December First Alert and Season’s Greetings

Season’s Greetings to all our followers.  We hope you and your rabbits have a great, safe and happy festive season
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Hurry, there is still time to enter our Bunnies of the Year competition.  Not much time though, so make sure you don’t miss this important opportunity.  We’re planning changes for the competition next year so watch out for that, but for now, RWAF members, please enter here https://shop.rabbitwelfare.co.uk/product/bunnies-of-the-year-competition/ and then upload your photos of your wonderful rabbits here https://rabbitwelfare.co.uk/about-the-rwaf/photo-submissions/  We’ll be judging soon and then we can look forward to seeing some great new cover stars in 2019
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Keep your rabbits safe over Christmas.  There’s a variety of dangers
  • Chewing the tree or its lighting cables.  Real dangers.  Whether you have a real or an imitation tree, put up a barrier around it and keep those electric cables where your bunnies cannot get to them
  • Holly and mistletoe are both very toxic.  Make sure your beloved pets can’t get to either.  If you have them, keep them both well away from rabbit accessible areas
  • Wrapping paper and the gifts themselves.  Nobody wants a chewed present and of course ingesting that paper with its inks and possibly sometimes polymers too is very dangerous for rabbits, so keep gifts out of reach of bunnies
  • Eating too much of the wrong thing.  We all eat some treats in the festive season, probably more than we should, but be careful not to let your rabbits get to anything that might be toxic to them or too much of what they might like.  Chocolate is highly toxic to dogs and in fact is bad for most species including us.  For rabbits, the sugars may well be the biggest problem, so as with other treats, keep them away from your rabbits and if you have appropriate treats for them – low carbs, no egg, no dairy – remember, they are still just that, treats, and should only be given in very small amounts.  You don’t want to be taking your beloved rabbits to the emergency vet on Christmas afternoon!
  • Company, hustle and bustle – Christmas and New Year are times for families, visitors, people who generally wouldn’t be in contact with your rabbits, and likely not in large numbers.  It’s often noisy as well. Remember this can be very confusing and sometimes frightening for your rabbits.  They are prey animals, used to you and your immediate family so make a visitor-free zone where your rabbits can feel safe and can keep away from noise and bustle, won’t be handled inappropriately and won’t be fed the wrong things….and cannot escape out of your door when people are coming and going.
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Sadly we are still receiving reports every single day of cases of sudden deaths.  We know people getting this message will have ensured their rabbits have fully up to date vaccinations – both Nobivac (Myxo & RVHD1) plus either Filavac or Eravac (RVHD2) – but not everybody receives this, not everybody knows about our advice and there are very clearly a lot of rabbit owners out there still not vaccinating.  Please share our new vaccination poster wherever you can.  You can download it here https://rabbitwelfare.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Vaccinate-Poster-new.jpg
Owners don’t all follow our social media, not all of them are aware of our website and sadly for whatever reason, aren’t getting proper advice from vets, so we’re asking you to find places to display the poster.  Pet shops, vet waiting rooms, libraries, any shop/supermarket that sells rabbit food (ask them to display it beside the food), anywhere else you can think of that rabbit owners might see it, including any online social media you might visit.
We’re also adding this message to each and every email that goes out from our hq@rabbitwelfare.co.uk and info@rabbitwelfare.co.uk email addresses so please feel free to share this too
IMPORTANT – VACCINATIONS
This important information is being added to all emails.  Please disregard if your rabbits have already been vaccinated with both Nobivac Myxo RHD and either Filavac VHD K C + V or else Eravac.
