General Health Concerns
- Weepy Eye/Pink Eye
When the eye is watery and appears that the rabbit is crying. Fur is matted below the eyelid and down the cheek.
The best thing to do is to keep the eye clean and apply Terramycin eye ointment 2-3 times a day for a week. Neomycin Polymyxin, or Neobacimyx also works well with this, and can be used on young kits who have "Nest Box Eyes, or Sore eyes." This medicine is almost always used with eye diseases.
Wall Eye/Moon Eye
Glazed or cloudiness to the eyes around the pupil or cornea. Slow to respond to light. This is a genetic defect, and the rabbit should be culled if it is a breeder/showing rabbit. There is no cure for it, it is genetic.
- Eye Injuries
- The Nose
Snuffles is like a cold for rabbits. The symptoms are, running nose and sneezing. This shouldn't be confused with the rabbit getting dust or water in its nose, they sneeze like us sometimes. Check the insides of its fronts paws. If the fur is matted together and wet, then it probably has snuffles. They use their paws to wipe their nose. Any rabbit breeder who has snuffles shouldn't try to cure it, because it can get very expensive and snuffles is a disease that spreads quickly and could wipe out a whole barn. If you do decide to treat snuffles, like if this is a pet. Try VetRx. It seems to work the best. But any rabbit who has snuffles if a threat to the whole herd. These rabbits should be culled, and their cage burned to clear away the disease. Water and food supplies should be cleaned or thrown out. If you manage to treat snuffles, there is a high chance of it returning. Snuffles could have life long effects on a rabbit, and most breeders who care for their animals agree, it would be best to put them out of their misery, than to have a life long "cold" that could damage them mentally or even kill them in the long run.
This is when snuffles goes untreated or treatment isn't successful. Rabbits usually die at this stage. Pneumonia is an inflammation of lung tissue, resulting in reduced oxygen uptake by the blood. It also leads to poor weight gain, and rough coats. Rabbits that have their heads tipped back or show open-mouthed breathing often have it. Living in Florida, where it gets over 100 degrees in the summer, my rabbits often do that, tipping their heads back and breathing heavy, so this shouldn't be confused with pneumonia either. If you make a mistake and give a rabbit medicine, for which he does not need it, they will die.
Prevention agaisnt this and snuffles is cleaning the cages as often as they need it, and not allowing bacteria to form. Clean your cages! And don't allow the rabbit to become wet, or cold. Keep out drafts and try to keep the hutch calm. Stress often leads to many diseases and death.
- Scabby Nose
- The Mouth
Rabbits are often born with this. It is in their genetics. When the bottom set of teeth come up over the top, and split and eventually break off, this is a malocclusion. Breeders cull these rabbits since it is passed on to the next litter. This doesn't become life threatening unless the teeth make it where the rabbit can't eat. Some rabbits even have mild malocclusions where the teeth don't even grow long or split. Teeth should be clipped with nail clippers, or if you're a pet owner, take it to a professional. The teeth clip rather easier then you would think, but it is often hard to get the rabbit to sit still while you chop off it's teeth. There are rumors that this comes from inbreeding, but since I have bred mother to son, etc, I haven't seen it alot in my herd. I have never bred blood brother to blood sister before. Perhaps this is where it comes from, somewhere in the line?
This is often from an injury from fighting, or from chewing on the cage or something else. This could sometimes lead to a Malocclusion. Teeth will probably need to be clipped, and the rabbit should be taken to a vet to be checked out.
This is where the rabbit seems to be drooling and fur is matted and wet around the mouth and neck. This is often from an abcessed tooth. If the dewlap is what is wet, then this is probably Dermatitis. This is often with an older doe with a large dewlap (skin below the mouth on the neck) and it drags on the cage floor and gets into the water dish. The best thing to do, would be give her a water bottle instead. If you don't do this, she could end up getting infested with maggots and end up dying. The best thing is prevention. If however it is Slobbers, you must see a vet to get the tooth either clipped or surgically removed.
