Rabbits don’t shout from the rooftops when they feel unwell. In fact, they can look remarkably normal, even when at death’s door. A sick wild bunny makes easy pickings for a fox, so rabbits seem to be programmed to conceal their illness. And because they are small animals, they can become dehydrated and hypothermic very rapidly. Prompt veterinary assistance is crucial if your rabbit is to have a fighting chance of surviving a serious illness. Delaying 24hr to see what happens can prove fatal. So what are the dangerous signs that indicate your bunny needs to be seen by a vet immediately:
A major summer problem for long-haired rabbits is the ‘strike fly’ which lays its eggs in faeces- or urine-soiled fur. Within 12 to 24 hours, the maggots hatch out and bore into the rabbit’s flesh, releasing toxins and ultimately killing it. Prevention is essential, so the rabbit should be checked daily to ensure the area under its tail is clean. Hutches should be cleaned out at least once a week, and fresh dry bedding provided regularly.
Constipation may be a simple dietary disorder, cured by feeding more green stuffs; diarrhoea may be cured by withholding greens for 24 hours and feeding only hay and water. When persistent, or when combined with other symptoms, both conditions may indicate more serious illness, and the rabbit should be checked by a vet as soon as possible.
A rabbit’s teeth continue to grow and need wearing down on hard food, a gnawing block or by eating hay. Otherwise, the teeth may grow so long as to lever the jaws slowly apart or lock into the opposite jaw. Stems of kale and brussel sprouts, as well as root vegetables are good hard food. Fresh hay should always available to your rabbit.