Friday, April 6, 2012

Malocclusion in Rabbits

pic of a jersey woolie, that with two teeth clippings 
the tooth issue  went away.

Rabbit teeth keep growing throughout its whole life. It takes a lot of daily chewing and gnawing to keep them worn down to usable lengths

Malocclusion in Rabbits is something to be concerned about

There are several main causes of Malocclusion in rabbits.
·        Hereditary/Genetic. Malocclusion is a hereditary disease that is passed on to the young from adult rabbits that also have the disorder.  Malocclusion is due to an autosomal recessive trait with incomplete penetrance. Rabbits with malocclusion should not be bred and spaying or neutering is highly recommended for any rabbit that has been diagnosed with malocclusion.
·        Face or head trauma. Trauma to the mouth can also cause the teeth to become misaligned which will result in the teeth not grinding down correctly. This is often caused by bunnies pulling on the wire of their cages and so pulling their teeth out of alignment. Most breeders know if they have a ‘wire puller’ in the shed and take precautions to stop them doing it!
·        Poor breeding or malnourishment of the doe or young babies.   It can occur as a result of calcium deficiency which leads to osteomalacia of the jaw which allows the tooth to move in it’s socket.
·        Bacterial infections. Bacterial infections can cause teeth to grow in odd directions.
·        Unsuitable diet. Many rabbit owners think that feeding the well promoted commercial mixes from leading food manufacturers is enough.   They may be‘nutritionally balanced’, but they do not take into account a number of very important factors including the eating pattern of rabbits in the wild, the problems of selective eating, and the lack of abrasive material found naturally in grass.

Signs of a problem
The most obvious symptom is overgrown teeth but where this isn’t obvious or hasn’t been picked up the following symptoms can also point to malocclusion:
  • Abbesses in the mouth or jaw
  • Drooling – this can also lead to dermatitis on the chin and chest which becomes itchy and can lead to fur pulling (see below)
  • Fur pulling – this can also be a symptom of a number of other things as well but the most common cause (assuming your bun isn’t pregnant as does pull fur for their nesting boxes) is malocclusion.
  • A swollen jaw
  • Pawing at the mouth
  • Sudden drop in weight (due to bun not being able to eat)

- The treatment for malocclusion is having the teeth trimmed every four to six weeks. 
I have to admit, I don't understand the trimming every 4-6 weeks.   Why?   I rescued a rabbit once that apparently had just had it's teeth done the week before, and the person was told to come back in 3-4 weeks.   In that week the rabbits teeth were so badly curled it could not eat.   So in essence it would starve for the next three weeks until it's next appointment.    Can't see that as being good for the rabbit can you?

some helpful articles;

Raising has this one on Rabbit teeth.
- adult onset due to dietary problems, juvenile, wire pullers, jaw breakage - these are all causes.

Rabbit Teeth Issue Survey.
- conclusion that not a lot of differences between rabbit breeds, tend to affect about 1.3% of the rabbit population.

Merck Manual - Dental Malocclusion.
- Malocclusion (mandibular prognathism, brachygnathism) probably is the most common inherited disease in rabbits and leads to overgrowth of incisors with resultant difficulty in eating and drinking.

Malocclusion.   by the Australian National Rabbit Council. 
- Malocclusion,also referred to as buck' teeth or wolf' teeth, is a dental disease that is common in domesticated rabbits. Typically the teeth do not align correctly resulting in such ailments as overgrowth of teeth, sharp spurs on the molars, and curling of the incisors. Immediate treatment is required to ensure the continued health and happiness of your pet rabbit.

This picture courtesy of


Thursday, April 5, 2012

Nail Trims and What Not

So yesterday I trimmed the nails of all the adult bunnies.   I do this every 4-6 weeks.   I find it interesting how some rabbits nails grow so very very fast, and others it seems like they don't need to be clipped.  Makes me curious as to what makes the difference.

I train my babies from the time they are young that they sit for three feet to be done, and then I sit them on their bums for the last one.   Training them takes the angst out of the nail trims for them.   I started doing this after I purchased a variety of buns who would TOTALLY freak out when I would trim their nails and thought to myself.. I don't want other people thinking I've got nutty rabbits or that I never do nail trims so let's get them used to this idea.   I HATE stressing rabbits out unnecessarily and nail trim stress is unnecessary in my opinion.

For some reason this time Vivian took extreme exception to me trimming her nails and I'm not sure why.... it was like she was some stranger rabbit.  Usually Vive lets me do anything I want.  She's a very goofy rabbit.  So it rather surprised me.   We both survived the experience with no damage.   Perhaps it was because I used different clippers this time and she is a sensitive to noise rabbit.    Silly beastie.  :)

Everyone else was a trooper.   

