what could cause this?

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shetan

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what could cause this?
« on: April 18, 2012, 08:28 »
our rabbits have just had their 3rd litter and although the pair of them are fantastic parents (dad tries to suckle them), we always have a kit die.

in the 1st litter (4 kits) the kits were healthy and well looked after. but we came down one morning and found 2 dead. they were bent backwards and unmarked in any way except one having a small amount of blood in the left nostril. the vet couldn't tell us anything. they were 7weeks old.

same thing happened with the 2nd litter (8 kits) - sister came home from work to find one bent backwards, having only just passed away. it was about 5 weeks old.

then yesterday she came home at lunch and found an otherwise healthy kit (1 of 5 kits) bent backwards, breathing deeply but unresponsive. the others had pee'd and pooped all over it and were trying to cover his scent with their own.

called the vet and they said it was probably too late and to keep it comfortable in a quiet place and let nature to take its course. by the time she came home 2 hours later he/she was gone.

i've tried googling it and asked other rabbit keepers but no one seems to know what it is. they are all healthy and the others grow up fine. (sorry for the long post - just wanted to put all the info up)

any ideas?
1 Husband, 3 German Shepherds, 3 Black Jersey Giants, 3 White Jersey Giants, 1 White Jersey Cross, 1Blue Buff Columbian Brahma, 2 Buff Columbian Brahma, 1 White Columbian Brahma,  3 Gold Brahmas, 2 Golden Quail, 2 Giant Continental Rabbits and a Sister!

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spottymint

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Re: what could cause this?
« Reply #1 on: April 18, 2012, 08:59 »
Sounds possibly genetic.

I say this as certain bird colours/morphs, you get "leathal factors", breed 2 corona glouster canaries & a percentage of chicks will die in the nest, so you breed a corona to a consort.

Corona

http://www.avianweb.com/images/birds/canaries/gloster3.jpg

Consort

http://t3.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQB5pxJaMFRGS3f7h3VDymzl68bOQntSpRUyD9YdAP2UOx-OSteNw

It's all in the head feathers. See link for info.

http://birdtee.com/Glosters.htm


Are they a rabbit breed ?

Are the adults related ?

What are their colours ?

Where the dead babies the same sex ?

I had a guinea pig, who had 2 llitters, in both all male piglets died, females survived.

You could test breed the female with another male (unrelated) & see if it happens again.
If not, maybe genetic.


If both adults carry a dominant gene, it could be the baby that dies recieves it from both parents, hence it dies (the leathal factor)

Not a rabbit expert, but experienced this in bird breeding, so just a surgestion to look into.

« Last Edit: April 18, 2012, 09:01 by spottymint »

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ANHBUC

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Re: what could cause this?
« Reply #2 on: April 18, 2012, 09:25 »
My thoughts were exactly the same as spottymints.  I know that this applies to Coturnix quail and the percentage of fatalities depends on the genetic cross.  :(
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maxyboo

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Re: what could cause this?
« Reply #3 on: April 18, 2012, 11:22 »
I don't think it takes much to kill a baby bun.  Yes it could be as a result of genetics or inbreeding. I have read that it is not wise to crossbreed as this can cause problems. Are the parents related? Are the litters close together so the mum may not have recovered fully from the last litter to properly feed the next lot? How old is mum?   Babies are particularly vulnerable to cold. Are they outside? Could be bacterial infection. Also it could be one of the parents is damaging them either accidentally or intentionally. Generally it is advised that dad should be removed once the litter is born.  I know you say he tries to suckle them but perhaps his feelings change as the bunnies get bigger? Sorry it's only ideas and not a solution. The chances are you will never know for sure. Perhaps a rabbit breeder will come along with more suggestions.

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tadpole

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Re: what could cause this?
« Reply #4 on: April 18, 2012, 11:24 »
I know next to nothing about 'pet' rabbits, but what you describe is the just the symptoms, often called “death throes”
They don’t tell you why, they just tell you it was not a nice way to go.  Check the cage for signs of Rabbit diarrhoea, which can kill rabbit kits in 12 hours.
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shetan

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Re: what could cause this?
« Reply #5 on: April 18, 2012, 12:07 »
thank you for the replies...

here are some answers to your questions.

