Owning rabbits as pets is a little like putting a puzzle together without all the pieces. The vets have of one set of pieces. The breeders have another. And sometimes your own control group holds more pieces than both of them apparently. But you can't have all the pieces at once.
The past three weeks have been sucking on this blog because all my energy has been focused on figuring out what happened to my girl, and how to get the healthiest new bunny I can find on the planet. And as much credit I give the breeders, they can sometimes be a really difficult bunch to deal with. They are fairly uncommunicative, and I've been without a pet for the first time in half my life. This has been super frustrating.
It turns out my girl inhaled food which caused her lungs to fill with fluid and die. Secondarily she also had e. cuniculi. Which is a disease that I have tried with all my fiber to avoid. I mean, I can't even explain to you how hard I try to get a rabbit without this disease. But I guess some things you don't learn until one dies and you have to get them cut open to find out what happened. Most people will not do a necropsy because it's expensive. And even I have only had two rabbits where I paid to have this done. They were very sudden and bizarre deaths. Both had e. cuniculi. As I have found out - I likely have a "one and three" chance of having a rabbit with it.
The woman who did the necropsy is apparently a legend in the house rabbit world. I guess at one point they started testing all the rabbits that came through their shelter and 33% were hot for this protozoan. The last time this swept through my house I had everyone in the house tested. I had one negative in a sea of positives. And fully 90% of the rabbits tested in my control group had been exposed to varying degrees. Also note - I have only tested roughly half of the rabbits I've ever owned. Likely my control group infection was much higher.
People will give you conflicting stories about how long this bacteria survives and how it can be transmitted. Some people say it can stay alive forever. Others only in the contagion period. I wasn't sure if I could bring a new rabbit into my house until the spores had died. As I said - I am at 0 rabbits right now.
Also, at a 33% positive hot rate, I wasn't sure how I was going to find a healthy rabbit. That is a lot of percent. The only comfort came when I read one of my old posts. I had that negative living right in the middle of bunnies with varying positive titers. I also had a positive that later tested negative. And most of those lived into old age. the 9-11 year range. I thought just being exposed to e. cuniculi was a death sentence. But now I think I'm going to have everyone tested and take a different approach.. Which is also something most people won't do. It's expensive. I'm still trying with all my might to avoid this disease, but that might not actually be a realistic expectation.
So... right now I could be driving to Oregon and Southern California in a couple of weeks to restock my brood. Yes, I'm probably getting two from different breeders because if you've lived with pets, and all of a sudden you have no pets - it really kinda sucks. You have no backup to cry on. Preliminarily I'm going to name them Time Bomb, and Insurance.
I don't really like to blog this stuff because it makes everyone sad. But I need to so other people can see you can really have bunnies that live to normal old age with this bacteria inside them because even I had forgotten. Or in case I need to search my own blog when another one caves.