Hello 2017

Hello there, it’s been a while.  I have been very busy and haven’t had a lot to say, so I haven’t said anything.  But I thought I should at least come back and update you on how everyone is doing, especially as the last time I left you, I had another rabbit just come down with myxomatosis!  Sprüngli survived and she is doing well.  She didn’t get anywhere near as bad as Delilah although she did not cope quite as well as she is a more stressy rabbit.  Her eyes recovered and look pretty normal; her nose is more problematic though.  Because she had a big nodule right at the end of her nostril, she’s lost a lot of the underlying bone and cartilage and has holes all over the place round the end of her nose.  I suspect this will make her much more prone to infections in the future as she doesn’t have as many turbinates left to help filter out any bacteria or stop other irritants from getting up her nose.

Delilah continues to thrive. Since November I have been taking her for acupuncture on her nose, as she had a massive nodule scab bridging the middle of her nose and it was stuck fast.  It looked as if it had completely stopped granulating and had just decided to stay how it was.  The vet has been using a technique called ‘surrounding the dragon’ which involves prodding all the way round the edge of the wound with the acupuncture needles, to deliberately create a bit of injury and stimulate the body to carry on healing.  The needles are extremely fine so it doesn’t cause her discomfort.  It’s more of an occupational hazard for the vet to have her hands that closely proximate to Delilah’s teeth!!  Anyway, after about 3 or 4 sessions the scab plopped off on Christmas Eve.  Underneath it the bone was exposed with skin slowly growing in over it.   There was also evidence of new bone growth, suggesting that there had been a hole under there at some point.  Even now there is still some bone exposed so we are carrying on with the acupuncture to try and stimulate it to close right over.

I have also bonded Delilah with her son Pablo.  They are getting on really well and spend all their time together.  Delilah hasn’t been spayed yet as I really want to give her body a long time to recover before elective surgery and ideally for her nose to be healed over too.  I’ll also admit to a small amount of procrastination based on a fear that after everything she’s been through it won’t go smoothly – even though I’ve got a very experienced vet and have never had any problems with bunny neuters.  Maybe around March, when the weather warms up a bit?

Other than that, life ticks on.  RHD2 continues to be reported and Filavac is now widely available in the UK.  There are still of course some ‘cold spots’ where few vets have it, but for all but the most remote parts of the UK, I’d have thought that most owners should be able to find a vet stocking it within about half an hour’s drive.  It still disappoints me how some vets aren’t taking it seriously but I think good progress has been made overall. Based on import certificate data from the Vet Medicines Directorate, probably around half of UK small animal vets now have an import certificate.

You may also have read about the emergence of a UK licenced vaccine called eravac.  Now I’m not a vet so I can’t advise you on all the details and you need to be led by your vet, but my understanding is that the Eravac data sheet says it is for meat rabbits only. The reason for this is that it doesn’t have a duration of immunity established – i.e. we don’t know how long protection lasts for and hence when your rabbits need to have a booster.  For meat rabbits sadly this doesn’t matter, as they will only have one vaccine and will then be killed for meat. Also, when you read the underlying data, there is this little sentence which says that it is to ‘reduce’ mortality from RHD2.  The data tests didn’t show complete protection in one of their clinical trials, so they aren’t able to claim 100% effectiveness.  The existing filavac data sheets however do show that 100% of rabbits who had filavac survived a challenge with RHD2, hence their product says it is to ‘prevent’ mortality.  The other thing with eravac is that it is mineral oil based, which is well known to risk nasty lesions at the injection site and your vet could even lose a finger if they accidentally self-inject. Oh and it only comes in vials of 10 or 40 (presumably because it’s designed for mass-vaccination of groups of meat rabbits) so far less convenient for your vet.  So if it’s a choice of eravac or nothing, I’d much prefer to have eravac, but given the choice, I’d much rather have filavac.  Your vet should still be able to get it under the cascade even though there is now a licenced product, but they may need a new import certificate stating that they don’t believe the licenced product (eravac) is suitable for the purpose. The VMD have still been issuing certificates for filavac since eravac was licenced so it does seem as if this is still possible and acceptable, which is good.  Hopefully this year we will get a directly licenced product in the UK which ticks all the required boxes and provides complete protection.

Gosh, I ended up writing far more than I had intended…

Deja Vu

Deja vu, groundhog day; either way I’ve been here before.  Yes, another bun has come down with myxomatosis, sigh.   This time it’s Sprungli, a rabbit known affectionately as ‘the resident psychopath’.  She was born here in March 2015 – her mum arrived here one day, and when I got up the following morning, she’d had 4 babies – and has been here ever since.  For a while she was with her sister Lindt, but Sprungli started getting dominant with her so I split them up.  Lindt was bonded to another bunny and has since been rehomed, but Sprungli has remained waiting.  I had been thinking about trying to bond her with one of the boys who have just been castrated, and then this happened.