This is from very poor sanitation. They are often found around the mouth and neck. It happens when the rabbit gets a cut or a score, bacteria invade the body and this sets in. These rabbits will die without treatment, but it is best to cull the animal and clean all your equiptment.
The tongue rarely has anything to do with disease, other than mouth cancer, perhaps. When the tongue is blue, it is a sign of pneumonia. When doing an autopsy, soon after death, if the tongue is allready blue, then it was probably snuffles or pneumonia that killed the rabbit.
- The Ears
Often babies in the summer who have to deal with heat, end up having longer ears. So most breeders try not to breed during the summer, unless they have them indoors or in a cooler spot.
This is where the head seems to be tilted to either side of the body and doesn't move, only turn more twisted. It is an infection of the middle ear and is kinda the same feeling to a human when you get water in your ear. There is no treatment for this, sometimes it can be straightened out with time. This is not a genetic disease and nothing would be wrong with the rabbit for pet or meat. Breeders cull these rabbits because they would not be good for breeding since when they walk, they often fall on their side from being so "twisted."
This is common, but I haven't had it yet. It is detected by a brownish color in the ear. Rabbits often scratch their head and shake their head violently. Mineral Oil can be used to kill the mites, or other medicines. Ear mites spread pretty fast and easily, so it is best to keep a rabbit confined from the rest of the herd if you decide to treat it. Massive Bleeding and Cuts
If a rabbit is bleeding BAD, try to stop the bleeding and take them to a vet. This could lead to death very quickly.
Small cuts can be bandaged and bleeding can be stopped by using corn starch. If you clip the quick (vein) while cutting the toenails or fingernails, get a paper towel and wrap it around and apply pressure to stop the bleeding.
- Red Urine
- Reproduction Problems
At birth (usually 30 days after breeding) the mother begins to make her nest in the nestbox you should provide her at the 28th day. It should be filled with either hay, straw, or shredded newspaper. I prefere hay.
She should be fixing up the nest with fur from her belly and chest. If she hasn't pulled out fur yet, she probably will when she is having the babies, or right afterwards.
It usually doesn't take long for the babies to be born. Sometimes because of larger babies, it will take longer, depending on how large. If the doe needs help, you should help her. I had a doe one time, who couldn't get back in her nestbox in time to have them. She just couldn't jump into the box, she had had one on the floor, and I had to put her in the box. Since I caught her in the middle of having them, all were born safe and healthy and she allowed me to help her.
If the doe seems to be doing well on her own, leave her be. Once she jumps out of the nest box, and their is fur over the babies, then you may inspect them. I try to give them some food, or a treat to keep them busy while I take the box out and look at the babies. Remove any dead babies, or afterbirth that is in the box. Count them, so you know how many are there and put them back.
Keep checking the nestbox many times a day to make sure none have died, remove them and put the box back in with the mom. At about 7-10 days the eyes open. You should check each eye to make sure they don't have a case of "nestbox eye." If they do, their eye will be sealed shut and have white pus inside it. If they have this, open the eye with warm water, and clean out the pus. You can apply medicine, which is listed on the page for eyes. This will clear it up faster.
Also keep an eye out that their genitals don't get caked up with feces. This happens more often when they are trying to wean, but to avoid them having pain, I check all the time.
I introduce food and water at about the age of 3 weeks to them. Of course I'm only able to do this if I have raised them seperated from their mom, like I explained above. Otherwise the babies should be coming out of the nestbox in the mothers cage at 2 weeks looking for milk.
I give the babies oatmeal and hay to be gentle on their stomachs. At this age, they just nibble on the rabbit pellets. I am usually able to tell males from females at this age. Sometimes I can tell when they are younger.
At 4 weeks of age, I have them eating rabbit pellets fully, and drinking. In another week, I begin to wean them slowly. I give milk every other day, until they are about 6 weeks old, and I cut them off completly. If there are any runts, I allow them to have the milk longer, or atleast till the mother stops feeding them.
When they are 2 months old I seperate males from females, and decide whom I'm going to keep and sell.
