Should I Quarantine? |
Please remember that the information
given in this article reflect the opinions of Cooley's
Critters Rabbitry and friends of the Cooley family
who also raise rabbits. Rabbit Web recommends that
you take your animals to a vet for diagnosis and
treatment for health-related problems.
The first year we got started in rabbits,
we lost all but a few of our herd--the only rabbits
that survived were the ones that didn't go to a particular
show and that were in a different barn.
I had no idea what was going on, but
I knew that it couldn't be good when I heard one
of the rabbits sneeze and then the next day a couple
more and then a few more. The sneezing spread to
all our rabbits in our outside rabbitry. I called
a friend who was a breeder, and he checked out the
situation. He saw that our rabbits had snuffles,
and he put them all down. I tried to explain to the
kids what was happening and why. I also explained
to them the importance of quarantining all new animals
and to check out everything very carefully. It was
a hard lesson for my children and myself.
The problem was that I had introduced
a new rabbit into our outside rabbitry without quarantining
the newcomer. We had won him in a raffle at the show
and were anxious to add him to our herd. The breeder
that put the rabbit on the raffle table knew that
the rabbit was sick, because she had treated the
rabbit's clinical signs. I had almost bought the
same rabbit at a show the weekend before, but he
had been sneezing. The breeder said that the rabbit
had dust in his nose and that she would treat him.
When my daughter saw the rabbit on the raffle table
the following week, she got tickets for the drawing
and won him. I should have been wary, but I was a
That experience is why I now believe
with all my heart that you need to take the following
precautions, so that what happened to us doesn't
happen to you.
1. Know who you are buying from. If
you don't, see if any of the people you do know has
ever bought an animal from the seller.
2. Never, never pawn off a sick animal
on someone else for any reason. It isn't fair to
the person getting the sickie nor to the rest of
the new owner's herd. It's better to put down a sick
animal than to knowingly send a sick one out the
Let your children know of the potential mishaps that
can happen while raising rabbits and
what the outcome would be . This way, you can talk
to them more easily when problems do arise. You can
start off the conversation like this, "Do you remember
when we talked about snuffles? And I said that it
was incurable, and that if our one of our rabbits
got it...." I'm sure you can see where I'm going
I hope that this helps in some way,
although I know it's not an easy conversation to
have with a person who does indeed care for animals.
Things have gotten easier for me, but I still get
upset when I have to put down an animal for some
4. Always quarantine new animals. Here
is my reasoning:
- In my opinion, you should quarantine
an animal for no less than three weeks. If a breeder
treats their sick rabbits and then palms them off
on you, the animals might not show clinical signs
again for two weeks and often not for a couple
of days after that.
- Put the new animals in a totally
separate area--or at least have some kind of solid
divider between your animals and the new ones.
- Any equipment in your quarantine
area should stay there and be cleaned routinely.
Rabbits in quarantine will require their nails
to be clipped. Sometimes they need grooming, depending
on the breed, and medical treatment. If you can,
have two first-aid kits set up, two pairs of nail
clippers, etc. This will eliminate possible transfer
of infection in case something is wrong with one
of the quarantined animals.
- You must devise a plan that will
keep you from inadvertantly breaking quarantine.
We sometimes don't think before we touch a rabbit
with fur mites or ear mites and then touch another
bunny. BINGO, we have now spread something contagious
in our own rabbitry without even thinking about
it. What we do need to do is have a little more
practical isolation situation in place with sanitation
and disinfection procedures worked out. For instance,
you should feed the original animals first and
then feed the ones that are in quarantine. Make
sure that when you are done caring for the quarantined
animals, you do not go back into your non-quarantined
barn for any reason unless you change your shoes,
clothes, and wash your hands with a disinfectant.
I've found that placing a rabbit on a plastic or
rubber place mat to examine him or her works great
for maintaining quarantine. I can wipe the place
mat down with a bleached wet wipe quickly between
each animal. It took some training on my part to
be consistent about doing this, though. I also
use hand sanitizer in between each animal that
I examine. This can be bought for as little as
50 cents at any local store.
It's hard to quarantine animals that
you're showing weekend after weekend without taking
some risks. If we show quarantined rabbits, we normally
try to take only the ones that we took the week before,
and then their quarantine starts all over again.
We don't keep them in a new animal quarantine area,
though--we have totally two separate areas for quarantined
animals. In my opinion, the chances of your herd
picking up an infectious illness from a rabbit that's
been to a show is much less than your herd picking
one up from a new rabbit that you don't know much
about. Most of the time, you are probably more attentive
about new or sick-looking animals that are near yours
at a show.
The way you quarantine your animals
will have to be something that you feel comfortable
with and that works for you and your family. If by
some chance you do end up with a rabbit that is very
sick, then be responsible and put the rabbit down.
It's not a fun nor easy task, but it's something
we all one day will have to do.