* rabbits are definitely not related as they are from different parts of the country.
* mum has had each litter 6 months apart and was 1 and 1/2 when she had 1st litter
* in the first litter a boy and girl died, in the second it was a boy and this time it was too    soon to tell
* the cage is disinfected weekly, washed and dried before the rabbits are let back in
* dad has always taken on parental responsibilities - mum ignores babies until feeding
   times whereas dad takes over food and selects leaves for babies once weaned.
* when the first babies died, dad obviously mourned them. we thought mum had killed
   them at the time.
* no diarrhoea and babies eating and feeding well.
* colour of babies - 1st litter agouti and chocolate, 2nd litter chinchilla, 3rd litter black.
   other babies of same colour have survived.
* the hutch is draft proofed and covered over at night until warmer weather.

to answer spotty mint's questions, mum is brown eyed white and dad is black steel. both are netherland (mum is lop) breed.

i'm also of the thinking that it might be genetics.

all the babies have found homes and as far as i am aware they are all doing well.

these guys are a bonded pair and am pretty sure the doe would see off any other male - she barely tolerated my giant conti in the next run when she came to stay with me for 3 weeks after over grooming  her 'husband' last summer.

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maxyboo

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Re: what could cause this?
« Reply #6 on: April 18, 2012, 14:07 »
So are the parents both netherland dwarfs? I only ask because I know they can produce a double dwarf gene (also known as peanut) rabbit. I have been told that these rabbits have incomplete digestive sytems and don't live very long at all. Did you notice if the dead buns were smaller?

Just found this: http://www.threelittleladiesrabbitry.com/peanuts.php

It could be that mum senses those buns have something wrong so she concentrates on the healthy ones. Nature can seem cruel but it is all about survival of the fittest. Perhaps the litter is too large for her to give adequate nourishment to  them all.

Of course it might just be one of those things. Sometimes they just die. Tadpole is right about what you describe as their appearance on being found. They tend to arch back and their legs will kick or spasm for a while.

Sorry we don't seem to have solved the problem :(

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shetan

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Re: what could cause this?
« Reply #7 on: April 18, 2012, 14:45 »
thanks maxyboo

no they are not dwarfs - they are regular sized.

all the babies that have died have been of the same weight as the others in the litter as we weigh each one each week for prospective new owner's records, along with weekly pictures. so i can definitely say they grow and develop at the same rate as the others.

only one litter has been large (8) where she would only feed 5 kits and i would go in and feed the other three. the ones she left were different each time. she would move 5 away and feed them and leave the others. i would go in and feed the remaining 3 and put them with the original 5. once they were weaned she didn't differentiate at all.

i'm beginning to think it might indeed be genetics with one or two gaining the dominant 'death gene'.

the baby that she found yesterday was arched backwards but NOT fitting or having spasms of any kind...just seemed to be alive but a million miles away (lights were on but no one home). wasn't happy to be picked up but lay limp in her hand.

no physical signs of disability, ill health or fighting. they were up on mum's back when she left for work in the morning and all food had been eaten when she returned.

the mystery continues.....


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ANHBUC

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Re: what could cause this?
« Reply #8 on: April 18, 2012, 14:56 »
The only other thing I thought of was parasites, have found this quote on www.gopetsamerica.com/small-animals/rabbit/internal-parasites-rabbits.aspx
the site has information on other parasites so might be worth a read.

Encephalitozoon cuniculi (synonym: Nosema cuniculi)—a protozoan parasite located in brain and kidneys. Infected rabbits may have no signs. In acute disease, loss of appetite, convulsions, increased thirst, urinary incontinence, wry neck, muscle weakness, paralysis of hindquarters, or sudden death may occur. The disease mainly affects kidneys and brain, although in seriously infected rabbits all tissues can be affected.

There is currently no drug therapy that cures encephalitozoonosis, although some drugs have been used to stabilize the affected animals. Some rabbits recover without treatment. Dwarf rabbits appear to be more susceptible than other rabbits. Encephalitozoonosis is only contagious while the parasites are in the kidneys, a three-month period. Unfortunately the owner will probably not know the rabbit has the parasite at this stage. Therefore, good sanitation practices are the best prevention. Rabbit owners with dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, or birds should be especially attentive to good sanitation practices. Always wash hands after cleaning dog feces from the yard, cat litter boxes, and bird cages. Dispose of any rabbit bedding or feed that becomes contaminated with rodent or bird feces

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shetan

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Re: what could cause this?
« Reply #9 on: April 18, 2012, 15:05 »
but then wouldn't all the others be susceptible?

i can sometimes be a little bit lazy and miss out cleaning little nooks and crannies but my sister is like a hoover on legs with ocd.

everything is cleaned, jet washed, sterilised twice in most cases every weekend. even mummy bun gets a regular dunk! as she is white her feet get yellow from the hay and daddy bun pees on her during mating season so she gets regular washes over the spring and summer.

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ANHBUC

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Re: what could cause this?
« Reply #10 on: April 18, 2012, 15:11 »
It does mention rodent and animal faeces so if a pesky mouse got in the hutch and one of the bunnies eat its poo then only one would be affected.  It was the mention of the parasite being located in the brain and the symptoms you mentioned that made me think of it.  Might not be but it is something else to consider.  If a mouse can get through a keyhole they would have no problem getting in a hutch.  :(


 

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