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The subject of intentional breeding or meat rabbits is prohibited. The answers provided on this board are for general guideline purposes only. The information is not intended to diagnose or treat your pet.  It is your responsibility to assess the information being given and seek professional advice/second opinion from your veterinarian and/or qualified behaviorist.

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Forum HOUSE RABBIT Q & A Are they sick?

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    • shmabbi
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      I recently became the owner of two baby bunnies, around 3-4 months old after my boyfriend’s brother decided to move. He wanted to send them back to the farm where he got them where they would be stuffed back into tiny wire bottom cages but I couldn’t let that happen. I asked a local bunny expert a lot of questions and she told me they should stop eating Alfalfa Hay start eating Timothy Hay. They seemed fine for a while and were eating normally and acting rambunctious and cute but recently my boyfriend and I made an xpen for them, they were staying in a small cage before that, and I started to notice them acting a little different. Their poops became a bit smaller when I would let them out in the morning and their bottoms seem dirty. I took them to the vet and they gave me medication to treat them for GI stasis. I have been giving them both critical care for several days now but I am still noticing small poops, low key behavior, and dirty bottoms. During the day they eat a lot and seem to have healthy poops. It’s only in the morning and when I’m gone during the day that I notice their poops seem irregular. They also used to hump each other like crazy and they just don’t do that at all anymore. They are a boy and a girl and not fixed yet so I’m not too bummed about the no humping thing but I still think it’s strange that they’re not doing it. They binky and have zoomies but I’m afraid they’re stressed and I have no idea what the cause is. They have hours and hours of free roam time and plenty of run around space in their xpen with toys and plenty of hay and stimulation. I recently started giving them small amount of Timothy+Orchard mix by oxbow along with a small amount of their Botanical Hay to entice their appetite more and it seemed to work. I have stopped giving them pellets because my vet recommended it. I have no idea what I’m doing wrong. I worry about them a lot and I just don’t want this to consume me so much anymore.

       


    • Hazel
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      Can you tell us exactly what they eat and how much? Treats, veggies? Do you find any uneaten cecotropes?

      Also, you have to seperate them, now. They’re hitting puberty and if you keep them together any longer you will end up with a litter. It’s possible that the humping stopped because she’s already pregnant. They should have been seperated at three months of age. They are also likely to start fighting if kept together.


      • shmabbi
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        They are eating mainly Timothy Hay. I’m not sure exactly how much. They have two litter boxes filled with it each day and eat maybe around half of that and I’ll give them handfuls of hay when they’re running around outside the pen as well. They have small amounts of orchard grass and very small amounts of botanical hay as well, both by oxbow. I stopped treats and I have been trying very diligently to give veggies but they don’t touch any greens at all. I do find uneaten cecotropes but only in the morning. I notice they eat some during the day which I find odd.
        I was going to separate them the moment I built the xpen but they stopped humping after that. They are brother and sister. She is the dominant one and they are very closely bonded. I watch them probably 8 hours out of the day and the last two weeks they haven’t humped once. I don’t want a litter but I also don’t want to stress them out further if they are feeling that way. Separation might cause distress if they can’t clean or cuddle with each other. They comfort and look out for each other. I have an appointment to get them fixed but I might just get the brother neutered first and wait until his sister is a little older. They just had a check up and will get one more to 100% make sure they won’t have any problem going into surgery.


    • Wick
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      I would not worry about feeding veggies at this point — they are both young, so their stomachs may not actually be mature enough to eat them. If they have been eating them, the veggies could potentially be a cause of the irregular poops because their stomachs are not ready to handle veggies yet. I would challenge the vet’s thought on pellets — young rabbits need pellets to grow properly because they aren’t going to get the adequate nutrition needed from just hay.  Did the vet recommend an alternative supplement if pellets are being eliminated? Excess cecotropes can be a result of the critical care feeding, since there’s excess nutrition? The recommended diet for rabbits of this age is unlimited hay and a larger, but limited quantity of pellets. I haven’t heard of different hays causing issue, but I would maybe eliminate botanical hay for now and only stick to Timothy and Orchard.

