Diseases of Rabbits

Recognition of health and disease

  • Coat should be smooth and shiny
  • Eyes should be bright without discharge
  • Movement should be easy and free, relaxed breathing evenly and silently
  • Appetite should be normal
  • Droppings should be normal in amount and appearance
  • Body should be well fleshed. If bony or pot bellied it may be an indication of disease
  • Weight and growth of adults should be fairly constant.
  • Discharge from the eyes, nostrils, mouth, vent, teat and anus are signs of disease.
  • Sores and swellings are not normal
  • Normal temperature is 39◦C and normal pulse ranges from140-150

Prevention of disease

In a well-managed rabbit unit, diseases should be infrequent. To avoid feed contamination, hutch floors should be made of wire-netting so that the urine and the droppings do not accumulate inside.

  • Good management; this entails proper housing and good feeding.
  • Buy breeding animals from a reputable breeder
  • Have quarantine quarters where sick rabbits are confined or new arrivals to the farm are kept for two weeks before being introduced to their cages

Common Diseases

The commonest diseases in the rabbitry are:

(a)        Coccidiosis

Most affects the young rabbits. Symptoms include diarrhoea which sometimes may be white in colour or blood stained, loss of appetite, dehydration and death if the animals are not treated.  When pregnant does are affected, there is a risk of passing this disease to the unborn kids, and this usually leads to liver coccidiosis in which there are white sports on the liver. It is controlled by use of coccidiostats in feed and drinking water and by isolating all affected stock

(b)        Ear Canker (mange)

This condition is caused by mites, and it affects the inner side the rabbit ears.  The disease is mild but disturbs the animals.  The earliest signs are:  Constant head shaking and scratching of the ears due to irritation.  There is a scab or crust formation on the inner side of the ear.  Due to heavy infestation, the affected ears may drop downwards. Control by avoiding rats in the rabbitry since they are the vectors for these mites.

(c)        Other Diseases

Ø  Pneumonia – common during cold weather and in poorly ventilated hutches.

Ø  Gastro-intestinal complication mainly arising from feeding.

Ø  Internal parasites like ascaris especially when fed on greens.  Therefore regular de worming at least 3 months is advisable. It is also important to avoid use of roadside forages to feed your rabbits as they may be infested by worms

For treatment of all rabbit diseases, farmers are advised to visit their nearest Veterinary Office.

Where to get further information:

Further information and inquires can be obtained from the Ministry of Livestock Development at constituency or county administration offices or through this link http://www.nafis.go.ke/contacts-2/. Information can also be sourced from Rabbit Breeders Association of Kenya (Rabak) In Thika. One may also visit government institutions such as National Rabbit Breeding centre at Ngong FTC or Veterinary Farm in Karen, Nairobi or other practicing farmers for information sharing OR the following persons;

Peter Waiganjo, Chairman, Rabbit Breeders Association of Kenya (RABAK), pfwaiganjo@yahoo.com, 0721219092

Dr. Jane Lwoyero, Veterinary Public Health, Department of Veterinary Services, jlwoyero@gmail.com, 0721905632