Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Why You Should #ChooseChocolate This Easter // Health Care

The worry of an ill bunny - from here

So you're thinking about getting a bunny this Easter? Easter and bunnies go hand in hand, it seems like a no brainer, right? Wrong. The decision to get a bunny is a big one, despite what many pet shops, books and websites will tell you, bunnies are not simple starter pets, they are exotic animals that need a lot of specialised care. This series of posts will take you through the basics of feedinghousing, heath care, happiness and cost to help you decide if buying a bunny is really the right choice for you.

Health Care

Choosing a vet

Bunnies are very complicated animals with various serious health care concerns. Like any other pet bunnies need regular vaccinations, check-ups and can have illnesses that require a trip to the vet. Unlike dogs and cats bunnies are not such common animals that all vets know how to properly treat them, because of this you will need to do some research and find an exotic animal vet who understands how to properly care for your bunny. Bunny savvy vets can be hard to find and you may have to be prepared to travel to see one.  


 Just like dogs and cats rabbits need vaccinations to keep them safe from major diseases  - in Australia we have a vaccination for one strain of calicivirus which is administered on a six monthly vaccine schedule. Some countries have vaccines for a second strain of calicivirus and for myxomatosis, please check with your vet to ensure your bunnies are getting the correct vaccines to keep them healthy. 


Getting your bunny spayed or neutered is important for both social reasons and medical reasons. Socially de-sexed bunnies are gentler, cleaner and display less territorial behaviours such as biting or spraying. It also eliminates unwanted pregnancies and more baby bunnies in the rescue systems or being killed. On top of that female bunnies who have not been spayed are very prone to uterine cancer, as many as 80% of un-spayed female bunnies will die before they reach 3 years old from uterine cancer. More information can be found here.   



Bunnies have very complicated gastrointestinal systems which need to be kept running constantly and healthily. If bunnies stop eating for even short periods of time they can go into stasis. Stasis is a condition where your bunnies gut stops moving and bunnies can die really quickly if this occurs. Bunnies can stop eating for many different reasons including blockages, gas, pain or fear. It is important to figure out the reason your bunny has stopped eating as well as getting the gut moving again to ensure your bunny can recover. The best chance your bunny has is to take it to your bunny savvy vet early, your vet can advise you on the best treatment plan and help ensure a speedy recovery. DO NOT leave your bunny and ‘see what happens in the morning’ your bunny could well be dead by morning. Stasis is incredibly serious and should be treated as such.

If you suspect your bunny has stopped eating because it’s afraid there are a few things you can try: first, take away the thing that is scaring your bunny, if this is a storm or some loud noise you can’t control you can try playing calming music to your bunny to help settle it down. Secondly, try syringe feeding it a little bit of pineapple juice to see if that reminds your bunny that eating is something they should do. Thirdly try hand feeding your bunnies favourite foods, if they start nibbling that’s a good start. If your bunny is frightened you should continue to monitor your bunny throughout the night (or day) to ensure they are regularly eating little bits and resume eating as normal once the frightening event has past.

So, how do you know when to take your bunny to the vet? A good rule of thumb is to give them a treat, a small piece of apple or similar, and see if they eat it. If they ignore it then it’s time to call the vet, if they eat some of it, keep monitoring and trying to encourage them to eat. If they gobble it all up then they are probably fine, keep an eye on them but don’t stress about it!
More information on stasis can be found here.      

Myxomatosis and Calicivirus

Unfortunately here in Australia we have 3 strains of calicivirus and myxomatosis while we only have a vaccine for one strain of calicivirus (it is also estimated to be at least partially affective for a second strain). As these diseases are terminal and contagious it is important to keep your bunny away from these diseases and try and keep them safe. Some strategies you can use to try and ensure your bunnies' safety include: keeping bunnies inside, ensuring they are being kept away from mosquitoes and other insects, washing fresh vegetables and fruits and not feeding grass from potentially contaminated sources. Further information on helping protect your bunnies from any of these terminal illnesses can be found by talking to your bunny savvy vet or here.

Bunnies can be extremely rewarding animals but they require a great deal of specialised healthcare, which can be time consuming and expensive, be sure you know what you are getting into before making this commitment. A healthy bunny can live for 10 or more years, many outdoor, caged bunnies live as little as three – this is like a dog only living to two or three, it’s unnatural and unfair. If you decide to get a bunny you are making a 10 year commitment to care for another life. 

Please keep in mind I am not a vet, this information is for example only and does not replace the expertise of a vet. If you have questions or if your bunny is sick please see your vet ASAP.

Check back next week for more information on just how much it really costs to keep bunnies (spoiler: it's a lot!) 

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