Preventing Deaths with the Rabbit Health Checklist

Wow, what a title. I know. But today’s article has a terribly sad event as its inspiration. Today we came home to an email that made us grab Bunny, check him out all over, give him extra cuddles, and not let him out of our sight since. Thank you for sharing this heartbreaking story to raise awareness:

“I recently adopted a new family member. He was a beautiful long haired lop. He was the most precious little guy. Anyways, a few weeks ago I purchased an outdoor rabbit hutch and an attached run so my buddy could be outdoors more. The weather had been super hot so I decided to wait on the outdoor playtime until the temperature cooled down. On Monday we took him out early, so he could play while I worked in his garden (yes, my bunny had his own garden). After about 30 min my son came running and said there were flies on bunny love. So we scooped him out ASAP and brought him indoors. I checked him and didn’t see anything alarming and just kind of forgot about it. On Tuesday I noticed he wasn’t feeling well, so we didn’t have playtime. On Wednesday I had more garden work to do, so we took him back out. My son came running again with bunny love and said there were flies on him again. Forgot to mention that on Tuesday we moved the bunny house to a completely different end of the yard (thought maybe there was something attracting the flies nearby) and upon inspection, I noticed his genitals didn’t look right. Upon further inspection I saw something moving. OMG I have never been as horrified as I was then and now. He had fly strike. I educated myself well before and since we got bunny love and not one time had I seen anything on this. It usually comes from dirty living conditions, but my bunny NEVER had a dirty home inside or out. Apparently it’s a problem with the long haired rabbits. Please share the information with your followers so maybe it will prevent this from happening to another sweet bunny. I am so heartbroken. The vet decided it would be best to put him out of his misery. Today I woke up and have the most horrible feeling like I let that happen to him. Maybe it will help another family from having to endure the loss of their pet.”

Myiasis, also known as fly strike, is the infestation of tissue by fly larvae. This can happen to basically any mammal, humans included. While it’s not an immediate death threat to bigger animals, to rabbits it quickly becomes fatal if left untreated. While it is more common in rabbits that get to be outdoors, indoor rabbits are by no means completely safe. A fly can easily get into the house and you may also unknowingly carry eggs into the home. Flies are attracted to moisture, feces, and urine as well as long matted fur and open wounds or body orifices. They lay their eggs in those places and within a day, larvae, better known as maggots, hatch from the eggs, and burrow through the skin and into the flesh, where they feed. Considering that flies lay about a hundred eggs at a time, this is a big issue. The eggs are tiny white ovals that are nevertheless visible to the human eye. That means if you check your rabbit regularly, you may be able to prevent what happened to the writer of the email from happening to you. Keeping your rabbit’s fur trimmed, especially around the genitals, and making sure they are always clean and dry will also help. We are not vets and therefore avoid giving medical advice in general. For further reading, we recommend this article written by a vet.

As always, if you have any concerns about your rabbit’s health, immediately consult a vet. Rabbits instinctively hide diseases or ailments, because in the wild being ill will get them expelled from their group.  Therefore, even the slightest signs can indicate a serious condition. 

Since rabbits will not voluntarily show any health issues, it is up to us to watch them closely and recognize symptoms early, not only when it comes to fly infestations, but other conditions as well.  After reading the email we realized that we don’t pick Bunny up every day (because he hates it) to make sure his genitals are clean and dry, so we don’t check up on his health as much as we should. Let’s make it a habit to check our rabbits regularly and watch their behavior daily.

Checklist:

  • Is the rabbit eating?
  • Does the rabbit eat with the usual speed and enthusiasm?
  • Is the rabbit curious and hops around? Is it sleeping more than usual?
  • Is the poop normal?
  • Does it look like the rabbit has balance issues or is disoriented?
  • Is the rabbit shaking its head or keeping it in a weird position?
  • Are the eyes, ears, and the mouth clean and clear?
  • Is the fur matted anywhere? Are there any feces or urine caked into the fur, especially around the genitals?
  • Is the fur and skin healthy? Any bald areas? White little particles in the fur?
  • Is the nose clean and dry?
  • Is the mouth area clean and dry? How about under the chin? Are there wet spots or matted areas?
  • Are there any unusual growths on the rabbits body that you can feel/see?
  • Has the rabbit lost weight?

Again, if anything at all seems wrong, contact the vet immediately. You may wake him or her up in the middle of the night for no reason, but then again, it may save your rabbit’s life.

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Author: Bunny Approved

One Comment

  1. Pamela
    Pamela On July 18, 2013 at 10:06 pm

    keeping a log of all the important info. thank you so much. also, wondering if chewing carpet fibers is more prevalent in female buns than male buns? thank you.

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