Two days ago I went to re-breed Tasty. She checked out in all the health conditions and seemed to be in a good mood. This went extremely well as she lifted for Nutro who succesfully preformed his duties not once but three times in just 15 minutes. Clearly being in a larger, sunnier cage with fresh air constantly is doing him some good. His mood has improved massively.
Four hours later I brought her back out to re-breed which was also succesful but noticed an off-color in one of Nutro’s ears.
Ear mites. It looks like they’d been building up for a little while and I simply hadn’t noticed because I was so focused on getting him outside. No wonder he was always so jumpy! Ear mites can build up quite quickly because they first affect the rabbit deep within the ear canal and then begin to climb on the innermost part of the rabbit’s ear where it is nearly impossible to see without a lot of work. As such they can be pretty late in detection. Luckilly I caught this particular case in time to find out…
That it had spread to three of my four adults. 😛 Tasty, who I had just shoved into his cage twice that day is clean… For now. Purina, Evo and Nutro all have the mites (although Nutro’s was the worst) to varying degrees.
I e-mailed my vet who is supposed to be a rabbit expert asking for a more holistic treatment for my rabbits. The typical treatment is an oral medication of ivermectin which is fairly toxic. Since I have a nursing doe and these meat rabbits are supposed to be raised under certain standards I wanted to avoid using lots of chemicals at any cost. I received a response telling me to come in for a costly test and that the only good treatment is ivermectin and that I should just wait 48 hours before slaughter.
Turns out that ear mites can be treated easily with mineral oil. Apparently this is a remedy used for many years all across the world. The oil smothers the mites, helps to alleviate the itching the rabbits experience, helps the flaking, cracked skin to heal… And when you mix in a bit of tea tree oil it even helps promote a healthy inner-ear ecosystem. I slipped several drops of baby oil into the ears of the three clearly affected adults. Then I wiped down each of the baby rabbit’s ears as well as Tasty’s with the same oil… Each with a fresh bit of paper towel. So far the baby rabbits seem to be free of the mites but since they’re microscopic it can be hard to tell. Either way I will probably start giving them baby-bunny sized doses as a prevention.
The most likely culprit for all of these mites is the hay but it could also be some of the reclaimed wood used in the hutch or grow-cages. The solution; Lots of cleaning and some Dietomatous Earth. I meant to pick this up the day I went to get feed but I forgot. This is a light powder that is completely edible and safe for animals to digest… But is deadly for bugs. It is a non-chemical pesticide in that the consistancy of the powder is like knives on a microscopic level. It creates thousands of little cuts in bugs and they dehydrate until they are dead. It even works on bedbugs. It is actually added to grains like oats and corn to prevent pests. I will be picking this up on Friday and covering cages and hay in it for pest prevention.
I will also be finding myself a new vet. This sort of thing has been a consistant problem with my vet for a while now and I would really like a more practical care policy in regards to my animals. I am hunting down holistic vets in the area and sending some letters out. Hopefully I can find one that suits my needs.