There is a mutated strain of RVHD that is deadly, RVHD2.  Unvaccinated rabbits don’t stand a chance against it.  It is present all over the UK and vaccination against it is vital.  Unfortunately the standard Nobivac combined vaccine doesn’t cover it, although that is still essential to protect against Myxomatosis and RVHD1.  If your rabbits aren’t already vaccinated against it, what you need is either Filavac VHD K C + V  or else Eravac.  Discuss frequency of vaccination with your vet.  The two vaccines (Nobivac and the RVHD2 vaccine) should not be given at the same time, there should be at least 2 weeks between them.  If you need to have this done and your vet doesn’t stock the vaccine, there is a map here that shows vets who do.    Another tab on the same website shows reported cases, which we know only shows the tip of a very large iceberg, as this disease is very hard to recognise having few to no symptoms at all and so is generally unreported.
See our Health section for further information https://rabbitwelfare.co.uk/rabbit-health/vaccinations/ and please share our poster wherever you can http://www.rwaf.org.uk/vaccs
If you are in the sad position of losing a rabbit unexpectedly please let us know, along with the first part of your postcode so that we can notify the owner of this map http://rhd2map.buntools.org.uk/index.php?&p=cases and also our own social media followers.  Another tab on the map site also shows vets who stock vaccine, useful information for us all.
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We’ve been asked to share this survey.  Chloe Macgeath, who is second year veterinary medicine student at the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) is undertaking a research project. She says, “I have decided to do mine on rabbit behaviour, specifically looking at whether there is any behavioural differences between outdoor rabbits and those that kept entirely indoors and have no access to outdoor space. I will also look at the influence of other factors such as diet, sex and companionship.”
Her survey is online and can be found here https://rvc.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/do-rabbits-kept-entirely-indoors-show-more-behavioural-pro Let’s help her with this really interesting topic which will help owners and vets alike better understand even more about the needs of our favourite pets.
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If you don’t follow our Social Media you may not have seen the story of the rabbits we rescued recently from a commercial breeding facility.  Their story is here https://rabbitwelfare.co.uk/winter-rescue-appeal/
We’re very happy to see photos and videos from rescue and of those already in their forever homes, where they are finally able to exercise all the typical rabbit behaviours that they haven’t ever been able to previously.  Such a very sad start in life for these lovely souls, but a great life for them now, at long last.  We inevitably incurred significant bills – some had health problems, all needed to be vaccinated, all the adults neutered, and once the babies are old enough, we’ll be funding their neutering too, so if you haven’t already donated, please do.  People have already been very generous and although we haven’t yet had the final bill, we estimate it to be about £3000.  Even £1 will help though of course if you can manage more, that would be fantastic – and don’t forget Gift Aid if you pay Income Tax.  That will bring us in an extra 25% direct from HMRC, at no cost to you.
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Of course we can’t leave without reminding you to keep membership subscriptions up to date.  We’ve been able to introduce Direct Debit for online subscription so you no longer need to have a PayPal account to have automatic renewals.  You still can if you want, but Direct Debit costs us less per transaction (which helps keep down your membership subs costs) and doesn’t rely on you keeping your card details up to date with PayPal.  You can renew here https://shop.rabbitwelfare.co.uk/product-category/memberships/renewal-memberships/
If you have friends or family who have rabbits or who are thinking of getting them, as always help them research properly by directing them to our site and encouraging them to join us https://shop.rabbitwelfare.co.uk/product-category/memberships/new-members/
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Advanced news!  Fiona Firth’s very useful and popular book, Bonding Rabbits, is going to be back in print very soon, new, lively format and published & sold exclusively by the RWAF.  Keep your eyes open for that, it’ll be in our shop here in our books collection https://shop.rabbitwelfare.co.uk/product-category/advice-booklets-leaflets/
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Take care everybody and have a great Christmas and a very happy, safe and healthy New Year

