Saturday, May 18, 2024

Disease Prevention and Health Management for Rabbits

Rabbits in good health and vitality are easily recognized by their bright eyes, alertness to sound, smooth and glossy coat and good appetite.

The immediate surrounding including hutches, equipment, water and feeds are the points of attack by parasites and diseases. Cleaning and hygiene of the sanitary conditions of these ports determine the health status of the rabbitry.

Cleaning and hygiene implies prompt disposal of manure, used bedding materials, stale food, providing wholesome water and feed and keeping the entire hutch and its components clean and disinfected.

Sanitation in the rabbitry forms the best method for the prevention of disease outbreak. Similarly, rabbits entering into the rabbitry from an outside environment must be quarantined for two-three weeks prior to introducing into the stock.

The quarantine provides a period of observation and treatment of worms and external parasites as well as other diseases that may be noticed. Isolation of any sick rabbit immediately on notice of certain habits or symptoms of a disease condition helps a great deal to prevent spread of diseases in the herd.

Disease Prevention and Health Management for Rabbits

Habits associated with disease condition include: listless (or restlessness), isolation from other mates or sitting hunched up in a corner, not actively feeding or drinking, dull eyes, rough coats.

Read Also: Reasons to use Rabbit Poo (Manure) for our Soil and Crops

These observations are indicative of disease infection and the immediate attention of veterinary personnel is most desirable. Most disease conditions of rabbits may be categorized into viral, bacterial, parasitic, fungal and non-infectious diseases:

1. Non-Infectious Diseases

(i) Cannibalism: Does may sometime be predisposed to killing and eating up their kittens. Lack of sufficient or good quality feed or water, nervousness and crowdy accommodation may trigger such a vice habit. Does found in this vice behavior consistently should be culled or disposed off.

(ii) Bloat: This is a condition associated with the distention of the abdomen due to accumulation of fluid in the stomach as a result of malfunctioning of the digestive system.

Excessive feeding of carbohydrate-based diets, slimy forage or certain legumes are predisposing factors. Addition of fat or hay to diets and reduction of grains in concentrate diet eliminate bloating condition in rabbits.

2. Fungal Diseases

Ringworm: This is a disease of the skin coat caused by fungis Trichophyhton mentagrophytes. It is characterized by circular loss of hair at a spot on the skin or thinning of the fur. The affected portion may be inflamed or covered with bran-like flaky skin debris.

Treatment is often effected by sprinkling of powdered sulfur to nesting boxes or on infected spot after scrapping off the whitish flakes.

3. Parasitic Diseases

(i) Coccioliosis: Coccioliosis is caused by protozoa known as Eimeria spp. Infected rabbit show signs of diarrhea, lack of appetite, rough coat and poor growth rate. The diarrhea may be accompanied with stained feaces. Treatment with sulfaquinoxaline often suffices.

(ii) Mange: This is a disorder associated with Sarcoptes scabiei or Notoedres cati infection. It is characterized by scratching of the spot of infestation and loss of hair on the chin, nose, head, base of ears and eyes. Dipping rabbit in lime sulfur preparation has aided in treating the disease.

4. Bacterial Diseases

(i) Pasteurellosis: This is a disorder of the nasal membrane, air passages and the lungs. It is highly contagious disease caused by Pasteurella multocida.

Rabbit exhibit snuffles or nasal catarrh and inflammation of mucous membrane. The bacterial parasite is responsible for abscesses which may be found in any part of the body or head.

(ii) Conjunctivitis (Weepy eye): Infected rabbit is prone to rub the eyes with her feet resulting in watery exudates or discharge from the eyes, reddening of the eyes and eventual inflammation of the eye tissues. Treatment is done with eye ointments containing sulfonamide, antibiotics and/or steroids.

(iii) Pneumonia: This is bacterial infection arising from dampy and unsanitary hutches and inadequate bedding. The body temperature of the affected rabbit rises up to 400C and the animal exhibits off-feed, dyspnea and lassitude.

Antibiotics such as oxytetracycline, penicillin or combination of penicillin and streptomycin are used as effective treatments.

Read Also: Considerations and Requirements for Rabbit Housing


Benadine Nonye is an agricultural consultant and a writer with over 12 years of professional experience in the agriculture industry. - National Diploma in Agricultural Technology - Bachelor's Degree in Agricultural Science - Master's Degree in Science Education - PhD Student in Agricultural Economics and Environmental Policy... Visit My Websites On: 1. - Your Comprehensive Practical Agricultural Knowledge and Farmer’s Guide Website! 2. - For Effective Environmental Management through Proper Waste Management and Recycling Practices! Join Me On: Twitter: @benadinenonye - Instagram: benadinenonye - LinkedIn: benadinenonye - YouTube: Agric4Profits TV and WealthInWastes TV - Pinterest: BenadineNonye4u - Facebook: BenadineNonye

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