BINKYBUNNY FORUMS > HOUSE RABBIT Q & A > Our bunnies keep dying, need advice :(
Last Post by Kokaneeandkahlua at 11/06/2012 4:46 PM (27 Replies)
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User is Offline neksmama
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11/03/2012 6:29 AM

We bought a little bunny about a month ago and he seemed happy and healthy.  He was very sweet.  We bought him on a Thursday.  The next Friday (so just over a week later), I noticed he seemed a bit listless and quiet.  Within an hour he couldn't even sit up, he was just laying on his side.  If I tried to hold him upright, he just fell over.  He was kind of tilting his head up.  I phoned the vet and made an appointment for the next morning, but within another hour he had what looked like a seizure and a few minutes later he died

We talked to the pet store and they talked to the breeder they buy them from.  She said she's never seen that happen and the pet store said they have never had a report of it happening either, and they've been buying her bunnies for years.  The breeder very nicely offered to send us another bunny at no charge.

We got the new bunny on a Thursday again.  Again, the next Friday (yesterday), he died.  I knew something was wrong instantly when I got home, and he died in my hands just a few minutes later.

I did talk to the pet store again, but at this point I just don't see how it could be coincidence.  It has to be something here.  Both the bunnies were from different litters and arrived at the store two weeks apart.  Each of them arrived with another bunny, and both the other bunnies are doing just fine.

We did not give them anything that was not meant for bunnies.  We have a fairly large cage and let them out every day to run around in a rabbit proofed area, supervised.  They had a water bottle, timothy hay, alfalfa cubes, bunny food, litterbox (Yesterday's News), and a few chew toys from the pet store that are for rabbits.  Before we got the second bunny we completely cleaned and disinfected the cage.  His food was from a different bag, but the timothy hay and alfalfa cubes were from the same bag that we fed to the first bunny.  Could there be something wrong with them?

What could we be doing wrong?  We would really love to have a bunny, but I'm terrified to get another one now.  I just really don't understand


User is Offline Skipper's Mama
Florida
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11/03/2012 7:02 AM
I would suggest not buying a rabbit from a pet store. There are some really great rabbit rescues that have buns that need forever homes. If you're not keen on that there are breeders that you can get a rabbit from. I do have to ask. Where did you buy the rabbit from? And what sort of conditions did you bring the rabbit home to? It might be a long shot. But it may have been frightened to death if you have a loud barking dog. Rabbits at first do tend to be scared of large predatory animals. I'm not saying that dogs and rabbits can not co-exist. They can but with of course careful supervision.

User is Offline neksmama
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11/03/2012 7:26 AM
Well we live in a small town, there are no rabbit rescues around here as far as I know Or breeders for that matter. Unless there are and I just haven't been able to find them.

We bought the rabbit at a local pet store. Both bunnies we took home literally within an hour of their arriving at the store, so I can't imagine anything happened at the store. We have a cat, but we didn't let him near either bunny. We don't have any other pets.

User is Offline Skipper's Mama
Florida
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11/03/2012 7:31 AM
This is totally crazy. I was the pet store where I live and I heard a family talking about this exact same situation.

Any way, you never know! Don't discount different possibilities. Search Petfinder. They have some listings of rabbits that may be in your area. Or even Craigslist to find an unwanted rabbit. I had thought the same thing and did some research and found out that there is a specified rabbit rescue not too far from me and sometimes there is a rabbit up for adoption at the local rescue.

User is Offline Skipper's Mama
Florida
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11/03/2012 7:33 AM
Did the store tell you how old the bun was to begin with? A bun can only be legally sold in at the age of 8 weeks. If the bun was really small I'm going to guess that the breeder gave the pet store the bun at WAY to young of an age and was not ready to be separated from its mother.

User is Offline neksmama
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11/03/2012 7:34 AM
Oh ok actually I just checked and the spca a few towns over does have bunnies, so that is definitely an option we will look into. But I really am worried it's something in our environment. I just don't know what I can do to try and prevent this happening again. It's bizarre to me that we had each bunny for EXACTLY the same number of days and their symptoms were very similar. Although from the research I've done it seems that most illnesses cause similar symptoms. That is what is making it difficult to narrow this down. I don't want to just keep bringing buns home if we're doing something horribly wrong. I had a bunny as a teenager though and he was completely fine, so it's not like this is completely new to me. I just can't figure it out.

