Category Archives: Health

When Your Rabbit Won’t Use a Nestbox

We stuffed the rabbit cages full of hay (like this) and let the mama build a nest.

We stuffed the rabbit cages full of hay (like this) and let the mama build a nest.

We’ve been busy this week at Mad Hatter Rabbits! Lots of new babies to first-time mamas.


Though we’ve had some great success stories, it hasn’t been without its stress. In particular I had two first-time mamas who were absolutely determined to build their nests outside of the nest box.


I sanitized the boxes in case they smelled like another rabbit and turned my mamas off, lined them with fresh hay, had a serious sit down talk with the rabbits and explained that in this weather, with temperatures dipping down into the teens at night, having babies outside the box simply won’t do. They’ll freeze!


My mamas didn’t care. They did not want to build their nest in the box.


Short of setting up a 24 hour watch outside their cage I wasn’t sure what to do about it. I consulted my Facebook group experts and decided to stuff the entire cages full of hay. This resulted in a big ‘ol mess but also a layer about 4 inches thick that the were able to us as burrows.


In my financial mind, an entire 3 string bale of hay is less than the price of one of those baby rabbits if we sold it. The mess is not fun to clean up in any way, but at least I’d have a little window of opportunity to catch the babies before they froze.


Mama rabbits were pleased as punch at the addition in their cages! They built their nests and I began my 45-minute interval check ups. (Switched to 20-minutes once I saw the mamas pulling hair.)


The first babies were born after midnight. The last doe delivered at 2 a.m.


Of course.


I do love my coffee for a reason!


Once they were born I plucked those little ones up and tucked them with their mama’s fur up into their nestboxes and brought them inside.


(Bringing the nestboxes inside is a controversial move. Some breeders say the shock between inside temperature and outside temperature is not safe for the babies. We’ve left babies outside and we’ve brought them back and forth. Can’t say which method we prefer yet.)


The next morning I took the nestboxes out to their mamas for feeding. The ones who had their babies in the nestboxes to begin with hopped right inside and fed those babies. The mamas who were determined to have their babies outside the nestbox… stayed outside.


Hungry babies.


Repeat at dusk.


I was beginning to get worried and wondered if I needed to foster the kits from the litters with mamas who wouldn’t feed. Since mama rabbits only feed once or twice a day and it can take as long as a day for their milk to come in, I knew we had sometime to play with… but not too much time. By 36 hours post-birth those babies needed a meal or a foster mom.


This morning I took the nestboxes outside again. And the same situation unfolded. Suddenly, a lightbulb went off…


If Mohammed won’t come to the mountain, the mountain must go to Mohammed.


I scooped those  babies out of the nestbox and put them in the holes their mamas delivered them in, in the hay outside the nestbox.


Mama rabbits immediately headed over to the babies and nursed and cleaned them! One of the does even covered them up and pulled more hair. After the mamas finished, scooped the babies up, put them in the nestboxes which are now acting as an RV, and carried them inside.


I feel quite brilliant right now. It only took me two days to figure it out!

Can You Feel The Love Tonight?

ilco / stock.xchng

ilco / stock.xchng

As silly as it may seem, sometimes rabbits don’t… breed like rabbits.

I often hear complaints about a doe that won’t lift or is otherwise reluctant to breed. This is not necessarily uncommon and can be a factor of age, weather, or general temperament. Most often a buck is more than willing to oblige but occasionally you run into troubles with your mister refusing to be a “kisser.”

There are some fairly standard recommendations for getting your rabbits “in the mood”:

  • Add Apple Cider Vinegar to their water or wheat germ to their feed;
  • Make sure they have at least 16 hours of daylight each day;
  • Put the doe and the buck in one another’s cages for 24 hours;
  • Table breeding;
  • Breeding by moon calendar.

But just this month we came across a totally new (to us) method – breeding by moonlight.

Since rabbits are fairly nocturnal it’s not a surprise that they are more active at night. In warm weather we sometimes sleep with our windows open and the noise the rabbits make playing with their toys and thumping around can be quite noticeable. (They’re no match for an antsy barking dog or a cat in heat, but for a rabbit they’re loud!)

