Rabbits are adorable and make wonderful pets. But, like any pet, they require dedication on the part of their keepers. Here’s a few things to consider.
Rabbits are readily available through pet stores, breeders, and even “free to good homes” in the newspaper. However, many people bring a rabbit home without knowing what to expect, and, as a result, thousands of rabbits end up being euthanized in shelters every year. Worse, many rabbits live their lives in tiny cages in basements or backyard hutches without companionship or exercise, and without proper diet or vet care. Here are several things you should know before deciding to take home a bunny.
In short, be certain you can commit to meeting a rabbit’s needs before bringing one home. The House Rabbit Society is a great place to learn more about what to expect if you decide share your life with rabbits.
Images source: Bigstock.com
The post Before You Adopt a Rabbit: Things to Consider Before Bringing Bunny Home appeared first on Rabbit Expert.
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There is so much information online about how to clip rabbit nails, it can be overwhelming. Some people say it takes more than one person to clip a rabbit’s nails, others say they don’t even try to do it, they just take the rabbit to the vet or groomer to have it done. There is a lot of misleading advice out there, such as flipping your rabbit over, onto its back and putting it into a “trance”. Do not attempt this! Only a few rabbits can actually be restrained in this manner, and it is dangerous to put a bunny in this position because of its delicate spine.
There is also the “burrito” technique, in which the rabbit is wrapped tightly in a towel or blanket. The bunny burrito is stressful for the rabbit and it can be very difficult to get the rabbit bundled up enough to restrain it. Another common misconception is that using a flashlight to examine the nails helps you determine where to do the clipping. If your rabbit has dark nails, they will be opaque, not see-through, and so a flashlight won’t make any difference. If your rabbit has light colored nails, they will be translucent enough for you to see where the vein ends, without a flashlight. Allow me to explain a simple, successful, and stress-free method of clipping your bunny’s nails.
There are a few items you should have ready before trying to clip the bunny’s nails:
When to Clip Rabbit Nails
Check your rabbit’s nails to see how long they are. If they are longer than the fur on their paws, it’s time for them to be clipped. Also, choose a time when the rabbit is relaxed and laying on the floor.
Where to Clip Rabbit Nails
In terms of the room, you should do the nail-clipping on the floor, in a room where you can easily re-position yourself when the rabbit hops to another area. Placing a bunny on a table or on furniture is stressful and dangerous.
How to Begin Clipping Rabbit Nails
Calmly approach your rabbit, and position yourself along its side. Pet the rabbit to help it stay relaxed. Use the hand that is closest to the rabbit to gently pick up and hold its front paw that is nearest to your body. Talk to the bunny in a praising manner, saying things like “Good bunny” and “Who’s my good boy/girl?” helps a lot. Act calm and casual, so that the rabbit doesn’t become suspicious and scared, and place the clippers on the tip of one of the nails, and quickly press the clippers together firmly, to get it over with as soon as possible. The longer you just sit there holding the bunny’s paw or fiddling with the clippers, the more you will stress the rabbit out, and it will take off running. Even if you clip the nail quickly and successfully, the rabbit will likely hop away from you and then settle down again. Follow the bunny calmly, and re-position yourself at its side, and continue this process for each nail, and each time that the bunny moves away. The back paws have larger, thicker nails, which will be slightly harder to clip. You will need to use a bit more pressure on the clippers to cut through them. Position yourself in the same way as for the front paws, at the bunny’s side, and only clip the tips of the nails.
After clipping a few of the nails, you will begin to feel more confident, and so will the rabbit. The bunny should soon realize that nail-clipping is not as terrifying as it seems, and it will let you get it over and done with. If you and the bunny become frustrated, just take a break. You could even leave it until another day, and then try again. Remember, rabbits are very sensitive, and they know when you are nervous, stressed, or frustrated, and they will become nervous as well.
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It’s love at first sight for some. How can anybody not fall in love with the cuddly bundle of fur that hops around and stares at you with eyes that could melt your heart?fo
We are talking wabbits here.
Like good old Elmer Fudd exclaimed.
While some make instinctive decisions, the discerning pet parent will spend all the time in the world researching and try to make an informed decision about bringing home bunnies as pets.
Either ways, the good news is that the number of pet owners opting for rabbits is on the rise each passing day. And we couldn’t be happier.
It would be safe to say that rabbits are among the most misunderstood pets ever.
For the uninitiated, they appear to be a laidback and easy going pet that comes with minimal upkeep. Just feed them some hay and carrots and they will be fine.
Others find these cutesy critters to be pesky. Too much time to spend in the upkeep and not to forget the horrible stench that their urine leaves.
And then there’s the third kind of rabbit owner who signs up for it without having the slightest idea of what they are getting into.
The truth is that rabbits are one of the best choices for a house pet. They are extremely social and love to spend time with their owners. However, like any other pet they come with a bunch of responsibilities.
More importantly, there are hundreds of rabbit breeds to pick from. Dwarves, minis, lop and giants, how do you ensure that you make the right choice?
This is a complete guide to the most common and popular rabbit breeds in the world now. To make things easier, we have separated the bunnies according to their physical traits. So, if you find yourself on the fence about which rabbit breed to choose, just bookmark this page and flick through it to get comprehensive information about rabbit breeds.
Dwarf Rabbit Breeds
There’s something inherently cool and attractive about a ball of fur that can fit right into your palm. Therein lies the appeal of a dwarf rabbit breed. These tiny fur balls are loved by adults and kids alike. The fact that they rarely weigh more 4 lbs. in weight is an additional reason for their popularity.
Dwarf rabbit breeds are compact, extremely cute and easy to care for. Also, they happen to be the third most popular pet sold in the US. That’s a tall order.
Dwarf rabbits require less space as compared to a medium or a gigantic lagomorph. The small size also translates into lesser food consumption. If you were looking for a rabbit on a budget, then the dwarf fits right into your scheme of things. But it’s not all about physical traits only.
Dwarf rabbits are a bundle of energy and have a bunch of funny antics up their sleeve. At times you will find them chasing nothing. They might just hop their way to every nook and corner of your home during playtime. And they love to be cuddled too.
They take less time to groom and will rarely chew through your expensive rug or exotic hardwood furniture. They are easier than other rabbit breeds to litter train.
