Tuesday, April 13, 2021
Friday, April 2, 2021
As many of you are aware, the RHDV2 virus is now in America. RHDV2 is an extremely serious disease - it has been described as "the ebola of the rabbit world". It is nearly 100% fatal, and spreads rapidly throughout both wild and domestic rabbit populations. You can find out more about it here. There is another good fact sheet here. While for many years this was a disease we didn't have to worry about, we do now. It's here, and it's spreading.
I got a call from our veterinarian today. She's been speaking with rabbit experts at UT Knoxville, as well as doing research about RHDV2. She's asked us to make the Huntsville Friends of Rabbits community aware of some issues with this disease as it affects us in the Southeast right now.
This week there has been a confirmed case in Arkansas of a domestic indoor rabbit with RHDV2. This rabbit was apparently from a breeder in South Carolina, was sold at a rabbit show in Georgia, and died after being brought into Arkansas. We cannot be sure where or how this rabbit contracted the disease.
Unfortunately this is the case with many of the cases of RHDV2 in the US now. Dr. Moore told me that her contacts seem to feel that RHDV2 may be spreading at least in part through hay, but this disease has so many vectors that it's difficult to tell.
As for a vaccine, at the current time we cannot get it in Alabama until there is actually a case here. It's a complicated story, but boils down to the fact that RHDV2 is not considered a domestic disease of rabbits and the vaccine has to be imported from Europe by permission. I talked with our Alabama State Veterinarian today and he promised me he will be speaking with the USDA to see if there's any way of speeding up access to the vaccine. There is apparently an American company working on a vaccine with the USDA, but we don't know how quickly it will be out.
What does this mean for you and your bunnies? The bottom line is that you need to take precautions now, even though there has not been an official case of RHDV2 in Alabama. It''s very possible that it's already here and just hasn't been reported, and it is definitely going to be here soon. It really is only a matter of time. These are some things that our veterinarian feels are necessary until we have a vaccine and this disease is under control:
1. Please do not let your bunny outside. We all like to bring our rabbits out for a jaunt in the sunshine, but this is not a good idea now. Especially if you have wild rabbits in your yard, please don't bring your pet bunny out to play.
2. Check out where your hay is coming from. Especially if you buy your hay online, make sure it isn't from an area where RHDV2 has been prevalent. This map **can give you an idea of where the disease is. Remember, just because you buy hay from a reputable company it doesn't mean the hay isn't from an affected area and hasn't been exposed to wild bunnies with RHDV2. If you can buy local Alabama hay you *might* be better off (but again, we just don't know). Timothy is hard to find here, but Bermuda and orchard grass are available from our local farmers. Just across the state line in lower TN you can sometimes find Timothy. Your bunnies cannot go any length of time without hay, so this is a hard one. Please just use your best judgement.
3. Please consider taking off your shoes when you come into the house. The virus can be transmitted through dirt on your shoes. Here at the main foster house we always remove our shoes and put on slippers. In the past this has been to cut down transmission of coccidia, fleas and worms from the outside, but now it's for RHDV2 as well.
4. Wash your bunny's veggies thoroughly! Again, look at where the veggies you get in the store are from. California and Mexico produce many of our veggies, and they have had multiple cases of RHDV2. Our vet is doing some research on washing solutions for veggies that would kill this virus and I'll let you all know as soon as I hear from her. In the meantime, it can't hurt to wash, wash, wash!
5. Please consider not getting new bunnies, especially from across state lines! It really upsets me to say this as I know there are so many bunnies that need homes, but even a bunny that looks healthy can have RHDV2.
6. If you have a "bunny garden", please be especially careful! This disease can be spread through wild bunny populations, and once it's in the soil it's very difficult to eradicate. Wild bunnies are all over, even in the cities. Please wait to harvest at least until we can figure out veggie washing solutions. You also might want to consider raised beds with rabbit proof fencing and new soil, having a special pair of gardening shoes, and washing up thoroughly as soon as you come inside. Quite honestly, we're really falling in love with our indoor Aerogardens these days!
