Note: This is a re-print from the Purina Rabbit Newsletter for July 2012. When the Link is available on line, I will include it.
Pathogens and parasites lurk everywhere, just waiting for the opportunity to infect your animals! To keep your rabbitry healthy and hopping, utilize a proper biosecurity program to keep out pathogens the animals have not yet been exposed to and to minimize the impact of endemic pathogens.
“Shower in, shower out.”
True biosecurity involves people “showering in and showering out”. However, most rabbitries are not set up with such facilities. You can go a long way toward minimizing human transmission of pathogens by:
- Providing a foot bath or disposable foot coverings for anyone entering the facility.
- Providing coveralls for visitors (always wash after use).
- Requiring visitors to wash hands and wear gloves before handling animals.
- Inquire as to whether a visitor has recently been to another rabbitry and record the name and location of that rabbitry. Ideally, you’d like to know if that rabbitry has an outbreak and be forewarned.
- Making sure that children understand the importance of biosecurity. For instance, you do not want your child to do chores in the rabbitry after playing with his best friend’s new rabbit/kitten/puppy/hamster/etc.
Maintain strict cleanliness in the rabbitry.
- Use cages and feeding/watering utensils that can be easily disinfected. Stay away from wood if you can. Wood is a poor material for maintaining a clean facility.
- Clean and sanitize feeding and watering equipment regularly.
- Remove manure regularly.
- Maintain good ventilation.
- Sequence care of animals such that those with the highest health status (usually young animals) are cared for first.
- Maintain an effective rodent control program.
- Ensure that other animals, including dogs and cats, do not enter the rabbitry.
- Disinfect all cages/crates used for transporting animals after every use.
- Windows should have screens to keep out insects, birds, rodents, etc.
- Store feed properly and inspect closely before feeding.
Practice animal control.
- Monitor animals closely every day and immediately remove and isolate any animals displaying disease symptoms. The isolation room should be in a separate building, preferably downwind of your rabbitry.
- Isolate/quarantine any new rabbits or rabbits that have left the rabbitry and are returning. Quarantine should last a minimum of 30 days.
- Always care for quarantined animals after caring for the rest of the rabbits. Never wear clothing or footwear into the rabbitry that has been used in the isolation facility.
- Establish a relationship with a local veterinarian. Even if the vet is relatively inexperienced with rabbits, over time you will both learn much from each other and be successful in developing a good herd health management program.