Last week, I noticed that she was wanting to be fed on the floor rather than on top of her little house where she usually jumps for food.  She seemed absolutely fine other than this so while I thought this was a little odd, I didn’t really register anything further about it.  It was only when I saw her swollen eyes yesterday morning that I suddenly put two and two together.  So, off to the vet we went.  As of yesterday afternoon, Sprungli has lumps and bumps around both her eyes, on her nose, one on her lip and one on her anus.  Other than that, she seems fairly lump free.  Even now, over a day later, her ears look clear and she doesn’t seem to have developed any further lumps.  In this respect, she’s way better than Delilah was at this stage.

The big difference though is in their temperaments.  Delilah is a very feisty bun, but it was just her way of articulating her displeasure.  She was actually a very relaxed rabbit who wasn’t bothered by car journeys.  Medicating her didn’t particularly stress her out, it just annoyed her.  Sprungli is a completely different kettle of fish.  She doesn’t cope at all well with change, she gets very stressed by vet visits and she doesn’t tolerate interventions well.  So even though her symptoms don’t look as bad at the moment, she won’t tolerate the nursing anywhere near as well as Delilah did.  This means I have to hope beyond hope that she continues to have a good appetite and hold her own, as she is mentally in a very different place to Delilah.  Maybe it’s their backgrounds – Sprungli has only ever lived here whereas Delilah came from a horrendous background before she arrived.  Or maybe it’s just inherent in who they are as individuals.  A bit of both, no doubt.   I’ve brought her indoors though – myxi rabbits are said to survive better if they are in the warmth, and though our house is anything but warm, it’s more consistent than outside and we are starting to move to that time of year.  Plus of course it’s easier to medicate and keep an eye on her if she’s in here, and it reduces the risk of her being a reservoir for the other rabbits if she’s further away from them.

So, the obvious next question is why has this happened here again?  Surely this can’t be right?  I do wonder whether they’ve been exposed to low level RHD2 for some time; has this potentially impacted on their immune system?  Sprungli had her nobivac booster in April and she seemed fit and healthy at the time – the RHD2 was diagnosed in one of my other groups in June…but was it lurking around in the environment earlier than that?

Today I bought 30m squared of enviromesh and I’ve spent the afternoon covering as much of the bunnies’ accommodation as possible.  It’s completely impossible to cover every nook and cranny, and much as I hate to think it, there’s always the possibility that rabbit fleas will find their way in from the local wild population (the area is fenced to stop the wilds getting too close, but even so), but the mesh should at least stop the vast majority of the pesky mosquitos.  Part of me feels that I shouldn’t have to shroud them all like this, because they’re all vaccinated and they should be safe, but on the other hand, there’s clearly something going on which means that they aren’t safe, so it’s better to do it for their sake.  Ho hum.  I will try and keep the blog up to date as we travel along with Sprungli, as it gives a helpful point of reference to see how things are going.  Until next time.

Kayak

Those of you who have been reading the blog for a while may recall that some weeks ago I mentioned a sea kayaking tour which I was very much looking forward to.  It got rescheduled due to high winds and we ended up going today instead.  So I had a day off from life and rabbits today and spent it on the sea instead.  We kayaked towards a seal colony and sat bobbing about in the water for a while watching them sunbathe and swim, before having some lunch and doing a beach clean and kayaking back.  About 6 hours on the go – my arms ache somewhat now, but I thoroughly enjoyed it and I’m sure I’ll sleep well tonight.

Now I’ve got your attention, I will use this blog as a shameless plug for a charity for which I volunteer.  This plug is entirely my own and is an explanation in my own words – I hope they don’t mind!  For the official information, visit their website… The charity is called British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) and it’s a network of trained volunteers who attend marine life in distress (usually) around our coastline (an occasional seal has been known to end up some way inland!)  In spite of the name, you don’t need to be a diver, you just need to be a willing volunteer.  There are regular one-day training courses in which you learn some basic biology of seals and cetaceans (porpoises, dolphins, whales etc) along with techniques of how to check them over, keep them comfortable, catch a seal pup, refloat a stranded porpoise and refloat a whale using a pontoon.  There are life sized inflatables which are used for the training and if you do a ‘wet’ course, they’re filled with water so the weight isn’t that far off either.  You might be surprised how much sea life needs assistance round our coasts, although the exact species and reasons will vary depending on where you are around the coastline…and there’s always something that ends up somewhere that it really shouldn’t, so you need to be ready for anything!  If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably passionate about animal welfare and about reducing/stopping suffering, and this is a great charity which works hard to do that for our marine life. There are even some volunteers trained in large whale disentanglement which is an incredibly dangerous but worthwhile activity to support our marine life.

