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Quarantine. Before I got serious about my bunnies I always thought quarantine was restricted to animals coming in from a foreign country. You didn’t want illnesses being brought that could bring devastation. There I could see the importance of quarantine.
I was raised on a farm but my dad didn’t quarantine anything. Livestock were brought in an added to the herd. When I worked on a pig farm and on a dairy farm, quarantine wasn’t practiced there either. So the concept was rather new to me when it came to a personal herd. The idea might also be new to you, so bringing it – and reasons to do so – to your attention seems wise.
What is quarantine?
Quarantine is a state, period, or place of isolation in which people or animals that have arrived from elsewhere or been exposed to infectious or contagious disease are placed.
It basically means that you take the animal that is new to your herd and put in away a spot away from your other animals.
There are two basic reasons to quarantine
- To prevent spread of disease from the new animal to your herd.
- To give your new animal time to adjust to new surroundings.
How to Quarantine
Every rabbit breeder needs to determine for themselves what length of quarantine to follow. For most breeders it’s 30 days, but I’ve talked with several who do it for 60 as they’ve had odd stuff pop up at day 45. An extra 15 days acts as a buffer zone. 30 days tends to be the minimum time period.
Quarantine doesn’t mean that you put the bunny in a separate cage or on the other side of your bunny room. It means putting the bunny in a completely separate area away from bunny food, bunny line of sight, air breezeways etc.
I have a tool shed and generally only bring in rabbits from outside herds in the summer. The bunny stays in there. Has protection from rain, can see everything, hear everything and can acclimatize well. It means I have to take the extra step to go over and care for. Bunny is a minimum of 30 feet away from anything so the chances of contamination should there be an issue is greatly decreased.
Bunny is separate and away from all other rabbits. This is important because rabbits are great at hiding illness. They can act and look perfectly fine when they are home. Add a stressor… and suddenly they are not. THIS is why quarantine is so important.
Care for Last and Don’t Blame Breeder
You care for the quarantined rabbit last. That way you only carry from your herd to it (thereby only affecting one rabbit) as opposed to potentially carrying something from the new rabbit and infecting your whole herd. Don’t forget to change your clothes and wash your hands before going back to your herd. If you don’t, you may as well take your chances and not quarantine.
Rabbits can carry diseases that can be invisible like pasturella, bordetella, syphilis, and other illnesses. Many of these will flare up when the rabbit is under stress even if the rabbit has exhibited no other symptoms prior.
This means you CANNOT always blame the person who sold you the rabbit. They may not have any snotty noses, dirty pawed rabbits in their herd. So when one of their rabbits leaves and develops issues they can be completely caught off guard. Many diseases only show up if the rabbit is stressed. No stress… no symptoms.
Rabbits aren’t released from quarantine until they are 30 or 60 days symptom free.
What to Look For
What to look for in a quarantined rabbit is also what you look for when you are purchasing a rabbit.
- Blisters on vent
- Sore feet
- Mites (fur or ear)
- Dirty feet from wiping nose
- Breathing problems
- Clean eyes, nose, bum
- Eating and drinking well
- Eliminating normally
- Blood where there shouldn’t be
Stressed Rabbits Show Illness
It’s one of the things I really needed to learn. Stressed rabbits show illness. Knowing this fact is a good thing to know. It’s means that placing a new rabbit in a calm quiet environment, might good for the bunny, but it isn’t good for new it’s new owner. I want a bunny in quarantine to experience MILD stress. So not heart-pounding stress, but the stress that comes from being in a new place.
Mild stress is : hearing a lawn mower or a dog barking, to being able to see cat prowl the yard, to get wet from rain (not soaked but damp is okay). Being picked up at odd times, and watching people work.
Some rabbits NEVER see this. They live their lives protected in a barn or a shed and life is quiet and serene.
Here.. my rabbits will hear dogs bark, hear the pounding of horse hooves, and the roar of a lawn mower. They might have an opossum climb their cage (much to MY horror) or have the neighbour’s jerk of a cat spray the cage. If a rabbit weathers mild stress well, by the time I add it to my herd, I know it will handle the stress or being in my rabbitry. It means I won’t have to worry about it once that month passes.
Long term rabbit owners know this important fact. Sometimes rabbits die when you buy them. ERGO if they are adult rabbit, they will often breed that rabbit the day it arrives. GACK!!!! What does quarantine mean in such situations?!?!?!
- You breed to a rabbit you can afford to lose
- All rabbits who come in contact with new rabbit go into quarantine as well.
- You still handle the newest addition to your herd last.
- It means you watch your rabbits so any signs that something is amiss. Breeding is also a minor stressor so if new rabbit DOES have something it will show up with the rabbits you bred as well. Gives you a broader pool to observe.
- AND if all rabbits pass… you have babies!!! You have a month’s head jump start on adding those new genetics to your herd.
- If your new rabbit is a momma and has littles and she shows signs of pasteurella you can foster her kits out the day they are born (again to a doe you can afford to lose), generally her kits will be fine. They would stay in quarantine, you cull the sick momma, and then watch the babies and fostering doe. Once they hit 8 weeks and have shown no signs of poor health you are generally good to go. You want those new genetics.. it will help your herd. Sometimes the road to getting them is a bit rougher than hoped for. The risk is still worth it.
Others in this Series
- American Fuzzy Lop.
- Baby Bunnies.
- Culling well.
- Discussing Death.
- Errors in Judgement.
- Feeding Rabbits.
- The G’s of rabbits.
- Holland Lops.
- Interesting facts about rabbits.
- The Joy of Bunnies.
- Choosing Rabbits to Keep.
- Leaping Lagomorphs.
- The Scoop on Poop.
- Not Wanted Rabbits.
- Over the Hill.
- Educating Pet Rabbit Buyers.
Letter Q Link Up
Each week we will be linking up with the hosts of Blogging Through the Alphabet. Please visit some of these other blogs to get things like book lists, vegan recipes, and wonderful places to visit, just to name the topics I can think of off the top of my head.
- Amanda @ Hopkins Homeschool
- Christine @ Life’s Special Necessities
- Kimberly @ Vintage Blue Suitcase
- Dawn @ Schoolin’ Swag
- Wendy @ Life On Chickadee Lane
- Yvonne @ The Life We Build
- Jennifer @ A Peace Of Mind
- Kristen @ A Mom’s Quest To Teach
- Kirsten @ DoodleMom Homeschool
I do need to remind you about the sale at SchoolhouseTeachers.com this month. Use the code firefly to get your first month for $5. It’s an excellent way to further your families education. Electives galore! 🙂