Rabbits are lively at night!

Just this month we got home late and remembered that we needed to breed a few rabbits in order to plan their due dates around some travel plans next month. So, even though it was fully dark, we decided to head out to the rabbitry and see if we could get some dirty business started.


Oh. My. Goodness.

What a shock! Those girls were so ready it was as though their backsides were attached to rockets! We had such immediate success by moonlight fraternization we even attempted to breed a few of our most reluctant ladies — and they were quite happy to oblige!


This was such a blatant change of pace that it’s another trick we’ll be adding to the options for what to do when your doe isn’t interested. After all, everybody loves a little late night romance, right?!


*We will continue to use the moon calendar for our breeding programs. Here’s the link to a 2014 moon breeding calendar!*

Bunny Vac: 8 Month Follow Up Report


Wallace and Grommet aren’t the only people who get a little nervous about what that bunny might be up to in the cage…

Eight months ago we decided to vaccinate our rabbits against pastuerella using the Pan American Veterniary Lab product BunnyVac. This was a controversial move for a few reasons:

  1. Snuffles is the Boogie Man of the rabbit world and people don’t like to talk about it for fear of getting a “bad” reputation so there’s not a lot of information about it;
  2. We hadn’t seen any cases of snuffles in our own herd to prompt the decision;
  3. Our goal is to have an organic meat source and vaccinations are, ahem, not organic.

On the “pro” side for vaccination:

  1. Pastuerella is highly contagious and can wipe out every rabbit in your herd quickly if it is contracted;
  2. We enjoy traveling to shows and every time you go to a show you expose your rabbit(s) to germs and stress;
  3. The cost is about $1 per rabbit per year, certainly not something that we would have to bust our piggy bank open to afford;
  4. There’s something to be said for peace of mind and doing your best to protect your livestock.

After a lot of consideration of the options and possible outcomes, we decided to go ahead and vaccinate. It’s been long enough now that it seems safe to give you an report of what we’ve observed since then:

We vaccinated all of our adult rabbits and show rabbits. We do not typically vaccinate a young junior rabbit unless it will leave our rabbitry and go to a show. We have not seen any signs of snot in our own rabbitry at all. Zero. (We hadn’t seen it prior to vaccination, either.) One rabbit sneezed a few times in the day after we vaccinated which is a stated possible side effect. Since then, any sneezes have had normal causes – things like water or feed fines up their noses or in response to crazy winds (we get wind gusts up to 40 mph fairly regularly around here).

We sent some rabbits to the county fair that had not been vaccinated. From the fair they were purchased and headed to a new home several hours away with an indoor rabbitry set up. Two of those rabbits started snotting within 48 hours. The new owner dispatched them immediately, suspecting Pasteurella. The new owner did not send off for a culture of the snot to determine exactly what was going on with the rabbits, but we both suspect they were exposed to snuffles at the fair from other rabbits, were stressed from being in a hot barn with hundreds of people walking by each day, followed by a journey to an entirely new environment (that had a Haboob dust storm that same day, of all the luck!). Getting snot cultured is quite a chore – this link tells how one person in California is able to culture any possible sickness in their rabbitry: HOW CAN YOU TELL? We did not see any signs of snot from other rabbits that were at the fair – but those rabbits had been vaccinated.

If we had not vaccinated, would all of our fair rabbits exhibited symptoms? We just can’t say. But I do find it compelling that the rabbits were side by side and the unvaccinated fell sick and the vaccinated did not.*

Many of our rabbits developed a small, hard lump at the injection site. That lump has disappeared over time and is the only physical change we have seen in our rabbits. (No personality changes, either!)

We continue to watch carefully. Very carefully! We have been at shows were rabbits are disqualified for exhibiting snot on the show table; I am absolutely certain our rabbits have been exposed to this disease. However, we haven’t contracted it to the best of our knowledge  as all our rabbits are happy, healthy and wise! For about $1 per rabbit per year we think it’s a great insurance policy.