The presence of a dwarfing gene is what separates these tiny rabbits from other breeds.
Today, we take a look at the three most popular dwarf rabbit breeds in the world.
Netherland Dwarf Rabbit
The Netherland dwarf with its perpetual baby-face and shy demeanour is a rage among homeowners looking for a cuddly bunny companion. Their slightly docile temperament makes them excellent pets for households with children in them.
If you are willing to put in the time and effort, these bunnies are easy to socialize as well.
The Dwarf Hotot
The Hotot, pronounced Hoe-Toe is quite a charmer with an unmistakeable appearance. These bunnies are white from head to toe barring a band of brown or chocolate fur around their eyes which give them a very unique appearance. Hotots are playful and love being petted. Their small size and easy temperament make them excellent household pets even for first time rabbit parents. Having said that, hotot dwarfs have very distinct personalities.
Don’t be surprised at all if your hotot is a bundle of energy that loves to hop around home.
Lionhead Dwarf Rabbit
The Lionhead Dwarf Rabbit is a recent addition to the list of officially recognized rabbit breeds by the ARBA. It gained recognition only in 2014 in the US but was already recognized as an official breed in 2002 in the UK. With a thick and bushy mane that has remote similarities to the mane of a lion, the lionhead dwarf is a fancy breed and hence requires additional attention and care. However, their popularity continues to rise due to their cute appearance and sprightly personalities.
Mini Rabbit Breeds
Time and again, we get mails from enthusiastic pet parents who are clueless about the difference between a dwarf rabbit breed and a mini rabbit breed. Well, you are not alone. That’s a very genuine concern indeed. Both these breeds are small and have many overlapping similarities which adds to the confusion. We figured that it was time to clear the air.
All dwarf rabbit breeds have a dwarfing gene present in them which causes their stunted growth. Mini rabbit breeds on the other hand, do not have the dwarfing gene in them. And despite their name, they may not necessarily be the smallest rabbit breed. For example, you have the mini lop which happens to be the second smallest non-dwarf rabbit breed. They can grow up to 5.5 pounds in weight.
On the other hand, the Holland lop, which has the dwarfing gene does not grow beyond 4 lbs. in weight.
Mini rabbit breeds generally are smaller versions of large rabbit breeds.
Here are some of the popular mini rabbit breeds in the US.
Small Rabbit Breeds
Rabbit breeders never classify any breed as ‘small’. It’s a word used more commonly by rabbit parents and owners and may generally include both mini rabbit breeds as well as dwarf breeds. If you are a first time rabbit owner, then any rabbit that is small in size can be a good pick for your home.
Since we have spoken in detail about both minis as well as dwarfs, we will take a look at some of the lesser known but equally popular small rabbit breeds. We will also briefly touch upon the never ending debate about which is the smallest rabbit breed in the world.
Here’s our pick of some of the best small rabbits for your home.
The Smallest Rabbit Breed
Which is the smallest rabbit breed in the world? This question is often met with fervent responses from rabbit parents who are largely divided into two groups. The first group believes that the Netherland Dwarf is the smallest rabbit breed whereas the other one bats for the Britannia Petite.
So which one is it really? Well, turns out that neither of these two are the smallest rabbit breed. But if you are looking for one that is domesticated, then either of these two breeds is your best bet.
On the other hand, if you are just looking for information, then the smallest breed is called the Columbia Basin Pygmy Rabbit. This rabbit breed originated in the Columbia basin area of Washington State and was largely isolated until only 14 individuals remained in the wild. A captive breeding program was then initiated and the numbers have since risen to 76.
Since we have already spoken in detail about the Netherland dwarf, let’s take a look at the other two in this list.
Britannia Petite: The Britannia Petite also called as the Polish Rabbit is one of the smallest non-dwarfed rabbit breeds in the world. It weighs up to 2 ½ lbs. when fully grown and despite the pocket-sized appearance, can be quite a livewire.
New rabbit parents be warned that it will take a certain amount of time, perseverance and patience to train a Britannia Petite. Even when trained, it is not the best choice for a pet if you are looking for a laidback bunny.
Instead, these bunnies love attention and have a very inquisitive nature. If you have a household with children for example, then you’d be better off picking one of the other smaller rabbit breeds mentioned here instead of the Britannia petite.
Appearance wise, a Britannia Petite is a cute little ball of fur. They have elongated bodies with short and upright ears. The coat is dense and has a shiny, silky texture. One of the most appealing aspects about them is their extremely compact size.
Britannia petite is available in a whole range of colors.
Large Rabbit Breeds
A lot of first time rabbit owners are on the fence about opting for large rabbit breeds because of the additional room that they require to be housed as well as the added expense for the copious amount of food these bunnies consume.
But if you are looking for a cuddly, laidback companion in the world of lagomorphs, then there’s no better choice than a large rabbit breed. These big guys are social, friendly and relaxed. Before you raise eyebrows and say that there are no guarantees when it comes to personality or behavioural traits in rabbits, we strongly believe that the larger rabbit breeds are less likely to hop to your ceiling and clamber over the furniture.
We love large rabbits. There’s only one thing better than a bunny. Its having more bunny to play with and cuddle. And depending on which large breed you pick, you can have as much as 20 pounds of bunny with some of the larger breeds.
Here are some of the more popular large rabbit breeds in case you are looking for some help in selecting one.
The Biggest Rabbit Breed
Once again, we have a tie for the top spot for the biggest rabbit breed in the world. ARBA recognizes the Flemish giant as the biggest rabbit breed whereas the current world record for the largest rabbit breed is held by Darius, a four feet four inch continental giant rabbit. What’s ironical is that continental giants are believed to have descended from Flemish Giants whereas the origin of the Flemish Giant remains unknown.
While some believe that the Flemish descended from the Argentinian Pentagonian rabbit, others say that their origins can be traced back to stone rabbits.
Appearance: A full grown Flemish giant can weigh up to 14 lbs. There are reports of them growing much bigger though. They have an arched body with upright ears that can be as big as 8 inches. They have short and dense coats and are available in a whole range of colors.
