Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Fly Strike and GI Stasis

This past summer, I worked hard on keeping the rabbits groomed and clean. I didnt think about keeping the ground under and around the hutches cleaned up as well. I did clean them once or twice a month- but grass and plants grew up all around them and provided a cover for mice to hide under. We set out poison and cleaned up where the rabbits would spill their food and I never gave it a second thought. 
About two days after I had finished brushing all of the buns, I went out to give them dinner and hay. 
I noticed that Tuscany hadn't touched her breakfast and knew something had to be wrong.
Usually, getting her out of her hutch is difficult and she puts up a big fight... but this time, she didn't move. 
I carried her to a lawn chair and flipped her over, but she had so much hair that I couldn't see anything from my angle. My mom came out to help me and discovered that Tuscany's back, rear, and lower belly was a mess of loose hair, blood, and maggots. 
I know, its gross and sad. But it is an issue that I was uneducated and totally unprepared for. I had no idea what it was called, what happened, or how to prevent it. Prevention is easy.
My mother is amazing in situations like that one and helped me cut back the hair on the effected areas, wash all of the maggots out, and keep antibiotic cleaners and ointments on her. It took a few weeks for her to feel better-luckily we caught it early and the maggots didnt cause too much damage. A few hours more and they could have eaten down into her spine, caused extensive nerve damage, or just became too infested for her. 
I would have taken her to the vet, but I had no money and I was worried that the stress of a new environment and people would scare her too much. The vet is a good place for those who have the means to take their pets to-but I am a farm girl. Money is tight and it would not be financially responsible. We do everything by our self and we learn.
First, I am going to explain how we treated her. (Well, I just held her... my mother did all of the hard work. I was too emotional and she has worked in a vet office before.) She cut all of the hair back as best she could-it was filled with the maggots and more maggot eggs-which you do not want to hatch. Next, I held Tuscany so her lower half was in the kitchen sink and her upper half was resting on my arms on the counter. With the hose, my mom rinsed off more maggots with warm water and kept doing so until maggots stopped crawling out of the wounds. We rotated her so all effected areas were cleaned off. Next, we dried her off very thoroughly.
We used iodine to soak the raw spots and the area around them, let it dry, put neosporin on the same spots, and kept her inside for a few days. I checked her throughout the night and she made it to the next morning-to our honest surprise. We also brought the other buns inside-to keep them away from the flies. Having London next to her also calmed Tuscany down a lot. 
The next morning, I ran out to buy betadine, iodine, epsom salts, neosporin, and some electrolytes for small animals. We soaked her in epsom salts once or twice a day, made sure she was dry afterwards, and kept betadine, iodine, and neosporin on her a few times each day. 
She stopped eating, drinking, peeing, and pooping-I believe it was gastrointestinal stasis because of the pain and shock she was going through. I couldn't hear her tummy moving or making noise. I went to Target and they gave me a small eye dropper to mix food up and squirt it into her mouth. I soaked a small handful of pellets with warm water, let it soak up into a watery mixture, and squirted it into the side of her mouth slowly. I also gave her water and electrolytes this way. I got a pack of probiotics for rabbits from the pet store and administered the treatments. I went to the grocery store and bought, kale, parsely, mint, cilantro, and collard greens. I went outside and picked clover and grass. I mixed these up in a bowl and sprinkled them with water and gave it to her as she ate it. (Giving your rabbit at least three different greens a day is a good way to protect against GI stasis. The greens are cheap and I always pick grass for my buns at least once a day. This is another issue I was unprepared and uneducated on.)
Eventually, she was eating on her own and drinking. I continued the greens and kept a close eye on all of the rabbits. 
My dad and I went outside to check the hutches. The flies were attracted to Tuscany because a mouse died under her side of the hutch. They moved from laying eggs on the carcass to her wet fur. (It had rained recently. Keep their wool dry-its very important!) We did not see the dead mouse because of the thick vegetation and grass growing around the hutches. We sprayed pesticide, weed killers, raked the plants away, scoured the ground, and power washed the hutches. Now, we keep weed killer sprayed around the hutches and I rake out under the hutches once a week. 
We moved the rabbits back to their spacious hutches. I gave Tuscany extra rugs to lay on because her backside was still sore and tender. She thumped her legs a lot because the neosporin would dry up and the scabs pulled at her skin and hair- another reason we would soak her in the epsom salt baths.
Once she was comfortable, we clipped her down completely just in case more eggs were hiding in her fur.
So what do I do now? I keep the hutches cleaned, check the rabbits for messy bottoms, keep fly traps near the hutches, make sure the bunny wool stays dry, pick up the hair clippings from the yard, and (if too many flies are buzzing around the hutches) I spray pesticide on the ground and on the hutches-where the rabbits wont touch touch it. I keep betadine, iodine, neosporin, and epsom salts on hand. Messy or wet fur is clipped away and the rugs in the hutches are only used for a little while.
It sounds simple, but its easy to forget or put off until the next day. 
ALWAYS keep your rabbits checked, the area clear and clean, and fur clean!!!!!! 
Prevention for GI stasis and other GI problems is simple... just give plenty of hay, grass, veggies/fruits, and safe greens (check this list!!!!) Rabbits need a mainly grass-fed diet. Give timothy based pellets and stay away from rich and sugary treats. (They're ok-just moderate!)
Helpful links:

New pictures!!