The previous posts I’ve written on this continue to be very popular in the website statistics, so I know there are people trying to find out about BunnyVac and whether it works. In light of providing information, for your convenience here is a compiled list of Questions from around the web, mostly from the Rabbit Pasteurella Vaccine Forum on Facebook.

I did not author these answers, cannot personally vouch for them and cannot be held liable for any action/inaction you take based on the responses. This is simply a list of questions and answers I have seen in discussions, cut and pasted into one location to make your search for knowledge a bit easier. The majority of the answers are direct cuts from Facebook responses to the questions from PanAm Lab’s Bob Glass (who developed the BunnyVac vaccine).

I don’t personally know Bob Glass or have any stake in Pan American Veterinarian Lab. I am not encouraging you to use the BunnyVac in your own herd, but am hopeful that this post provides some information for you to make the best informed decision that fits your management style. I receive no compensation in any way for this post.


Should I give the shot in the muscle or under the skin? Under the skin

What size needle/syringe should be used with BunnyVac?  To each to his own, but try a 25 gauge, 3cc syringe. Some use as large as 20 gauge and some as small as 35 gauge. Size doesn’t matter for the vaccine, the rabbits prefer a smaller needle.

Is there any time of year that is better than others to vaccinate, or does it not really matter? The best time is “AS SOON AS POSSIBLE”; season does not matter.

If a vaccinated rabbit gets exposed, what happens? Nothing? Nothing will happen in the vaccinated rabbit that responds to the vaccine by producing good antibody levels. In our clinical trial we had no vaccinated rabbits that developed clinical disease but it would be wrong to claim it will “never” happen.

Can I have a complete ingredients list please? Killed Pasteurella multocida, saline, and formalin (preservative), aluminum hydroxide adjuvant.

Is it okay to use the same needle over and over while vaccinating the rabbits? No. The ideal is to use a new sterile syringe and needle for each rabbit. this gives the best protection against causing and/or infection. A reused needle/syringe or one used on multiple rabbits is possibly infected and can infect each rabbit on which it is used.

Is a vaccinated rabbit still safe for human consumption? Yes, rabbits vaccinated with BunnyVac are safe to eat after a 21 day withdrawal period.

What is the youngest a rabbit can be vaccinated with BunnyVac? 6 weeks is the youngest. Earlier than that the immune system is not fully functional.

Can you give this vaccine at the same time as you are giving an antibiotic? No problem giving the vaccine with antibiotics.

If you did the first shot, and missed the date for the booster, should you redo both shots? You do not need to repeat the initial dose, just give the booster now.

In the multi dose vials – do all doses need to be used in one round, if a sterile syringe is introduced each time; or can I use 10 doses, and then use the other 10 for my booster in 30 days? While it is ideal to use all when the vial is first opened, the vaccine will be ok as long as it is not contaminated. Using an alcohol wipe to clean the vial top before and after withdrawing vaccine will help to maintain sterility.

How soon after vaccination can I breed my doe? Immediately, no need to wait.

Is it safe to vaccinate a pregnant doe? We have not seen any problems in pregnant does but, to be safe, don’t vaccinate anything that is more than 14 days after breeding.

Is it safe to give a nursing doe a booster? The booster will not hurt nursing does.

My experience reading Facebook rabbit forums has found Bob Glass to be extremely approachable and willing to answer questions and educate others about the disease, vaccine, and treatment. He recently posted (January 2014) that he is working on a test to detect Pasteurella in the nasal exudate (snot) of rabbits and needs samples of snot. He asked that anyone who would like to participate in this project by collecting and sending samples form multiple rabbits email him at

Two more items to share, the BunnyVac Information and BunnyVac Clinical Trial Summary. These links will take you through to the documents. I hope it is helpful to have all of these pieces of information in one place!

* After re-reading this post I felt like it might come across as negative to the county fair. The jury is still out on how heavily we’ll participate in future years. We quarantined every rabbit that came home from the fair and didn’t see problems. This included our unvaccinated junior Silver Fox as well (the one that were dispatched were Cinnamons.) So I can’t promise the problem was the fair, although a logical mind says if the rabbits are out of their natural environment for an extended period of time, very hot, and exposed to masses of people and other animals… that’s when IF you’re going to have a problem you DO. Our fair did a vet check on every rabbit that came in and declared all healthy prior to putting them in cages as a precaution, so I may be wrong. I just don’t know. Hence, the jury is still out.