- Kit Care for Orphaned Kits
When this happened to me, I didnt even have a proper nest for the babies. (I am talking about the first time it happened to me.)
I had to care for a litter of 4 mini lops. They were 7 days old When there mother died.
I removed the box from the cage and brought it in side. I went to Pet store and was able to get some milk,it was Passwell Formula one, low lactose only $5.95 for a 500ml bottle once made with water . I made it up and placed it into an ice cube try and then placed it in the freezer only useing one cube at a time I didn't know what else to do because this was my first litter of baby rabbits that the doe has died,but it wasn't my first time hand feeding a baby animal.I think I was lucky in using that, and anyone else who has to raise kits should use kitten milkor the Passwell formula which they can get from a vet, or a petstore.
I used eyedroppers as bottles for the babies, just read the directions. The milk also has to be heated up, for those of you who didn't know. Baby rabbits enjoy warm food too ;)
I fed these babies three times a day Feeding this many times a day ensured that they were getting enough to eat. This almost seemed like I was caring for 2 real babies because of the hours I kept. I made sure the babies had at least one dropper full of milk per feeding. You also have to be VERY careful about this. Milk could get in the babies nose, and it could give them pneumonia. They could also drown themselves that way. It is always very hard to hand raise baby rabbits because pneumonia happens so often. So keep a paper towel handy to wipe away any milk that gets into their nose.Sadly i still lost two with only two surviving.
When they turned 10 days old, their eyes opened. I removed any hay left in the box, and put in a fresh clean towel to lay in. I also changed feeding times to twice a day thus only feeding them morning and night.
At the age of 2 weeks, I introduced rabbit pellets and oatmeal and water. By now they were hopping around and were at that cute age where they "pop" up real high for no reason. I had this huge cardboard box. I fixed it up like a little bunny play house and put them inside to live. Looking back on that now it was really fun to be able to play with them like that. At the age of 4 weeks, I fed them once a day. Which was usually any time I had time to. I usually fed them at 7am. By now they were eating alot of rabbit pellets and oatmeal, and also drinking well.
They lived in that giant box in our living room till they were about 6 weeks old. I had to keep it very clean because it would be soiled everyday, being that they lived there. I began to wean at this age and removed them outside to their own cage.
I know this is more of a story then instructions on caring for orphaned kits, so if you need any help, email me and I will help you the best I can.
- Reproduction Problems in the Doe
I have had does very picky about the bucks they're with. Some prefere to only accept the older more experienced bucks. I put a doe in with a young buck, and it was supposed to be his first time, and she didn't want no part of him. So I moved her to an older buck, and she accepted right away. If the doe still won't accept after trying another buck, check for Vent Disease (you should always check before you mate, shame on you :P)
Clear the fur from around her bottom if she is long haired. And finally if she STILL won't respond, she may need something more. This sounds icky but it's a neat trick I learned at a show. Go like you're going to "sex" her to determine she is female. Have you ever noticed how some "jump" when you do that? Keep doing it, till she jumps and then try. I found if you arouse her some she should take. If this still doesn't work, you should think about culling her or give her another day or 2 and try again.
- "Unpregnable Doe"
The best thing to do, would be foster the kits to a different mother, or hand raise them. You will have to give the mother a shot of penicillin to cure this, and you may have to milk the teats for her if necessary. Also make sure the doe is in good health before breeding her, and make sure she gets the right amount of nutrients from her feed.
- Young Doe Death Syndrome
Over due does
Either the doe was never pregnant, or you have a bigger problem. It could be the kits died inside the mother, she will have to try to deliever them stillborn. They will more then likly be dead if they are 2-5 days over due.
Fetal Giantism is another thing she could have. The signs are a difficult birth, the doe seems to be straining because of a large fetus. She may sit in the nest box and be 3-4 days over due. There maybe blood on her vulva. This usually happens more in does who have small litters (1-2 kits) or are over weight. The only treatment for Fetal Giantism is a C-section, but breeders often can't afford this, and let the animal try to deliever on her own. The best idea is to seek professional help, because the doe could die in delievery. Don't breed does that have tiny litters, and keep them at an ideal weight.