Temperament: The Flemish giant is right called the ‘Gentle Giant’. These large lagomorphs have a very sweet temperament which makes them a great choice even for first time rabbit owners and households with children. The only caveat is that kids will find it impossible to lift these bunnies like they usually would lift up dwarf rabbits. The giant enjoys their playtime and rabbit-safe toys will help their personalities to develop. Another perk of the Flemish giant is that they mingle well with other animals in the house.
Care: The Flemish giant will need a living space large enough that allows them to stretch out as well as move around. Multi-level hutches are a strict no-no for these large lagomorphs because there is a risk that the ramp may give away under their weight. Giants have very similar dietary requirements like other rabbits and are susceptible to the same health conditions as others. You’d have to keep an eye out for hairballs, myxomatosis, ear mites and dental problems.
But surely, the Flemish and Continental giants aren’t alone in the big rabbit universe, are they? There are more large bunnies out there. Let’s take a look at some of the other giant rabbit breeds.
The Best Rabbit Breeds For Pets
Having mentioned the ‘cuddle’ factor, different rabbit owners have different expectations when it comes to pets. Some prefer a rabbit that can live without the extra attention, while others want a pet that they can constantly pet and cuddle in their laps.
So here are the best pet rabbit breeds according to their temperament for a change.
Gentle and Laidback rabbit breeds: While most large sized bunnies are gentle and laidback, you can always end up with an individual that’s the opposite. The same stands true with dwarves and mini rabbits. While most of them are pretty active, there’s always the possibility that you get an individual rabbit that likes to kick back their legs and rest. But, if the temperament is a priority, then a mini lop, a Holland lop, Rex, a Flemish giant and a Himalayan are your best bet. These breeds are quite commonly found in homes with seniors, singles and children.
Children friendly rabbit breeds: Rabbits are an excellent choice for a child’s first pet. They are not as high-maintenance as a dog nor as independent as felines. But they need enough attention to teach your children the fundamentals of pet care and management. As is the case with any other pet, some breeds of rabbits are child-friendlier. They are gentle, easier to tame and love being around children during playtime. They also do well despite the constant petting that children can subject them to. The Dutch, the chinchilla, the Himalayan, California white, Havana and the Japanese harlequin are some of the popular child friendly rabbit breeds.
Best pet rabbit breeds for outdoor living: While it cannot be denied that domesticated rabbits are gentle and delicate creatures, they can also be quite resilient and hardy. With the right care and the right living space, they can enjoy a healthy and active life in an outdoor hutch. Provide them with the protection they need against extreme weather conditions and predators and they might even enjoy the outdoor hutch more than indoor living. Some rabbit breeds are known to be a better bet than others for outdoor living. Some of these are the Belgian hare, Californian, the New Zealand and Flemish giant. Most breeders say that the breeds that were originally bred for meat are your best choices for an outdoor bunny.
Angora Rabbit Breeds
Winter is just about peeping over the horizon and it’s time for those luxuriously warm sweaters to come out from the wardrobe. How about an angora wool sweater this year? Angora Wool is an incredibly soft woollen fiber that is softer than cashmere. It is only 11 microns in diameter and it trades for almost $37 for two pounds of fiber.
The fiber is sourced from the domesticated Angora rabbit which is touted to have originated in Ankara, Turkey. The rabbit was bred for centuries in Europe for their wool and was introduced to the United States in 1920.
Since then, Angora rabbits have made their way into homes in the US as pets. These delicate and docile animals love to live both indoors and outdoors. There are four Angora Rabbit breeds that are recognized by the ARBA, although there are five of them in all.
The other breed of Angora rabbit that is mostly bred in commercial Angora farms is the German Angora. A German angora has been selectively bred to avoid the shedding process. So, the rabbit never sheds its fur unless you shear it for wool. It looks very similar to the English Angora but is noticeably bigger in size. It can grow up to 12 lbs. Angoras are rarely bred for meat and hence can appeal to a lot of farmers.
We think we have managed to sum up just about all the important domesticated rabbit breeds on the basis of their size as well as other characteristics. If you have anything to add to this, then feel free to drop us a line. We would love to hear your thoughts. Until then, happy rabbitting!
Images source: Bigstock.com
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In a recent and very interesting development, doctors are using the ability of pets to sniff out potentially fatal diseases in humans before they progress to advanced levels. Call it ESP or an enhanced olfactory sense that allows them to detect abnormal scents, the programs are remarkably accurate and so far, dogs are stealing the show.
But doctors and researchers opine that even rabbits aren’t too far behind when it comes to detecting health conditions in humans. For example, it has been noted that rabbits display behavioral changes if and when their parents have fluctuations in their blood sugar levels.
If only, we could detect health problems in pets so easily. But unfortunately, most pet parents rely on symptomatic assessment of health conditions in pets rather than using preventive measures. And if you are a rabbit parent, spotting the symptoms may take a lot more than casual observation.
Rabbits have an inherent ability to hide symptoms. By the time one realizes that something is amiss, the condition may well have progressed to advanced levels requiring immediate medical assistance from a rabbit veterinarian.
Having reared and bought up more than a dozen bunnies, we have had our fair share of misses. From shock to panic to desperation, we have been through all the emotions that most rabbit parents go through at some point in their lives.
So, we figured that this was a great time to create a list of the most common health issues that might crop up in your bunnies from time to time and some tips on how to spot them early.
#1 – Gastrointestinal Stasis
GI Stasis is a rabbit parent’s worst nightmare come true. This serious and potentially fatal condition occurs more commonly in rabbits than one would like to imagine. And what makes it so serious is that the symptoms are extremely difficult to spot.
GI stasis occurs when the rabbit’s digestive system comes to a halt. Any rabbit food that the rabbit consumes is no longer processed and the metabolism is shut down.
Lethargy, lack of appetite, bloating and reduced fecal matter. One of the easiest ways to detect GI Stasis in rabbits is to rest your ears on your bunny’s abdomen gently and listen for sounds of the digestive system functioning normally. There’s typically a gurgling sound or something similar. If you do not hear any sounds at all, then there are chances that the digestive system may have shut down.
In most of the cases, emergency surgery by a rabbit veterinarian may be the need of the hour. But if you have spotted the condition early, then your vet may be able to treat the condition using motility drugs and IV fluids. But if the condition has progressed and the digestive system has shut down completely, then the only way to reactivate the rabbit’s digestive system is via surgery. Contact a veterinarian immediately if you notice any of the above mentioned symptoms.