I managed to get German outside on the grass yesterday without him being this total nervous Nellie.   he was such a good boy and so thoroughly enjoyed himself.  Very nice to see this in him.      Even German did well with nail trims...he's an easily stressed rabbit and all he did was moan at me.   Must have been a relaxing day on the lawn for him.  :)

Shade certainly seemed to like being outside too.  :)   I may put them both outside again today...might was well reward good solid behaviour right?     Though it was funny.. normally when I put the rabbits out the girls will dig holes and the boys will just thump and look around and munch on grass.   I put Shade out and he immediately started to dig a hole and it's like "HEY SHADE! girls dig boys don't!"   Made my six year old son giggle at him.  :)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Bunnies out this morning

I put a whole whack of bunnies out on the lawn today.

Good to give them exercise.  
Biscuit and her kits are out. 
Slip is out with all the young girls (it is SO nice to have an older doe who is so accepting of young does)  
Minx is out.
and is Sera.
The remaining kits from Peek are out.
as are all the young boys.
Nice to have bunnies outside.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Easter Bunnies to sell or not to sell

Should rabbit breeders sell bunnies at Easter? 

There are many ways to look at this issue and it is one that easily divides people. 

 To me selling bunnies at Easter is no different than sheep or goat people raising their animals to be sold for the Easter folks. Selling bunnies to me is no different at Easter than it is in January, or August or October. 

 People, wanting a pet, looking for a bunny. 

Are there people out there strictly making an impulse purchase looking to have a pet just for the holidays.. for sure.. but most of the time .. I find those folks go to the pet stores. They do. They certainly don't come to me willing to wait until I decide I'm going to go to the big city.     They want the bunny now. SO.. they go the pet store. 

Are there more people looking for bunnies at Easter?    Well of course there is. Tis the time of year when bunnies start coming out of the wood work. 

The sheer amount of people who I've had come to me over the years saying.. did you know how hard it is to find a bunny?!?!?! I've been looking all winter for one and NOW we can find them. We were starting to think we'd never find a good bunny. 

 It's just the way it is. Bunnies start really coming out for sale at the end of March/beginning of April. Are they timed for Easter? possibly. Could also just be the way it's worked out. People trying to breed rabbits, the rabbits saying NO, don't wanna.. until suddenly it's like.. oh, okay, you want me to make babies?!?!?!?! I can do THAT. :) Silly critters they are at times. 

So sell your bunnies...whether it be a Easter or on Valentines or in the middle of summer.  Enjoy them, move them out, and just be pleased that you are offering a needed service to folks looking to add the joy of a pet to their lives.

Is there risk involved with the care and sell of animals?  For sure.  but you know what .... Most folks will do right by their animals.

They will be housed, fed, and cleaned out.

Some may not be spoiled, some may end up over spoiled, most will end up being treated well.  They may end up moving from one home to another.    They may occasionally be handled in a way they don't appreciate, and if that happens they generally object.   They generally do NOT end up in abusive situations.   Is it possible that they might?  Yeah... but it's not the majority.  It really isn't.

Love your animals, care for your animals, assume that others will be responsible for what they want to be their own, and let the rest just be as it is.    Even selling a bunny to the best possible home that you can think of doesn't mean that bunny is guaranteed that forever bestest home.  Things happen and sometimes bunnies need to leave the perfect home for something other than what they had.  It is what it is.  ALL you can do as a breeder is your best.  :)

There are no guarantees in life beyond that all will die at some point.  All will at some point need to go before their maker.  Beyond that,  do the best that you can and let the rest just be.

A scare, a scream, a hole plugged

The scene: it's dark, my flashlight is going dim, I'm walking out to the rabbitry to say HEY BUNNIES.. want some apple branches when

The scare: out of the corner of my eye I see something white bounding toward my feet.

The Scream: yes.. I quietly screamed..not too loudly as freaking out the neighbours or hubby dear is NOT my idea of fun.

The surprise: two young bunnies hopping desperately around my feet with the attitude of HELP HELP HELP!  Where's mom?

OH!!!! you are Nicky's fosters!
What in heaven's name are you two doing out here?
I try to figure out where I"ve put her since I did some cage rearranging this morning...
Voila home.. two kits MOB mom.

I search the cage... finally finding a small hole just big enough for two kits to wiggle through...

Plug up the hole.
Tell the kits to stay put I'll fix the hole better in the morning.

I care for the critters.
I come inside for a much needed bowl of popcorn.