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Rabbits/Whiskers and ear scratching

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Question
My ten-month-old male Holland Lop has thick, broken whiskers. Some of them are bent in different directions and others look short and much thicker than the rest of his whiskers. Is this normal? If not, do you know what may be causing it and what I can do to fix it? Also, when he scratches his ears he often scratches so hard that he breaks the skin and it scabs. Does he just need his nails cut (he doesn't like me to trim them and refuses to be held so I cannot do so very often), or is this a more serious issue? Thank you!

Answer
Dear Amy,

If your bunny's whiskers have always been this way, it could be that he is partially expressing the gene for Rex fur.  Is his fur unusually fluffy and soft, and lacking in obvious guard hairs?  If so, he may be a Rex lop.  And in Rex bunnies, the whiskers are curled, bent in different directions and rather short.

If he has only a few whiskers like this, and no Rex fur, he may have mixed heritage and expressing only some of the Rex traits.  But if the whiskers are only recently like this, it could be due to a stressful event or dietary problem.  Once the whiskers shed out and re-grow, they might be normal again if his health is good.

If he's scratching hard enough to bleed, then he may have ear mites.  Please see:

http://www.bio.miami.edu/hare/furloss.html

and find a rabbit-savvy vet here:

http://www.rabbit.org/vets

to examine bun and prescribe appropriate medication, such as Revolution (selamectin).  DO NOT use Frontline, which is deadly to rabbits.

Hope this helps.

Dana

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Dana Krempels, Ph.D.

Expertise

I've lived with companion rabbits for more than 35 years, and consider them members of my family. I can answer any questions about the biology and health of rabbits, from the commonplace to the unusual. But please note:

RULE #1:
THE INTERNET IS NOT THE PLACE TO SEEK HELP IN AN EMERGENCY.

...it is an EMERGENCY.

Find a rabbit vet at www.rabbit.org/vet for immediate help, and don't risk your bunny's life by spending time asking questions online! If you can't get in touch with your vet, read these Emergency Sick Bunny Instructions.

If you have found a wild baby rabbit, please read these EMERGENCY INSTRUCTIONS FOR WILD BABY RABBITS and then use this link to FIND A LOCAL WILDLIFE REHABILITATOR who can give you the right advice.


RULE #2:
Help me help you! Please make your subject line informative if you have an urgent question. then LET ME KNOW IN THE SUBJECT LINE so I can give your question highest priority over non-urgent questions. If you don't do this, then I can't guarantee timely assistance!

For all the best, most accurate rabbit health, care and behavior information, visit The House Rabbit Society.

Experience

I have been rescuing and rehabilitating domestic and wild rabbits for about 30 years. I have written articles for many rabbit rescue publications, as well as for the veterinary journal, Exotic DVM. I own EtherBun, the internet's largest listserve dedicated to health, care, and behavior of domestic rabbits.

Organizations
Houserabbit Adoption, Rescue, and Education, Inc. (H.A.R.E., Inc.) president National House Rabbit Society (Board member)

Publications
Exotic DVM
Warren Peace (Journal of the House Rabbit Society of Miami)
Various newsletters of the House Rabbit Society, nationwide

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

Awards and Honors
Lightspan Academic Excellence Award for web site on rabbit health and biology
(http://www.bio.miami.edu/hare)

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