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New buns on the horizon after tragic loss - tips so it doesn't happen again, please.


New Kit
Hello all,

Well, its been a while since I last posted, after our two young rabbits died very quickly, one after the other. I posted the whole grisly affair in My fault - a warning. First of all, I must give my sincere thanks to everybody that supported me in that thread - it coincided with a very dark time in my life and I was very weak emotionally and extremely fragile.

Losing the rabbits nearly finished me, sounds silly but it was on top of lots of other things that I wont go into, I ended up on anti-depressants for a while but I have managed to find my strength again and i am moving along quite nicely, thanks, partly at least, to you guys.

So, its time to move on, the hutch has been empty since we lost Tommy in October of last year, a short while after we lost Tim. I have been thinking a lot about what happened and this is what I put it down to:

I think that Tim either caught RHD2, or ate something in the garden that he shouldn't have, probably the former. Tommy, I think died of a broken heart, a few days before I was planning to get him another companion, I even had the hutch segregated to help with bonding.

So, looking forwards, the idea is to get two bonded rescue buns, with vaccinations up-to-date and to link a large run from the hutch via a 150mm (6") diameter steel reinforced flexible plastic tube.

This should ensure that they do not go off and eat something that they shouldn't, we live in a rural location and I am no gardener, so I am unsure of what exactly is growing in the garden, or if its bad news for rabbits. I think its all fairly harmless and I hate not to give the new buns the run of the garden, but a large run is the safest option and I cannot go through making any more mistakes.

The hutch is a large converted children's playhouse, with two main levels, comprising lookout platform, enclosed sleeping section, stairway, and a larger ground floor section for hopping about on! There is ample space for two rabbits.

So, my question is, what do I do about disionfecting the old stuff, most importantly, the hutch itself? If I need to throw any hay, straw or toys, etc away, then I am happy to do that, but what about the things that i can't, i.e. the hutch?

I have read up on RHD2, referring mostly to Frances Harcourt-Brown's excellent page on RHD & RHDV2.

So, its been a few months since we lost our last rabbit, Tommy, which should be well outside of the period for which it can survive outside of a host:

Frances Harcourt-Brown said:
From the FAQ page: How long can the virus live for?

RHD viruses (including RHDV2) can live outside the rabbit for some time. The length of time depends whether the virus is protected by organic material, such body parts, faeces or blood. It has been shown that the virus can live for up to 3 months in decaying rabbit carcasses but survives for less than a month on the ground. If the ground is exposed to sunlight the virus survives for less than 10 days. Exposure to ultraviolet light kills most organism.
With this in mind, is there any need for me to disinfect at all, or would a thorough clean do the job?

If any of you guys have any other advice on restarting with rabbits then I am all ears.

Thank you all, once again.


EDIT: Reading this:
Frances Harcourt-Brown said:
From the FAQ page: Can I get another rabbit at home if I have lost one with RHD or RHDV2?

Yes, althoug the virus that causes RHD or RHDV2 is difficult to kill so it is a good idea to disinfect oor throw way anything the dead rabbit was in contact with. It is also a good idea to get a rabbit that has been vaccinated against RHD and RHDV2 i.e. to go to a rescue centre. Buying a new baby rabbit is probably not a good idea.

I think better to disinfect - have any of you any advice on this, or done this yourself?
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I’m glad that the forum was a source of support for you when times were hard. I’m also glad you are feeling able to give a great home to two rescue bunnies, I agree a secure run is better than free range risks, I would suggest disinfecting as per the links just to make sure everything is as clean as possible, vaccinated bunnies is the best idea. Good luck with everything and we look forward to hearing all about your new bunnies.
I would routinely disinfect everything between old and new residents every time, just to be sure. A bleach solution with a squirt of washing up liquid should do the job, and air dry (preferably in sunshine for UV). If you suspect there is a disease risk, I would use something like Virkon S as a disinfectant. Do a 'normal' clean out first, then slosh / spray the disinfectant on everything and leave it to dry. Virkon can be used to wash fabric as well. Smaller objects (bowls, toys) can be cleaned and then soaked in a bucket of disinfectant.

If there is unpainted wood in the playhouse or run, it would make it easier to keep clean in future if the wood is sealed. This also helps with other common issues such as EC, as urine (where the organism is excreted) won't soak into the wood and it can be cleaned much more effectively. I've used anything from expensive wood stains to leftover household paint for this. Disinfect and dry the wood thoroughly first, then paint.

Enjoy your new bunnies.
I would go along with Shimmer's advice of using Bleach/water 50/50. If you choose to use Virkon you must be very careful as it is extremely strong. Personally I don't think you need to use Virkon as time has gone by now since you lost your 2 bunnies. Your idea of a large run is a safer way for the bunnies to have some exercise as I know of one person whose rabbit died through eating a Primrose! They don't have any natural instincts like the wildies in what they should or shouldn't eat. Have you considered an Aviary adjoining the Playhouse instead of the tube linking to a Run, and remember rabbits will dig out if it is on grass, and a run will need a top with some kind of covering for wet weather.
Just a thought as you asked for tips. Try to adopt a male/female pair as you have more guarantee of them remaining bonded.
I am pleased you found solstice through this forum. Your journey sounds much like mine was when I joined and felt much warmth and comfort from everyone here who is and has been so supportive. Words can sometimes help but most of all you know your not alone on here.
I hope that you open your heart again to a pair of rabbits. It is incredibly hard losing those you have but it is also a comfort to give your home and your love to other bunnies who need that special second chance.