7. Please report any deceased wild bunnies to Alabama Fish and Wildlife, and ask them to investigate. DO NOT TOUCH THE ANIMAL! You could easily transmit this disease. This fact sheet from Missouri Dept. of Conservation gives a good overview of the issues around RHDV2 and wild bunnies.
Ruth (aka: Mrs. Brighton's secretary!)
**This map was created and is being kept up to date by a close friend of ours. It is based solely on verified reports from State Veterinarians. Please be aware that each pin may represent more than one bunny and in some cases there are dozens.
Thursday, April 1, 2021
|Just checking my secretary's spelling!|
So you're considering getting somebunny like me? What should you consider when you’re getting a rabbit as a pet...or maybe you shouldn't consider getting one at all?! Or...maybe you should get two! What do you think? Let's find out!
We'll make this like a quiz. I'll ask a bunch of questions, and you can think really hard about your answers! We'll make this an open book kind of quiz. I'll give you my thoughts and links to good websites so you can get even more information to decide what your answers will be.
Ready? Ok, first question!
1. Are you getting a bunny for a child? Oh dear, I hate to start out on a negative note, but...People think rabbits are cuddly, but we are prey animals and we don't like to be held at all. Children are prone to making high-pitched squealy kinds of noises which mimic the rabbit's distress call. This can set us on edge. We're fragile, too! It's easy to break a rabbit's back just by picking us up the wrong way.
And while kids might like a bunny for a little while, soon the thrill will wear off. Did you know 90% of rabbits turned into shelters were originally pets for children? I'm going to do a whole post later about rabbits and kids, but for now you might really want to read this article before you get a bunny for your child.
|My friend Penny got cranky and her foster mom got bitten! Oops!|
2. Can you afford a bunny? Cuteness like mine doesn't come cheap! It isn't just the tiaras, we need three different types of food every day, bedding, vet care...I could go on and on. And I will in a few days because I'm doing a whole post on how much rabbits actually cost. Spoiler alert: you could probably buy a Gucci bag for what you'll spend on your bunny! But your Gucci bag won't do binkies so honestly what are your priorities?
3. Do you have allergies? Are you allergic to hay? Sometimes people with allergies can work around this by switching hay types. For example, my secretary is allergic to Bermuda so we leave that off the menu. My friends at Small Pet Select have a great article here!
4. Are you a neat freak? Uh oh. While we are generally very clean animals, hay tends to get all over the place, stray poops happen, and it's impossible to tear up a cardboard box without the collateral damage of shredded cardboard all over the carpet. We might not be the best pets for those who like things super tidy!
5. Can you find a special "exotics" vet? Is there one near you? Veterinarians who are "rabbit-savvy" are essential. We're so different from cats and dogs. Veterinary medicine and procedures that are routine for other animals could kill your bunny! You can find lists of rabbit-savvy vets here. And here's some things to consider when you're looking for a vet.
Let's take a break shall we, and gaze at this photo of me taken a few years ago at my vet's office with the wonderful Ms. Ellen!
Wednesday, March 31, 2021
Wow! That's a long title isn't it?! It was so long I started falling asleep reading it! See, here I am, taking a snooze!
|Everyone should have leopard print sheets!|
We've been asked why it's illegal to sell baby bunnies as pets in the State of Alabama, so I'm interrupting my nap time to tell you! In case you missed it here is the actual law:
(Acts 1959, No. 104, p. 590.)
I made the background color pink so it would stand out!
There are several reasons why this law was passed way back in 1959. It was partly because people used to dye the bunnies (and chicks) and obviously this was cruel. That usually doesn't happen anymore, but the other reasons for the law are still with us.
Every year, starting as early as the day after Easter (or the day a carnival that gives away bunnies as prizes leaves town) the shelters get flooded with discarded rabbits. Did you know rabbits are the third most often surrendered pets at shelters across the country? Right behind cats and dogs!
Too many people buy them on a whim and then they realize how much care bunnies need...and then Little Brandon or Brittany gets tired of the bunny...but Mom and Dad still need to clean the litter box. Uh oh! In addition, they quickly find that those adorable baby bunnies grow up fast...and get hormonal....and they aren't cute anymore when they are spraying, biting and mounting your feet.
