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Discussion Starter #1
I went to take a broccoli plant to the rabbits this evening and one of the approximately six-week-old kits was by the gate, very still. I thought it was sleeping.

When I opened the gate it didn't "wake up" and run in all the commotion. It continued sitting there by the gate.

I picked it up and it looked like it had a bunch of sawdust matted in its fur. Kind of yellowish.

I got a fine toothed comb and combed the fur and it looks like it is teeny eggs. They are yellowish - not bright yellow but pale yellow. They are shaped like rice but much smaller. Like corn pollen only smaller. Tiny!!

I don't have much hope for this kit. Its feet were cold and it lay still while I combed the eggs(?) out the best I could. I had to keep looking to see if it was breathing. The back feet are caked with these things and I couldn't get them off. I got tons off the tiny belly but there are still lots in the belly fur too. The ears and face look clean and there were only a very few on the back (one clump). They are concentrated on the feet and belly areas.

I gave the kit some electrolytes via a soda straw and isolated it in a cat carrier with wood shavings and some electrolyte mix in a dish.

I've googled and can't find anything that would match.

Any idea what this could be? If the kit is still alive in the morning (doubt it will be), I'll look for kitten flea powder (in our tiny town on a Sunday, yikes) and try that.

Any ideas, suggestions, questions, would be appreciated.
 

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I don't really know what you SHOULD do, but if I were faced with that situation, I think I would saturate every inch of the affected area with vegetable oil. Surely that would smother just about everything.

Poor little kit! You need to tale a good look at all the others... it could spread and FAST.

This is the downside of colonizing rabbits.... and I hope you have caught it early. And I wish I had some answers for you. I'm off to do some googling on your behalf... if I turn up anything, I will post it. Gosh, it sounds horrible!
 

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I'm guessing you found a bun in the very begining stage of flystrike...after the eggs were laid, but before they hatched. Here's a photo of fly eggs on meat...in an article about fly research: Graphic photos here of maggots and such, so if you're weak-stomached, I'd advise against checking out the whole article.

http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://ysp.ucdavis.edu/Research06/lius/alotofeggs.JPG&imgrefurl=http://ysp.ucdavis.edu/Research06/lius/default.html&h=556&w=700&sz=341&hl=en&start=4&um=1&tbnid=8XImjmGdJYGQ4M:&tbnh=111&tbnw=140&prev=/images?q=flystrike+eggs&svnum=10&um=1&hl=en&ie=UTF-8

Does it look like what you were combing out?

The flies wouldn't have laid them so easily if there wasn't something already wrong with the bun, though. Try to check the others for problems, too.

Good luck,
Meg
 

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Oh my goodness - that sounds JUST like fly eggs. I butchered some rabbits yesterday and the flies got to a skin before I could put it away. They left behind eggs that looked exactly like what it sounds like you are describing - clumps of pollen-like yellowish "grains".

Meg's right - if those are fly eggs, something was probably wrong with the rabbit to begin with. :(
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for the feedback; you guys are the greatest. DH and I thought "fly eggs" too but I couldn't find a picture for some reason. It looked JUST like the eggs in the pic on the link MegZ posted (thank you!).

More info: DH remembered seeing one of the kits jumping and flipping around earlier in the day like it had been stung. He didn't think a lot of it at the time, but after talking we thought this was probably the kit he saw, and the flies hit it because it was weakened with toxins in its system.

It was still alive this morning, but barely. You had to look real close to see it breathing. We shot it with a pellet gun.

We also found a second kit this morning, almost dead. Limp, barely breathing, lying on its side. No fly eggs. Nothing visibly wrong with it at all. Just completely limp. We shot it too.

We're thinking now that we have spiders, hornets, or something like that bothering the kits. I'm going to weed eat real good around the colony and we're going to keep a close eye on the area to see if we notice anything.

I remember a thread a while back about someone's rabbits dying for no apparent reason. I wonder if it was bees or spiders or some other toxic bite that got those rabbits (and mine)?

Anyway, thanks for the feedback and ideas. It really helps to have someone to "talk" to about this. MUCH appreciated!
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Well, BUMMER.
Found a dead kit last night when I went to feed and water them. I find it highly unlikely we lost three kits in two days to wasps/spiders.

We've been racking our brains here and we figure we're losing them due to one of three things. Just rambling out loud here, but if you have any comments or suggestions they'd be apprecaited.

1) Disease. It would have to be something internal. They all had clean noses (not runny), no discharge from the eyes, no evidence of diarrhea, clean ears, etc. If we lose another one and I decide to do an autopsy, what do I look for? What precautions should I take to avoid making myself sick or spreading disease?

2) Heat. Although it was only in the 80s the last couple of days, we've had temps from 93-96 the three or four prior days. Nighttime temps in the upper 70s and very high humidity (90% plus). Does heat exhaustion happen right away or can it take a day or two?

3) I fed them tomatoes. Carla Emery's book says not to feed the leaves but doesn't mention the fruit. I did this when it was very hot one day and my water containers hadn't yet frozen, but I had frozen tomatoes awaiting processing.
 

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I'm so sorry, Turtlehead.... I wish I had some ideas to help you. One thing you might want to do is to document everything you can remember for future reference. A pattern may emerge. You've already done a lot of that in your posts, but other things may occur to you.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
MaggieJ, that's a good idea. When things are happening, you think "oh, I'll remember this quite easily!" and then of course you don't.