It has been a while... a long while.
Since the last time I posted, a lot has happened-in bunny land and in my work/school life. 
I have acquired a loving REW buck that I named Donnegal... He loves attention but also loves to pee on laps. :P 
I took these pictures right before I clipped Donnegal-and I am about to clip the girls soon after this nasty weather leaves. 
I have lots of subjects to write on now-lots of lessons learned and lots of ideas. You can expect more from me in the future. 

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Rabbit Litter Pan

One thing I figured out very quickly was that rabbits are little bit messy... even if they don't mean to be. Rabbits are like cats in the sense that they like to have clean surroundings. If you provide them with a litter pan-they would rather use the litter pan than mess up their cage or hutch.
Some people try litter training their rabbits by watching the cage and correcting the rabbits right away if they went out of the litter pan. That might work well for some people, but I don't have time to sit in front of a cage all day!
My mom, having house trained countless dogs and cats, is an expert animal trainer! She helped
me a lot when I was having trouble with Tuscany and London.
My hutch is half closed in with a plywood floor and half enclosed with rabbit wire-so any business done out there just goes through to the ground which is not a problem to me! The trouble I was having was in the closed in part, where the business couldn't go through wire and was causing a lot of problems.
Most of my predicament was my litter pan, as I found out later. I had been using just a regular litter pan-rectangular, normal kitty litter pan. The bunnies would hop in the litter pan, go, and
then hop out. I was using the recycled paper bedding then... so it would stick in their fur and just go EVERYWHERE. The other result of using the plain old litter pan was that the bunnies would miss.
My rabbits like to back their butts up to a corner when they go to the bathroom, I am not sure why they do this but when my mom an
d I saw this rabbit litter pan's design-it made perfect sense!!

Not only is the messy bedding problem solved with the grate, but there is a corner for them to back up to! After all the trouble we had, it was such a relief to see this.
But we still had some work to do. We moved the bunnies to our garage and housed them in a medium sized dog kennel. They needed to be in a confined space to "get" the whole litter pan thing! There were a few setbacks, but keeping their surroundings VERY clean and the litter pan clean as well helps a lot and eventually, they get the idea. So, after a few days of being in the smaller cage, I moved them back out tho their hutch!
And then another problem presented itself. (Of course.) There were two corners that they liked to go in, one didn't have a litter pan and I didn't have the space or money to keep adding litter pans. Whats a girl to do?
Once again, my mom came to the rescue. (I am sensing a pattern here.) Why not fill up the other corner so they can't get to it?
A couple of bricks and a section of a two-by-four later, home sweet home.
Eventually, the buns decided to try peeing in the outside corners of the litter pan, of which there are no guards to keep the little bunny buns from going over. Solution? Well, the left corner (the one touching the two-by-four and bricks in the picture) was solved by putting another brick on top of all the others and pushing it to the right just over the white line on the litter pan. That formed a wall for the rears to "schooch" up to. The opposite corner of the litter pan is still being solved. Once in a great while I will go out to do morning chores and there will be a little puddle under the right corner. Don't ask me how it got there, but I am noticing that it is happening less and less.

I didn't post anything on here for a while because I wasn't sure what to write! Now, after I have gotten a few months of bunny ownership under my belt, I have a lot of subjects that I want to write about! So, let the posting begin! :)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

meet the buns!

These were taken on the day after we brought them home.
They have been getting along very well and I think they are very close. I will be getting ready to cut their wool for the first time soon... hopefully, this week! Its hard finding enough time/daylight to brush them and get pictures before they mess up their fur. :)

Friday, July 1, 2011

Rabbit Hutch

Here is the rabbit hutch my dad built with another boy from our church!
(Front view)
(Side view)
(the back doors)
(Inside one of the cubbies)
(Inside one of the cubbies-other end)

I really love it!!! Just a few things to finish off on it, and it will be ready.
We have to wait a while for the wood to sap out before we paint and seal it since it was new lumber.
The bunnies are free to go in and out, with one section being completely shaded and sealed and the other with wire for air. There are two different sections, separated from each other. The two does will have one side to share and the other is for a future bunny or two. It's very sturdy and nothing can get in or out!


Hello, my name is Kendall! I am a teenager, excited to finally be the owner of two beautiful does. See them up there to the right? This is their mom, and here's their sire! They come from two gorgeous angoras! I still have six days left until I can go pick them up, but I have already learned so much from getting everything ready for them here. We named the lilac doe London, because London is usually foggy and grey. We named the tort doe Tuscany, because (I cant say this without sounding silly) the color tan always reminds me of Italy.

I have bought them from a wonderful breeder. (Her website) She has answered all of my many questions and has been really patient with me. Being new to any kind of rabbit, I was kind of nervous about it- but after talking with her, I feel prepared now! All of her rabbits are so pretty, and I know that she takes very good care of them.