Using Apple Cider Vinegar with Rabbits

Apple Cider Vinegar has many health benefits for rabbits.

Apple Cider Vinegar has many health benefits for rabbits.

One of the quirky things we do around here for our rabbits is give them a bit of Apple Cider Vinegar (with the Mother) in their water every day.

Early on in raising rabbits we read that this additive is healthy for rabbits and incorporated it into our daily routine but today I decided to research exactly how and why it might be useful to rabbits!

We typically use Bragg’s Organic Apple Cider Vinegar (with the Mother) for our rabbits because A) that’s what’s stocked in our local stores and B) we like that it’s organic. We add about 1 Tablespoon per 1 Gallon of water and give it daily. The Bragg’s website says that research worldwide supports and commends what Hippocrates (the father of medicine) found and treated his patients with in 400 B.C: He discovered that natural, undistilled Apple Cider Vinegar (or ACV) is a powerful cleansing and healing elixir, “a naturally occurring antibiotic and antiseptic that fights germs and bacteria” for a healthier life.

The use of ACV has a long history. It has been traced to Egyptian urns as far back as 3000 B.C. The Babylonians used it as a condiment and preservative, while Julius Caesar’s army used ACV tonic to stay healthy and fight off disease. The Greeks and Romans kept vinegar vessels for healing and flavoring. It was used in Biblical times as an antiseptic and a healing agent and is mentioned in the Bible. In Paris during the Middle Ages, it was sold from barrels by street vendors as a body deodorant, healing tonic and a health vinegar drink. Christopher Columbus and his crew on his voyage to discover America in 1492 had their vinegar barrels for prevention of scurvy as did the soldiers in the American Civil War. For centuries in Japan, the feared Samurai warriors drank it for strength and power. ACV has been used for thousands of years not only for health reasons, but also as a cleansing agent to remove bacteria, germs, odors, and even stains and spots.

All of that is lovely to know and might help you out in a game of Jeopardy! someday, but what is Apple Cider Vinegar and who the heck is it’s “Mother”?!

ACV is an undistilled vinegar containing a potent combination of vitamins and minerals- including potassium, copper and iron, as well as magnesium and phosphorous. Potassium is key for growth, building muscles, transmission of nerve impulses, heart activity etc. ACV  contains natural organic fluorine, silicon, trace minerals and pectin. It is rich in malic acid which gives ACV its anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. ACV may help improve bowel irregularity and help to remove toxins from the body at a faster rate. Additionally, a few lab studies have found that ACV may be able to kill cancer cells or slow their growth (in humans).

Ultimately, there is nothing harmful in ACV so it can not hurt your rabbit – I like to think of it as a daily, natural multi-vitamin for our furry friends!

If you decide to use ACV, take care in your selection. It’s important you don’t simply get plain ‘ol Apple Cider Vinegar. Go for broke and get ACV with The Mother

No, this isn’t a Jewish-inspired guilt trip. You aren’t paying homage to the one who birthed you with your vinegar purchase.

Apple Cider Vinegar that includes “The Mother” contains raw enzymes and gut-friendly bacteria that promote healing. Vinegars containing “the Mother” will not be as clean in appearance as other vinegar options, but don’t be scared about this; natural ACV should be rich, brownish color and if held to the light you could see tiny “cobweb-like” substances. That is the “mother.” Usually  “mother” will show in the bottom of the ACV bottle the more it ages.  Seeing it is a good thing! Another tidbit of note is that ACV never needs refrigeration and should therefore never spoil on you.