Bluebird, at least I know it wasn't the heat. That encourages me to keep looking for other causes. When you say it happens quickly, do you mean it happens while it's very hot? These three kits died within 24 hours of one another and with no apparent symptoms before death. BUT it was a day or two after our hottest temps.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I was out at the rabbit colony quite a while this morning. One kit had its ears flat to its back, which is unusual in this hot weather. It wasn't wiggly-nosed, either. It appeared to be breathing through its mouth and making a little sound every time it opened its mouth. Kind of a click or maybe a short congestive snotty sound.

Its nose and eyes are clean. It isn't sneezing or coughing.

I don't think this is pasteurella because there is no visible discharge and the collapse is so sudden. It might be nothing but my hypervigilance. But what else could it be?
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thanks, MaggieJ.

I spent quite a while googling myself, and read up on a couple of things but didn't find anything promising.

I like the site you listed. It has helpful photographs and describes several ways pasteurella can manifest itself in addition to the typcial "snuffles".

Here is one manifestation of pasteurella from your link: "2. Enzootic Pneumonia - Affected rabbits frequently die acutely with no signs (especially young rabbits); anorexia and depression may be observed. Acute pneumonia lesions include red-grey foci of consolidation of the cranioventral lung lobes with or without hemorrhage." There is also a photo showing the lesions and a hemorrhage.

If I lose this rabbit I'll autopsy it and take a look at the lungs. Really helps to know what to be looking for.

So far it's looking pretty good in its isolation cage. It looked low-energy in the colony but it's perky in the cat carrier. Still making that funny sound when it breathes though.

I think now I'm in "wait and see" mode.
 

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Thanks, Pony. I'm trying to be pragmatic.

If it's heat related there's not a ton more I can do about it.

If it's a disease then I have some plans: keep the colony shoveled out more diligently and keep more straw down on the ground. Possibly reduce the population in the colony (butcher kits more quickly, maybe use grow-out tractors for the kits, and definitely stick to a trio rather than 3 does and a buck). Can't very well bleach the colony though. :rolleyes:

MaggieJ, :eek:

I don't think so because it sounds congested when it breathes now, and not wheezy. It's not coughing either. Plus I've lost three kits out of this litter very recently - one Saturday evening, one Sunday morning, and one Sunday evening. So while this *could* be something in the windpipe, I tend to think it's an illness running amok in my colony.

How would I find out if the windpipe is obstructed? Pry its mouth open and look? With a strong flashlight?
:help:

Do you pry a rabbits mouth open like you do a cat's (squeeze on its jaws)? :help:
 

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No, you're right... it won't be an obstruction, not with all the other deaths. My brain must have been out to lunch. :rolleyes:

I think what made me think about it was hearing awhile back about a hen that had a staple caught in it's throat. By the time the owner got some help with it, the wound was infected and the bird died. Totally unnecessarily. :flame:
 

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Discussion Starter #18
MaggieJ, no worries. As many posts as we all read on here it's easy to forget bits and pieces or confuse threads. I so very much appreciate your interest and efforts on my behalf.

I'm tending to think it's Pasteurella right now. Like I mentioned above there are things I can do to improve the sanitation and stress levels in the colony. I *can't* do anything about our high temps and 90%+ humidity, but I'll address what I can and go from there.

Thanks again, to everyone who responded. It's great having you all as a sounding board. I'll let y'all know how this kit does and how things progress with the colony as a whole.
 

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Well, poot.
Lost another kit in the colony yesterday. That makes a total of four, all from the same litter. I still have one from that litter in isolation in a cat carrier; it still sounds congested when it breathes and it had a messy nose and paws yesterday. I also have two more kits from that litter still in the colony.

This is sure looking like pasteurella. I'm going to see if forced "bed rest" helps the isolated one pull through. The two in the colony look and act fine but then so have all the others that just died suddenly.

Almost all rabbits carry pasteurella and the recommendation for meat rabbits is to cull any that exhibit symptoms. Mine are being "culled" before I even know they have it. :grump:

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After reading, I think the following may have contributed to the outbreak in my situation:
Heat
Crowded conditions
Sanitation
High humidity

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I'm going to take the following actions:
Shovel out the poo more diligently and provide a good layer of straw at the bottom of the hill around the feeder and water dish. The poo accumulates there and doesn't really seem to stay at the top of the hill where they like to hang out and doze during the day.

Sterilize feeders and water dish more often (I'm really bad about cleaning but not sterilizing).

Butcher in a more timely manner and/or use grow-out tractors to reduce the population in the colony. Definitely stick to a trio (don't acquire/save more breeding does).

Not much I can do about heat and humidity.

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I think I may well lose this entire litter. If I lose any of the next litter to be born, I'll isolate the buck to prevent any more litters being born for a while (the young and aged are more susceptible to developing symptoms). I can't very well bleach out the burrows so I'm not sure how I'll deal with that; hope the disease dies out over time, I suppose, to the point that it no longer affects the very young.

I think this is a rational plan even if the problem is something other than pasteurella.
 

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You can bleach the burrows but not easily. Get a spray bottle and make a 10% bleach solution (1 part bleach, 10 parts water). Spray the bleach water into the burrows and on the soil surface. I don't know how well solarization works on pasturella but you could try it. Remove all the rabbits and feed/water dishes. Rake the area and remove any loose waste (feed, straw, etc), spray the area with water until the soil surface is saturated, cover with clear plastic and let set for 48 hours. This sterilizes the top 3 inches of soil.

Sorry about your losses.
 
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