An active bunny is a fit bunny. One of the ways to prevent GI stasis is to ensure that your bunny has an adequate supply of a variety of fresh hay, time and place for exercise and lots of fresh water. A high fiber diet will keep the digestive system active and also help reduce the risk of dental problems.
#2 – Ear Mites
Ear Mites are undoubtedly among the most common health conditions that can occur in rabbits. That’s irrespective of whether you keep your bunny indoors or outdoors. The good news is that the condition appears to be a lot more serious than it actually is. It is easily treatable. Having said that, if left untreated, it can quickly progress into secondary infections of the middle and inner ear. In extreme cases, mite infestations can also progress to meningitis. So, like any other health condition, you might want to start diagnosis and early treatment for ear mites.
Ear mites are contagious. So the chances of your bunny picking up mites after coming into contact with another infected bunny are high.
One of the first symptoms of an ear mite infestation is intense bouts of itching around the ears, neck and head. The itching may be generalized or focused mainly around the ears. There will be scales on the inner ear which will eventually form thick crusted lesions. There may be hair loss and occasional peeling of the skin. If the infestation has penetrated into the inner ear, it may cause loss of balance or head tilt in bunnies. Mite infestations can also spread to other parts of the rabbit’s body especially the belly and the area that surrounds the anus.
Diagnosis involves taking samples of an exudate that is secreted from the crusted lesions. Your vet may then prescribe anti-parasitic drugs like ivermectin. Treatment also involves cleaning and treating the rabbit’s enclosure or hutch because the condition is contagious and can recur. Everything from the rabbit’s bed to utensils and combs must be completely disinfected before reusing. Never remove the crusts from the ears because it may expose the underlying skin which is prone to infections. Home remedies include using honey or vegetable oil to remove infestations in the early stages.
The best way to prevent mite infestations in rabbits is to avoid contact with other infected bunnies. Maintain healthy grooming habits that allow you to spot the infection early. Keep the rabbit’s environment clean and sanitized. Ensure that your rabbit has ample room. Ear mite infestations have also been linked to increased stress in rabbits. Keep your pet clean and happy to keep the pesky bugs away.
#3 – Sore Hocks
‘Ulcerative Pododermatitis’ also known as ‘sore hocks’ is a condition in which the sole on the rabbit’s rear legs get infected and inflamed. The condition is typically localized in the area of the rabbit’s feet which come into contact with the floor as the rabbit rests.
Sore Hocks can occur due to multiple reasons. But the most common one is a hard floor or wired floor often seen in low quality rabbit hutches. Excessive moisture can also lead to inflammation of the feet. If left untreated, the condition progresses to severe inflammation and can cause lesions filled with pus. In extreme cases, it can affect the connective tissue making it impossible for the bunny to rest or walk normally. It may also limit the supply of blood to the connective tissue leading to brittle bones and even bone death.
Sore Hocks can range from mild to severe and are usually graded depending on the severity of the condition. In grades I to III, the condition is considered moderate and the bunny will show signs of hair loss near the bottom of the rear feet. Swelling is rare but not unusual. In some cases, the skin will become excessively red and may form scabs and ulcers which can be prone to infection.
Grades IV and V are advanced stages which are usually characterized by pustules, abscesses and inflamed tendons. Bone marrow infection can occur leading to disability, imbalance and an abnormal posture.
The earlier the condition is diagnosed, the easier it is for the rabbit to recover fully from it. Diagnosis involves ruling out abscesses caused due to injury or fractures. Most vets may recommend an ultrasound to detect how advanced the condition has become. Rabbits that are diagnosed with bone infections will require undergoing an extended treatment that may take months. In early stages, the treatment revolves around pain management, reducing discomfort and inflammation. In the later stages however, surgical procedures may be recommended to remove dead tissue and prevent extreme infections.
Well, the good news is that sore hocks can easily be prevented. Ensure that your rabbit has a soft and dry surface to rest on. It must be free of excessive moisture, including urine and feces. Keep the rabbit hutch in a dry environment. Keep an eye out for early signs of infection. If the rabbit hutch has a wire floor, then cover it with a thick and soft layer of flooring.
#4 – Snuffles
Snuffles are one of those conditions that look innocuous enough to avoid the need for veterinary assistance. But in reality, this annoying upper respiratory tract disorder can leave your bunny gasping for breath and if left untreated, can quickly progress into other conditions like conjunctivitis, wryneck and imbalance.
What is worse is that almost every domesticated rabbit will be hit with a bout of snuffles at some point or the other. One of the reasons that it is so widespread is because the condition is incredibly contagious. So, if your bunny is out for their periodic vet visit and comes into contact with an infected bunny or even the nasal discharge, they are on track to get infected themselves and possibly infect their partners who share the hutch.
There are many different strains of the bacteria that cause snuffles. The symptoms that your bunny will display depend on the exact strain that has infected them. Some can be as mild as a runny nose with a watery discharge. In advanced cases, the discharge is thick, yellowish and has a mucous like consistency. This is followed by bouts of sneezing and snuffling during which the rabbit finds it difficult to breathe normally.
If left undetected or untreated, the infection progresses into the inner ear triggering a horde of unpleasant symptoms. Wryneck which is an uncharacteristic twisting of the neck is one of the conditions triggered by untreated snuffles. Rabbit parents often find it impossible to believe that the runny nose could have triggered something so severe in their pets. There have been cases in which untreated snuffles has triggered pneumonia in rabbits.
The normal mode of treatment is antibiotic therapy that may last for almost a month depending on the severity of the condition. But antibiotics and the digestive system in bunnies are not a great combination because it often ends up killing the healthy bacteria in the gut that aid digestion. So, vets usually supplement the healthy bacterial strains during treatment with antibiotics. Ensure that your rabbit has a healthy and nutritious diet during treatment. If the condition was not diagnosed early, then it may develop chronic sinus infections that take prolonged treatment to control.
There have even been cases in which the rabbit needed lifelong medication to keep the condition under control.
For a condition so prevalent among domesticated rabbit breeds, prevention plays a very critical role in ensuring that your pet is not infected with snuffles. If you have multiple pets and one pet is showing signs of an infection, then strict quarantine should be maintained until the infected bunny heals completely.