It's also hard to sex baby bunnies (because male baby bunnies' testicles don't descend until they're older) so every year we hear of situations where someone has gotten two "girls" and surprise! Soon after there is a litter of babies and a month after that, another one (because people don't realize rabbits can get pregnant the day they give birth!) If the bunnies can't be sold until they're older it's so much easier to tell the boys from the girls, so these mistakes don't happen.
Many of these poor bunnies wind up in the shelter or worse, get dumped in the wild.** This is not only bad for the bunnies but causes problems for the shelters and people who rescue rabbits - problems that cost the taxpayers quite a bit of money.
Another issue is that often babies are sold too young to be away from their mother, especially at Easter. Some sellers want them to be as tiny and cute as possible so people are more tempted into an impulse buy. Not all sellers do this of course, but there are enough that it is a problem. We've had quite a few fosters come in who were bought at four to five weeks old. Many of them have had gut flora problems from being taken away from their moms too early. If a bunny's gut flora isn't well developed they can have ongoing intestinal issues and even die!
I hope this explains some of the reasons for this law. Remember, think carefully before you get a bunny! In my next few blog posts I'll be going over some things to think about before you get an adorable bundle of cuteness like me!
Love from your roving lagomorphic reporter,
Mrs. Kitty Brighton
**(If you have a chance check out the horrible problems Las Vagas is having with released domestic rabbits!)
Tuesday, March 30, 2021
Unfortunately, over the last couple of years the people running HFR - my secretary (Ruth) and chauffeur (Dr. Bruce) - have had to retire from active rescue work because of health issues. They felt very sad about this. So I asked them: why not switch our focus completely to education? Why, I could do this work myself!
So let me tell you about myself. I'm a gorgeous Mini Rex rabbit with fabulous black and white markings (did someone say cow bunneh?) I look wonderful in tutus and I wear my tiara a bit askew!
Fortunately for me, some ladies from the local cat rescue came to the trailer park to help with stray kitties. They were friends with my secretary, and they knew that no bunny should be wandering around outside. They took me home and kept me for a few days until HFR could fit me into foster care. In their honor, I named myself Kitty. Without them I don't know what would have happened to me!
My first weeks in foster care were a blur of delicious food, a warm place to sleep, my very own pink litter box, and perfecting my gracious ability to greet every visitor that arrived. I also had several vet visits, including a mysterious one where I was given some gas to breath, after which I fell asleep and awoke with an incision on my stomach. Yes, dear Readers, I had been spayed!***
All was going well, until my staff started to realize that my spay had not calmed me down the way they had thought it would. In fact, I was the biggest bundle of energy they had ever encountered in a rabbit. Something was obviously wrong. I went back to my vet for further testing, and it was discovered that I had a problem with my thyroid. No wonder I was so hyper!
From that point on it was apparent that I would be hard to adopt. Who would want a hyperthyroid bunny? Well, don't you worry, because I came up with the perfect suggestion! Why couldn't I just stay at the foster home as a permanent resident, and occupy myself as the official HFR Education Bunny? With my super-outgoing personality, my fearlessness, my limitless energy, not to mention my velvety Rex fur and gorgeous face, I would be the perfect rabbit for the job!
So here I am! I've loved being an Education Bunny. Over the years I've visited schools, the library, the Botanical Gardens, and our local radio stations - all kinds of people who want to learn about rabbits. I'm even good with groups of children! Now that I'm getting older (I'm eight years old) I don't enjoy these visits as much as I used to, and I'd prefer to carry on with my job by dictation. I've started writing posts for our Facebook page, and now, here I am, writing this blog!
In my spare time, I like to check out new toys (I hope to do toy reviews!), rearrange my living space, try on new outfits (I plan to do an entire post on my tutus), and think about new things that I need to teach people about bunnies. Oh, and eating! I love to eat!
Well, that's enough about me for now! Do you have something you would like to know about rabbits? A question you'd like to ask? Just leave me a note in the comments! Until then, byeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!
Your roving correspondent and lagomorphic reporter,
Mrs. Kitty Brighton