COVID-19 Lockdown

We have heard from several worried owners whose rabbits’ vaccinations are due now or soon.

We are sorry you are in this unfortunate position and we do understand your very valid concerns

The BVA/RCVS have advised veterinary practices not to carry out routine procedures, but only to be available for emergency medicine. This is to conserve essential supplies, protect the health of veterinary staff, and avoid further spread of the disease.

Please, in the first instance, check your practice website, to see what protocols they are following, and what they recommend that you do. Contact them by phone to discuss your specific situation if it is not totally clear. Whilst vaccination is not usually an urgent procedure, if they are overdue, or have not had first vaccines yet, they will be at higher risk of developing diseases. Discuss your individual situation with your vet to find the best option.

In the meantime you need to give your rabbits the best protection you can from disease.

If your rabbits live indoors:

• If you have open windows, have mosquito screens over them because biting insects are a known vector of both myxomatosis and RVHD1 and 2
• Practice barrier care – when you come into the house from outside change your shoes, remove outer clothing and thoroughly wash hands before handling your rabbits or any of their food, toys, etc.
• Have a footbath at the door as well, and dip outdoor shoes in that. Use Anigene HLD4V or Virkon disinfectant in the footbath
• Thoroughly wash and dry any wild or garden forage before feeding to your rabbits

If your rabbits live outdoors:

• Buy mosquito nets to completely cover windows and doors in sheds and also runs. These can be bought online and large nets are available.
• Only handle your rabbits and their toys or food after you have thoroughly washed your hands
• If you have walk-in accommodation for your rabbits, you should change footwear at the door in case you have picked up any virus on your shoes while walking across the garden.
• Thoroughly wash and dry any wild or garden forage you have picked for them

While these measures aren’t as effective as vaccination, in the current crisis, they are all we have. Full advice on appropriate disinfectants and how to clean effectively can be found here

Our very best wishes, we hope you and your rabbits stay well


We just wanted to let you all know that we are still here and still able to answer the helpline, reply to e-mails and process orders.

Ros and Rae both work from home, and all being well, will be able to keep things going as normal. Ros answers all the e-mails to Rae does all the admin and processes the shop orders, and between them they run the helpline, so as long as they both stay well things won’t change.

Update on orders – due to new lockdown restrictions we are no longer able to post out orders. Our last visit to the post office has taken place until the lockdown is over. You can still place orders which will be fulfilled where possible, either once the lockdown is ended, or where possible, electronically. Memberships can still be subscribed to and renewed, but books and back issues of Rabbiting On cannot be sent out under current restrictions.

Richard also works from home for us (not for his other roles) so we hope that he will be able to keep his side of things going, which includes the rabbit friendly vet list assessments, advice to vets, and all general health and welfare strategy.

Guen Bradbury who also advises us on veterinary matters works from home

In terms of Rabbiting On, Claire (our Editor) and Ian (our designer) work from home. Claire is currently self isolating for 12 weeks from her job as a Vet Nurse. The Summer issue is almost ready, and will be sent to the printer shortly as we intend to get this issue out a bit sooner, in April rather than early May. Work has already begun on the Autumn issue and currently we plan to continue with the issue as normal.

What we do plan to do in the mean time, to reduce the need to go to the post office, is to send the current Rabbiting On as a PDF instead of a printed copy to anyone that joins from April, until things return to normal. Once they do, we will send the membership pack out as normal. Existing members will receive their magazine in print as normal

With regard to the Conference at RDSVS in June, we are postponing this and have contacted everyone that has booked a place this morning. Once we have a new date confirmed we will let you know.

Stay safe and stay at home everyone.

COVID-19 advice

We are aware that, due to COVID-19, many people are understandably restricting where they go and what they do, to minimise the risk of spread. And that also many veterinary practices are, quite reasonably, trying to limit visits for non-urgent procedures, again to minimise spread, and also because of limited staff due to self-isolation or childcare commitments.

On the other hand, the health, and preventative health, or your pet is important, and so the risks and benefits of visiting the vets should be carefully considered. We have put together the following advice, but if in doubt, visit your vet’s website, or contact them to discuss individual animals.

Emergencies (see our poster): contact your vet on the phone or emergency out of hours phone, and discuss directly with your practice if you suspect an emergency condition, such as open mouth breathing, difficulty breathing, severe blood loss, collapse, loss of consciousness, paralysis, eye injury, refusing food, not passing faeces or urine, significant wounds, broken limb.

Urgent but not emergencies: Contact your practice for advice on when best to be seen, within the next 24-48 hours: respiratory or eye/ear discharge, altered food preferences, lameness, less serious wounds, etc.

Non-urgent and routine events: eg vaccination, neutering, regular scheduled health checks for ongoing conditions. Depending on the individual rabbit, and practices and owners own health status, some checks may be possible over the phone or via remote viewing, eg for medication refills and prescriptions. neutering may be delayed, but with young rabbits kept together, definitely contact the practice, or, if left too long, the result may be an unplanned litter, or fighting. Vaccinations are a particularly tricky one, as the duration of immunity is not as fully known for rabbits as dogs and cats, and may be only just 12 months. Again, its best to discuss your particular rabbit with your vet.

Richard Saunders BVSc DZooMed MRCVS European Veterinary Specialist in Zoo Health Management

Can rabbits catch Coronavirus?

We have been asked by owners whether our pets can be infected by COVID-19, so as always we turned to our Specialist Veterinary adviser Dr Richard Saunders for advice

This is his response

“At the moment, COVID-19 is too new, and not enough work has been done on it in a full range of species, for us to be able to give absolutely definitive advice, but from what we know about previous respiratory coronaviruses ( it seems hopeful that rabbits and rodents are resistant to it, although its worth pointing out that they could carry it on their fur etc.

This site also likens COVID to previous SARS/coronavirus infections, specifically looking at the similarities between them and this exact virus.

It would appear that rabbits are much much less at risk than pigs, ferrets and cats, and so our advice would be to be sensible, wash hands in soap and water before and after handling any animal, and contact your vet if you have any concerns”