This webinar will cover how deficiencies in husbandry can and does cause or contribute to disease. It will also cover how improved husbandry can promote good health, treat disease and be seen as preventive medicine in its own right.

Learning Objectives

  • To understand how to include rabbit husbandry in the practice’s preventive medicine protocols
  • To understand how improving husbandry should form part of any treatment protocol
  • To understand which diseases have a major link to poor husbandry
  • To understand how basing husbandry on the 5 welfare needs will reduce disease occurrence
  • To understand how good husbandry should be related to the biological needs of rabbits


Good evening, everybody. And welcome to tonight's Webinar. My name is Bruce Stevenson, and I have the honour and privilege of chairing yet another fantastic session with, uh, John Chitty and a huge, big thank you, as always to our sponsors. Burgess, Uh, we have Peter, uh, Lancaster here from Burgess, and he's gonna give us a couple of words of wisdom at the end after John has spent his time sharing, uh, his knowledge with us again. For those of you that are new to our webinars. Just a little bit of housekeeping quickly. Uh, if you have a question for our presenter, if you just move your mouse over the screen, um, a little control bar will pop up. It's usually a black bar at the bottom of the screen. You will see there's a Q and a box in there. Just click on that type in the answers, and, uh, we will get to as many of those as we can at the end of the webinar. So without further ado, it is my privilege to introduce John Chitty John is an R CV S, advanced practitioner in zoological medicine. He qualified from the Royal Veterinary College in 1990 gained his R CBS certificate in zoological medicine in the year 2000. Until recently, he was employed in small animal exotic practise in Handover in uh Hampshire, with 100% avian exotic small mammal case load, both referral and first opinion, as well as consulting to various zoos and the reintroduction projects. John now provides a consultancy and advisory service to zoos, local authority and vets alike. He is co editor of three textbooks on avian medicine, one on rabbit surgery and co-author of a textbook on tortoise medicine. Author of various book chapters and papers on a wide range of species. John was the president of the European Association of Avian Veterinarians from 2015 to 2017 and on the editorial board of the Journal of Exotic Pet Medicine, the Veterinary Record and the Veterinary Evidence. John was the president of the British Small Animal Veterinary Association for 2017 and 2018. And one thing that I happen to know that John is most proud of is that he is a trustee and honorary secretary of vet life. John once again, welcome to the Webinar vet and over to you Thank you very much indeed. And, um, Hope everybody had a lovely day and, um, certainly been very nice and sunny for most of the day down here, but, uh, yeah, it's, uh, evening time now, and, uh, time to talk about some rabbits again, um, again, to echo the thanks to Burgess, um, for sponsoring this talk. Um, it really is good of them. And it means without sponsorship, we'd have a lot of their CPD. And, um, it really is vitally important, uh, to do, to, to help support them and to, um to hopefully carry, they can carry on, um, supporting these talks and, um, helping provide a lot of knowledge, Hopefully, and hopefully some of that knowledge will come through tonight, so thank you very much indeed. Um, so we're talking about really healthy lifestyles tonight for rabbit. Um, and I'm now trying to get my excited to move. Sorry. Um, so really, it's down to preventive medicine. Um, and as we all know, prevention is better than cure and tradition. We always think about preventive medicine being things like vaccination, parasite control, and basically reproductive controls and stuff. And we can do very little on that tonight, we're we gonna look at husbandry because an awful lot of preventative medicine is about getting better husbandry and preventing disease that are associated with that. And really, this is what we're looking at we're looking at, um Well, it's got a different name, but, uh, we're gonna call it sick life syndrome tonight because we're not allowed to say naughty words on a webinar vet. Um, so sick life syndrome. What is it? It's used by physicians in UK and the US, um, for the effect of variety of poverty or abuse induced disorders and the effects they have on patients. Poverty results in poor diet and poor husbandry. Abuse results in poor socialisation and poor diet Husbandry Association lead to a worsening diet husbandry association and less is intervention. And this is really what it sounds like with a lot of our exotic animals. In fact, a lot of all our animals we see, um, but particularly rabbits, um, they don't have a great time all the time, and it starts pretty early. So the result of all this is stress and we've got some great definitions. Schneider and um have sort of redefined it quite well. Um and it's, um it's a state of worry or mental tension caused by a difficult situation. It's the body's res reaction to feeling threatened or under pressure, and basically can be summed up as a demand situation threatened to exceed the resources of the individual. They just can't cope. And again, this is the situation we see in so many of our rabbit patients. Stress is, of course, normal. Um, and it is the effect of anything that seriously threatened homeostasis. Um, and it's an adaptive process, and we don't have stress responses. Then we're gonna have struggled to cope with those things, and we're not gonna do very well, but it can go too far. So these are really acute responses. They're designed to deal with things that happen now. If they continue or they're repeatedly activated, then they're maladaptive. And back in 1956 this author observed that severe prolonged stress might lead to tissue damage and disease, and now we really do know that's absolutely true. So this is nearly 70 years ago, and we're still seeing problems with that. So here's the big thing. Stress and chronic inflammatory disease, estimated 75 to 90% of human disease is related to the activation of stress system. Think we can probably say that, too, for a lot of our pet animals and definitely in case of rabbits, so chronic information is an essential component of chronic diseases, and there's a lot of evidence and these links. Um, if they're not feeling very kind, please, could you pop them in the chat and then maybe we can follow them through because I think there's some fun articles here. There is evidence that shows excessive inflammation plays critical roles in the path of the physiology