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Rabbits General Health

General Facts

Rabbits are easily frightened and often struggle when held. If not held securely when picked up, the rabbit may kick violently and fracture its back, causing a fatal paralysis. Never allow the rear legs to dangle and never pick a rabbit up by its ears. Place in the cage rear end first to prevent back injuries.

Considerable variation in time of puberty occurs depending on the breed. Small breeds develop more rapidly and mature around 4-5 months of age. Does mature earlier than bucks. Spaying and neutering are highly recommended in rabbits.

Common Health Problems

Gastrointestinal diseases are very common in rabbits. They include hairball impaction (trichobezoars) from too little dietary fiber, foreign body obstruction (plastic, carpet, strings), bacterial diarrheas (antibiotics, stress, poor diet), viral diseases, parasitic diseases (coccidia, tapeworms), cancers, dental disease from overgrown teeth, and fungal toxins from moldy feed. Respiratory diseases include pneumonia and upper respiratory infections (“snuffles”). Urogenital diseases include cancers, uterine infections or uterine torsion, kidney and bladder stones and kidney failure. Red urine may be a sign of blood in the urine or a reflection of natural pigments in the diet. Dermatologic diseases include ear mites, mange mites, cuterebra, urine scald, abcesses and skin infections from poor housing and care.