Certificate In Leporidae Care
Before the consultation make sure the rabbit travels in a carrier, with access to hay and water.
It should not have been fasted before anesthesia, although a short starvation period of 1–2h is
required to ensure the mouth is empty and the stomach is not overfull.
Clinical examination: check eyes, ears and fur (for parasites), auscultation of the heart and
lungs, check the lymph nodes, outer genitalia, take temperature. Also check for wounds, bitemarks, check paws and claws, weighing
Questions for owner
what does the rabbit eat (types of food, amount) and drink
what kind of environment does the rabbit live in (housing, other pets/fellow rabbits)
does the rabbit get exercise (is it active outside the cage?)
is it being handled every day and is it used to being touched/handled
is the rabbit healthy in their mind
make sure the owners know about risks when it comes to anesthesia
The rabbit should be kept in a quiet and calm room in the clinic, without other animals (predators, such as cats, dogs and ferrets). It should have a familiar bedding (hay) and it should not have to wait for too long for the procedure to start. They should have a nice temperature in the room.
Calm and gentle handling is necessary to keep the rabbit from stressing.
Castration of a male rabbit (age: 7 months, weight: 2 kg)
Using this anesthesia-protocol an i.v.-route is required (venous catheter in the ear). Also intubation with an endotracheal tube is necessary.
Equipment for surgery:
instruments (scalpel, needle holder, peans (forceps), tweezers (anatomic and surgical), scissors
sterile surgical gloves
heating for the rabbit (blanket, heating pad, etc)
emergency-case: acute drugs and medications for emergencies
surgical cleaning before procedure
monitoring equipment: capnograph, BP-measurements, pulse oximeter, thermometer
anesthesia-recording + stethoscope
Clinical parameters during surgery
Some medications give negative cardiovascular depressions (lower heart rate, lower espiratory rate, lower blood pressure). During anesthesia rabbits tend to get hypothermic (lower body temperature). It is important to know which side effects the drugs you are using have. Heating during surgery is also really important.
The heart rate might go as low as 130/min (beats per minute). If the temperature goes below 38 °C the rabbit is too cold, but if it gets over 40 °C it is too warm.
Post-operative care and recovery
After surgery it is important to make sure the rabbit stays warm (hypothermia is common).
An incubator is often used. Extubation. When the rabbit is awake, it’s important to start feeding it. It should have access to hay, but also it should be fed with a recovery food (such as Critical Care). When the rabbit is at its normal temperature it’s important to remove any electrical heating pads (they tend to chew on them). The rabbit should be closely monitored until it goes home - to make sure it is eating and drinking well, but also to assess pain. Pain medication has been given.
Instructions for owners
The owners need to monitor their rabbit, make sure he is eating and drinking, but also passing
faeces. Pain medication is given once a day orally for 5 days. If he is not eating he needs to
come back for a check-up.
Also, if there are any female rabbits in the household, they need to keep them separated. Male
rabbits can be fertile several weeks after castration.