Apple cider vinegar has many benefits for the domestic rabbit. Here are a few we’ve observed personally and also read about from other people’s experiences:

  • ACV helps reduce the ammonia smell of rabbit urine.
  • Prevents urinary tract problems like bladder sludge (from excess calcium), reducing infections because the organisms can not live in acidic urine.
  • Keeps the body pH regulated, clearing up any skin infections or weepy eyes.
  • Increases the nutrient absorption capabilities of the G.I. tract as well as helping the whole digestive process.
  • Boosts fertility rates and may result in more female kits in a litter.
  • Makes the does more willing to breed.
  • Makes rabbits unattractive to fleas and mites by making the rabbit”smell” off, making it a great repellent.
  • Extensive historical use and veterinary studies indicate that apple cider vinegar added to feed or water can cure a mastitis infection and reduce the transmission rates of the bacteria.
  • One part vinegar and one part water can be sprayed on [any pet’s] fur and rubbed in generously to the skin. Saturate the entire coat, and continue every day for a few days to a week; any flea infestation will disappear.
  • Can  be used as a cleaner for cages and crocks as well as keeping the green algae from growing in water bottles in the summer.
  • Known for keeping  fur softer and shinier.
  • If  bringing your rabbit to a show or transporting them, ACV water will taste the same as the water from home no matter what tap you use.
  • Rabbits like the taste of ACV and drink more water, resulting in better hydrated rabbits.
  • It’s safe to give to pregnant does, great for rabbits at any life stage.
  • Adding ACV to water changes the pH level of the water, lowering the freezing point of water (a handy benefit when you live in the mountains at 8,000 ft. elevation!).

Are you convinced yet? Give it a try! A tablespoon of Apple Cider Vinegar (with the Mother) per gallon is a good starting point. Some people use as much as two Tablespoons per gallon over time. At this point we really don’t measure anymore, just splash it into our gallon jugs, add water, and head out to refill crocks! We add it to the water on a daily basis; some people go on a three-month on/three-months off rotation.

Truthfully, apple cider vinegar is one of those things that some people discount and some people swear by. I was not able to locate any scientific studies regarding ACV and rabbits, but there is a lot of testimonial evidence that it has useful health benefits. At the very least, it will not harm a rabbit, which might make it worth the experiment for you.

Are you using ACV with your rabbits? I’d love to hear about your experience!

These were a few websites I found helpful while researching this topic:

Apple Cider Vinegar for Rabbits (Rise and Shine Rabbitry)

Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar (with the Mother)

8 Amazing Uses for Apple Cider Vinegar

How Do Rabbits Mate?

It’s going to be a little talk on the birds and the bees right now. Hopefully it won’t get too X-rated for you.

In order to get this:

It's a baby bunny.

It’s a baby bunny.

You really need to have this:

Bunnies mating. Artistically.

Bunnies mating. Artistically.

But before you get that, you should make sure you have one each of this:


Once that’s all taken care of you might find something like this going on:

And, if you’re really, really lucky you might get a chance to giggle at live version of this:

All clear?


(Thanks to Google, Dad Can’t Count Rabbitry, Sky Island Livestock, and Jason and Crystal Mabb for the visuals for this post!)


(May all your breedings be productive!)

What a Crock!

626 / stock.xchng

626 / stock.xchng

Well, it’s happened.


Our water bottles froze solid in our mountaintop town last night, so it’s time to replace them with crocks for the winter.


Making sure your rabbit has access to water all the time is highly important for the health and security of the rabbit. We have moved all of our rabbits to large water bottles over the summer for the ease of refilling and the pure volume they offer. But when the temperature dip as they can here in the mountains, those water bottles just don’t cut it anymore.


We switch to crocks of water we refill at least two times a day. Last year I found a fantastic price on ceramic bread dishes as Michael’s craft store and stocked up. Our rabbits celebrate Christmas all winter long! This year we are using those crocks as well as EZ lock plastic dishes that attach to the walls of the cages.


We still have to watch the water dishes to make sure the rabbits have their water, but its our solution until we install a heated automatic water system… which is on the list of things to do but not too high!


Now it’s time to wash all those water bottles and get them in spic-n-span condition for the spring when we can use them again!

Get the Blues

A few drops of blue food coloring per gallon of water has inhibited algae growth in our water bottles.

