Rabbits and Ferrets
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What class are rabbits in?
What is the latin name for rabbit?
What are some of the most common breeds of rabbits?
- Netherland dwarf
- English rabbit
What is the a) lifespan b) heart rate c) respiratory rate c) temperature of a rabbit?
- a) 5-12 years (average lifespan is 8 years old)
- b) 180-300 bpm
- c) 30-60 per min
- d) 38.5-40°C
Why is it always important to correctly restrain rabbits?
They have a fragile skeleton and so incorrect restraint can result in fractures of the vertebrae. Also when restraining them you need to be sure that you do not compress the abdomen as the abdominal organs can press on the lungs and make it hard for them to breathe.
Rabbits have open/closed rooted teeth?
Open rooted teeth
When can red urine be normal for rabbits?
Due to pigmentation caused by food or medicine that has been ingested
What is the function of the saculus rotundus in rabbits?
It ensures that food doesn't move from the caecum back into the small intestine
What structure controls the rate of peristalsis in rabbits?
The fusus coli
What is caecotrophy?
The ingestion of soft faeces produced by rabbits
What is the function of the mucus covering caecotrophs?
It has a protective function - it protects caecotrophs from the low gastric pH of the stomach
How do you sex rabbits?
Females will have a slit like opening whereas males have a circular opening
When do rabbits become sexually mature?
What is the a) gestation period b) litter size c) weaning time, for rabbits?
- a) 28-32 days
- b) 4-12
- c) 6 weeks
Describe signs that indicate a doe is about to give birth
The doe will pull fur from her dewlap and abdomen to build a nest and keep the kittens warm
Why should male and female rabbits be kept separate around the time of parturition?
As 24 hours after birth the doe is ready to get pregnant again
What are the minimum requirements for a rabbit hutch?
- Big enough to allow rabbits to lie down and stretch out comfortably in all directions
- Tall enough for them to stand up on their back legs without their ears touching the roof
- Long enough to allow at least three hops from one end to the other
State requirements for housing rabbits
- A hiding box
- Litter tray
- Newspaper/hay/straw bedding (not sawdust or scented products)
- Toys eg drainpipes, tubes, etc
What is the optimal housing temperature for rabbits?
State three benefits of exercise for rabbits
- Helps maintain a good body condition
- Improves general fitness
- Promotes gut motility
- Prevents obesity
- Provides enrichment for the rabbit
What is the best combination when keeping two pet rabbits?
Neutered male and neutered female
Why should rabbits and guinea pigs not be kept together?
- Their management is completely different
- Rabbits often bully guinea pigs
- Rabbits can carry Bordetella (a respiratory virus) which can be fatal for guinea pigs
Describe the diet of a healthy rabbit
- Hay and grass should be provided all the time. The amount of hay given to a rabbit daily should be the same size as the rabbit's body.
- A small handful of pellets should be given once/twice daily
- Leafy greens can be given twice daily
What type of hay should be avoided and why?
Alflfa as it is high in calcium, which can lead to kidney stones and sludge in the urine.
What is the difference between digestible and indigestible fibres?
- Digestible fibres are <0.3mm in length and composed of pectins, hemicellulose and cellulose. They promote caecal fermentation and provide nutrients.
- Indigestible fibres are >0.3mm in length and are composed of cellulose and lignin. They promote gut motility and provide optimal dental wear.
Why can rabbits not be solely provided with pellets?
Pellets contain mainly digestible fibre particles so they will not spend enough time chewing and develop diseases associated with lack of indigestible fibre (dental disease, gut stasis, etc).
What are the disadvantages of cereal mixes?
Although cereal mixes contain a mixture of indigestible and digestible fibres rabbits tend to select the sweeter low fibre grains. This selective feeding can eventually cause them to develop nutritional deficiencies.
Carrots and fruit should not be part of the main diet of a rabbit. What can they be used for?
- Treats for training purposes
- To show affection
- To stimulate the appetite of anorexic rabbits
What two diseases are rabbits vaccinated against?
Myxomatosis and Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease
State three things that neutering can prevent in rabbits
- Pathologies of the genital tract
- False pregnancy in does
- Behavioural problems
- Unwanted pregnancies
State 3 husbandry related pathologies that can occur in rabbits
- Dental disease, reduced gut motility, diarrhoea - due to diet poor in fibres
- Urine scalding
- Stress and mites
- Untidy matted fur
Describe how to properly restrain a rabbit and put it back in its pen
- To properly restrain a rabbit, scoop the rabbit against your body with one arm and protect the back legs. The head is placed under the arm so the rabbit cannot see (this keeps them more relaxed). Use the other hand to control the rabbit.
- When placing a rabbit in its pen you must always place their back end down first.
What family are ferrets classed under?
What is the latin name for ferret?
Musterla putorius furo
What do ferrets spend most of their time doing?
Sleeping - up to 18 hours a day
What happens to ferrets during the summer?
They experience a seasonal weight loss where they can lose up to 40% of their bodyweight
What is the a) lifespan b) average body weight (male and female) c) heart rate d) respiratory rate e) body temperature, for ferrets?
- a) 8-10 years
- b) male = 1200g / female = 600g
- c) 200-250 bpm
- d) 35
- e) 37.8-40°C
How can you tell the difference between male and female ferrets?
Males have a larger anogenital distance, have an os penis and are generally larger than females. Females have a shorter anogenital distance and an obvious swollen vagina when in season.
Describe a healthy ferret diet
Ferrets are strict carnivores. They require a diet high in protein which must be animal, not plant, sourced and fat. Their diet should be low in carbohydrates and fibre. Working ferrets tend to eat fresh rabbit carcasses, rodents and chicks. Whereas pet ferrets are usually fed complete dry ferret food.
Why should protein in a ferret diet be animal not plant sourced?
Plant protein can cause problems such as bladder stones and urinary tract disease
How often should ferrets be offered food?
They should have food all the time as they have a high metabolism and short GI tract
How long does oestrous in ferrets last?
True or false: ferrets are induced ovulators?
When do ferrets become sexually mature?
~9 months (in their first spring)
What is a common problem in jills (intact females)?
Persistent oestrous leads to oestrogen toxicity and bone marrow suppression. This suppression causes severe aplastic anaemia and blood loss.
How will ferrets with hyperoestrogenism present?
Bilaterally symmetric alopecia, weakness, anorexia and pale mucous membranes.
How can hyperoestrogenism be treated?
- Human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) to stimulate oestrous
- 'Jill jab' (proligestone)
- GnRH agonists implants
- Vasectomised hob
What disease must ferrets be vaccinated against?
What do ferrets require to travel?
A minimum of an EU PETS passport and an identification microchip
Describe how to correctly restrain a ferret
You can place one hand around their neck and shoulder whilst placing the other hand around their body. Ferrets can be easily scruffed as their skin is very thick.
What is a good trick to relax a ferret?
Rub them behind the forelimbs and swing them gently.
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