Bigfoot and Fanny enjoying life and each other here at Friendly Farms. Geese bond for life, and these two have spent all 13 of their years together as a devoted couple.
Seven years ago, the California Legislature voted to make foie gras, the diseased livers of force-fed ducks or geese, illegal in our great State. This July that ban goes into effect, freeing our water-loving fowl from this cruel short life and gruesome fate. We here at Friendly Farms are delighted to see the end of this torture, and thank the elected officials who voted with compassion for our feathered friends and all of the animal advocates behind the scenes who brought attention to this cruelty.
Want to learn more about how your food choices impact animals? Vegan Outreach produces a number of excellent, easy to understand publications.
Want to know how your food choices impact your own health? The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) and Nutrition Facts will keep you informed.
Thank you for all you do for animals!
Beau, on the left, has the drooping lips of a bunny who has had his incisors removed due to severe malocclusion. Diana, on the right, has healthy teeth.
Rabbits and guinea pigs, along with other mammals such as prairie dogs, pikas, mice, chinchillas, beavers and rats, have what is known as open-rooted teeth. These teeth grow throughout the life of the animal, and are kept worn down to the proper length through the normal biting off and chewing of tough plant matter- stems, leaves, branches and roots. This is one reason why hay is such an important part of the diet of domesticated rabbits, guinea pigs, and chinchillas.
A maloccluded rabbit. Eating becomes impossible for these animals, and they starve to death if their incisors are not trimmed or removed. This bunny had his incisors surgically removed by an experienced vet, and became a well-loved companion rabbit.
Malocclusion can occur for many reasons, and is a life-threatening issue if not attended to. Incisors can be trimmed every 3 – 4 weeks by a person properly trained in the procedure, or the incisors can be removed by a rabbit-savvy vet. Bunnies who have had their incisors removed do very well. They need large leaves torn up for them, and hard vegetables and fruits such as carrots and apples chopped or grated, but can usually manage pellets, hay, and most greens just fine.
Sometimes tooth roots can become infected and abscess. Surgery and rabbit-and-guinea pig-safe antibiotics can save animals and give them back a normal life in many cases.
Here are two medical cases that we currently dealing with: Nellie and Marcus. Their symptoms are typical of patients with abscessed tooth roots.
Nellie had her eye removed due to it being pushed out by a fast-growing abscess underneath. She is on antibiotics and we flush her eye socket daily to keep it clean. Nellie is cheerful and has a good appetite, and we hope to have the infection cleared soon. She has had dental and TMJ issues for the past couple of years which we have been able to manage with supplemental feeding, pain meds, antibiotics, and regular oral exams.
Nellie lives happily with her four friends doing all the things guinea pigs love to do- eating, sleeping, and standing by the baby-gate jumping and wheeking in anticipation of more food.
Update 5/24/11: Nellie is doing very well! Her weight is back up to where it should be for the first time in two years. We hope to have her off of antibiotics soon.
Marcus’ first symptoms were a weepy eye and intermittent drooling. The vet prescribed antibiotics, but then a huge abscess appeared on his neck. The vet opened two incisions to reach the interlacing pockets of the abscess, which she cleaned and we flush daily.
We are hoping to clear the infection medically, but if this is not possible, the vet may have to do more extensive surgery, which would likely result in his having his two lower incisors removed. If this is the case, we will have his upper incisors removed at the same time to eliminate the necessity for monthly tooth trims. Without lower incisors for his uppers to wear down against, he would have to have his upper incisors trimmed every month for the rest of his life.
Update 5/24/11: Marcus is also doing very well! His abscesses have been difficult to eliminate, with tentacles reaching up into his jaw as well as through his neck, but our persistence is paying off. The antibiotics, flushing, and weekly cleanings by the vet have cleared up most of the infection now and it looks like Marcus will be able to keep his teeth! He has also slowly been regaining his weight, and is a handsome looking boy once again.
Here are links to further reading about malocclusion in rabbits and guinea pigs:
When Teeth Turn to Tusks and What to do When Bunny Foo Won’t Chew
Donations to support our work are gratefully accepted! They can be made to the Friendly Farms Medical Fund at the Avian and Exotic Clinic of the Monterey Peninsula.
Update 11/10/09: Paco has moved outside with the flock again. We miss his cheerful presence in the house, but we do sleep better without the crowing at 3:30 am.
Update 10/23/09: Paco has finished his meds and is now spending his days outside with the rest of the flock. He still likes to come inside to sleep at night, however, so we have left his carrier set up in the living room for him. He walks in just as it is getting dark, has a good snooze, gets up to eat a few times during the night, and then heads out again in the morning.
Update 10/15/09: Paco is spending most of his time hanging out in the living room now. He has started eating on his own, and has several good crowing sessions each day. No, the bunnies don’t appreciate his vocal talents!
Paco has a vet appointment today. Fingers crossed that he is still on track to be back with the rest of the flock next Tues.
At Friendly Farms, there is a flock of about twenty feral chickens living in the area. When we moved in, they lived primarily at the neighbors. When the neighbors moved out and new folks moved in, the chickens didn’t appreciate the new dog and so they moved over to our side of the fence. This flock sleeps in a large ivy bush adjacent to the house and does a great job eradicating the snails and bugs they encounter. Our earwig population has taken a big dive with these birds on the job!
So, on Saturday, this guy comes up to our front door and lets us know he isn’t feeling so well. In fact he lay down in front of the steps and was just too weak to deal with us, the potential predators. So Lori & I sprang into action.
