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Ask Dr Scott Nimmo Your Own Question
Dr Scott Nimmo
Dr Scott Nimmo, Small Animal Veterinarian
Category: Pet
Satisfied Customers: 20743
Experience:  BVMS, MRCVS. { Glasgow UK }
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My daughter had two 4H bunnies. We have had them for about

Customer Question

My daughter had two 4H bunnies. We have had them for about two weeks, which likely makes them 8 weeks old. The runt of the litter died this morning suddenly. He had been eating fresh alfalfa well just two hours before, and had plenty of water and hay. The cage was clean. He became lethargic, tilted his head up, and around twenty minutes later he died. I am worried for the other rabbit, although it seems healthy. What could have caused this?
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Pet
Expert:  Dr Scott Nimmo replied 4 years ago.
Hello, and welcome,

My name is Scott, I am an experienced small animal veterinary surgeon and I will be very pleased to work with you today and will try my best to answer your question to your satisfaction.

However to enable me to do so with accuracy I need a little bit more information, so first can you please answer the following ...

1. Did you see any symptoms of any kind { No matter how minor } either today or over the last couple of days.

Then give me fifteen minutes or so to think through your particular problem, prepare an answer, and type things up. I will then get straight back to you and we can talk things over.

Regards,

Scott
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Hi Scott,

What surprises me is that there were absolutely no symptoms.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

There was no trauma or change in behavior. The rabbit simply died. We are more large animal people, so I don't know if we did something wrong, or even if there is anything to look for in the other rabbit.
Expert:  Dr Scott Nimmo replied 4 years ago.
Hello again and thanks for waiting,

Sorry to hear about your rabbit ...

I have worked out an answer for you, please read it through and see what you think, ... lets get started. This does seem very unusual, but in this age group there would be two general possibilities ...

1. If the rabbit that died was a " runt " and small for it's age and not developing properly then the cause of death could have been a congenital problem of some kind, perhaps a congenital heart problem. This is not uncommon with " runts "and of course the underlying heart problem or other congenital problem was the reason that this poor rabbit did not develop properly in the first place.

2. Where a rabbit is underdeveloped then it would be at more risk from infections such as viral infections which the other rabbit would be able to fight of more easily. In some cases the rapidness of such viral disease means that the rabbit could die within 24 hours without showing any noticeable symptoms.

3. What to do about it? : From my previous experience I think it unlikely that the remaining rabbit is at risk but it would be wise to thoroughly clean out the cage and put in new bedding. Also keep a good eye on this remaining rabbit and consult a vet without delay if any sort of symptoms develop ....

I hope I have covered your question fully enough but if you would like further clarification or to talk things over a bit more then I will be on-line for the next hour or so and I will be more than pleased to continue working with you.

Regards,


Scott