Sick Bunny

RHD Vaccine Clinic

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Rabbitats will be staging a RHD vaccine clinic for all Rabbitats fosters, adopters and volunteers on Friday (Oct. 19) from 5 pm to 6:30 pm at the Little Paws Animal Clinic in Steveston. Please email or join our group if you have an unvaccinated rabbit. We will be able to do at least 40 rabbits, once we have our own rabbits taken care of (we have less than 40) we can open it up to other rabbits, however the costs at this time are unknown, we have to consult with Little Paws. (The charges at previous clinics have been around $40). Keep in touch via our group! While the RHDV2 virus has been inactive since the summer, history dictates it can reoccur at any time in any location, we STRONGLY recommend vaccinations for all rabbits.

Tigger Update 2

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Hi all, Tigger (or Oscar) is through the surgery and awake, so far, so good. Thanks so much to Adam, Joseph and Diana at Little Paws, it took up their whole day off.
They opted to amputate, they didn’t have a plate small enough, pins aren’t an option and they were afraid the recovery time and chance of complications was too great. They manipulated his other leg/hip back into the socket and hopefully it will recover without being compromised, otherwise we’ll be looking for a wheelchair.
Right now we’re looking for some pretty intensive foster care, especially if he doesn’t start eating. He’ll need three different meds two and three times a day. The incision will need to be iced and he may need to be fed Critical Care.
It would also be helpful (and potentially necessary) to find someone who can give him shots.
His cage is going to require at first constant cleaning, we really need to make sure he stays dry and doesn’t pick up an infection. Once he starts getting back on his feet (after a lot of cage rest) he’ll need a surface with traction, he can’t be on hardwood or linoleum.
Some people have offered to foster and/or adopt, thanks so much, but as you can tell, we really need to make sure it’s the right fit.
Thanks also to everybody who donated, sent prayers and gave advice.

Bunny Emergency

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We have a bunny emergency. Somebody found an abandoned rabbit with a broken leg, they couldn’t find anywhere to take the poor thing (the agencies supposedly mandated to do this apparently can’t or won’t), so they called us and we couldn’t say no. The rabbit is at the Little Paws Animal Clinic in Richmond (Steveston) and will be having surgery when we get everything in place. Dr. Avitan will be giving us an awesome deal but we still need to fundraise to cover the costs and we’ll need a special needs foster home for this rabbit.

Our YouCaring fundraising account has been deleted (!) as they transition to GoFundMe (which doesn’t take Paypal) so funds can go through Rabbitats’ email address ( for both Paypal and e-transfers, or contact Little Paws to put a payment on our account (604-241-7387). The Donate button on our Facebook page links to our website ( donate page which also takes credit cards.

Please donate if you can.  We’re already stretched to the max.

Our bunnies are getting old.

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Our bunnies are getting old. We had to let little Spot go, she was one of our earliest girls, she was caught as an adult and with us over five years. She was skin and bones. Dr. Rana gave her a chance to recover with supplements and one-on-one care, but her condition seemed terminal so we had to say goodbye. And now Ingrid, another old girl, has a facial abscess. Thanks again to Dr. Rana for staying late to do the surgery. We also have an issue with a little grey rabbit we’re calling Squirt. He’s always been a bit of a loner but didn’t appear to be picked on until now. He has a bad bite on his eye. We’d like to get him out of the colony when her recovers, but unless we can set up another little ‘rabbitat’ somewhere soon, we’re not sure that’s possible. Poor Squirt! Here is a link to our ailing Sick Bunny Fund. Any help will be much appreciated.

Sick baby

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With the RHD virus potentially in our area, there are few options for people who stumble upon sick rabbits. But turning down critically ill babies is beyond difficult, so we enlisted the help of a friend with biosecurity awareness, a huge heart and no rabbits of her own. Laura-Leah Shaw dropped everything she was doing to go pick up this little guy after Kevin from Kanata Blankets in Richmond called us about a street baby that wasn’t running away from him. It turns out he was suffering from injuries and a terrible case of flystrike. It’s apparent he was picked up by a bird and dropped on his face given the tell-tale talon marks — and the lack of front teeth. We have to give huge kudos to the Terra Nova Veterinary Clinic in west Richmond for seeing him so late and doing so much.  (They’re a great clinic, we’ve always liked them). So far the little guy is hanging in there. He’s hungry and trying to eat, but that’s not working well given the lack of teeth. Deanna Hamm is heading over to Laura-Leah’s with some Critical Care and Wombaroo rabbit milk. Wish him luck!!