Brown Hares

Here at the RWAF we have been asked, over the past week or so, about Myxomatosis in native wild brown hares in the UK. Its important to be aware that this information is subject to change as the investigating continues, but is correct at time of posting.

Sporadic cases have been reported in the past, of suspected of confirmed myxomatosis in hares, including one which was written up in the veterinary press in 2014. However, this appears to be different in that multiple cases, from a wide geographical spread, are being reported to Dr Diana Bell, University of East Anglia <d.bell@uea.ac.uk>, and, whilst some have obvious external symptoms of myxomatosis, other dead hares look fine/in good condition or are seen dying with unusual neurological symptoms including inability to move and seizures. A number of possible causes are being explored, including a change in virulence of myxomatosis virus, infection with Rabbit Viral Haemorrhagic Disease 2 (RHD2), or European Brown Hare Syndrome, individually or as co-infections, and its possible that other factors are involved.

What would really help the ongoing study into the large scale deaths of this iconic species, would be for any members of the public finding a dead or ill hare to contact Dr Bell and to store the body refrigerated whilst contacting Diana to arrange full post-mortem analysis.

Recent rumours

Here at the RWAF we are aware of 3 significant fatal viral diseases of rabbits in the UK. Myxomatosis (covered by the vaccine Nobivac Myxo-RHD); Rabbit Viral Haemorrhagic Disease 1 (covered by Nobivac Myxo-RHD), and Rabbit Viral Haemorrhagic Disease 2 (covered by the vaccines Filavac KC and V, or Eravac).

We are not aware of any further versions of RVHD present in the UK, although the variant K5 has been discovered in Asia and Australasia.

We are not aware of any viral infections that are acutely fatal to rabbits and rodents recently arriving in the UK.

If anyone has documentary evidence of any exotic diseases arriving in the UK in future please inform us and the Animal Plant and Health Agency.

Richard Saunders BSc(Hons) BVSc MSB CBiol DZooMed (Mammalian) MRCVS

RCVS Specialist in Zoo And Wild Animal Medicine

 

Keep Calm

Rabbits and Guinea Pigs – bordatella

We are often asked about keeping rabbits and guinea pigs together. This is not advisable for the following reasons:
Bordetella bronchiseptica is a bacterial infection of the upper respiratory tract of a number of species, including dogs, rabbits and guinea pigs, related to B pertussis, which causes whooping cough in humans. It is often described as commensal in rabbits (ie found in this species without causing harm), however, it can be a primary disease causing organism, and can complicate other infections such as Pasteurella. It can, though, be fatal in guinea pigs, and so keeping them in the same airspace as rabbits is not advised.
Rabbits and Guinea pigs have different dietary requirements, particularly guinea pigs’ need for Vitamin C.
Rabbits and Guinea pigs are not the same species, and cannot respond appropriately to one another’s behaviours. This may result in inadequate social behaviours, up to and including severe bullying.
The main reason these species used to be kept together was for companionship without the risk of pregnancy. With improvements in anaesthetic safety and more widespread neutering of both species, this is less of a problem now. Whilst we would not recommend putting them together in the first place in this day and age, we would not advocate splitting up a stable sole rabbit:sole guinea pig pairing

We’ve been busy bunnies!

We have had a very busy few weeks. Easter is always a busy time for media and we have done three interviews for BBC radio, including BBC Radio 4,  as well as having articles published in several magazines including the Mail on Sunday.

On Wednesday we worked with our friends from Burgess on the set of This Morning (thank you to Runaround for providing the binky box and tunnels) and it was a really great piece promoting rescue rabbits. We were behind the camera making sure the right message was given to the millions of viewers.

From there we went straight to Birmingham to the CEVA awards where we celebrated Richard Saunders being recognised as a Welfare Hero for the huge amount of work involved in getting the VHD2 vaccine in to the UK.

We then spent 2 days with Burgess at the British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) talking to Vet Professionals and launching Rabbit Awareness Week. It’s great to work with other such dedicated people.

Just a few of the things we have been up to!

Emma Milne’s Pet Detectives

Emma Milne is a vet who has written several books about animals, their welfare and the ups and downs of life as a vet. ‘Are Rabbits the Right Pet for You – Can You Find the Facts?’, is the first book in the Pet Detective Series.

Emma has written these books for children and their parents to introduce some important aspects of owning rabbits. The reader is the detective, assigned to investigate and work out the needs of pets and the responsibilities of owners, in a fun and authoritative way.

“Often owners misunderstand pets and pet behaviour” says Ms Milne “It is therefore important that potential owners fully understand the needs of their pet and also the huge responsibility of having a pet brings”.

Emma is so passionate about supporting the welfare needs of animals she is donating 10% from the sale of every book ‘Are Rabbits the Right Pet for You?’ to the Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund (RWAF). In addition, a further 10% from the sale of any book in the Pet Detective Series will go directly to the Animal Welfare Foundation.

The book is available in our shop here: