EC: http://earthclinic.com/cures/parasites.html
4 cups of water (boiled or bottled drinking water)
1/2 teaspoon Morton lite salt (because it has potassium in it as well as sodium chloride) Can use regular table salt if you have to.
2 Tablespoons sugar
If you want to add the AC ( Apple Cider Vinegar w Mother) start with 1 cup of electrolyte solution in a small jar with a lid; add 2 heaping tablespoons of AC and then put the lid on and shake to blend. This goes into a syringe well and then can be placed into your bun's mouth; tip the head back and gently depress the plunger to allow him to drink it slowly.
Use Campho-Phenique -put some on a Q-tip and clean out ear repeat again in a few days.
Bunny Emergency Kit Ideas
Quick stop (gel) or corn starch (in case you cut a nail too short) Vetricin Penicillin critical care wormer vet wrap
baby gas drops triple antibiotic ointment(neosporin) probiotics corrid cotton balls witch hazel
Hand sanitizer 70% isopropyl alcohol (use as a cleaner for skin not cuts) hydrogen peroxide for wound cleaning...
Bounce Back or some other electrolyte powder tea tree oil gel great for abcesses Mineral oil for ears Nail clippers
Scissors syringes with and without needles bandage gauze emergency vet contact numbers
tweezers Small metal file, for filing teeth Colloidal Silver Polysporin Gatoraid
sterile water jar of Banana baby food oxygen Immunize chlorhexadine b complex for injection
SQ Fluids Metacam reglan Superglue J & J Antiseptic wash with Lidocaine Baytril
bulb syringe for enemas eye dropper Neomycin Pure pumpkin Tape Q-tips
Rubber gloves Whole oats Bag balm for any sores , raspberry tea and chamomile tea bags
( There were no instructions on what to use all or any of the above or how to use them. I would suggest that every bunny mom or dad get online to Facebook and join a bunny group for your breed of bunny. There is so very much wonderful information in those groups and much needed help waiting on any issues you may have. I am also available to answer questions to any of my Wabbit Habitat readers and especially to all of my Wabbit Habitat customers. Use the "contact page" to call or text me when needed. )