of these stress related diseases. But even worse is that psychological stress triggers inflammatory activity. So in other words, stress helps set these chronic inflammatory disease up. And it's a vicious psych circle. It goes on and on, um, making itself worse and this is a problem. And as veterinarians, we've got to really step in, and we've got to try and stop that break that cycle and get things better. So what does stressed rabbits look like? Well, here is a very, very overtly stressed rabbit, Um, and, um, probably wishing I put the camera down and actually do something about it. Um, but we can see the years back. We can see, see, see it tucked in the corner and is looking downright scared. They don't all look like that, though. They're very mildly stressed ones. People think they look normal, But of course, what do rabbits do when they wear it? They do nothing. I mean, you don't make a big fuss about things. So here's a livestock. Um, definition for animal stress occurs when livestock is required to make extreme or prolonged adjustments in order to adapt their current environment. And again, I think we can take that definition. Absolutely word for word for rabbits as well. Um, because a lot of the problems that they face are prolonged, and they just go on for their whole life. So what do we actually need? And these are our five pet needs as it's defined these days, Um, and we're gonna look through these and see exactly what they do need to prevent these sort of, um, stress related inflammatory diseases. So we're gonna start with natural history, though. Um, obviously, rabbits do live in groups. They don't live on their own. Um, and that's important. Um, they generally you see lots of rabbits together. But actually, within that large group, there are several smaller little, um, family groups or or sections of them. They do live in the extensive warrant. Um, and they are nocturnal. Um, fundamentally. Um, you very rarely see rabbits out during the daytime unless they're really, really very hungry. Always a problem. Um, they do need space. They use a lot of space, Um, for foraging. Um, and they also have some space below ground as well. They are territorial. Uh, there are some sex differences within that. The FEMA tend to be more territorial around the nest site, and the males tend to be territorial around sort of breeding grounds. Um, and, uh, the war in itself and they are aggressive. And hence a picture of, um, the walls shoot down cartoon here that Richard Adams did get it right. Um, they are pretty aggressive animals in defending, um, their their needs. They are, of course, herbivores. Um, they need this, uh, wet and dry fibre. And they're also of course, they see a trope and re ingest all of which are important. Now, does that actually sound like what we see with pet pet rabbit keeping. I not really. You know, there's very few people keep them with that kind of set up. Now, of course, rabbits are domesticated. Does that overcome everything? The answer is no. It will help. And there are bits where it certainly in relation to to living with people that, um, domestication will assist in coping with that. But it doesn't overcome the natural biology, and we still need to revert back to that. And keeping systems should reflect what they've evolved over millions of years to actually need. So what do we need? So environment? We're gonna start with that first pet native environment. So we look at things like space temperature, weather, housing, ventilation, bedding and substrate. So, for space, is there a maximum amount of space you can give them? The answer is very simply, no, um, you know, give as much as you possibly can. There are, of course, minima. Um and it's always important that when you see figures quoted for keeping animals, these are minimal. They are, you know, always try and do more than that. It's not a target. So the minimum space must allow all behaviours, and it must be in all dimensions. So you need to stand up and do things in 3D. They're 3D animals. If you don't have enough space, you get things like obesity. You're gonna get muscle waste and therefore, increased injury. Zika trade can be issue. You know, you generally some of these, um fly strike, um, rabbits are S. Uh, I can't tell you what secret rates, because they haven't got enough space to turn and eat them. And that is really sad. And it I can't say it better than the RW. A, um, campaign of a hutch is not enough. So temperature again, we know that, uh, we need to avoid extremes. Um, they are burrow living animals, um, during the day and that provides an insulation. So during winter, it's a little bit warmer down there in summer. It keeps it a bit cool. So actually fairly, um, good at adapting according to how we live. And of course, we're not in a burrow that's quite difficult to adapt to and again, even long term chronic extremes. So things like central heating and stuff this warm, dry atmosphere, overly warm, dry atmosphere can be a a chronic stress to them, so just be be aware of that one. So if you're gonna go one way or other, actually they're better able to deal with cold because they can eat a bit more. And as long as you keep the water from being iced up, that's fine. They don't cope well with with with with with heat, Um, and so heat stroke. We see a lot. We, you know, we can dehydrate. And again, this is one of the issues, too. We're gonna talk a little bit about, um, about excreting, um, calcium. So being chronically mildly dehydrated can be an issue. Um, for these animals, So again, keeping that water going, making sure you've got good access to it is really important. If we keep them outside, then we may consider weather extremes. So when you're putting your house up, you've gotta think about wind direction. You think which way the rain blows in the snow blows in, um, and again, be prepared to have things like hutch coverings, shelters and screens to prevent the worst of weather getting to them. Um, and just to avoid that because they haven't got a burrow to go down into, we can buy them a housing, Of course. Um, and in some ways, a hutch is a bit like a borough is their escape. It is where it is. But of course, it's not got insulation that the borough has. Um, it it it's it's above ground, of course, Um and it's not gonna have the same sort of space. And they're believed to have a bit of a, um a stress reduction response by feeling the side of the burrow along west side. So, you know, you don't have that in a hutch very easily. Remember that what? You know, you've got to take into account all the rabbits. So the housing, um, may be the restrictive part of the space available to them. Um and so if you don't have enough space, you may end up with competition for the better