Q- We recently lost a bunny, with another  poorly. Advice from the Web is mostly directed at pets, often advising rushing  bunny to the vet, not economically viable for a meat rabbit on a marginal smallholding.

A – Rabbits have simple stomachs like ours,  but their caecum (like our appendix) is  large and involved in fermenting roughage  (like a cow’s first stomach). Rabbits need  roughage in the diet from sources such as hay.Any changes in diet need to be gradual as it will  affect the microbial flora in the caecum; if the gut  cannot process a new food properly, gas will  accumulate. Feeds which are rich and too easily  passed through the stomach can also result in  diarrhoea and/or gas accumulation. Any gas  accumulation and alterations in gut motility can  cause colic and become serious.  If the gut is static (ileus) which is normally the  case, a vet can prescribe Metaclopramide which  will ‘kick start’ the gut. Laxatives are of  questionable use as the issue is not normally  faecal consistency – it’s about gut motility.  Keeping your rabbit well hydrated with an  electrolyte solution is of utmost importance.  Massaging as you did may aid gas removal and is recommended.

Do you have an email welfare query? If so, send it to Jenny at vetsforum.csh@archant.co.uk

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