Hepatic Coccidiosis in Rabbits – Graphic Photos

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Notice the white spots on the liver

Coccidia is a parasite that exists pretty much everywhere in the soil. Young rabbits are generally more susceptible to infection, and will show symptoms of diarrhea, loss of appetite and listlessness.

Coccidiosis is very contagious in an environment where feces from a sick animal are present and can be consumed by other rabbits. It’s such a common killer of young rabbits that many rabbit breeders medicate their rabbits against it every few months, whether they show symptoms or not.

In a situation where rabbits are pastured, coccidiosis can be a very real concern. Since I tractor many of my kits I had a couple of cases of it turn up this year. Although nobody died, it left an impact on them physically. I thought it would be interesting to show you the damage that this parasite can cause to your rabbit’s liver.

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A moderately infected liver

The most obvious thing upon opening up an infected rabbit is that the liver is spotted with white. The amount of spots will vary according to the severity of the infestation. These white spots are actually the hardened edges of small tunnels that the coccidia carve into the liver. If you slice the liver in half you can clearly see the small tubes.

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The tunnels visible in cross-section

Whenever I see symptoms of coccidiosis in my pastured buns, I immediately add apple cider vinegar to their drinking water, feed blackberry bramble daily, make sure they are moved to fresh pasture frequently and ensure everything is kept as clean as possible. So far I’ve been very successful at clearing it out of my herd this way, without resorting to medications.

Usually even if a kit has been infected, once they overcome the parasite and fight it off, they can still lead a perfectly healthy life. Still though, there is obvious damage left to the liver which may or may not heal over time. I’m not a rabbit biologist after all… I’m a whale biologist.

Below is an example of a nice healthy rabbit liver with no white mottling. Infected livers should not be eaten but the rest of the rabbit is still safe to eat.

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A healthy rabbit liver

Rabbit Double Pregnancy?

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All my does were due to kindle today, but Bluefin was the only one who came through on time. Since there has been some fur pulling from the other girls I expect there will be more full nestboxes tomorrow. In the meantime, Bluefin had a bit of strange litter.

Bluefin was bred to Scorch this time around, a first for her. She kindled nine healthy kits, all of which look to be blues or blacks. Since she doesn’t build the greatest of nests, I decided to fix it up a bit after I saw the babies had all arrived. I didn’t want them to end up at the bottom of the wire with no insulation underneath them.

As I was counting them, I noticed a bit of bloody bedding and placenta at the bottom of the nest. This is totally normal and I went to clean it out. I was surprised to see that it was not just placenta, but two amniotic sacs with two tiny, perfectly-formed bunnies inside. They were both about 1.5 inches long, and actually looked very peaceful, as though they were sleeping.

I have had kits born dead, but they’ve never looked like this. These babies look like they just haven’t had enough gestation time. It occurred to me that rabbits are supposed to be able to get pregnant twice at the same time, since they have two uterine horns. How could this have happened? Well, she had her previous litter of kits in with her until they were ten weeks old.

Ten weeks is super early for a rabbit to sire kits, and I never noticed any funny business going on, but could this be what occurred? If so, it looks like I’m going to have to start separating kits out even sooner.