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!)