Any shared bedding, food, water and hutch should be cleaned and disinfected. Keep your bunny healthy and active at all times to prevent their immune systems from being suppressed or compromised. Stress can often trigger conditions like snuffles. If you are a rabbit breeder, then ensure that you select a healthy young rabbit that does not have any signs of a possible infection.
#5 – Cocci or Coccidiosis
If you have ever been to rabbit support groups or checked online forums for support on rabbit health, you are most likely to have heard about Cocci or Coccidiosis. It has a nasty reputation for being one of those conditions that can lie hidden in your pet for days or even weeks without any symptoms whatsoever. By the time you start to notice that something is amiss, the infection may already have progressed to severe requiring urgent medical attention.
For the uninitiated, cocci are caused due to a parasitic infection by a parasite known as Eimeria sp. There are more than 25 known species of the parasite and most rabbits are believed to be asymptomatic carriers of the protozoa. This means that a healthy bunny’s immune system develops immunity to the condition. However, if the immunity is compromised or the rabbit is young or ailing, then the infection can be triggered.
The symptoms in coccidiosis are extremely difficult to spot. In early stages, it may be as common as a lackluster coat which overlaps with a plethora of other conditions in rabbits. Some other symptoms include anemia, dehydration, weight loss, lack of appetitie and depression. In intestinal coccidiosis, advanced stages can lead to convulsions and even paralysis in rabbits. On the other hand, in hepatic coccidiosis, it can lead to liver damage and bile duct damage. In extreme cases, it can lead to coma and even death.
Early and accurate diagnosis is the key to successful treatment of Coccidiosis. Most vets start by discussing the pet’s history and by using symptoms to narrow down on the exact cause. Fecal examination can at times reveal oocysts. But once again, it is extremely difficult to separate those from normal yeast which are common in rabbit feces. In advanced cases, vets may recommend a radiograph to detect signs of liver damage or fluid buildup.
Unfortunately, treatment is aimed at management of the condition rather than completely curing it. Treatment methodology is dependent on the symptoms. If the rabbit is displaying signs of dehydration, then intravenous fluids are administered to help restore normal fluid levels in the body. Intestinal coccidiosis is treated with antiprotozoal drugs like Sulfaquinoxaline. Treatment is started for small time durations like 7 days and then repeated to ensure that the condition is contained. The same medication is prescribed for hepatic coccidiosis as well but it rarely prevents liver lesions from forming.
Some vets also prescribe antibiotics and dietary supplements which help to boost the immune system as the primary infection is being treated. With early diagnosis and treatment, most rabbits are able to build a lifelong immunity against the protozoa.
Prevention of cocci in rabbits is possible with a regular and stringent sanitation program. The rabbits environment should be cleaned and checked periodically for signs of infection. The hutch should be scrubbed clean of any fecal matter. Use ammonia 10% solution to disinfect the rabbit cage. Keep your bunny active and healthy by providing them with ample room to move around. A healthy diet that is rich in timothy hay with fresh vegetables and fruits will help develop a strong immune system and gut.
This is not the most exhaustive list of illnesses and health conditions that can occur in rabbits. But these are by far the most common ones that you are likely to encounter. We hope that this helps you in the early diagnosis, treatment and most importantly, prevention of these conditions in your pets. We would love to hear your thoughts. So feel free to chime in.
Images source: Bigstock.com
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First time rabbit parents find themselves wrecking their nerves trying to figure out rabbit grooming.
‘Why is the rabbit shedding so much?’
‘A bunch of hair just came out and there’s a bald spot. Did I just pluck out more hair than what’s required?’
‘The nails seem too long. Should I clip it? Will it bleed?’
There’s never a dearth of doubt when it comes to grooming techniques and methods for bunnies. This has partly to do with the fact that rabbits as pets are fairly recent. For a long time, they were bred for meat and fur.
So, even experienced rabbit parents sometimes find themselves at their wits end trying to figure out grooming.
Unlike dogs, rabbits have an entirely different set of grooming requirements that begins with regular brushing and ends with periodic inspection of the rabbit’s body parts. A well groomed rabbit will be healthy, happy and disease free. So it is crucial that you familiarize yourself with the essentials of rabbit grooming.
Also, along with helping maintain the health of the rabbit, grooming also helps you create an everlasting bond with your pet. It is not uncommon for rabbits to look forward to grooming time as they relax and enjoy the experience.
We created this Rabbit Grooming 101 guide for new as well as seasoned rabbit owners to make grooming safe, easy and enjoyable. We will cover every aspect of grooming in detail including some basic over the counter recommended medications for common health problems in rabbits.
The Basics of Grooming
Despite appearing that they don’t need attention and that they can groom themselves pretty well, rabbits are extremely delicate creatures that can rarely display symptoms of health problems. Grooming them regularly helps you keep an eye out for potential problems and spot them before they can escalate to more serious ones.
The supplies that you need:
So are you all set to begin?
Brushing Your Rabbit
Brushing helps to remove the hair that the rabbit sheds naturally. And rabbits shed a lot. Most rabbit breeds shed heavily once in three months. The shedding alternates between unnoticeable and mild to heavy during which the rabbit’s coat is replaced by a new one.
The duration of the heavy shedding is highly breed specific and also dependent on the bunny itself. You may find that one of your bunnies sheds a lot more than the other.
Irrespective of the breed, brushing once a week for short haired breeds ensures that any of shed hair that may be clinging on to the coat is released. For long haired breeds like Angora, brushing is recommended at least once every three days. This also helps to prepare the bunny for the daily brushing sessions that will replace the weekly sessions during phases of molting or heavy shedding.
Soft-bristle brushes are perfect for brushing your rabbit’s coat. You should be careful to brush in the direction of the fur only. This is more than sufficient to bring any loose hair to the surface which can then be removed by hand. Some vets also use two different types of brushes for rabbits. While brushes with wider teeth are preferred for breeds with longer hair, bristled brushes are used for shorter fur. If there are too many tangles, you can use a mat rake.
When brushing on the underside, gently position the rabbit on your lap making them comfortable. You can use a towel or any other soft cloth to allow the rabbit to rest. Rabbits often doze away into slumber land when you brush their underside.
