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close this bookGuidelines and References: Livestock Training Component (Small Animal Husbandry) (Peace Corps, 1985, 302 p.)
close this folderRabbits
close this folderRabbit diseases
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View the documentHereditary diseases

Hereditary diseases

15. Glaucoma

In rabbits glaucoma appears first as a light-bluish cloudiness on the cornea. One or both eyes may be affected. Progressive opacity follows, and protrusion of the eyeball becomes noticeable. Corneal opacity may lead to blindness. Complications associated with glaucoma are difficulty in breeding affected anumals, poor appetite, and a general loss of good health.

Glaucoma is probably the result of an abnormal drainage mechanism and the inability to maintain normal fluid relationships in the eye. It is a semilethal defect that is transmitted as a recessive trait.

16. Malocclusion

Malocclusion or wolf teeth is a common minor probem with rabbits. It is especially a problem with rabbits that are kept on pre-mixed feeds only; rabbits that are given more roughage (including twigs and stems from trees) can constantly gnaw and chew in order to keep their teech ground down to proper length and size. When the lower Jaw is shorter or longer than the upper Jaw, malocclusion of the incisors results in overgrowth. The cheek teeth (premolars and molars) meet and grind evenly in normal animals. These teeth continue to grow and depend on constant grinding against opposing teeth to maintain their shape. If there is a malposition of the jaw, broken teeth, or malformation, overgrowth will occur in the cheek teeth similar to that which occurs in the incisors.

Signs of malocclusion are gradual lose of appetite and weight. Both aides of the mouth may become stained and saliva. Animals become progressively listless, dehydrated, and unable to chew properly. Complications are abscessed teeth, growth of teeth into the upper Jaw, and death from starvation.

Malocclusion of the incisors can be corrected temporarily by cutting back the teeth so the animals can eat and attain good condition prior to slaughter. Since malocclusion is inherited, it can be eliminated by selective breeding.

17. Splay Leg and Ataxia

Splay leg in rabbits is due to a simple recessive genetic factor. The disease is characterized by an inability to put weight on one or both hind-legs, and may even involve all 4 limbs. The limbs are twisted so that the rabbit exhibits a double-jointed posture. The rabbits are not paralyzed. They eat normally, appear to be well, and move wriggling along on their belly and chest. The pathologic effects are limited to the hip and shoulder.

Ataxia (muscle incoordination) resembles splay leg in some respects. It is, however, a lethal recessive genetic factor. The disease usualy appears when the rabbit is 2-3 months of age and runs its course in 30 days. In ataxia, the nervous system is involved, and at first the rabbit may not be able to use its hindlegs effectively. Later the rabbit cannot move, and its body temperature drops below normal until death ensues.