A few drops of blue food coloring per gallon of water has inhibited algae growth in our water bottles.

Until we have an automatic watering system we will be best friends with our flip-lid water bottles. I love these bottles and especially the flip top lids – it takes so much less time than unscrewing the nozzle of each bottle to fill with water!

One thing I DO NOT love about water bottles is that they can get “ew!”-stuff inside of them – algae, moths, dirt, etc.

Earlier this year I complained about this at the feed store and one of the workers suggested putting blue food coloring in the water. She told me the blue coloring would inhibit the growth of mossy-type things in the water bottles.

We tried putting 1-2 drops of blue food coloring per gallon of water for months and didn’t think much of it, it was under the category of “can’t hurt, might as well try.” We saw only minimal algae growth over the following months. When we ran out of blue food coloring we tried green for about a week – but that actually seemed to encourage growth in the bottles!

When it was all said and done, space was at a premium I was being cheap. I didn’t want to buy all the other colors of food coloring from the box of four colors I could buy at the grocery and only use the blue, so we finally just gave up on it and for several weeks we haven’t put anything but our normal Apple Cider Vinegar in the water.

Granted, it’s summer time and our bottles spend a few hours a day in direct sunlight, but the algae growth has been impressive! I could scrub those bottles every other day and they’d still not be clean. (If only I could figure a way to market algae – we have been able to produce it!)

Last week after examining the cuts on my hands from scrubbing the bottles – yet again – I broke down and ordered blue food coloring off of Amazon. It arrived yesterday and I’ve been happily dripping the coloring in the water again. I have no scientific proof that this works, but from our real-life assessment, a few drops of blue could be what you need to fight the algae growth in your water bottles, too!

Gardening and Composting with Bunny Berries

Bunny Berries are excellent for reuse in gardens.

Bunny Berries are excellent for repurposing in gardens.

There’s  no poop that works as well for the garden as rabbit poop. It has all the uber-benefits of horse and steer manure but with a distinct advantage: because it’s considered a “cold” manure, you don’t have to let rabbit poop age or compost before you use it. Other manures that come from chickens, sheep, horse, cows, and pigs or “hot” manures, need to be composted for months before you can safely use them or you’ll burn your plants to death. Not so with rabbit poop.

Rabbit manure is packed with nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and many minerals, lots of micro-nutrients, plus many other beneficial trace elements such as calcium, magnesium, boron, zinc, manganese, sulfur, copper, and cobalt just to name a few.


Rabbit 2.4 -1.4 -.60

Chicken 1.1-.80-.50

Sheep .70-.30-.60

Horse .70-.30-.60

Steer .70-.30-.40

Dairy Cow .25-.15-.25

As you can see the nutrient values of farm manures and how they measure up and rabbit manure really shines! Rabbit manure also doesn’t smell as strong as other manures making it easy to use.

Grab a handful and spread it all over the garden or fold it into the soil. It’s like time release capsules, as the pellets don’t completely break down right away. It’s slow-release thing.

As they break down, they build your soil’s structure, improve the porosity, add stability, and hold nutrients for plants as well as other organisms in the soil.

Another great way to take advantage of rabbit pellets and all their growing goodness is to make “bunny brew” or rabbit compost tea. Find a five gallon bucket, and a large scoop of rabbit pellets and drop them into the bucket. Give it a good stir every now and again for a day or two.

Let the manure settle and use the tea at the top of the bucket to water your plants. You can dump the remaining manure at the bottom of the bucket onto your compost pile (no waste here). Of course, the proper English way would be to use a big piece of muslin or burlap and make a big tea bag and let it dangle into the bucket!

If I gave you an earful on the virtues of rabbit poop in the garden, then you have to know that this goes double for the compost pile. With even a small pail of rabbit poop every once in a while, you’ll be in nitrogen heaven as far as composting goes. Bunny gold is nitrogen on steroids; it really gets a pile going.

Thanks to The Vegetable Gardener and Rise and Shine Rabbitry for this insight!

Keeping Rabbits Cool When It’s Hot Outside

saflora / stock.xchng

saflora / stock.xchng

Remember the Nelly song in the 90s? “It’s getting hot in here so I’m gonna take my clothes off!”