Another simple technique is to wet your hands and just run it over the coat to remove any loose hair. This cannot be considered as a replacement for proper brushing. But it does help to remove any small fur that may not be removed with normal brushing.
Rabbits like cats constantly lick themselves as part of their grooming behavior which can result in them ingesting hair. This can cause hairballs which are also known as trichobezoars. But unlike cats, they cannot vomit the hairballs out and it can cause an obstruction in their stomach or in their intestinal tract. Grooming helps to reduce the risk of hairballs in rabbits. One of the telltale signs of a hairball obstruction is lack of appetite and activity. Also, the quantity of feces will reduce significantly. If you suspect a hairball obstruction in rabbits, then contact a vet immediately.
Time and again, you may discover matted fur on your bunny’s body. Sometimes, it can be in locations which are very difficult to comb through. For example, under the tail. You might be tempted to go chop-chop on the mat as it can easily alleviate the tension that it causes. But rabbits have extremely delicate skin which is easily prone to cuts from a scissor. You can use a mat rake with a fine blade to take the mat apart. In case you find it very difficult to remove with a rake, speak to your vet for help.
Mites And Fleas
Despite frequent grooming and care, fleas and mites can find their way on to your rabbit’s skin and fur. These pesky little critters can hide themselves amazingly well and by the time you notice your rabbit scratching their gut out, the fleas might have spread to a full blown infestation. The first and most important thing is to find out the number of fleas on your rabbits body. Gently run your hands parting the fur to spot the fleas. If the infestation is mild, then use a flea comb. It is pretty similar to using a grooming comb and rabbits usually like being combed. After combing, if you find any fleas in the comb, then dip it in a soap solution or alcohol to ensure that the fleas are killed.
If the infestation is severe, then you may need to speak to a vet who will recommend a topical medication like Advantage, Program or Revolution. All three of these are brand names for topical insecticides which are safe for application in rabbits.
Care must be taken to ensure that the rabbits do not lick or ingest the medication as it can cause an upset tummy. One of the best spots to apply the medication is behind the neck.
Revolution in particular, is considered as one of the best treatments for multiple conditions including mites that cause ear canker and mange.
Speak to your vet about measuring the medication so that you can administer the right doses. Also, mite eggs can often hide in the fur or dander that the rabbit sheds. For this reason, it is crucial that you completely scrub and clean both, the cage as well as the area that the rabbit enjoys a free run in. That may be the house or the backyard or the run. But it must be vacuumed and any fur or dander that the rabbit may have shed prior to the treatment must be removed.
Rabbits can develop bald patches or flakes on their skin due to mites. Sometimes, it can also be caused due to an allergy triggered by fleas. In either cases, your vet may recommend one of the three medications that we have mentioned above. In cases of chronic inflammation or in case of bacterial infections like pyoderma, speak to your vet about the best treatment methodology.
Cleaning The Scent Glands
If your rabbit suddenly smells like a skunk, then it may be due to the buildup of a gooey or waxy substance in their scent glands around the anus. This is scent musk and is a normal secretion in rabbits. However, some bunnies secret a lot more than others. It has a very pungent odor and cleaning or unplugging the glands from time to time helps prevent the buildup and the odor to an extent.
Gently position the rabbit on your lap, lift up the tail and part the skin around the little anus to expose the scent glands. You will be able to see the waxy buildup now. Use a Q-tip to scoop out the secretion from one gland. Repeat for the other gland as well. You can also use a cotton wad dipped in some petroleum jelly to lubricate the gland. This makes it easier to remove the waxy secretion. FYI, rabbits also have scent glands under their chin which they use to mark their territory.
House rabbits often do not get enough exercise on a variety of ground surfaces. They spend most of their lifespan on carpeted floors or linoleum surfaces which prevents their nails from being naturally worn out and maintained. So, you may have to trim the nails from time to time to a suitable length. Nail trimming is a fairly simple process once you know the precise length to trim it to. The nail has a vein in it which is also called the quick. You need to clip the nails just below the quick. If you accidentally do clip the quick (common occurrence), just apply Styptic powder to stop the bleeding.
If you are new to it, your vet can help you with the process. Some rabbits are petrified of nail trimming. So, it is important to associate nail trimming with positive reinforcement. Offering them treats or patting them helps ease the anxiety. Also, if you start at an early age, the bunny will get desensitized to the trimming.
Declawing a Rabbit
Never ever, declaw a rabbit. A rabbit’s claw helps them generate traction on the floor and they are not retractable like those of a cat. In effect, the rabbit will be hopping around on the surgery site for days to come until it is completely healed. Not only is it extremely painful for the bunny, but it is very likely to get infected.
Rabbit cages must have rugs or fleece blankets that provide your bunny with a soft and comfortable resting place. This will help prevent the padding of the feet from being worn out or form calluses. Calluses or skin inflammation on the pads must be treated immediately for the risk of infection which can become chronic over a period of time. Also, ensure that the resting rugs are dry. Moist surfaces can trigger a bacterial skin infection.
With the incessant gnawing and chewing on the hay that is kept in their hutch or cage, a rabbit usually keeps their teeth growth in check. However, if your bunny has crooked teeth then it may not get worn out naturally with the chewing. In such cases, you may have to clip the teeth to restrict or control their growth. If left unchecked, it grows to an extent that the rabbit finds it impossible to eat and can even starve to death. You can use a teeth clipper yourself or you can take your rabbit to the vet to get the teeth clipped. It’s a simple and painless procedure.
It’s fun to see the bunny frolic in water, isn’t it? Well, it is far from fun for the rabbit. Rabbits hate water. In fact, they despise the experience so much that it can traumatize them and make them extremely anxious. In some rare cases, it can also cause a heart attack. Rabbits do not need to be bathed. Like cats, they are excellent at licking themselves clean. However, there may be situations when you feel that the rabbit needs to be bathed. For example, it has a poopy butt or has tracked in dirt or has matted fur all over. You can always use a damp towel to spot clean. Read our section on matted fur to know how to detangle mats. But let me reiterate. Never bathe the rabbit unless your vet recommends it as a measure to bring down fever.
