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Evolution/life expectancy

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Question
Hi Dana,
I've always used your research as a guide to pretty much everything bunny related. I had an 8 year old San Juan male bunny, not neutered. His diet was timothy hay, pellets, & romaine. He got exercise and plenty of love. 4 days ago, he became ill with what I believe was statis. At the same time, he was going through a major shed of fur and had also broken a nail off completely, not sure how, maybe got stuck in carpet but we cut his nails. We gave him critical care, baby gas drops and fresh pineapple juice. He seemed to almost bounce back, after not going to the bathroom or eating for 12 hours, he started drinking water, hopping around and eating a little bit and had wet stools and even ate some. This went on for 4 days, he would seem okay at times, doing his thing, still head nudging our hands for pets, running, but no hard poops. It was 17 degrees outside so we didn't take him to the vet, he was staying hydrated and warm and with the critical care, we thought he would recover. Last night, he started having seizures, teffifying seizures, at which point, we were going to take him to the vet, but within an hour or so, he died. My question is, why did he seizure and what could I have done different? Also what is the life span of a San Juan male bunny? I'm trying to come to grips but failing like I failed him. Thanks.

Answer
Dear Denise

I am very sorry for your loss.  A San Juan rabbit doesn't have a different lifespan than any other rabbit:  10-15 years, sometimes more, under optimum circumstances.

Sadly, there is absolutely no way to confidently ascertain a cause of death without a post-mortem exam, preferably including histopathology of major organ tissues.  The signs you describe are very vague, and could have been due to any of dozens of different things.

Since you noticed signs of unusual behavior and signs of illness before he died, then please read:

www.bio.miami.edu/hare/sickbun.html

which might give some clues.  But unless you can provide a lot more specific information, this is the best I can offer.  

If the body has been kept very cold (not frozen), and it has been less than 24 hours since death, a necropsy may still be possible, if you feel that would give you closure and peace of mind.  You can find an experienced rabbit vet here:

www.rabbit.org/vets

to call and find out what your options might be.

I am very sorry for your loss.

Sincerely,

Dana

Evolution

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Dana Krempels

Expertise

I can answer questions about evolutionary mechanisms and theory, including genetic drift, mutation, natural selection, etc. I also can clear up misconceptions about evolution as it's sometimes talked about by those not well-versed in the subject (e.g., some politicians and many religious fundamentalists).

Experience

I have a Ph.D. in Biology, and presently teach Evolution and Biodiversity, Genetics, Botany, and Zoology at the University of Miami.

Organizations
House Rabbit Society Beta Beta Beta Biological Honor Society

Publications
Exotic DVM Magazine (veterinary journal)

Education/Credentials
B.S. in Biology B.A. in English Ph.D. in Biology

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