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Rabbit problems...help

(13 Posts)
SophiePendragon Sat 11-Jul-15 22:01:47

I am in a bit of a panic tonight. We have three rabbits, two boys in a pair and a tiny girl who has been alone since her mum and sister were got by a fox about 2 years ago.
She is around 4yo and a very small breed. We had her since she was tiny. We also have two chickens.

I have tried to introduce the little rabbit to other rabbits, including these boys, but it didn't work and so she is still on her own. She is gentle but very nervous and grinds her teeth a lot.

I feel very sorry for her - she is lifted into her run in the garden and put back into her hutch at night. She has contact with the others only through the mesh. (They have a walk in run that her hutch is in - shared with our chickens since a few years ago without issues).

I have tried a local sanctuary to ask if they would try and pair her up with another rabbit, but no one round here offers that service. I hate the fact her life must be so unhappy.

And tonight when I was cuddling her, I noticed she also has some fleas - I didn't even know rabbits could get them and am really shocked and sad about it. I don't know where she can have got them from unless it was a neighbour's cat which comes in sometimes?

I've taken all her bedding out of the hutch, and plan to clean it thoroughly but I don't know what to use, I'm worried the others may have them too... what on earth do you put on rabbits?

I have read that frontline or fipronil is absolutely not Ok, though I am using that on the chickens for a newly discovered louse problem.

I feel like suddenly none of my pet management is working and I need to rethink the whole set up. None of them ever had fleas (or lice) in the years before we moved here and now it seems they are infested after a few months.

I will try and take her to the vet on Monday and get something (can you use a spot on of some sort? Advantage?) but I feel so ashamed of what has happened and most of all, I don't know how to make her happy. I feel like such an awful pet owner.

mrsspooky Sat 11-Jul-15 22:16:19

You actually sound like an excellent pet owner! The vets will sort out the flea/lice stuff on monday so dont worry. And since she has contact through the bars at least that is better than many rabbits that are completely alone. If she has been having that contact for a long time it may be possible for you to try bonding her with them again or to get a new rabbit from a rescue that you could bond her with better. Are they neutered? (Also are they vaccinated as Myxomatosis is spread by fleas).

I found what has worked for me twice now in bonding my rabbits was to create an external threat so that they came together (in fear....which sounds really harsh but worked very well in bonding them together which was what they needed in the long run). Most recently, and most easily, was doing this by putting them in a carrier together, carrying them with quite a lot of noise and driving them to the vets for their vaccinations. This had to be done but they found it really scary and snuggled together for support and were friends ever since. They had been living next to each other like yours are for a good while first of course. So could be worth a try if you havent already - could you take them all in on monday for a check over all in one box? I would also ask the vet/nurse for advice.
I think the difference for you may be the relationship dynamic though with 3 so may be easier to rescue a new male to bond her with?

fiverabbits Sun 12-Jul-15 16:38:33

I had a rabbit called Zane with fleas, the only thing we came up with was we had builders in at the time and one of them who had a cat put his jumper on the sand pile and Zane was the only rabbit who went on the sand as she loved to dig. Any visiting cats ?

I have 6 rabbits they all live in the same housing in different cages/ one is loose but during the day they go out into the garden in runs or loose.
Wispa (BOY) and Rosie are always together. Star (BOY) and Dolly are together but Biscuit (BOY) is on his own because he doesn't like any of the others, the same as Summer (BOY) but they do look for each other and Summer if he is loose will not go to bed until he has checked that all the others are away. They all have a lot of adult attention as there are 4 of us here. I have had 24 rabbits in 32 years, some single some pairs, 4's 5's and now 6 but I think the human attention is most important as well as rabbit company. Do you give the little girl a lot of attention ?

yearofthegoat Sun 12-Jul-15 16:52:21

I got my two to bond by taking them in the car too. I took them out and about in a carrier for quite a few journeys. I also put both on my chest and stroked them, swapping my hands over some of the times so that they would smell of each other. It took about two weeks and then they were inseparable.

eventay Sun 12-Jul-15 16:55:14

Can you not get another girl rabbit for her to be with? rabbits are very much group animals and need company of their own of some sorts.

SunshineAndShadows Sun 12-Jul-15 17:04:07

Hi OP rabbits can get common cat fleas - there's not much you can do about this so don't beat yourself up. Advantage is licensed for rabbits and will sort it our - you'll probably need to treat all of them.

Its great that your bunny has regular access to grass/hay and contact with the other rabbits through the fence. Is she spayed? This can help with territorial behaviour and also stops uterine cancer - the biggest killer of female rabbits.

Its a great idea to look for a companion for her. Strange that non of your local shelters have females for rehoming - why not ask at the vets - they'll often know clients who rescue rabbits informally that might be able to help. The RWAF also have a 'find a rabit' page and lots of useful advice www.rabbitwelfare.co.uk/resources/index.php?section=find_rabbit.html

The RWAF also has advice on introducing bunnies (scroll down the link) www.rabbitwelfare.co.uk/resources/index.php?section=leaflets.html

SophiePendragon Sun 12-Jul-15 18:21:18

Thank you all so much for your responses and advice. It's made me feel a bit better about it despite some awful dreams last night about pet inspectors arriving and me having about 9 cats hidden upstairs in cages, that I didn't have time to look after! (not a good dream)

I have ordered some advantage. The chickens are already done with frontline and I have ordered some spray for the ark as well and will give that a good going over.

