Thursday 6 January 2011

Shake and Snuffle

I am currently reading Anne McBride's "Why Does My Rabbit...?", which I would recommend to all bunny-parents for two reasons:

  1. It is packed with useful, well researched information about rabbit health and behaviour.
  2. It is incredibly cheap.

Having been around bunnies for a few years now and picked up quite a bit of information from bunny people, websites, forums, other books, vets and of course the bunnies themselves, most of the stuff in it is not new to me.  However, with its content arranged in a fairly concise and easy-to-read way, I can't help wishing I'd started with this one.  OK, advert over.

The reason it has had an impact on my week and prompted this entry was my reading the section about ears.  If you ever see a rabbit shaking its head, or looking kind of "quizzically" at you with their head at an angle, there's a good chance there's something wrong somewhere, either in the ears or the brain.  The first thing I do in this case is to scoop them up for a cuddle and have a good look and a sniff in the ears.  If they are anything other than squeaky clean and free from odour I would suspect some sort of infection or possibly mites and it's time for a visit to our friend the vet.  (Note of course that if any symptoms persist and I would pack them off to the vets regardless of whether I could find the cause.)

Reading about all of this again prompted something in the back of my mind about Elvis shaking his head a few times recently and though it was brief and there were no signs of problems now, I thought I'd take him along to the vets anyway since I was taking Jemima to get some anti-biotics for her sneezing.  And I'm glad I did - not only did the vet confirm the presence of a slight infection in his left ear but we also discovered he'd been quietly suffering from a respiratory infection as well. So it's anti-biotics all round, plus some drops for Elvis.

This whole incident highlighted two things we can easily forget in our busy lives:

  1. If in any doubt about your rabbits health or behaviour it is always best to consult your vets, even if it is just a phone call to the surgery for advice.
  2. However much you think you've experienced ultimate hatred and disapproval from your rabbit, you've seen NOTHING until you've tried administering ear drops.

Sorry Elvis!

NOTE: For your safety and that of my camera I have used a photo from my archives. Current levels of Elvis disapproval are likely to cause injury, even in picture form.


  1. I think the most "fun" I had was putting antibiotic nose drops in Scout's nose. She learnt pretty quick when to wiggle her nose so they bounced off.. Brat.

  2. Oh my! Thanks for the reminder. One time my rabbit was shaking his head, holding his ear cocked at an odd angle, and digging in there with his foot etc., for a few days so I brought him to the vet's, but it turned out nothing was wrong at all. They gave him a physical and looked deep in his ear with a scope, but we only found a bit of wax. They squirted a special drying cleaning fluid in there just in case. The behaviour never reappeared. So it's really good to read this post because we don't want to fall into the trap of thinking "Well, nothing was wrong last time this happened, so this time I'll ignore it." Maybe last time it was just a bit of wax, but next time it could be something far more serious!

    Also, thanks for the book review. Would you say it is a good primer, or does it mostly deal with the questions that arise once you already know the primary info (like basic diet and housing needs, etc.)?

  3. I'd say the book falls into the basic to intermediate level, written by a very knowledgeable expert. It's mostly about explaining behaviour, but because behaviour is affected so much by environment, health and diet these elements are also included.