areas and some will get pushed out. They need to have sleeping and secret trophy areas again. Those have got to be big enough, or or plenty enough of them to be able to get out of each other's way. And, of course, we're talking about ventilation at the moment. But that's an important area that's gotta be ventilated as well. All too often that's a little sort of dead end area for the air. And it gets very stale and stagnant there, too. Positioning the house is important. Um, not just in terms of weather blowing in the two, but what's gonna see into it? Um, you know, whether they feel secure there, um, they feel that they're protected and that that's their shelter from predators as well. Uh, the same Thabo maintained some visibility so we can see what theyre doing a keep an eye on them. Always a bit of a contrast for that, we want to waterproof it. We wanna weatherproof it very, very important that those materials are correct and we can do that. So in terms of ventilation, this applies to both outside, um, keeping and, of course, inside the house. And very many human houses are not very well ventilated. I think one of the lessons we could take from covid was how poorly ventilated human accommodation is, Um, and how much infectious disease can spread because of that, but actually also what effect it can have on our mucus membranes or respiratory systems. Um, in my way, for those of us who remember you remember your calf, pneumonia, lectures and stuff. You know, this is this is really important. And within the Hutch as well as mentioned these these these, um, sleeping areas, These seeing areas very often no airflow whatsoever. And if you lift that lid and breathe in, it does smell quite nasty. And that's not a nice place to be living in and always consider, too, where the rabbit's head is positioned. You know, we can smell the air from 5 6 ft up, and it smells OK, but actually, their nose is a few millimetres from the ground from the substrate from the, um, source of these problems. So that's gonna be a problem. We've got to think where the rabbit is and what they're breathing in and what they're doing rather than what we're doing. And the consequences of poor ventilation can be things like irritate chronic irritation of the membranes, chemical injuries in in in severe cases, especially when you know, urine and stuff. Um and therefore respiratory disease, ocular disease as well. All these all these areas can be affected. So bedding next. Um, again, how much again? You're gonna eat plenty. You wouldn't have to actually bury down into it, especially if you need some insulation and things. And it's got to be maintained. Well, you know, I, I it's it's got to be replaced regularly. It mustn't get, um, contaminated. Uh, we don't want to get it wet and squelchy, um, it's gotta be, you know, dry and clean. Able to do its job, we can do various things. We can have natural bedding, hates and straws we can have manmade bedding with with fibres and papers that are available always have some advantages and disadvantages. And it's really just a case of working out what is best for that individual and at also at a certain stage of his life. And also certain illnesses may benefit from different types of bedding. Um, and the consequence of of getting us wrong is that obviously the temperature control can be poor. We can end up with with rabbits who are too cold, we say can't can't dig in and get a shelter. Um, we've got it too dusty. We can end up with spiritual season stuff. And, of course, we end up with very bitty, um, old haze and straws and things and then we start getting foreign bodies, um, stuck into eyes and noses and things. Substrate two Also important. I mean very often you you can use different things, too. You can get papers and natural fibres. Wire is probably the one to avoid because we know that there's consequences on the, um, feet from that. Um, But actually, what's really interesting is that there's a study published a couple of years ago which showed the only substrates that don't lead to poo dermatitis are hay and grass. I mean, who'd have thought This is what rabbits live on, and hay and grass are what you need on that bottom there. So that's, um, quite intriguing, but not just wire. So even things like inside carpets, Nanos or things like that, too, can all lead to Pittis. Whatever we do, we need to make sure it's well drained. We we don't want to. We want to be comfortable. We don't want these these these things to retain water, um, and become squelchy. Um, also amount of that great squelch test. You know, just put your pressure fingers down into the bedding and see if it's squelches underneath there. If it does, It's a very bad sign. Um, these these can lead to poor hygiene. These can lead to to various, um, infections related to that outdoors can be a problem, too. Where we we may end up with, uh, sort of poaching the ground, and we end up mud and stuff, and that can can be an issue as well. Um, because rabbits don't get on too well with mud and the consequent again. We mentioned P of dermatitis, but also, you know, this is stuff they know. He's very close to a substrate. Breathing problems can be be be, uh, be an issue from that, too. And if we make some of the areas of ground unusable, they can not gonna use them. So we have reduced area space. It may look like a big area, but if only a small part of it is unusable, they may not have as much space as you think they have. So, in summary, we we can keep indoors or outside with great advantage of indoor keeping as it's safe from predators and less likely to escape and stuff, which is great. Temperature regulation should be better. Um, but it's also much easier to have that chronic, slight high highness of temperature. Um, but they are protected from extremes. It is pretty much easy to keep them inside. And, of course, easy to handle them and be close to them, if that's a good thing. Um, we'll deal with that in a moment. Um, but there are increased numbers of eating hazards. Um, it's very difficult to get UV exposure without, um, having electrical cables, which can be dangerous. And they're gonna have less ability to graze and forage inside and again because you mentioned ventilation can be an issue outside again, we've got probably should we should have better ability to forage and access cover. Um, we should definitely have more UV even in the UK. Um, and we should have have much better ventilation. Cos we do have wind blowing through, um, and so we wanna have we hopefully get more space. Um, but again, we've got things like problems. Like digging. Um, FEMA especially, will dig, so it's very hard to actually, um, put up, um, an enclosure where they can't escape by digging there. Um, it is easier in some