RHD Information Sheet for Pet Rabbit Guardians

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What is Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease?
Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease (RHD) is caused by a virus in the calicivirus family. There are a number of related viruses, some which do not cause disease. RHD was first reported in B.C. in February 2018 in the Nanaimo area of Vancouver Island. Follow-up laboratory work identified an RHD virus. Since then, the disease is suspected to have killed rabbits in at least one other community on Vancouver Island and is confirmed in one location on the Lower Mainland (Annacis Island). All dead rabbits have been feral European or domestic rabbits. All domestic rabbits are susceptible, so pet rabbits are at risk. RHD is a serious and extremely contagious disease with high mortality rates. Most infected rabbits will die but some have survived. The disease does not affect humans or other species including dogs and cats. The virus can persist in the environment for several weeks and may survive both heat and freezing.

How does RHD virus spread?
RHD virus spreads easily between rabbits through direct contact with bedding, feed and water as well as feces and body fluids. It can also spread between areas through contaminated materials (food, bedding, water, surfaces, human clothing/ hands, vehicles), dead rabbits, insects and wildlife (flies, birds, mammals) that have contacted or fed on infected rabbits. What are the symptoms of RHD? The virus causes hemorrhages by affecting the blood vessels and attacks the liver and other organs. Most affected rabbits die suddenly, but can show signs of listlessness, lack of co-ordination, behavioural changes, or trouble breathing before death. There is often bleeding from the nose at the time of death. Once infected, signs of illness usually occur within 1-9 days.

How can I protect my pet rabbit?

  • Minimize exposure to the virus
    • Limit human visitors who have been in areas where the disease was reported and avoid your travel to these areas.
    • Avoid taking your rabbit to shows/fairs or introducing any new rabbits into your home.
    • Ask visitors to remove footwear before entering your home and wash their hands before handling your rabbit.
    • Use designated clean clothing that has not been outside when caring for your rabbit.
    • Clean and disinfect any rabbit supplies entering your home (see below).
    • Use only high-quality commercial feed from manufacturers with good quality control.
    • Don’t use wild plants or vegetables or grass grown in areas accessed by feral rabbits or other wildlife, as food.
    • Remove or tightly secure anything outside (feed, garbage) that could attract feral rabbits, wildlife, or flies.
    • Exercise rabbits outdoors only in secured areas with no possibility of contamination. o Do not allow cats or dogs who go outside to potentially contaminated areas to access your rabbit’s housing area.
  • Monitoring and prevention
    • Monitor your rabbit daily for signs of illness and contact your veterinarian immediately with any concerns.
    • Talk to your veterinarian about vaccinating. A vaccine is not yet available in Canada but a process is underway and a vaccine may be available later this year.

How do I clean and disinfect rabbit supplies?
Feeding and housing should be cleaned with soap and water, and then disinfected with a disinfectant that is effective against caliciviruses following manufacturer instructions. Most household cleaners are not effective against this type of virus. Advised to be effective: bleach (1:10 dilution), potassium peroxymonosulfate (Virkon), accelerated hydrogen peroxide (Prevail, Accel, and Peroxigard). The latter disinfectants are more user-friendly than bleach and may be obtained from your veterinarian.

Who do I contact with questions?
Contact your local veterinarian with questions about your rabbit. If you find a dead rabbit or rabbits outside, do not handle the rabbit(s), and contact your local animal control. Veterinarians and shelters have access to additional professional resources and support. For more information, visit

More information from the BC SPCA

Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Information Sheet for Rabbit Guardians (PDF)

Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease published by Iowa State University (PDF)

We need your support!

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EMERGENCY!  The extremely contagious Rabbit Hemorrhagic Virus 2 has been found on Canada’s Vancouver Island and it’s likely to spread.  Our rescue is more at risk than others because we take in abandoned rabbits from the street and house them in protected but outdoor colonies.  We need to vaccinate our rabbits.  The vaccine is insanely expensive, it’s being imported from the UK under an emergency drug release program.  Please help us cover these costs!

RHD Outbreak!

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Horrible news out of Vancouver Island. They have confirmed an outbreak of Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease (RHD). This is incredibly contagious and deadly. Please keep your rabbits indoors. There is no word yet if the virus is naturally occurring or released by someone as a method of pest control. The deaths have occurred in area heavily populated by the feral domestic rabbits considered pests, but the virus is also occurs naturally when this kind of density exists. We’re reaching out for more information.

Rabbitats, more so than any other rescue, can be affected by this. We will start taking immediate precautions and hope the virus dies out before it hits the mainland. Our thoughts and prayers to our rabbit friends on the Island.……

More info on the RHD outbreak… (Please note that the date mentioned in this video is likely wrong, Dr. Walton posted that he was going by second hand info when he said it was Feb. 18th, the Nanaimo News story pegged it as Feb. 27th, so that’s the probable date of the first deaths).