I had not thought about the idea of putting them together in one carrier but I'm not sure we have anything big enough. The boys are huge so they can't even share one by themselves. I could try putting them in the car in a massive cardboard box but I am a bit worried that fur will fly.

It has to be worth a try. I wish I could say I give her a lot of attention but I don't. I am run off my feet and the toddler gets very jealous of anything else on my lap too. I keep wanting to bring her into the house but it is a building site and we have a lot of stuff and she would be in danger.

I was always told that you shouldn't try and put a new female with an existing female - that they would fight? She is neutered yes, so are the boys. Good point about vaccinations, none of them are up to date as we're not near any wild rabbits.

I suspect they are cat fleas - we had a neighbour's cat in the garden the other day sitting in the open run with them like she owned it smile also not having our own cat (who we used to treat regularly for fleas) the other cats round here seem to treat it as a free for all and crap in the flower beds all the time. So there are plenty of cats about.

Luckily she hasn't been scratching her fur off or anything.

The local shelters - one wanted to do a home visit (we were in the middle of moving at the time) and had complicated system of payment, referencing, etc etc - the other wasn't able to offer any sort of bonding service (not that I'd expect them to) and I didn't want to take on another rabbit that she might not get on with. The two boys were basically for that purpose and we still have them a couple of years later, and she is still on her own.

I am going to try and get them bonded somehow. I think it will improve her life massively.

I think she would be happier with someone else really but I don't think it's likely I'll find anyone who wants to take her on.

mrsspooky Sun 12-Jul-15 22:10:24

id get them vaccinated tomorrow when you take her in to the vets as the fleas can bring the myxo which is usually fatal. If you can fit them in a big box together thats worth a try, and being quite noisy and scary while doing it should concentrate their attention away from fighting each other. Two of mine were huge fighters and drawing blood which is why i took the extreme step of the scary bonding approach! But in a scary carrier together they were fine, just for a short scary trip-not for an extended time of course.

Bonding is no easy task with a toddler is it! - Im lucky that mine has spent so much time going to the vet he loves it there and is always trying to encourage my rabbits into their carrier (never going to happen!).

RWAF are brilliant and loads of advice there. I think it may be that its a neutered male and neutered female that make the best pair? So may be worth trying again at the rescue, a home visit is very simple Im sure you will pass easily with the set up you have! And most will happily agree to take the new one back if they dont bond. Im not sure on bonding 3 together that may be harder but RWAF will advise Im sure.

Myname15 Tue 14-Jul-15 17:52:03

Have you considered a guinea pig? If she's very small she might find the boys a little intimidating, and rabbits and guinea pigs generally get on well. This is a really common problem, unfortunately, and it can be very difficult introducing adults, but at least she's had visual contact with the boys and it really sounds like you're doing your best!
There are often lots of guinea pigs in rescue places,as they, like rabbits, do get abandoned and forgotten about. It breaks my heart to see how many of both species are on their own in a tiny hutch, dumped at the end of the garden. Guinea pigs tend to be very gentle so it may be worth thinking about. Obviously as you have discovered, rabbits aren't actually 'easy' pets at all and require lots of time. Please stop beating yourself up. You're really in touch with their needs and sound really responsible. Plus fleas can be rife this time of year, its just one of those things. If you're finding it hard to cope, seek help, but otherwise stop worrying and continue to look after them as you do!

SunshineAndShadows Tue 14-Jul-15 18:17:41

Please don't get a guinea pig, it is no longer recommended. The two species are quite dissimilar. Guinea pigs can be bullied by rabbits and they can pass life threatening infections to each other

From RWAF The RWAF does not recommend keeping rabbits and guinea pigs together. Although we are aware of some cases where this arrangement works very well, we know of many more when keeping these very dissimilar species together is detrimental to one or both animals.

Myname15 Tue 14-Jul-15 19:40:51

OK, wow didn't know that sunshineandshadows. Although was aware rabbits tend to be more dominant. Its really hard if she's been alone so long �� but just keep trying to get a mate and introduce in a neutral territory x

fiverabbits Wed 15-Jul-15 21:59:33

SOPHIEPENDRAGON

I'm the one with 6 rabbits. What we do to give our rabbits more attention is when they are in the runs we give them some carrot/cabbage during the day, could you take your toddler with you and do this, it will give them both some attention. We bring the rabbits indoors one at a time and apart from Summer we have trained them to sit on a small table with a cloth on it so they don't slip, perhaps your toddler won't feel so put out by this and if your house is a building site your rabbits won't come to harm. It is a good way to get them used to being handled and to check their claws, bums, eyes etc. Summer likes to sit on the arm of a chair and watch the TV whilst he eats something but then he is very spoilt. One of our rabbits had two friends and three wives all at separate times but he was very laid back.

MissMartin10 Sat 18-Jul-15 10:25:09

i have 6 rabbits from time to time they fall out after getting a bit nippy with eachother so i seperate them.. to bond them i usually just let the 2 with the probem go in the garden together to spend time.. they can be a little stand- offish or even still nippy but i just stand out with them to keep an eye on them and after a few visits together they usually resolve it between them.

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