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Rabbits/Fader -vs- Floppy Rabbit -vs ????


Background: Netherland Dwarfs. We have had two litters from different does/bucks. Does came from the same breeder but the two bucks from completely different breeders. 8 of 9 passed away. The one who thrived is apx 5 months old.

The majority of the kits were right at 5 wks of age and two were 6-7 wks.  All were healthy, eating and active the day before yet were found dead by the next morning/afternoon.

Only two have lived to be monitored. Unfortunately we don't have any vets in our area w/rabbit knowledge and/or was after hours.

At the onset of the illness; the kit has one droopy eye, it lacks consistent balance but the most dramatic symptom is the flexing/tightening or stretching of the neck, back and forelegs. After the "slow" muscle movement (similar to rigormortis), the rabbit then relaxes and just hunches/sits there.  Its evident the animal knows when it wants to move and it can kick out or squirm if held. Also, you can tell there is pain/discomfort since our last kit ground its' teeth. Rapid decline per hour. One kit only took 3 hours before passing.

They definitely aren't "faders" nor are they paralyzed like FRD however, I thought that a nutritional deficiency may have caused some kind of toxic compound level effecting muscles/motor skills as described in FRD. No other symptoms such as diarrhea or temperature fluctuation.

We have a small herd of ND's and mini rex's and none of the adults are effected. We wanted to breed our top does to expand our 4-H show stock but now.....

We heard that ND's are a hard breed and our mini's haven't taken yet so its hard to tell if it is their diet or the ND's.

Any insight on what we might try and/or what it could be? Necropsy is moot since we have no plans to breed on a large scale and could continue to purchase our stock. I don't mean to sound cold-hearted but it'd be a little pricey also since they are viewed as exotic nor can we catch them in time.

Dear Christie

I wish I had a crystal ball to know what is wrong with the babies.  But as you probably know, there is no way to know what is going on without a necropsy.  The signs you describe are very vague, and could have been due to any of dozens of different things.

If you noticed signs of unusual behavior before your bunny died, then please read:

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

If a body has been kept very cold (not frozen), and it has been less than 24 hours since death, a necropsy is one option possible, as it can sometimes give closure and peace of mind.   You can find an experienced rabbit vet here who may be able to help with this:

to call and find out what your options might be.

If you intend to breed animals, you can expect to incur expenses, if you are doing it right and humanely.  These are living, sentient animals, not chattel.  I hope you will do the right thing and get a sick baby to a rabbit vet for evaluation.

I am sorry for your loss.




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Dana Krempels, Ph.D.


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:

Find a rabbit vet at 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.


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.

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

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

Ph.D - Biology
B.S. - Biology
B.A. - English

Awards and Honors
Lightspan Academic Excellence Award for web site on rabbit health and biology

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