ways to keep, um, keep groups. Uh, and it's also easier to learn more natural behaviours because you can give that space idea and the group and the group structure and things. And also because keeping outside is actually much harder to, uh, to intervene as an owner, and therefore its lack of reduced interference with owners can allow them to do more. Um, but of course, it does mean the owners can't get close to them quite so easily. Um, they're more like to escape. There's an increased risk of predators. Foxes especially, um, and it can be a lot harder to detect early signs of disease without very, very good observation. And unless you do training and stuff, it's much it. Things like catching and examining and treating them can become a real stress. Um, so you have got to combine this really wi wi wi with training into boxes or to or to come to you or to catch whatever. Um, and of course, I mentioned weather extremes can be a problem. Um, and Mudd can be a bigger problem as well. So leading on to other issues too. Again, you know, what do ra pet rabbits regard as being a predator? And is that things like dogs. Is it cats? Is it ferrets? Is it people? Is it all the things you'll find in in in A in a home diet? Again, this is our second. Our pet needs is again. Be careful. It's not just what's fed. Um, if you feed too much things, you can get selective feeding and you get induced. Um, dietary problems from that. And again, don't forget, too, about water. It pre presentation is really important. And I study showed that, um, rabbits do take better from a bowl than from a drinker. Um, so, you know, But, uh, and some but some rabbits may only learn a drinker, so always provide choice. Always provide plenty of, um, of water sources reduces competition in groups. But also, um, you know, it means they don't have to move too far, especially for geriatric rabbits. Maybe arthritic. Um, so they don't have to move too far to get their water. So lots and lots of water sources all over the place within, within the within the, um, housing system, Um, we want to provide the fibres that we need. And we talk about long and short fibre, indigestible, digestible fibre. But basically, fundamentally, they they they they ferment this in the, um, hind gut. And then they, um, seek a trade. They ta ta this digestible faeces and re ingest it and absorb the nutrients from that, um, fibre digestion. But they do require fibre for that whole process to work properly. So, in summary, let's let's keep this simple. Um, rabbits fundamentally need grass and hay. And if you make that 85 to 90% of the diet, I do like this. Um, this this this, um, poster, which shows rough volumes of feeding each day. Um and, um, you know that that's a really good way of looking at how much proportion you need to provide. So these proportions are basically on calories, not on solely on volume, but this is a good representation, too. And overall, you can't really overfeed fibre. It's very hard to do that. So always make sure you err on the, um um OO on on the, um you know, if you doubt feed more of that and reduce the other components, we also need to talk about, um, quality because it's one thing providing those actual nutri, uh, those actual, um um parts of a diet. But if they're poor quality, then we're gonna get things like nutritional lack. In the case of a fibre, we can get foreign bodies. There's little bits fragmented. If we get to that places, um, and again, it can be very dusty, and we may get respiratory disease as well. High quality is probably our main thing we're looking at with that. So how do we assess it? Well, we smell it. Um, again, if we look at it if it's dusty, um, if it's got mould in it, that sort of thing. Really bad signs, but just smell it. And good hay should just smell of summer days and lots of cliches. Um, it shouldn't smell of nothing. And it most certainly shouldn't smell sort of rank and nasty. Uh, and you know, if if that's how it does smell, you know, you can't really blame the rabbit for not eating it. Um, if we don't find a fibre, then we end up with things like obesity. We end up with dental disease for not grinding down. Um uh, the long, long part. Um and we can also, um, end up with gut disease as well, where we're just not getting proper, um, function of the, um, hind gut. Um, obesity is a massive problem. So we go to a P DS a, um uh, welfare report from 2022. This has been going on for years of reporting on obesity issues. Um, it's still unrecognised by owners, and it's still really high levels. Um, if the owner isn't registered with a vet, it's even, um, less recognised by them. So here's a role we can clearly see. We have encourage people to come in to see us, and we can teach them that diet at the same time, which is really useful. So what did it do? Well, we may just get, um, musculoskeletal problems. Um, it's not just a cause, but certainly it will, um it will exacerbate and make things worse. Um, if if we have got existing problems there too, increase learning on on on disease joints, we may see reduced activity which may affect bone density. Rabbits are really good at resorb their their their bone calcium. So there overweight and not do anything. They will take that there. They're much more likely to to to break bones and stuff and especially as it reduced. Movement will also result in reduced muscle bulk. But also, don't forget that, um, fat is a a source of inflammatory mediators back to our chronic inflammation being a a source of, um, of disease. And so, you know, this may be a big issue in many, many different disease processes. We see cardiorespiratory system. Um uh, problems. Um, rabbits have a certain lack of space in their chest. Um, and suddenly we start filling up abdominal, um, fat putting pressure on the chest and media as fat fat actually in the chest there. Then we're gonna end up even more or less space, um, for the lungs. And many of them also have separate pneumonia. So within that lack of space, we may see reduced lung volume because we've got congestion or areas taken up by by disease. This has effects on things like anaesthesia for us. Um, and particularly things like positioning and stuff for, um, anaesthetics and and surgeries. It can be effects. So that can be 11. Another factor in making life even more difficult at those points, but can certainly lead to cardiac disease. Um, and aosis, we see liver disease. Um, hepatic doses is far from rarer in these animals. Uh, we get sort of filling up basically everything with fat in there. And, of course, once something else happens, if a rabbit goes off food for for more than 24 hours and we do see the those cases regularly, um, then you know, we're running at a huge risk of hepatic lipidosis as a clinical