User is Offline neksmama
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11/03/2012 7:36 AM
They said he was about 9 weeks old. He was fairly small but he was a dwarf bunny. If I cupped my hands together he was a bit bigger then that. They were both about the same size, well the first one was a bit smaller actually I think. They were about the size of a guinea pig.

User is Offline neksmama
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11/03/2012 7:37 AM
That is bizarre that you heard about the same kind of situation! Did they have any suggestions or ideas? I would love to rescue a bun but I'm REALLY nervous to bring another home now, from anywhere.

User is Offline Skipper's Mama
Florida
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11/03/2012 7:39 AM
My thing is that you guys got the bun an hour after it came from the breeder. It may not have been what you guys had done. It could have been something that the breeder had done, or the pet store. There just seem to be too many what if factors. You know? Do you know if the bun came into contact with any sort of Frontline? What did you use to disinfect the cage? A mixture of vinegar/water (50/50 concentration should be good) is all that is needed to clean a rabbit cage. You don't want any harsh bleach chemicals around a bun.

User is Offline neksmama
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11/03/2012 7:52 AM
Yes that makes sense. I guess I just figured that since we had them both over a week, it must have been something here. If something happened at the breeder or pet store, wouldn't it have affected them sooner? Also, I just have trouble believing we are that unlucky lol. Each bunny came with another bunny, and the companion bunnies sold to other people and are happy and healthy. They also got in other bunnies in between the ones that we bought, and those ones are fine too. What are the odds that we would get the only two sick bunnies in years?

Not arguing with you lol, I'm just on the paranoid side now. The pet store is going to contact the breeder and discuss it further. If they offer us another at no charge (which I told them I didn't expect at all, I said I was just calling to let them know in case there is something wrong on the breeder end), we would probably try again. Otherwise, we will purchase one from the spca and cross our fingers.

We are going away in a few weeks, just for a few days. We were going to have someone come and check our bun every day while we were gone, but that was when we thought we would have already had him for a good month or two. At this point we will just wait until we get back.

With the first bun, the cage was brand new so I just rinsed it out well with hot water and dried it. Right after he died, I washed everything with a mild bleach/water solution. That was the only time I used bleach at all. Since then I've just used a mild vinegar solution.

So what would you suggest if we get another bun? Clean everything with vinegar/water for sure. The food for the two buns was the same brand, but different packages, so I think our food is probably ok? I will throw out the hay, alfalfa cubes, and all the chew toys that I can't wash properly. I can't think of anything else?

Could it be possible that the first bun arrived with something wrong, and then somehow the second bun caught it? There was a whole week in between when the first one died and we brought the second one home, so it seems improbable that anything contagious could hang out that long, especially after we washed everything, but I don't really know.

User is Offline Skipper's Mama
Florida
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11/03/2012 8:08 AM
The problems with buns is that when their sick they hid it VERY well. So it could be either or. Do you know what food the breeder was using? I would see if you could purchase the same type of food or get some food for your bun from the breeder. It's not good to just up and switch types of foods on rabbits. The pellets have to be changed gradually. How warm was the area that you kept the rabbit in? Nothing warmer than 78 degrees? The hard part is that I'm not totally sure what your environment/house is like. I can't come over and look and be like, "Oh that's it. Change it." You know? I would hate to be like go for it! And have the bun die again while after being in your care. What I can suggest is that RIGHT after you get the bun take him/her to a rabbit savvy vet and have him/her looked at. That's really the only positive way to know if something is wrong with him because of the breeder. But I do agree with just throwing everything that you have food wise away and starting from scratch. You could have always had your buns looked at after they died to determine what might have caused the problem. But that is expensive. I'm sorry I couldn't have been much more of a help.

User is Offline neksmama
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11/03/2012 8:32 AM
Hmmm yes good idea about the food. No, definitely not warmer then 78 degrees. I know, even being here it's basically impossible to know what happened.

Do you think it would be better to wait until the bun has been at the pet store for awhile before bringing him home? We thought it would be good to bring him home right away so that he wouldn't get used to the pet store only to be uprooted again. But maybe it would be better to let him settle in there and make sure he's healthy.

