worming for internal parasitesWorming animals is one of my least favourite jobs on the smallholding. I always make the mistake of reading the data sheet that comes with the wormer (which I am about to pour down the inside of the animal) and read how I shouldn’t get it on my skin, to “avoid skin contact”, then I start to worry. After all, a wormer is essentially a poison right?

Unfortunately, when we keep animals in domestication we are keeping them in an unnatural environment. No matter how much we might try to imitate nature, we can never recreate it entirely, and worms and other similar problems are largely a problem of domesticity.

Over the years since we had the rabbits we have read time and again that it is very rare for rabbits to need worming. It isn’t really a problem that rabbits suffer with. However, we lost two rabbits in close succession recently. The first one suffered what appeared to be a massive stroke – her co-ordination started to go one-sided and ended, very rapidly, with her having a huge fit and dying. The second one had nothing obvious wrong with him – he was just very quiet and quietly faded away. We had more time with him so we took him to the vet who tried her best with him, but he basically just lay down and died.

I explained to the vet about the “stroke victim” and it appears that there is a worm called e cuniculi which attacks the brain and can cause stroke symptoms. So, we came away with wormers for all the rabbits. Having now done some research on e. cuniculi, it appears that young rabbits can catch this one from contact with an infected mother or an infected cage mate. So, if it IS the cause of our problem, one of our original rabbits probably had it and it has just been waiting to strike! 😦

The rabbits all need a nine-day course of this wormer. It comes in a handy syringe with gradations all marked on the plunger. All you need is to know the weight of your rabbit, turn the stopper to the right dose, and administer it to the rabbit.  One thing to remember is that each mark on one side of the plunger is two gradations.  To measure one gradation, you have to take the difference between the mark on one side and the next mark on the other side .

dewormer schedule

The apprentice cuddles all the rabbits regularly so this is a comparatively easy procedure.

rabbit illneesses

Sit somewhere where you have plenty of room – if the rabbit does struggle the last thing you need is to be perched on the edge of something, trying to keep your balance, trying not to shove the syringe down your own throat, whilst juggling a rabbit.

Sit the rabbit on your lap, wrap your spare arm around the back of him and hold him with your thumb behind his ears and your fingers under his chin.

rabbit worm

With your “good hand” (right hand for us) place the syring in the corner of the rabbits mouth and gently squeeze the paste into his mouth. The easiest way to get the syringe in the right place is to put it in just behind the front teeth and then slide it back. Ideally you want to be placing the wormer on the back of the tongue – this makes it harder for him to spit it at you if he doesn’t like the taste 🙂

rabbit worm

Repeat for nine days for all rabbits in your rabbitry.

I will have to check back with the vet about re-dosing. The dreaded data-sheet says they should be wormed 2-4 times per year but, as I said before, every rabbit book we own says that rabbits shouldn’t need routine worming. Oh well, I suppose that once we have done this round we have a few months to do some research on the subject 🙂