The next training course with availability is in Lowestoft on the 25th September, followed by one in Upminster on 16th October.  New courses are added fairly regularly so please do check the website (for some reason the blog doesn’t like it if I try and put urls but it’s bdmlr. org. uk if that works, click the training link on the left)  If you’re a vet, there are also vet courses which aren’t published on the training page but which you can see on the ‘events’ page or by contacting Head Office for details.

It’s only 8pm but after a day of exercise and sea air, I feel ready for bed.  Normal service on rabbit related chat will resume soon 🙂

Neuters

Everyone home safe and sound 🙂  Both boys’ neuters went perfectly normally and they are now in the spare room recovering.  Pablo was out and about and munching on hay straight away, while Earl was a little more bewildered and took a bit longer to settle.  I’ve just given them their evening painkillers and gut stimulants and they’re now both munching on hay, producing poops and looking reasonably comfortable.

Delilah continues to do well and my vet Sam is pleased with her progress.  She’s putting the weight back on nicely and is now back up to over 2kg.  The ulcer on her eye seems to have healed over; it’s still visible but it looks like just a bit of scarring now.  Of slightly more concern is that she has a little entropion on the same side, where her eyelid crusted and fell off leaving a bumpy edge around her eye. Whether this will improve as it continues to heal we’re not sure, so we’re keeping an eye (pardon the pun) on it for now and will see how it goes.  The big scab across her nose is still stuck fast.  The dye that was put in her eye to look at that ulcer drained out of both her nostrils…wonder if this means that under that scab there’s a massive hole?  I hope she doesn’t have a big hole in the top of her nose when the scab finally decides to come off :-/  Bridges to cross when we get there, I think.  Delilah seems cheerful enough and is

Today was one of those days where friends really helped out a lot.  I’m sure you can imagine how much the RHD2 and myxomatosis has all cost, and now I’m embarking on a series of 7 neuters for mum and the six babies (in case you’ve come to the blog party late in the day, mum Delilah was a rescue bunny who we didn’t know was pregnant; she gave birth shortly after arriving here).  One of my friends who makes and sells healthy treats for rabbits (oaticakes for rabbits (rainbow rabbits treats)…shameless plug) held an auction for a box of delicious bunny things, and crazy, generous people bid ridiculous amounts of money for these – and then for a second one too.  As a result, when I went to pick up the boys this evening, I didn’t have to pay for their neuters as it was all covered by the auction and they had rung and paid my vet directly today.  Someone else had also sent me a little package of goodies including chocolates too, and I can assure you that these have already been put to good use this evening!  I can’t tell you how much difference it’s made knowing that two of the neuters are now safely done and that my bank balance remains the same – meaning that I can now start to book the next ones in.  Jeremy next – I’m a bit nervous about that as he did actually get ill; discussed it with my vet this evening and we’ve decided we’ll do some bloods first to check that everything looks normal before going ahead.  Another 6 weeks or so and then the girls can be done.

A good day, and feels as if we are making progress back to being normal.  It would be nice to get to a point where all the siblings are neutered so that I can start to mix ‘n’ match them back together…having them all in separate enclosures isn’t good for them and it takes forever to clean and feed everybun.  As they’ve been exposed to RHD2 I would prefer to bond them into pairs or groups for rehoming, rather than bond them with someone else’s rabbit.  I don’t think they’ll rehome very quickly given their history, and they’ll rehome even slower in pairs, but hey ho.  We’ll muddle on through somehow 🙂

Normality?

*waves* if you’re still reading, hello!  I’ve been a bit quiet of late – partly not been very well, partly been very busy, and partly not a lot to say!  Let’s reel it back onto RHD2 shall we; how novel!

Tomorrow, Pablo and Earl are the first two of the RHD2 litter going to the vets for their castrations.  They are nearly 5 months old now.  Normally they’d already be done by now, but with Delilah being unwell I had other things to prioritise, so they’ve had to wait.  I’m not normally the slightest bit anxious about taking bunnies in for their neuters; I trust my vets completely and I’ve had so many done without a problem that it’s completely routine to me.  But I admit to being a little anxious about these ones.  Even though these two didn’t get any signs of the RHD2, they must have been exposed to it as they were 6 weeks old living in their family group with mum and siblings when it hit.

So much time has passed now that I’m sure they’re fine.  Pablo is about 1.5kg and Earl is smaller at about 1.2k, but they are both robust and solid.  Pablo is way bigger than all the rest of the siblings; he’s also the only one with his mum’s black & white colouring (their mum is Delilah the one who you may have been reading about).  All the rest are agouti with a few white splodges and presumably take after their dad, who we think must have been an agouti nethie although we don’t know for sure as she was allegedly the only rabbit  at the property when she was rescued.   Assuming all goes to plan tomorrow, I will probably book Violet in next, she’s the next biggest at 1.3kg.  The other two girls are a bit smaller and of course there’s Jeremy, the little lad who got sick with RHD2 but recovered.  How long do I give it before I get him done?  I’ll worry about it another day.