Checking The Ears
The buildup of ear wax or debris in a rabbit’s ears must be cleaned at least once every four weeks. Just check the inside of the ear and use a cotton swab or a baby wipe to scoop out the wax. Do not use Q-tips as it may cause the wax to get pushed further inside the ears. Also, there’s always the risk of damaging the inner ear. If your rabbit hutch is outdoors, then ear mite infestations will occur at some point or the other. Thankfully, the condition is easy to treat if diagnosed early. You can use a topical solution like Mitox or anything similar that your vet recommends. Once the condition is treated completely, use baby oil to prevent a reinfection.
Last but not the least, we have the rabbit’s eyes. Your bunny’s eyes will naturally produce some gunk or wax which form crusts in the corner. These can be removed by using a damp cotton swab allowing the crust to loosen first. However, if you feel that the rabbit is crying or there’s a white mucus like discharge from the eyes, then it may be a condition called runny eyes or epiphora. This is one of the commonest conditions in rabbits. The only respite may be to head to the vet because if it is a bacterial infection, it needs to be checked before it spreads or becomes more severe.
The Vet Check up
Even if you are a diligent groomer, you still need to ensure that your bunny gets its periodic checkup by a veterinarian. If you are unsure whether the vet is rabbit savvy, you can always use the House Rabbit Society Veterinarian Index to find a rabbit-savvy vet close to you. Regular health checkups help to spot any potential health condition that you may have missed out on. Remember what we told you about the lack of symptoms in rabbits?
To Sum it up
After every successful grooming session, pat your rabbit to encourage them and instill a positive feeling about the grooming experience. You can also use their favorite treats.
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The post Rabbit Grooming Guide For Responsible Rabbit Owners appeared first on Rabbit Expert.
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A new pet rabbit should first be taken to a qualified veterinarian for a check up. I say qualified veterinarian because some veterinarians choose not to see rabbits. Ask for a recommendation from a rabbit rescue, they should be able to give you a list of veterinarians to use. I cannot stress enough the importance of this first exam, you need to establish a relationship with a veterinarian. That way if the bunny is ever sick you have a veterinarian to make an appointment with. Veterinarians are busy; they will be more likely to squeeze in an emergency with an existing client over someone they don’t know.
Rabbits are sensitive and because of that fact owners should be on the look out for signs of illness. Signs of illness in rabbits include but are not limited too:
If your rabbit is displaying any of the above symptoms contact your rabbit veterinarian immediately. To truly know when your rabbit is sick you need to spend time with your pet. Play with your bunny and handle it (if tolerated) often. That is the only way you’ll be able to catch illness early.
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The post Signs of Illness in Pet Rabbits: Is my Pet Rabbit Ill? appeared first on Rabbit Expert.
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Like other mammals, pet rabbits are susceptible to certain problems and illnesses. It is beneficial for owners to be aware of these potential problems so that they can do their best to prevent them.
Common Rabbit Illnesses And Problems
There are certain rabbit illnesses that pet rabbits are susceptible too, however, with proper care, correct diet, and regular handing and cleaning of the rabbit hutch, owners can prevent many problems. Some common rabbit illnesses include:
Just like dogs and cats, rabbits can suffer from parasite infestation. Many are preventable or treatable with correct care. Owners that are concerned should consult the veterinarian. These rabbit parasites include:
Owners should seek veterinary advice if their rabbit is showing signs or illness, is lethargic, off its food or any other signs.
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via Blogger Common Rabbit Illnesses And Problems
If you’re buying a pet bunny from a pet store or a backyard breeder, you need to make sure it is absolutely healthy before bringing it home to your family. Some diseases, including some forms of mange and most parasites can be contagious to humans, especially small children. Consider adopting a bunny from an animal rescue organization, or at the very least, know what to look for when shopping for your rabbit.
Check Out The Bunny’s Head
The first things to look at when shopping for a healthy bunny are the eyes—they should be clear and not runny or congested with a watery discharge. A healthy bunny’s nose should be pink inside and relatively dry. Its nostrils should expand and contract in a steady, even manner unless it is extremely hot, in which case the respiration will be more rapid. If you notice blue discoloration or rapid breathing under mild weather conditions, you may suspect potential heart and lung problems or some sort of infection. If the bunny is sneezing a lot, he may have a contagious disease called “snuffles.” You should avoid a bunny that is sick.
The inside of your bunny’s ears should be soft and clean, with no ear mites or scabs. His teeth should be clean and straight, not bent into a horn shape. If a bunny’s teeth grow too long or are malformed, he may not be able to properly eat solid foods and might have to have his teeth clipped—a terribly painful procedure that only helps the rabbit for a short amount of time, as the teeth continue to grow.
Coat, Belly And Bottom
One of the best indications of a rabbit’s overall health is the shape of its coat. It should be shiny, soft and smooth, with no rough patches, bald spots or standing ends. A bunny’s belly should be fat and round, but if it is hard or bloated, it might be sick or pregnant. Unless you are prepared to take care of a litter, avoid purchasing a pregnant bunny.
The bunny’s bottom should be clean, as rabbits, like cats, are constant groomers. If you see fecal matter on this bottom or in the fur, the bunny might be suffering from diarrhea.
Checking Bunny’s Limbs
Because rabbits are so very fragile, it is extremely easy for them to get fractures or broken bones if dropped or mishandled. Before buying a bunny, watch how it moves across the floor. If you notice that the rabbit seems to be favoring one paw over another, or if it is dragging a leg when it moves, the bunny may have been seriously injured and require expensive medical care.
Whether purchasing your rabbit from a breeder or a pet store or adopting it from a private owner or rescue organization, with a little observation and insight, you can choose a healthy bunny that can remain in your family for years to come.
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The post How to Buy a Healthy Rabbit: A Checklist For Choosing a Physically Fit Bunny appeared first on Rabbit Expert.
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Encephalitozoon cuniculi is otherwise known as e. cuniculi. It is a very small parasite which infects rabbits and other mammals and in some rare instances has also infected humans (with problems affecting their immune system). This disease attacks the central nervous system.
How Do Rabbits Catch E. Cuniculi?
Most rabbits suffering from e.cuniculi have caught it from their mother whilst in the nest. If a female rabbit has this disease she can pass it onto her babies via contaminated urine. Once a rabbit has been infected for one month, they will start producing spores of the virus, which they can easily pass onto other rabbits. The rabbit ingests contaminated spores (usually in food), and the disease is then absorbed and travels through to the brain and other internal organs.