That's one huge advantage to the spca bunnies. They've been thoroughly vet checked and spayed/neuteured. I'm almost thinking maybe we should just go that route even if the pet store offers a replacement bunny.

User is Offline neksmama
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11/03/2012 8:39 AM

 Here's some pics of our cage, the bun in the one pic was our first little guy.

 

 


User is Offline Sarita
(Dallas)
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11/03/2012 9:10 AM
Honestly, since you, the store, nor the breeder just don't know why the rabbits died, it's hard to place blame anywhere. I seriously doubt though it's anything in your environment - pet stores and breeders though can be breeding grounds for many illnesses since they have pets coming and going. And honestly you don't know what conditions the breeder has had the rabbits in or the care or vet care they receive.

Hopefully you will find the rabbit you love at the SPCA and save a life

You are definitely going to need to change the cage however - it's way too small which is very typical of pet store cages - they just aren't adequate.

User is Offline CinnabunMom
in the TARDIS
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11/03/2012 9:15 AM
Like Sarita said, the cage is far too small for a grown bun. Try building your own cage out of NIC cubes (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hbt7...ture=plcp) <--this is one of the best tutorials on how to do it. OR you could get an exercise pen (Xpen) which provides much more space for a bun. The rule is, at minimum, enough space to hop forward at least 4x. You may also want a bigger liter box at some point as that tiny corner one isn't going to hold much and buns tend to go..a lot.
chair1-1

User is Offline neksmama
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11/03/2012 9:39 AM
Eeek that stinks, that cage was pretty pricey! I just looked up x-pens and they're actually cheaper darn it all! Lol. We are heading to the US in a few weeks so maybe I'll pick up an x-pen down there, they're cheaper there I bet I could connect the x-pen to the cage and just leave the door open?

I'll check that link too on building a cage, thanks!

User is Offline lmais
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11/03/2012 9:47 AM
That's a really good video - the one thing I would recommend is that if your bunny likes to chew then try to make a base out of something that doesn't use screws or glue - a lot of people use coroplast which is a type of durable plastic (I myself am a fan, I find it much safer than wood bases and it's easy to find.. also much easier to put together. Although a lot of people do prefer would), and you can put edges on it that make it "chew proof". If you are planning on using wood for the base make sure that it's not going to splinter because it can hurt the rabbit easily whether or not he/she ingests it.

User is Offline CinnabunMom
in the TARDIS
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11/03/2012 10:03 AM
Pet stores sell those cages at outrageous prices because they know that first time small pet owners probably won't know that it's not adequate. But that's what places like BB are for! If you want to keep the cage, you can absolutely connect the two and leave the door open. I did something very similar with Cinnabun's set up for the first few months of her life. Just remember that your bun needs plenty of free time to stretch, run, play, and not become bored. A bored bunny is a destructive bunny.
chair1-1

User is Offline RabbitPam
South Florida
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11/03/2012 10:04 AM
Hi, I think there are several factors that you had in common that you should not repeat. The first being getting another bunny from that pet store, and by extension, from that breeder. Most pet stores and breeders will deny responsibility, putting it on you as the probable culprit, and there's no way to prove it for any of you. However, I would ask the pet store for reimbursement instead of replacement of the bunny. They will probably refuse, but you do not want to be in this situation a third time.
The local spca may be able to get you a bunny who will be happy to be rescued. Plus you make a space for a new bunny to be rescued by them in its place. Also, tell them what happened. They may have some knowledge of this store or breeder, and may be a bit more informed.

I would get a new xpen. Thoroughly wash your current cage, and if you let them know the circumstances so it is repeatedly cleaned before another animal uses it, you can either donate it to your local shelter or sell it used on ebay. If you sell it on craigslist, do NOT have anyone come to your home. Be safe. (Like do a sale and transfer in a parking lot or something and don't get followed home.) As you can tell, I don't like craigslist, but even the pet store might buy it back second hand for a discount. Worth asking when you buy a new xpen.

Fresh, new foods and dishes. A dishwasher should be able to sterilize non-plastic dishes if you have those on a short cycle however. You just want no overlap with the supplies that your ill bunnies contacted.

