Help! I have lost three young rabbits to unknown cause!

Discussion in 'Rabbits' started by AndreaR, Feb 1, 2004.

  1. AndreaR

    AndreaR Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    57
    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2003
    Location:
    Alberta, Canada
    I need some help as to why my rabbits are dying. Three months ago, I lost a 3 yr red mini-rex doe to possibly mucoid enteritis, she had been off her feed and water for a couple of days, was bloated, disoriented,and found her almost dead with a very wet but clear behind. No visible dark diarrhea. She died within a few hours. Then 2 weeks later, a young unrelated 3 month old red mini-rex "Speedy" was shaking, bloated,disoriented, and died in 24 hrs with a clear and mucoid discharge on his behind,no dark diarrhea, possibly mucoid enteritis again! Two weeks later I found another 3.5 month old black mini-rex "Orville" dead in his pen. There were almost no signs at all , no bloating, no diarrhea, just dead! :confused: Now just yesterday, I found my show quality chestnut brown mini-rex male barely 3 months old "Poptart" with one ear down, going around in circles, disoriented, shaking, no bloating, no diarrhea, and died this morning. i did find a small lump behind his ear, lymph node or abcess? :waa::confused: . I just broke down and cried over this one as I was very attached to him. What on earth is killing these young rabbits at this age? I'm thinking about taking this rabbit's body to the vet to get an autopsy and maybe get an answer. Any answers or diseases I haven't though of yet?

    I live in Alberta, Canada. The rabbits are housed in cages, in a heated and well ventilated barn. No mice or birds get in, snakes and wild rabbits are not a problem. I feed them bunny pellets, straw and alfalfa hay, with the occassional apple, carrots, to the young ones and feed greens only to the mature rabbits over 6 months old. They get fresh water with a little apple cider ( to prevent cocci) every day by hand, in clean saucers or bottles. The ones that died were not closely related, and in different cages. If there was a disease going around wouldn't all the young ones and their mothers be affected?

    Thank you, Andrea
     
  2. RNRQ

    RNRQ Member

    Messages:
    7
    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2003
    There are two things I would wonder about...ok, three. The first toxicity I would suspect would be Ivermectin or similar; it affects the rabbits with disorientation, weakness, shaking and yes, I have seen bloating in MiniRex with injected Ivomec 1% for cattle.

    Otherwise...

    First is feed. What are you using? Have you changed feed lately? If not, perhaps you should, and have your government feed people check the stuff you are using now for fiber content, toxins, unbalanced minerals, etc.

    Second, take that rabbit to the provincial veterinary pathology laboratory (there has to be one somewhere LOL--ask the Ag Department) for a necropsy pronto. Do NOT freeze the carcass--bag tightly and seal, then refrigerate.

    Thirdly...do you have something venemous in the barn? Too cold for snakes, I suspect :), but spiders are still a real possibility.

    Your best bet is to have either the rabbit that just died, necropsied, or to have the next one (sorry--hope not) done as soon as possible after showing symptoms. They will euthanize it for you if necessary, but you MUST find out what the body is doing in order to find the cause.

    Feed LOTS of good clean DRY hays with different pellets and drop the cider administration to zero for a while...if it is an alcoholic cider, just how much alcohol does it have? If homemade, it may be contaminated with some organism or toxin that affects rabbits differently.

    Good luck and keep me posted!

    Pamela Alley, RVT
    RNRQ@cncnet.com
     

  3. AndreaR

    AndreaR Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    57
    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2003
    Location:
    Alberta, Canada
    Pamela, I am pleased to get a professional on board here. In reply to your 3 suggestions, there has been no medication given to these Mini-rexes at all since I have had them. That's good for the rabbits, not for the ear mites! Second, I have used the same feed all the way thru, 15% protein bunny pellets, and seems to be good. I will send some samples to be analyzed but will probably take a few weeks before I hear anything...pretty slow around here. Thirdly, nothing venomous in the barn. The rabbits were housed in different levels cages above the floor and we don't seem to have any dangerous spiders in this area. I will look into this with the local vet. Fourthly, the rabbit that died recently was already frozen..is it still too late for an autopsy? And lastly, the apple cider vinegar added to the drinking water was minimal, about 1 tbsp per 4 litres(3-4 gallon jug)and is store bought apple cider vinegar with no alcohol.

    Just thinking on this, could the water on our farm be the cause of some of the problems? I will send in a sample of our well water, just in case.

    What about diseases such as Tyzzer's or Rotaviral that seem to kill quickly...wouldn't it be a larger problem with all the same age rabbits that I have? Any input on this would be helpful...the Merck Vet books are limited in some of the details.

    Thanks, Andrea