Symptoms of Encaphalitozoon Cuniculi
Not all rabbits with this disease display symptoms. Many rabbits with e. cuniculi have a normal life However some do display more severe symptoms of the disease. Due to the affects of the disease on the central nervous system, the following symptoms can occur:
Any of these problems could be an indication of e. cuniculi, however they could also be an indication of other problems, therefore veterinary advice should be obtained should any of these symptoms occur.
Is There Any Treatment For Encephalitozoon Cuniculi?
Possibly, however it is difficult to give a definite diagnosis of the disease. The antibodies of the disease can be detected by a simple blood test. However these tests cannot always tell if the rabbit has had the disease in the past and is now recovered, or if the rabbit currently has the disease.
Frequently the disease is diagnosed too late for treatment and fatality occurs. Over the last few year vets in the USA have been treating rabbits with e. cuniculi using fenbendazole or albendazole with good results, however these medications are not yet licensed in the United Kingdom.
Even though fenbendazole and albendazole can be effective in killing the e. cuiculi parasite, the affects that they have had on the central nervous system are irreversible. It is thought that weaning baby rabbits from their mother early can reduce the risk of the disease spreading.
If a rabbit displays any symptoms which may be an indication of e.cuniculi, please consult a vet immediately.
via Blogger Rabbit Diseases: Encephalitozoon Cuniculi
Rabbits can make incredible pets, combining many of the unique traits of other animals. Like dogs, they are playful and loyal, but like cats, they often have an independent streak and require less attention. But what do you feed a rabbit? Which rabbit food to choose?
Even though your rabbit is domesticated, its diet should resemble what it would eat if it were in the wild. So that offers a great starting point for launching into our topic!
What Do Wild Rabbits Eat?
In the wild, the key component of a rabbit’s diet is hay. In fact, it accounts for anywhere from 80%-90% of a wild rabbit’s diet. That means it should account for the vast majority of your domesticated bunny’s diet as well.
Why is hay so important? It has a number of vital health benefits for rabbits:
Aside from hay, what do wild rabbits eat and drink? When the weather is warm and food sources are plentiful, rabbits in the wild turn to various grasses, weeds, vegetables, and flowers to fill out the rest of their diets.
As these food sources dissipate in the winter, bunnies may consume bark, twigs, and needles from evergreen trees. During the springtime, they also may eat buds while waiting for vegetables to grow and flowers to bloom.
What Do Pet Rabbits Eat?
For the most part, your pet rabbit’s diet is going to closely resemble that of a wild rabbit.
When shopping for rabbit food for sale, you will be looking for hay for rabbits to eat as well as vegetables. But you also will be shopping for pellets and treats.
Before getting into the details, it is worth pointing out that baby rabbits have different dietary needs than adult rabbits. So let’s break this section down and look first at what you should be feeding a baby bunny, and then what you should feed a full-grown rabbit.
What Do Baby Rabbits Eat?
If you want to know how to feed and take care of a baby bunny, that depends in part on whether you are talking about a wild bunny or a domesticated baby rabbit.
Say you found a baby rabbit nest, and that nest has clearly been disturbed. Your first thought is probably going to be to move the nest, the babies, or both.
You should generally not do this, as the babies probably have not been abandoned. Mother rabbits avoid their nests most of the time so that they will not draw the attention of predators. They return to feed their babies.
If a baby is severely injured and/or you have stronger reasons to believe they are truly orphaned, you may feel tempted to take them in. Their care and feeding is quite complex, however, because you have to find a way to replace the protective nutrients in their mother’s milk.
For this reason, it is highly advised that you call a local wildlife rehab center and get an expert on the job.
What do domesticated baby bunnies eat? Head to your local pet store and shop for either goat milk or kitten milk replacer (KMR). Sometimes a vet will carry these as well. Never go with low-fat! You also should add probiotics to the mix.
Note that the exact formula you need will vary from one species to the next, as will the amount you need. Domestic baby bunnies should be fed sitting upright twice a day using a syringe or eyedropper. In theory you can follow these rules with wild babies as well, but again, contacting your local wildlife rehab center is highly advised.
How often do you feed a rabbit? Following are basic guidelines for babies. Remember, they can vary from species to species:
With certain species of baby bunnies (with the exception of jackrabbits), you need to also make sure that they are urinating and defecating after eating. This procedure involves using a cotton ball swabbed in warm water. It is a bit beyond the scope of this article, but hopefully it helps you see important it is to do in-depth research before caring for a baby bunny.
What Do Adult Rabbits Eat?
Now that you know more about what baby bunnies eat, let’s talk about what to feed an adult rabbit.
What Do Pet Rabbits Drink?
Do pet rabbits drink water? Yes! In fact, wild rabbits turn to ground sources of water to stay hydrated, so if you serve your bunnies water out of a bowl, that mimics how they would drink in nature.
You can purchase water bottles for rabbits, but these are largely used in breeding facilities and the like because they are convenient for staff—not because rabbits enjoy them. Rabbits prefer bowls, so stick with a heavy ceramic bowl (a lightweight plastic dish will “wander” a lot, as rabbits like to move things around).
What Rabbits Can’t Eat
Now that you know what to feed a rabbit, it is also important to talk about foods not to feed rabbits. Here are some examples:
Note that this is not a complete list of all foods bunnies can’t eat—if in doubt, always look up a specific type of food before you feed it to your rabbit (you can check our post about what can rabbits eat).
There are many outdoor plants which your bunny should also avoid, some examples being clover, anemone, buttercups, hemlock, ivy, and foxglove. Again, this is not an extensive list, so make sure your yard is safe before you let your bunny go out and munch on your plants.
There are many things which can go wrong with a rabbit’s diet, whether we are talking about an adult rabbit or a baby. So make sure that you research the topic in-depth before you attempt to care for a pet rabbit of your own. That way you can ensure that your bunny will stay safe and healthy!
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Rabbit Expert is a site that is dedicated to helping out anyone who owns a rabbit or is looking to own one in the future. Owning a rabbit can be a difficult and exhausting task at times because they can be a somewhat needy animal. But owning and caring for one is an incredibly awesome feat.
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