issue, complicating and even potentially, there's a fatal complication of some arceo gut Stasis cases. We may you'll see things like bacteria and yeast invasion. Um, so you saw a fair few cases of those, uh, where we'd have, um, invasion of bacteria in the yeast and from the gut going up the bile duct, um, and and causing hepatitis from there. But, um, plenty of reasons why we mi O of of these severe problems. Um, we see dental disease too. Again. Don't forget, it's open router molas. It's lack of grinding a fibre. Um, and we're gonna start seeing overgrowth, um, and, um and and just from that and again, we'll see we overweight rabbits struggle to turn. This means we're more likely to be. We seek a trace building up there, too. Um, and therefore, we're very likely to start seeing my eye assist in these animals. So we asked about fibre. We've also mentioning about fresh food as well. Um, fresh food can add a lot more to it as well. Um, this is Burgess poster, which again I recommend having having up in, uh, having up in your rabbit war remind you, um, you know, was it add to this? Well, it's interesting, uh, and feeding Richmond's great. You know, we we we would like some feeding Richmond for ourselves. So do they. Um it also adds some micronutrients. And again, it's a really important source of water in the diet, as opposed to just providing drinkers and stuff again. How much? We discussed the volume of that within the earlier poster. Um, and again, just be aware of things like, um, selective feeding and stuff. If if if too much is given. And, you know, just making 12 or three different types a day is not a bad thing to aim at, but not too big a volume of each because we don't want to reduce the fibre consumption. I also got to be a little bit careful about a few things. Um, some of the, um, things like carrots and root vegetables now have a high enough sugar content. They're almost regarded as being, uh, fruits rather than vegetables. So just be a little bit careful of providing too many simple sugars within the diet. Uh, within that gonna mention calcium as well. And, um, very important to note that the dietary link to urethra is not actually proven. And so it's not a case of high dietary calcium foods don't automatically sludge in stones. Low calcium can certainly affect bone density. Um, and they have this very weird calcium metabolism. What there is is a probable, highly likely link between dietary levels of calcium they need to drink. So if you have a high calcium diet, they do need to drink more. So as long as you you do have ras who drink well, you've got lots of fresh food, so you can provide water that way, and you're getting them to just drive the calcium through the body and through through the urine. That way, that's absolutely fine. Um, if you you can feed a very high calcium diet. Indeed, if they're not having so much if they're also inactive. So they're not urinating so often, Um, or we're not able to get to a drink quite so easily. And so urination, frequency and stuff is reduced that can lead to increased contact time of urine with a bladder wall. Um, and that can therefore be a Boer problem. So again, it's not just simple diet and water and stuff. We've got to look at the actual rabbit itself and see what, how it's processing it and what's best for that animal so you can feed higher levels of calcium. It's probably best to err on the high side, but probably sensible not to overfeed just because it makes life more difficult. And that's particularly the case in some of the older, um, certain arthritic animals might be might be important with that, um, we also need to combat spoilage. Uh, we mentioned about quality and stuff, but again, we can buy good stuff and we can we can we can affect that, um, biotic spoil, and that can affect concentrate, food and fresh food. And, of course, hay. Um, and what we're gonna see is things like oxidation and stuff, and that can be important with with, um, with lots, especially with the concentrate. And manufacturing can be a really good concentrated food, but we can really abuse that and and change it. So you wanna ideally buy smaller packet sizes? Um, make sure it's sealed. Um, don't leave it open too long and make sure the storage conditions are optimal. So not too hot and not too cold. Um, and make sure things don't break down because oxidation is gonna lead to loss of vitamins. It's gonna loss of lots of micronutrients in their team, things like hay and fresh food. You know, you avoid things like fungi and moulds and stuff. It all seems very obvious. And of course, things like grass as well. Beware of fermentation. Hence the fact don't vally feed, mow grass it smash it to pieces. So what you can end up with is a very rapid fermentation of that. And it's is it gonna Oh, what day can do that quite badly. But the big deal is certainly if you're gonna buy concentrated foods and things don't regard the larger foods as being a bargain. Um, they are cheaper for sure, but unless you've got an awful lot of rabbits to feed, you gotta look at. How long does it take you to get through that? And if by the end of it you're feeling a really poor quality, um, palate, because it's gone off, it's gone, Gone, gone, way past his best. That's not necessarily a bargain for you. So moving on to behaviours and stuff again, we want to encourage all our normal behaviours. Um, so it's exercise, of course, Um, and things like normal posture so they can stand up. They can bink you. They can do all the things that they may wanna do, and we want them to forage, and we want to groom and want to carry their social behaviour. It's really important for well-being. Um, enrichment's important, um, again, there's a UK pet food is really nice guide to providing enrichment, making feeding more interesting for for very small mammals. And this is an example from from a practise, I used to, uh, work in, and we said what we used to do for our hospitalised rabbits. We can do things like that and make things and encourage them, and it's like lots of lots of animal that they will actually, uh, work harder to get their food and more likely if they have to work for it because it's just a bit more, more, more, more, more exciting. Social grouping, Really important. Rabbits should not live alone. They they're not designed to do that. They they virtually never do that. And you're very rarely gonna see a lone rabbit in the wild for very long. So P DS a report from 2023. So that's the most recent 1. 