And finally, I am so sorry you went through this. It is truly heartbreaking, and it actually surprises me that others from those same litters are still healthy. You can't be sure, ever, but it is very sad and more than a coincidence.
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User is Offline Roberta
Wanneroo, Western Australia
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11/03/2012 2:48 PM
Some other things to check in the area. Do you have gas heating ? Is the cage near any heating outlets or exhaust of any kind ? Is it close to a garage door where vehicle exhaust could be coming in. Have you had the house fumigated recently ? Long shots but they proved to be causes for other people. What greens are you feeding them ? Also were they peeing and pooping normally ? Was there any other symptoms, sneezing, grinding, hunching ? Did both buns die on the same day, is there something that happens around the house on a regular basis on the same day (hobbies, projects external works) ?
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User is Offline jerseygirl
Australia
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11/03/2012 4:13 PM
I'm sorry for your losses. Binky Free Babybuns.
I can understand your hesitation in getting another rabbit.

If you do decide to get another, it's probably best after you've been away. I imagine it would be hard to relax while away, worrying about a 3rd rabbit.

It's all guesswork knowing what happened. If pure rotten luck and it was to do with them having something from birth or from environment they came from, that was out of your control.

Still, it's wise to go over everything in your setup just in case. I personally would find it hard to believe the 2nd bun caught anything off the 1st from the habitat. For them to succumb that fast. In Australia there are some fatal conditions that will take them fast (myxomatosis and rabbit haemorrhagic disease) and can linger on cages but I don't believe it's present in your region of the world.

Adding to the questions already asked; what is the bunny food they were on?
What was the chew toy? Had it been chewed?
Is the sipper bottle functioning properly?
I'm not a fan of the bottles but they are convenient. I'd offer 2 so if one stops functioning, they'll have another source of water. Or just use a crock.
I wouldn't think the water itself was a problem if this is what your cat has. Still if you want to be super cautious, offer filtered water.

If you wanted (if it gives peace of mind) you could get the food tested that they both had. Though I have no clue where you'd get this done. Sorry!

I hope you do consider another rabbit and its all a better experience for you. They're wonderful pets.
Whoever says "It's only a rabbit" has obviously never loved a rabbit.

User is Offline jerseygirl
Australia
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11/03/2012 4:29 PM
Oh and ditto SkippersMama's question. Find out whether the pet store or breeder gave them any parasite treatment of any kind. They may not be forthcoming but it wouldn't hurt to ask. One would assume if a treatment was given, then all of them were given the same but not impossible that only a couple were treated for what ever reason. This is all speculation of course...
Whoever says "It's only a rabbit" has obviously never loved a rabbit.

User is Offline Nova
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11/03/2012 4:44 PM
I had to rescue a litter of bunnies from a pet store. They were emaciated, weaned too early from their mother (it is actually against the law in many US States to sell a rabbit that is under 12 weeks of age) and all but one went on to develop severe, long term health conditions because they were weaned too early and not raised properly in the pet store. The pet store foods they sell, the stuff with colorful junk in it, kills bunnies pretty quickly, and baby bunnies cannot develop an immune system when they are weaned too early so they end up with all these problems that cost a ton of money and shorten their overall lifespan.

This is the MAIN reason why pet stores shouldn't sell bunnies, and even guinea pigs, etc. as they are similar creatures.

In fact, in Los Angeles, CA, it is now illegal for pet stores to purchase rabbits from breeders to sell them as pets. 

The legislation was passed very recently, more on that here: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=4358330390959&set=a.1069763698847.2012437.1068734657&type=1&theater


Rabbits are very different than dogs and cats and are much more fragile. It is always best to adopt from a rescue (many rescues have very young, cute bunnies if that is what you are looking for and will work with you on travel, just talk to them!).... this way pet stores will stop the madness with selling these poor little sick bunnies.


User is Offline Nova
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11/03/2012 4:47 PM
I also noticed, in your bunny cage setup there, you have a huge bowl full of pellets and not very much hay. It should be the other way around....they need much more hay than pellets as they can eat too much pellets, bloat up and their tummies can rupture (this is called bloat or Stasis) because unlike cats and people, etc. bunnies cannot vomit.