Well, sorry, Nelly, rabbits can’t take their clothes off. They’re stuck wearing a fur coat while temperatures soar.

I’ve been believing, hoping, that we would escape the worst of the heat since we’re living at about 8,000 ft. in elevation. Just this weekend we did a backyard campout and all of us ended up in a huddle in the wee hours of the morning because it got so chilly!

However, today’s temperatures moved into the high 90s and we lost the runt of our Silver Marten litter to heat stroke. I’m a believer in natural selection but I’m mad about the loss and we’re going to do our best to make sure we don’t lose this battle against summer time heat!

We’ll be trying a few different ideas to cool our rabbits down. This afternoon we filled Ziploc baggies with ice and distributed a bag to each rabbit. Tomorrow I have prepared bananas, cut in half and frozen solid. All of my friends are scrounging around for glass jars and bottles I’ll fill with water and freeze over night – I’m hoping by two days from now we’ll have enough to cycle them in and out of the freezer.

Though we have the ventilation of our rabbitry working in our favor – open air hutches are good for catching the breeze – we do still have to take precautions against heat stroke for our rabbits. The ideal temperature in a rabbit’s mind is in the low 50s – so anytime temperatures soar over 85° it makes sense to incorporate some cooling techniques into your animal husbandry tool bag.

Rabbits don’t have the ability to sweat, so their entire cooling system is coordinated by their ears. A cold rabbit will keep their ears close to their neck, a hot rabbit will have their ears high and wide open to cool their necks and catch any breeze that comes by. There is actually a phenomenon called “summer ears” – where a rabbit born in the summer will have longer ears than a rabbit born in the winter!

Rabbits suffering from a heat stroke will have glazed eyes, be relatively motionless, and may have spit coming out of their mouths. This is very bad stuff and can cause permanent brain damage or death.

In a quick, easy to read list, in order to cool your own rabbit(s), you might consider:

  • installing a mister system outside of your hutch.
  • wetting their ears with a washcloth to turn them into swamp coolers.
  • freezing water bottles they can lay next to.
  • giving them ceramic tiles to sit on (this can be a cause of hutch burn so watch and remove if they’re urinating on the tiles).
  • spraying the buns with water.
  • (in extremely hot weather) dunking a rabbit’s body in a bucket of cool water.
  • spraying down the roof of your hutches with a hose.
  • soaking cheesecloth or a burlap bag in water and draping it over the cage.
  • moving them to an air conditioned area.
  • moving them to a well-shaded area or installing a sunshade over their cages.
  • pulling the hair off of babies in the nestbox.

What other suggestions do you have for keeping your rabbits cool in the summer heat?

Bunny Vac

We vaccinated everyone today using Bunny Vac.

We vaccinated everyone today using Bunny Vac.

Today, after a lot of thought, we vaccinated our herd against pasteurella using the Bunny Vac from PanAm Labs. (Here’s a Q&A with Bob Glass describing how the vaccination works.)


I’m a little nervous about this, because we are inherently against using any non-organic substance with our rabbits. However, we discovered we really like to show our rabbits and we’ve invested a bit into getting great quality show animals. The risk of having a chance sneeze from another bunny undo the work we’ve been doing just isn’t worth it.


Plus, every time I hear a sneeze my heart stops in my chest. To be fair, we’ve been experiencing 35 mph -50 mph winds around here and you can see the dust in the air everywhere… but I keep thinking, what if that simple sneeze is the start of what can wipe us out?!


I’ve been inspecting our rabbits noses for about a month now, getting right up close and into their personal space as I try to peer into their nostrils. My husband finally told me I had to stop freaking the rabbits out like that or I couldn’t go into the rabbitry. Ha!


So today we vaccinated everyone except those who are midway through pregnancy or slated to be dispatched in the next few weeks. Tomorrow we go to a show and hope to be competitive with our newly strengthened herd.


I’ll be sure to keep you posted about our experiences with the Bunny Vac. So far, the vaccination of the herd was time consuming but painless.

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