48% of rabbits kept alone in that. I mean, that's just an amazing stat. Um, yeah, that's nearly half the rabbits from people surveyed, and there's a lot of people they survey are kept absolutely incorrectly. Unbelievable. Um, pairs might be helpful, but actually, ideally, they're more designed to live in multiples. And that's gonna get rid of one of the one of those problems of you know, what happens if one of a pair dies? Which can always be a problem. What comes when you do keep them on their own? Well, they do tend to freeze, and a lot of rabbits do that thing. We reduce activity, they're much more anxious, so don't do very much. And that reduce their normal behaviours can reduce drinking. And this can all lead to increased disease and stuff in them. Well, the problem is, is that we do have a pair and one dies. I mentioned, you know, uh, what are we gonna do? Well, we can We can re bond them. Um, So get another rabbit in there, and it means just getting to accept each other. Um, just like people, if you to put two people in the same room doesn't necessarily mean they really want to get on with each other. And rabbits certainly don't. And as they are territorial, they are aggressive. So the ways and means of doing that and these re bonding these bonding services can be quite effective. Getting over that neuter does have an effect on this. Um, and there's an RW a survey survey which showed that, um, bonding, uh, rabbits, um, who weren't brought up together, um, will is is made much more easy if they if they are neutered as that can be important that point if you need to, um and you keep them on their own. Well, sometimes you have to. And some very, very aggressive rabbits really are very difficult, if not impossible to bond. Um, is that justifiable? That's a real difficult ethical question to answer. And remember, we do have alternatives if that we don't feel feel that is the case. And in some countries, it's actually not even legal to keep them on their own. Um, we can mitigate some of those problems, Um, so that can partly be linked in and how well socialised they are to people. Uh, we can provide a lot of enrichment. We can provide a really high quality environment. But the big deal is if that's gonna happen, it's a good time to talk to people about quality of life scoring, uh, and about how to assess it and make sure that rabbit really is OK. And they're continually monitoring this, uh, and making sure that that rabbit's life quality is not deteriorating. Um, this is a website which I I really like for quality life scoring is lap of love. Um, so be careful googling that at work. Um and, um, they provide really nice, very basic QOL assessment sheets, uh, which can be very easily adapted, um, to almost any space in any situation and just a really nice basic starting point and very easy to use. That's a very important thing to do that, um if you're gonna do them and get people to do this scoring, it's got to be easy to use. Um, I mentioned about reproductive behaviours and things. And of course, this is one of those things where we talk about the normal behaviours and stuff. And, of course, Neutering actually removes those normal behaviours. Um, and in group situation rabbits, this can be quite important with how that group structure, um uh, is able to maintain itself. Why do we do it? Well, obviously, birth control, Um, so they do breed pretty quickly. Um, And if we do keep pairs and things, then you know it's very difficult to maintain that both in terms of maintaining a suitable environment for them with rabbits, but also in terms of quality of life for them as well. Um, and there are he health issues as well. We can see prevention of disease, um, to a lesser extent in bucks, but certainly in days because uterine anoc carcinoma is still depressingly common. Um, part of the reason we do as well is undesirable behaviours. And I think it's very important that things like urine marking aggressing aggression are actually normal for rabbits. They're just not things we wanna say. Um, but nonetheless, they could, if carried to an extreme, become factors that actually adversely affect quality of life. So that's why we tend to do it. And as mentioned, it's easier to bond rabbits. Um, if they're already neutered. One of the big questions, though to a rabbit are people Are we friends? Are we foes or are we actually rabbits to them? What? How do they see us? Well, where we can affect that is by socialisation, um, and you know, the the important time of that early socialisation window. So, um, this is where we're gonna learn what's what, who's who and what we're gonna do to them. And we I think when that really is, um, for rabbits, Um, and bear in mind that rabbits are really, actually really bad months. Um, the the baby is put into a scrape, uh, where we left in a scrape and and and and basically fed once to twice a day, and they're not precocial um, they they they They are very, very much pretty helpless there, too. But basically, once they're left and around, they start emerging around about three weeks. Uh, age. And that's really the key time for socialising. That's when they emerge and they start learning about the world around, though that's when they start learning what's what and who's who. Um, and that's when we need to be really getting hold of these, the these youngsters and really getting used to being handled, being used around people and stuff fundamentally. Legally, they can't be sold till eight weeks old, and that is way too late. Those windows are closing or closed by that point, So if a rabbit hasn't been handled up to them, it's very hard for them to learn about being handled and accept people and bear in mind that, um um that, um, their their response to being stressed and frightened isn't to just freeze and not to do very much. Many people really think they're actually enjoying what is happening to them. Um, and actually, they're not. They're just lying. They're hoping it's all gonna end quite quickly, so it's quite a quite a quite an important thing that we would need to be people breeding rabbits that from a very early age we need to get start getting used to things like like, um, being handled like people, Um, maybe other animals in the household where they are acceptable or not, Um, and or we say, you know, what foods the right things to have, because, I mean, always learn, um, how to get that and what's a good food and what's not. Um, And if we think about you, look at the, um, dog breeding legislation is actually set in there that, um, breeders do have to, um, provide, uh, association programmes enrichment. It'd be really nice if we start looking at that wi with rabbit breeders and start rolling that out a bit more with that, at least teaching to do that, so consequences with poor association, things like fear. Um, you may have an intolerance for handling, and we've all seen a lot of rabbits with with severe spinal injuries that are healed. Um, no history of that, particularly, but almost certainly