I had just bought a rex doe from a breeder and when we got her home she started sneezing. We quarantined her from the others and long story short she ended up very sick with white, snotty nose. We ended up having to put her down. We raise meat/fur rabbits so we started butchering her and checking her organs. She looked completely healthy inside other than these bubbles that were attached by silver skin to her stomach. Do you have any idea what they are? No one around here has ever seen anything like it. They were about the size of a pea and kind of felt like fish eggs. We didn't cut them open (regrettably) but they seemed to have a fluid in them. Do you have any idea what they are?
Answer Dear Lora,
The appearance of the lesions is consistent with cysticercosis, infestation of larval tapeworms. These are contracted when an herbivore ingests eggs left in feces by infected carnivores such as dogs, foxes, etc. Rabbits can serve as intermediate hosts for the larvae without major disruption of their overall health, and the parasites are transmitted to the definitive host (predator) when the cysticercus larvae are ingested by the predator along with its prey.
This means that you could contract tapeworms from eating infected rabbit flesh, as these tapeworm larvae can encyst not only in the abdominal cavity, but also in the connective tissue, depending on the species of tapeworm. Taenia septentrionalis encyst in the abdominal cavity, as seen in your poor rabbit, but other species (e.g., Taenia solium, the pork tapeworm) will encyst in muscle and connective tissue.
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.
If your rabbits is LETHARGIC
If your rabbit is NOT EATING
If your rabbit is PHYSICALLY INJURED (including broken bones)
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