      Rabbits who are siblings and stay together tend to (but not always) do well in bonding after their respective surgeries; that being said, being brother and sister does not mean they will not try to mate with one another or try and harm one another. I know that is a very crazy thing to imagine because it is so different from how they’re currently acting, but remember that these are animals and how they experience hormones during puberty is pretty intense in activating mating and territorial instincts– rabbits do not acknowledge family units. Young rabbits tend to get along, regardless if their siblings, and that is typically because there are no hormonal drives yet. Two unfixed rabbits cannot be considered formally “bonded”. Bonded rabbits are post-puberty rabbits who have successfully worked out their social relationship following the hormonal stage and being fixed.

      The likelihood that separating them will cause significant stress, I feel is likely small. You can put a gap in between them so they can still see each other, if that’d be helpful. I also think separation can be very useful to better discern the health of each of your rabbits individually. It is possible that only one is producing those irregular poops or oddities, for example. Perhaps only one is having difficulty eating cecotropes.

      The answers provided in this discussion are for general guideline purposes only. The information is not intended to diagnose or treat your pet. Seek the advice of your veterinarian or a qualified behaviorist.


      • shmabbi
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        Thank you for your advice. I did decide to separate them last night and they were both pooping and eating well before I went to bed. This morning both of them had irregular poops in their side of the xpens. I’m not sure if maybe they’re both producing too many cecotropes and fall asleep sitting on them but there are several small mushy spots. I gave them a both a few pellets last night to reintroduce pellets into their diet. I was hoping for a different result last night than the previous nights but again, in the morning I find their poops are irregular. I feel like I am failing as a bunny parent. I really wasn’t planning for this in the first place but I have been doing everything I can to make sure they have everything they need, exercise, water, hay, toys, hidey houses, warmth, etc. I am worried sick about them.


    • Hazel
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      I understand that you don’t want to stress them out, but as Wick said, they aren’t bonded at this point. They have been getting along up until now because babies get along with anyone, but that will change once hormones are in full swing. Sure they might get grumpy about being seperated but surely that’s preferrable to an unwanted pregnancy (which could very well kill the female as she is way too young to deliver a litter safely) or injuries resulting from a fight. Fighting is very likely to happen and it will deminish your chances of bonding them successfully once they have been fixed.


      • shmabbi
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        I have yet to see any fighting but I have them separated now. All they did before was hump sometimes and clean and cuddle each other. The female is definitely not pregnant because she isn’t showing any signs and she just went to the vet.


    • DanaNM
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      I’m happy to hear you’ve separated them. Females can get pregnant as early as 12 weeks old and may not show any signs of pregnancy until suddenly babies appear in the litter box… (real life example… !).

      I’m sure they will go back together easily once they are spayed/neutered. There was a recent study from the UK rabbit welfare association, and they found that with siblings, the earlier they can be castrated the more easily they rebond/stay bonded. In their survey, it seemed like if people waited till too many hormonal behaviors kick in it made things a bit more challenging.

      . . . The answers provided in this discussion are for general guideline purposes only. The information is not intended to diagnose or treat your pet. Seek the advice of your veterinarian or a qualified behaviorist.  


      • shmabbi
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        I am trying to get them fixed ASAP. It’s hard to get it done as there are few rabbit savvy vets where I am and the ones who are good are all booked up. I am worried about these babies… I just want them to be happy and healthy.


    • DanaNM
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      I understand, I know it’s been really hard for people to book spays and neuters with the pandemic.

      I’m just re-reading the thread on your issues with their poops. So do they basically get weird poops anytime you give them pellets or veggies?

      If they can’t tolerate pellets right now, you could feed them a combo of alfalfa hay with their grass hay to make sure they are getting enough calories and protein. Since your vet already had you give critical care, you could keep supplementing that too.

      Sometimes bunnies that are taken from their mom a bit young have more sensitive guts if they don’t wean properly.

      It’s also normal for young bunnies to produce some extra cecotropes that they don’t eat, so could that be what you’re seeing?  The important thing is consistency. I would resist the urge to make too many changes all at once, because it can take time for the gut to adjust.

      Young rabbits under 6 months should get alfalfa in some form. So usually it’s given in the form of young rabbit pellets, so grass hay is recommended to get them used to eating grass hay. But if you can’t feed the alfalfa pellets then you could give alfalfa hay along with the grass hay. I also think going back to the last diet they ate where they had healthy poops is worth trying.

       

      . . . The answers provided in this discussion are for general guideline purposes only. The information is not intended to diagnose or treat your pet. Seek the advice of your veterinarian or a qualified behaviorist.  

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Forum HOUSE RABBIT Q & A Are they sick?