these are very, very soft boned little rabbits who have handled kick out subluxed their backs and then spend the rest of their life dealing with the, um the the the arthritis and the damage to to that spine for that time. And all these things lead to stress. You know, they they they're they're surrounded by things that they're not used to not adapted to. And they really are great. And this is potentially very like Pandora syndrome in cats, where we have this ma adaptive response to stress really set by this of these very early lifetime, um, adverse events. And that ends up creating a list in many body systems. So again, back to our chronic inflammation back to our chronic disease. And this is the type of thing we'll see in older rabbits. I think it's rabbit about six or seven before it started showing really severe clinical signs, um, of of lameness and muscle weight, which is is its hindquarters. But th that was almost certainly happening when he was a very, very young rabbit, and he just spent most of his life dealing with that. So the last one we we need is we've got to protect these rabbits from pain and suffering. Um, and this is kind of more if we think about our traditional preventive care. Uh, we think about vaccination banking up our parasite control things, too. But what else can we actually do about this? Well, one of the big things we need to do is actually teach people what the signs of pain are in a rabbit and bear in mind. They can be absolutely anything so reduced activity. We may see lameness or gate change that can be really hard to assess. Um, because very often Rabbit's response to having painful legs claims, is just to stop moving. Um, and he's tried to trot up a rabbit in the consulting room will know that we may see change in weight and muscle loss, and again, people don't recognise obesity. They're not very likely to recognise. Um, a very thin rabbit. Um, very easy, too. Especially a nice thick fur coat on them. Altered moods, altered appetite, lack of grooming all these things. But it can be signed to pain, faecal and urinary changes, you know, can especially reduced faeces and things can definitely be a sign of pain. But it can be really quite hard to spot, especially with several rabbits in the same area, so we need to. Let's show them what the signs are about how to watch for these how to assess the faecal output and things like that. And here is a painful rabbit. Um, consulting room. And what can you see? We can see. Well, basically, the rabbit hasn't been grooming. Um, we can see this very stary coat. We can see it slightly hunched in the back by its posture there, Uh, we can also just about see below the tail. We can see a lump of, um Zika trope there. So this is rabbit with a with spinal arthritis, you can practically pick it from a posture. But also, in fact, we've got signs where this rabbit can't turn it can't groom. It can't take zika trope. So there's really signs of long standing pain in this animal. We also teach people not to buy extreme shapes. Um, so you know, we we odd coats and things, but maybe come from a very limited gene pool brachy. And we've done so well with dogs and cats. We're now moving on from rabbits. Um, and, uh, you know, we're gonna see interesting enough a recent study to show that there was a link to dental disease. I think there's a some question marks over over that and other factors to maybe look at. But certainly from my recollection, this is very much linked into that, too, but definitely upper respiratory tract disease, Um, and definitely ear disease. The big problem rabbits is so many pet rabbits are BRAC, to some degree may not be ultras, but they are not like a normal wild rabbit, so it's very hard for people often to recognise that. So just with 11 rabbit has longer nose than another. Doesn't mean it's actually a normal no shape. We see lop ears. They people can certainly recognise those, uh, and definitely links into ear disease and stuff from those and in a giant breeds, we start getting things like heart disease. We start getting arthritis, especially spinal. Arthritis can be really difficult, and the big deal is Have a picture of one of these up, up, up, up in your your your concert area or or waiting room. Tell people what a rabbit looks like and and how big a normal rabbit is. Um, give us some idea of what we're really aiming at, because what rabbits should look like their anatomy, which is kind of a bit odd, is being designed to function on this scale and in this shape. And once we start amending that, it doesn't work quite like it used to. It's quite a finely home system, so we need to teach them lots of things, too. So what do we need to do? What we need to, um, teach them the biology of rabbits so people can start getting the, um, get, you know, getting with keeping more tuned to that appreciate with signs of pain. Can't emphases that too much. And again, we need to know how to control it for them. How to help them do that. Because if people don't know, sign a sign of pain, it's very hard to assess how well pain relief is doing and how well, it's actually fun, uh, improving it and things, Um, and that's important. And again, quality of life scoring can come in really well there. So if we are dealing with older, arthritic animals, you know, let's teach people to cue out, um, those and to see when we need to intervene and when we need to do something about that again. When you teach about likely diseases, what are they gonna gonna get? What the causes are? Because if we can get into them what the causes are and how it's linked in keeping and what we're keeping, uh, improved keeping will do for that. Then we can really, hopefully prevent some of these problems, which is what we're really after doing, and particularly diet and husbandry and how these cause and relate to disease. Because we wanna get that root cause we wanna really stop this happening rather than, um, just respond. When it does happen, it's often way too late. Dental is being a classic example. Once a rabbit has dental disease, it has dental insects. That's it. We can slow down problems, but we're committing to to looking after that for the rest of his life, and we can incorporate This is our treatment plan. So when we're doing a consult and we're looking at a sick animal, we need to be able to advise on how to improve things, how to make things better for it, not just good drugs, good surgery. Um, that's really important, but we need to we. But we also need to look at The whole lifestyle takes a holistic view, not just the body part, not just the whole animal, but the whole husbandly system that animals living in and really important. We're going to hospitalise these animals. We need to make sure the husband in the