I have been raising meat rabbits for about 8 months. I have two litters now still with their mothers (was about to wean them), each mother had 8 kits and their cages are next to each other. This morning one of the 7 week old babies died for no apparent reason. They haven't had ear mites, noses are clean, no diarrhea (in fact when I removed it from the cage a nicely formed poop pellet popped out), and no sign that any of them were sick. In the same cage is one other rabbit who seems lethargic maybe? His siblings are hopping around the cage, going after the food and water as normal and he just sits there. Haven't seen it drink or eat at all this morning. What is happening? Help!
Baby rabbit died at 7 weeks, one other lathargic
Featured Stories on BackYard Chickens
I'm no expert on rabbits, but I'll do what I can to help.
First, take the lethargic baby out of its cage and look it over. Check for signs of loose droppings (it could be an unrelated problem), runny nose or eyes, crooked or chipped teeth, sores on the feet or belly, injuries, ect. Keep it warm and calm so that its immune system remains strong. Next, check the enclosure. Check for moldy food in the enclosure or anything sharp. Think over if you fed them anything different or if it could possibly be some type of chemical or metal poisoning.
If you still have the first kit that passed, you could send it in for a necropsy from the vet so they can test for signs of bacterial, viral or fungal infections.
Have there been any temperature changes recently? Temperature changes can lead to health problems very rapidly.
Also, check over if there have been any new introductions of rabbits or if you handled any rabbits recently that did not belong to you.
I hope this helps in some way. Maybe someone else knows more. Best of luck!
I have checked the rabbit over very carefully, and nothing out of the ordinary. I questioned my 12 yr old daughter who helps feed them. We keep the feed bags of their food in plastic tubs (we live on the coast in Oregon, and its very damp here) and she said on Tuesday the bag ran out and she scooped what was loose in the bottom of the container up and put it in the feeder on that cage. She said it was only about a cup or two. My husband brought more fed home Tuesday evening, and will filled everyone up so thought nothing of it. The loose feed on the bottom of the plastic tub has been spilled there only since the first week in January (when we switched tubs) but is it possible it was moldy? She said it looked normal. Could that have caused this? I also sexed most of the babies in this cage yesterday, picking each one up and handling it for a few minutes.
I doubt the food would have caused any problems unless a wild animal was eating it and urinated on it. However, when young rabbits are being weaned they are more likely to get enteritis, suffer from weaning stress, and get other bacterial problems in the gut such as enterotoxemia. Avoid giving them food that is too rich or sweet and avoid giving them oats.
The second lethargic one is also dead now too. The other 7 all look healthy, bouncy, eating drinking, except one which seems grumpy and has been sitting still in the corner all day. Am really hoping this is not contagious whatever it is. The mom is pregnant and due to kindle in about 2 weeks, which is why we were planning on weaning her kits this weekend. It is possible her milk has already dried up (she is naturally weaning them?) in which case enteritis maybe? Have raised 21 babies successfully over the past 5 months, with nothing even hinting at disease (save one case of next box eye), and with this batch of 18 (yes, I know it's a lot) or 9 + 9, to have 2 die suddenly, worries me.