Rabbits continually groom themselves. Just like cats, they end up ingesting their own fur. Unfortunately, unlike cats, rabbits are not able to vomit. This means that what enters the stomach, must proceed through the digestive track. At times, fur may become impacted in the digestive track causing serious and life threatening complications- known as both, hair balls or wool block.
It is generally easy to spot the symptoms of wool block or a hair ball coming on your bunny.
- They will start to become lethargic.
- They will start eating and drinking less and less, eventually stopping.
- Their stools will become smaller and smaller, maybe even being strung together with tiny pieces of wool.
This can all happen in a single day. Rabbits have to eat, even 24 hours without food is dangerous. In this case, an emergency trip to a good vet will probably be necessary. If it hasn’t progressed too far, the vet will probably give them a dose of a good rabbit laxative, which will probably be the solution. There actually are a few rabbit laxatives available on the internet that can be used if the problem is caught early enough. I have used these products a couple of times, but I prefer to prevent this problem, and the use of laxatives if at all possible. These laxatives can be dangerous, but are preferable to allowing the rabbit to continue deteriorating.
- Good, high fiber, quality pellets in their everyday diet.
- Timothy Hay in unlimited quantities in the cage/hutch.
- Daily greens (such as romaine lettuce) and veggies!
- Limited amounts of fruits
- Exercise- time out of cage, preferably at least 2 hours every day!
Papaya and pineapple are an excellent preventative treatment for a sluggish digestive track due to ingesting fur. Pictured above is organic dried papaya bits, (no-sugar added) purchased from Whole Foods. The use of fresh papaya and pineapple is preferable, but dried is extremely effective and easier to keep on hand, and at times, rabbits will actually prefer the dried to the fresh. The enzymes in both pineapple and papaya are actually able to break down the fibers from their wool, making it pass through their systems much easier.
I use these sparingly, because of the high sugar content of fresh or dried fruit; however, I do give it to them daily. What is wonderful about dried papaya is the fact that rabbits love it so much! I have actually trained my rabbits using just these tiny papaya bits. I let them out for play time in the morning before work, and all evening after work. When I am ready to put them up for the day, or the night, I go get one tiny piece of this, and they run and jump back in their cage on their own. It took some time for them to get the idea, but I only gave them this treat when they were in their cage. I make sure to always say ‘treats’ prior to giving it to them, and now, they run to get it!
Spending time with your rabbit, just as you would a cat or dog, is extremely important. In doing this, you will learn their individual personalities. This is extremely important in being able to identify sickness early enough to treat. Once you learn their habits, it will be easy to notice when they aren’t eating or drinking as they usually do. When they aren’t thrilled to get a usual treat they love, it will be noticed by you quicker.
Pardon my pun, but it is possible for your rabbit to simply have a bad ‘hare’ day, but understanding them is the key to identifying problems early enough to save their lives! If you are scared or worried, take them to the vet. Your vet can help you learn what is normal for your rabbit and what is a potential problem.