User is Offline Roberta
Wanneroo, Western Australia
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11/03/2012 5:17 PM
Sorry about the barrage of questions neksmomma, I am trying to work backwards and eliminate any possible environmental factors first so that you have a safe place to bring your bun. I agree rescue buns are the best but you wanted buns and went to the only place you knew where to get one which is fair enough, nough said. So lets work together and make your home a safe place for your future bun and you. If its particles, gas exhaust or fumes it could be affecting your health and your families too. I did notice a floor heating vent right next to the cage in the first pic. So another few questions to add to my others and Jersey Girls. Does the vent go to a furnace or gas heating system ? Also cleaning products even though we try to be careful it doesn't take much for a breeze to blow it through and contaminate other things. Also is the food stored near anything that could contaminate it ? Are you close to an agricultural area where they could be spraying pest/herbicides on a schedule that could penetrate the house ?
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User is Offline LittlePuffyTail
New Brunswick, Canada
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11/04/2012 2:46 AM
I don't have any advice or thoughts that haven't already been brought up, but I want to offer my sympathies with the loss of your two babies. That must have been very hard. I truly hope you can find a bunny from a shelter and can enjoy his/her companionship for many years.
Proud to be a Bunny Hugger and a voice for the voiceless
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User is Offline Silly Sungura
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11/05/2012 9:55 AM
Hi. I'm sorry for your losses.

It's most likely a coincidence that the bunnies both died within a week of your bringing them home. Barring some of the possibilities that Roberta and Jerseygirl mentioned regarding a toxin in your home environment, my inclination would be to say that the bunnies might've had some illness they picked up from their time at the breeder, or the pet store; maybe e. cuniculi. It's an illness (caused by a protozoan parasite) that can present itself in just the ways you described: It can cause a bunny to not be able to stand up - either because its hind legs are partially or fully paralyzed, or because the bunny is too dizzy to stand; it can cause the bunny's head to tilt slightly or very noticeably; and it can cause tremors or convulsions, as well as other symptoms. The thing about e.c. is that it can have terrible consequences, or none at all, depending on how strong the bunny's immune system is and where the protozoa is located in the bunny's body. If it winds up in the bunny's brain, kidneys, or eyes, and if the bunny is under stress from any thing (like being in a new environment, or having surgery, etc.), then e.c. is more likely to cause illness. This could explain why the other bunnies are fine - if they were exposed to something like e.c., it might never make them sick, or it might make them sick years down the road. The cysts can be dormant in a bun's body for years. Just thought I'd toss this idea out there; my sweet bunny, who came from a pet store, has e.c., and it stayed dormant in her little body for almost a year after she'd had any contact with other rabbits. (E.c. is spread when a bunny inhales or ingests the spores shed in the urine of an infected bunny.) My bun, who is my only bun, had to have picked it up from her mama, or from the other bunnies she was with prior to coming home with me. There are other illnesses that can cause symptoms like your bunnies had; one is caused by a type of roundworm. Like Sarita and RabbitPam said, with so many rabbits coming and going from the breeder and the store, there's just a lot of potential for illnesses and less-than-cleanly conditions. Your use of bleach to disinfect the cage was good; you can make a spray using two tsps of bleach to a liter of water to kill parasites, bacteria, etc. For regular upkeep, use vinegar and water.

I'm sorry this is so long.  I hope it helps you feel a little better, though. I know it had to have been hard to lose those little sweeties. Please consider adopting as the others have mentioned; it might save you some heartache.



User is Offline Kokaneeandkahlua
Edmonton, Alberta; Canada
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11/06/2012 4:46 PM
I just wanted to say sorry for your loss-how awful to go through.
i also want to say that even though the pet store said that the other rabbits are fine, and they've sold some in between, you just can't believe them. They are usually untrained people, making low wages, who aren't supported by the company to grow and learn. And a store's bottom line is to make a profit. They probably are going to try to blame you (which when they say nothing is wrong wiht any of the other rabbits they sold, they kind of are!) and maybe someone has had the rabbit pass away but they didn't go back to the store, or it was after their 'guarantee period' or maybe it's policy not to tell customers if others are having issues. So don't blame yourself because the pet store is trying to 'pass the buck'.

I agree with the others, I would look into adopting. Those bunnies are usually spayed/neutered (which is a big bonus!) and health checked. and you know a bit about the personality before you bring them home.

I really feel for ya, can't imagine how hard that was to go through. I really hope you have some better luck, please stick around and keep us posted!
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BINKYBUNNY FORUMS > HOUSE RABBIT Q & A > Our bunnies keep dying, need advice :(

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