Rabbits, guinea pigs, hamster, gerbils, rats, mice, also known as the small furries. We look after them all.
It is a good idea to do simple health checks. This can be performed daily and helps identify problems early on
- Check eyes and nose for watery discharge
- Check ears for flaking patches
- Check mouth for signs of dribbling or overgrown front teeth
- Check that the animals have been eating
- Overgrown nails
- Loss of fur or dandruff
- Sores on the feet
- Feaces or urine staining around the back end
- Change in the appearance of droppings
Dogs and cats are not the only animals which need vaccinating, rabbits also do.
The 2 main viral diseases are myxomatosis and viral haemorrhagic disease. Both these viruses are potentially fatal to unvaccinated rabbits. Myxomatosis is carried by rabbit fleas. Once infected symptoms include swelling and discharge of the eyes and most rabbits will die despite treatment. Vaccination is recommended once to twice a year depending on the risk area.
Viral haemorrhagic disease is highly contagious and is spread through contaminated hutches, bedding, food and on clothing. Often the only sign of this disease is sudden death of the infected rabbit. Vaccination is recommended once a year
Dental disease is extremely common. Signs you may see are dribbling, reduced appetite, discharge from the eyes and often swelling on the face if abscesses develop.
Rabbits teeth grow constantly throughout their life. They are kept at the correct length by constant chewing which grinds them down. Problems occur when this natural grinding system fails or if the rabbit has been born with a deformed jaw. Rabbits should graze on grass and have high fibre diets with low fat. The constant chewing keeps the teeth healthy. Some commercial rabbit foods are too high in fat and too low in fibre consequently the rabbits chew less, their teeth become overgrown so develop dental disease. Once significant dental disease develops it requires life long treatment and is difficult to cure completely. This problem can be reduced, if not completely avoided by feeding a proper diet that is high in fibre and low in fat and as close to their natural diet as possible. The best diet is of grass, good quality hay, vegetables and greens and only a small addition of the commercial rabbit foods.
This is a common problem throughout the summer and must be treated as soon as it is detected as it is a life threatening condition. It commonly affects rabbits that have diarrhoea or are overweight or old such that they cannot clean themselves. Flies lay eggs on the soiled fur, these hatch into maggots and the maggots eat the debris on the fur and also the flesh of the rabbit. This initially leads to the rabbit becoming itchy but then later on the rabbit going into shock and they become very listless. Success of treatment depends on how far the infestation has progressed so the earlier the problem is identified the better the chances of recovery.
Prevention of fly strike
- keep your rabbit clean and dry
- cleaning the hutch out regularly to prevent your rabbit sitting in feaces and urine
- observe and treat if your rabbit develops diarrhoea
- use insecticides to prevents maggots developing in the coat
Female rabbits can be spayed from 5-6 months of age. It prevents unwanted litters and eliminates the risk of medical conditions such as uterine or ovarian tumours or infections in the uterus.
Male rabbits can be castrated for 4-5 months of age. It eliminates behaviour such as spraying and aggression. Also there is less odour and castrated males are easier to litter train if they are kept as house rabbits.