The Problem with Bunnies

Bunnies are super cute and fuzzy, and their poo is garden gold. You don’t have to wait for it to age to put it on your garden like other manures, just dump it right in the garden bed. Bunnies are quiet. They’re clean. They don’t cause any problems. They are easy to feed and easy to manage.

The problem?

Bunnies are prey animals, and being such, they won’t show signs of illness or distress until the very last second. In the wild, if they exhibited signs of illness or weakness, they’d be gobbled up by a predator in a blink of an eye.

My favorite bunny, Oreo, has been fine every day. No signs of distress. No signs of illness. Yesterday morning, she was laying in a ball and wouldn’t move. Wouldn’t open her eyes, wouldn’t eat, wouldn’t drink. A bunny pretty much eats and drinks 24 hours a day; that is their entire existence. I checked her body for bone breaks, sores, flystrike, etc, but I found nothing. She’s wasn’t bloated. Her ears were cold, so I covered her in a towel. At least she could stay warm. I petted her for a long time, but she’s not one to enjoy petting past a few minutes, so I left her alone. I visited repeatedly throughout the day, syringing a bit of water into her mouth every couple hours.

Bunnies can technically survive a couple days without food, but only about 24 hrs without water. After 12 hours, they will go into GI statis, meaning the gastrointestinal system completely stops. I’m not sure when she stopped eating, but her pellets and hay from yesterday are untouched. She has never drank as much as the other rabbits, so this could have been festering for a while without my notice. The only thing I can think is 1) she had an underlying illness, or 2) the last week of below-freezing temps was too stressful. Rabbits are super sensitive and stress easily. Either way, if she won’t eat or drink, there’s nothing I can do. When you’re dying, your body doesn’t need or want food or drink.

If your bunny is a pet and acts like this, you need to get her to an emergency vet immediately. This bunny is not a pet; she is livestock. Not that her life isn’t worth as much as a pet, but in the real world livestock is handled differently. An emergency vet would cost hundreds of dollars and more than likely would not save her. It’s always a tough decision, but one can’t lose the farm paying for vet care for sick animals that will more than likely not recover.

Out here in the homesteading world, we do our very best to keep all our animals healthy and happy. Sometimes it’s not enough.

She didn’t move all day and passed peacefully after dark. It’s a sad day. We love our little Oreo.

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