I’ll report back in when I pick the boys up tomorrow evening, hopefully to say that they’re both fine.  It’s only been a couple of weeks since all the bunnies have been outdoors, so it’s going to be a bit weird to have some overnight guests again!  All set up and ready for them 🙂   When I go and pick them up tomorrow I’m also taking Delilah back for a quick check over, so I can also report back on how the vet thinks she’s doing.

See you all soon – and thanks for reading!

Sleeeeeeeeep

I’ve been feeling horribly unwell this week. I think a combination of body finally crashing after such a long period of intensive nursing, plus the hot and humid weather.  It’s currently 2.30am and I am wiiiiide awake, having mad coughing fits about every 30 seconds. I’m utterly exhausted and just want to get some rest, please?  Went to the doc this morning who gave me some steroids to add to the inhalers, but they really don’t seem to have made any difference; they usually kick in fairly quickly.  So I’m feeling massively fed up, grumpy and tired. I’m starting to appreciate why young children cry with frustration when they are really tired and want to go to sleep.

Delilah continues to do well, she’s now only on metacam and eye drops for the ulcer in one eye – other than that she’s off all meds and the nebuliser (I however have been using the nebuliser!)  She’s pretty cheerful and seems to be spending a lot of time flopped out or pottering around munching hay.  That big hard piece across her nose is still stuck fast, although it’s got a definite ‘edge’ around it so it is going to peel up and come off at some point.  The other nodules on her legs and torso are mostly gone now and she’s left with a load of scabs across her back.

What has cheered me up no end has been to hear from a couple of people who have adopted from me over the past year or so, with some new photos of how the bunnies are doing. They all look in great condition and very happy, which is wonderful 🙂  It makes the struggles at times like these worthwhile when you see what great lives these little ones go on to from sometimes very challenging starts.

I’m going to attempt sleeping again now…I’ve moved myself downstairs into the conservatory which is the coolest room, and have set up a sun lounger to sleep on, as I can prop the back up a bit, which should help. The down side is that it will also get light ridiculously early. Ho hum.

 

 

Outside

With fear and trepidation, I have moved Delilah outside. Sunday was a nice (if breezy) day and I thought she’d appreciate a bit of fresh air.  So I set up a hutch and run on the patio right by the house (covered in fly screens as she still has slightly sticky eyes and sore patches where nodules come off from time to time) to give her a little bit of time out.  It’s an area which is very sheltered and gets some sunshine in the morning  but is then in the shade for the afternoon and evening when it gets hottest.  She could also see daughter Violet from here, who I had to separate from her two sisters at the weekend because she’d started to pick on them. It never rains but it pours, doesn’t it?  Under normal circumstances, I’d have had the boys neutered by now and be thinking about getting the girls done, but everything has shifted back in time due to me having my hands full, so I’m running a bit behind schedule.

Delilah absolutely loved being outside and became a different bunny very quickly indeed.  She has been running around, jumping on things, munching hay, flopping out, peering at her daughter and generally showing her approval.  So I decided to leave her out.  I made sure she had nice cosy areas to retreat to and a solid roof to the run, and left her out there.  As I lay in bed that night and heard the rain battering down, I wondered whether I’d done the right thing, but a quick check revealed that she was nice and dry and seemingly perfectly happy.  I’ve stopped with the daily nebulising now…Friday I think was the last time I did it, and her breathing is doing extremely well. She is still doing an occasional dry sneeze but as previously, I think it’s just a bit of irritation/nodule hanging around inside the nasal passages.

The thing I’m having to be particularly careful of is her eyes.  I don’t want them to dry out and there’s perhaps more risk of that happening now she’s outside and while her eyelids heal.  So she’s getting some extra eye drops an hour or so after the antibiotic drops to help keep them nicely lubricated.  She absolutely hates having them.  I suffer with dry eyes myself and find it incredibly soothing and relieving to put the drops in, so I don’t really get what it is she doesn’t like about it.  The indignity of having her head tilted to the side I think. All is forgiven when she gets a syringe of metacam anyway.

Nodules are quite literally dropping off now.  I go out to see her and often find bits of furry scab lying on the floor.  So obviously I’m collecting them in a little bag like some kind of weird holiday souvenir.  One of my friends suggested I sell them on ebay…

For the first time in weeks (or months, if I include the RHD2 as well) I feel as if I can relax a bit and not worry too much about any of the rabbits. I’m convinced that she’s well on the way to recovery now and she should be ok.  I’m obviously still monitoring her closely for any change or for anything that suggests any organ damage, but so far so good.  She is certainly happy and enjoying some good quality of life again, so that’s the main thing.