Do you know how difficult it is to find a chicken doctor on a Saturday afternoon? We called several locations in Monterey, Santa Cruz, and Santa Clara counties. Saturday afternoon is not the best time to find a specialist in this field! Our good friend Mia came to the rescue with the suggestion to call East Lake Animal Clinic in Watsonville. Dr. Casper was on duty, and he quickly sized up the situation. Paco was given a thorough exam and given a hopeful prognosis. The poor guy is carrying around a lot of fluid in his lower air sac and needs R & R as well as antibiotics to set him straight.
For the next eight or so days, Paco is a house guest here at the farm. He is living in a large carrier in our living room. The bunnies have gotten used to his presence and he hasn’t caused much of a stir – yet (he did start crowing this morning). He is being fed through a feeding tube twice daily. Lori makes up a tasty mash of strained veggies mixed with Exact baby bird feed. He also gets his meds (Baytril) with the mix. Here you see him out for a quick stroll. He has been making one pass around the living room and then he goes back to sleep. Please send your good wishes for Paco’s speedy recovery. We’ll keep you posted on how it goes!
Update 10/13: Angel and Cadbury are a delightful couple who enjoy each others’ company very much! Angel no longer has a head tilt and we have not seen a seizure for a couple of years now. Though nursing a rabbit through a head tilt episode is heart-wrenching and seems to take forever, many rabbits return to happy, healthy lives, and Angel is a great example! She and Cadbury are permanent residents of Friendly Farms.
Update 4/9/10: Angel is now living with handsome Cadbury! Contact us for more information about this sweet couple.
Update 1/20/10: Lovely Angel is doing very well! She is back to using a regular litter box, and loves to do laps through her tunnel when she is out for her run. Angel has now been spayed. She will always have a head tilt, and has occasional seizures because of the neurological damage from the e. cuniculi, but she is a very loving and happy girl.
Angel is a darling Holland lop girl with head tilt. She came to Friendly Farms when her family decided that they do not have time for a special needs bunny.
Angel’s condition comes from an organism called encephalitozoon cuniculi
(e. cuniculi, or just ec for short). E. cuniculi is a protozoan parasite that can affect the brain and/or organs, and common neurologic signs include head tilt with rolling, hind-end weakness, urinary incontinence, or kidney damage. Rabbits can contract it from ingesting spores from the urine of an actively infected animal, or from their mother through the placenta.
While many rabbits carry e. cuniculi, few become disabled. We have had many e. cuniculi positive bunnies over the years, and have several living with us at present. These include Boo, who has hind-end weakness, urinary incontinence, and a kidney stone, Sarah, who has hind-end weakness, Rose, who shows no symptoms, but has tested positive, and Cinnamon, CJ, Grisabella and Trevor, who show no symptoms, but have all lived with ec+ rabbits and therefore have likely been exposed to, and carry, ec.
Angel’s head tilt was severe when she first came to us, and she was rolling often. She needed supplemental syringe feeding, sub-cutaneous fluids, and eye lubrication, along with oral medications, and a safe, padded living space. She is now able to feed herself and hop around a bit on her own, though she does still get confused and hop in circles at times. We anticipate continued slow progress over the next few months. Many rabbits fully recover from ec episodes, though some retain varying degrees of head tilt.
Your donations allow us to save bunnies like Angel from euthanasia and assist them in regaining their quality of life. Donations can be made to the Friendly Farms Medical Fund at the Avian and Exotic Clinic of the Monterey Peninsula by check or credit card. Or contact us here at Friendly Farms if you would like to sponsor Angel.
Boo is a shedding professional! Read more about him on our Adoptables page.
Is the fur flying at your house? It certainly is at Friendly Farms! Many of our bunnies are shedding their winter coats right now, and we are working everyday to keep up with them!
Rabbits are especially vulnerable to deadly hair blockages from swallowed fur when they are shedding, so it is doubly important to help them with their grooming during these times. As bunnies can’t vomit, everything that is ingested has to pass through the entire length of their long digestive tract to be eliminated. This is another reason why feeding a high fiber grass hay based diet is important.
Most rabbits shed every three months; a heavy shed followed by a lighter one. Some bunnies lose a lot of fur at once and will need to be groomed several times a day while they are shedding. Brushing your rabbit at least once a week year-round is a good rule to go by, and then as often as needed when she is replacing her coat.
“Watch us change this navy blue towel to white before your eyes!” Chester and Danika are permanent residents of Friendly Farms.
Almost all of our rabbits are short-haired and we rarely have to use more than barely damp hands to groom them. We have found that stroking their head and ears with one hand and passing the other hand over their body to collect loose fur usually allows us to continue the session for as long as we like without the rabbit getting upset. Many rabbits enjoy a brushing with a soft bristled brush, if you prefer. Their hindquarters are often where you’ll find the most tufts of loose fur that need to be removed.
Even short-haired bunnies can get mats around their tails, especially if they are overweight, so be sure to check this area during your grooming sessions. A flea comb, mat splitter, or mat rake can be helpful in breaking up mats in short-haired rabbits.
Gorgeous Clyde is easy to love, but his beautiful coat needs regular attention to keep looking good.
Our long-haired bunnies need grooming at least twice a week when they are not shedding, and we brush them out well every other day when their old coat is being replaced. A hair pick works well for breaking up mats, and then we use a regular comb to smooth them out. A slicker brush can be used for the finishing touches- just make sure the bristles are not sharp and scratching bunny’s delicate skin. Keeping long-haired bunny’s fur trimmed short can be helpful in preventing mats.
Patience and a lot of strokes makes grooming a fun time for everyone, so be sure to set aside enough time so you do not feel the need to rush things. For more information about keeping your bunny looking and feeling good, visit the House Rabbit Society website at rabbit.org.