- Cold Kits
It's more common in first litter does or does with a history of it. Nervous does tend to do it more. Don't breed does who have a history of it or tend to be over nervous. Give them good kindling conditions and make sure to keep the rabbitry calm.
- Aglacta (failure to milk)
- Scattering & Orphaned kits
- Vent Disease/Rabbit Syphilis
- Reproduction Problems in the Buck
Bucks will never be able to father a litter if they are not mature to do it. They will probably just sit there and ignore the doe because they will have no urge to do anything to her. Bucks usually mature around 5 months old, and older with larger breeds.
Bucks usually stop producing good sperm around the age of 5. Sometimes some bucks are able to father litters at that age and older, but it is very rare. Bucks mature around 4-5 months of age, for smaller to medium breeds. Larger breeds they mature around 6-8 months old. I have a buck now who is 5 and still fathering litters. If you have a really old buck, and nothing seems to be wrong with the doe, try a younger buck.
- Split Penis
- Heat Problems
Vent Disease/Rabbit Syphilis
The vulva or penis will have a scabby inflamation. This may lead to "scabby nose" if untreated. This is contracted by sexual contact and should be cured before bred to another animal. Penicillin ointment to the genitals is a good treatment. Others use a shot of penicillin till it is gone.
are signs, it's poor flesh condition and growth rate. In whipworms, the feces
have blood on them. Pin worms will show by having little flecks of white specs in the feces. I use Wazine/Piperazine as a preventative measure against Pin Worms. Diarrhea is also a sign. The use of a wormer and strict
sanitation is the only way to prevent, cure this. Also keep other animals out of the hutch.
- Fly Strike
The flies are attracted to any damp area, so try to keep things dry and clean, and the area should be free of weeds. If there's a compost pile, move it far away from the hutch or cover it up with a tarp. Once a rabbit has fly strike, the wounds need to be cleaned and disinfected. Apply antibiotic ointment and keep the rabbit inside. Clean the area he/she was in and check anyone else for fly strike.
- External Parasites
1. "Warbles" have these signs: swelling or an isolated "lump" around the neck and/or shoulders. This shouldn't be confused with an abcess. This is from a Botfly. I would advise to take a rabbit with this to a vet so the parasite can be removed. Keep flies out of the hutch.
2. Loss of hair in a circular pattern is a sign of Ring Worm. It is more common on the feet and legs on young rabbits, and for adults it can be anywhere. It is a fungus that IS contagious to humans. I suggest to cull these animals, but if you want to save it, isolate him from the herd and treat him with iodine on the infected area(s).
3. Fur loss around the face, neck and back are a sign of fur mites. Cat flea powder can be used to kill them.
4. Mange Mite Infestation causes the rabbit to scratch itself constantly, and it often leads to head trama from shaking its head. Loss of hair on the chin, head, neck and base of the ears are also present. You're supposed to treat it with 7.5% Chloroform & 0.12% Rotenone or 0.5% Malathion containing dust. I would seek out a vet first.
5. Ear Mites (Ear canker) is infecting the rabbit if its shaking its head, and scratching its ears and has a scabby formation inside the ears. Use oil in the ear for 3 days to kill them. Treat both ears, even if only one is infected.
first is the Intestinal Form. The signs are Diarrhea, poor weight gain, poor
flesh and fur condition, and is pot bellied. The second form is the Hepatic
Form. The signs are Diarrhea, poor flesh and fur condition and large white
spots on the liver. The treatment for both forms is the use of coccidicide on
a regular basis. To prevent this, you must use excellent sanitation.
- Abnormal Parasite
- Skeletal Problems
A broken fingernail or a toe should heal on its own. (Unless it's a compound fracture where bone is sticking out of the skin.) A broken arm or leg needs medical attention. These rabbits should be rushed to the vet so they can properly set the bone to heal. If it is left go, it's possible for the rabbit to go into shock and die.
- Broken Back
- Splay Legs
- "Wire Tail"