clinic reflects it. And this is important for several reasons. Firstly, because we can't preach it and not do it. Secondly, because we want our patients to do well. And if a husbandry is really good, um, then, um um, then then we can, um uh um then they can we can see improvement that they they do much better. They'll be much happier animals, and it's gonna lead to faster recoveries things. And thirdly, it's such a great teaching aid if people can see what you're doing and see how you're keeping them. But they say, Why are you doing that? What's that for? And the rabbits clearly enjoy it or doing something like that, too. And they think, Oh, that's great. I'll do that, too. And it's a really good teaching opportunity, and that that's that's the chance not to be missed, really. And fundamentally, this is our starting and ending point with with with rabbit medicine. Hopefully, we wanna be aim at making that rabbit's life a much, much happier one. Not just about about treating disease, but make Rabbit's life much happier. So thank you for listening. Um, and I'm gonna hand over to Peter in now and again once again. Thank you to Burgess for sponsoring the talk. Thank you, John. That was absolutely fantastic. And, uh, while Peter is sharing his screen and bringing up his presentation, I just want to let everybody know that, um, the questions that we have got through, we will be, um, answering at the end. Uh, after Peter has had his say, uh and we will get to as many of those as what we can. Peter, are you winning? I am sorry. Um, I was just making a late amend, which i'll I'll talk about, um just based on some of the things that John was sharing. Um, firstly, thank you, John. Um, again, that was, um a a an excellent, um, excellent presentation and lots to to think about and for us to reflect on, um and also thank you to everybody to attending. We've got a good crowd tonight, and bearing in mind, we are slowly drifting into summer. It's good to see, um, that people are taking the time when we have light evenings. Um, having done many of these during the dark winter, it's good to see so many people out. Um um, coming to attend tonight. So thank you for that. There are a few things I just want to to cover off tonight. Um, from a a burgess point of view. Just a couple of reminders, um, A and and to share some of the work that we've been doing. So at the back end of last year, um, we carried out the great British, um, animal census. Um, and what we did is we, um we went out and and basically wanted to to find out as much as we could about how small animals are being kept in the in. In the UK. Um, we reached just over 6.5 1000 donors, which is a is a good sample when you compare it to other surveys that are that are being done. Um, and that was just short of 21,000 small animals. We are not, um, pretending this is a a kind of representative sample. It is an audience that that we can can reach, um, based from the UK. And we asked lots of different areas around husbandry, housing, diet and how these people are aqui, um, acquiring their animals as well. Um, just give us some really good insights. Um, as you would imagine, rabbits are the most popular animal. Um, we 44% then guinea pigs into down into the the hamsters. And then we get into the kind of more, um, exotic species. Um, and they significantly fall off. Um, again, that kind of feels about right. From from what we see in, in, In, in different studies. Um, but a again again, uh, like I say, we're not We're not pretending. It's a representative sample. Um, we also asked some fun questions, Um, and just wanted to know what people call the rabbits. Um, touching on to what John said at the start. Um, for me, it was disappointing that we didn't see, um kind of hazel fiver or bigwig in the top five rabbit names, but that's probably a generational thing. Um, it'd be interesting to just to to, you know, have a think on. Now what you think the top five will be? Um, number one was cookie number two. Daisy three pumpkin for Oreo. Um, I. I might be at risk of infringing on somebody's trademark with using the word Oreo. And then, uh then we, uh um, as I say, just a little bit of fun facts. It helps people engage in the in the census. Some of the the stats that we could take out in terms of, uh, the rabbit population or or the rabbit responders. Um, it was interesting to see that 41% acquired their rabbits from a charity, uh, charity adoption, which is, you know, the biggest single, uh, single area, which was good, um, pet shops, 20% adopted from friend or family, 20%. That kind of my own interpretation of that is that people, the friend or family have acquired a rabbit or rabbit, and then it's they haven't really thought about it. And then it's been passed on to on to somebody else, um, bought online 15 and given as a gift for, um, the given as a gift would be fine if the person receiving the gift was a, uh, an experienced rabbit owner and actually wanted rabbits. Um, I hope nobody was getting a a surprise gift for for Easter in that 4% um, we'll come on to the to usually a little bit, um, later in the presentation. But from from this, we can see that there's still, um, a kind of hardcore of of people who are feeding muesli. Um, 11% on the results that that that we got from this survey again, Um, the P DS a 2023 po report said it was 13% so we were not a million miles away from that. But given this is our audience that that we people that we can reach through through our excel kind of database and contacts it, it it's it's disappointing to see. Still see that in, um, in double figures, a few more little things in terms of housing, again touching on to to what John shared. Um, tonight, um, most rabbits are actually kept indoors. Uh, now, um, not necessarily 100% at the time, But again, that's the single biggest, uh, category. Um, but you can see there, um, outdoors are mostly outdoors it's just 31%. So there will be some seasonal variation around that. But it does come on to the the husbandry points that John John raised in terms of housing. How often do you clean your rabbit's housing? So daily? 34% once a week. 19% once a month. 1% and the others. I don't know if that's several times a day or um so twice a year. Um, but we can see that, um, when you're getting down to twice a week or once a week, it comes into this kind of potentially the area of of neglect that, um, we kind of have a feeling for, um with people buying these these animals and not understanding that their needs and then in terms of bedding preference, um, John will be pleased to hear that 24% were on, um, bedding hay again. The single biggest, uh, category. And then straw, um, tells or fleece is, you know, if they're cleaning that daily, maybe that would be all right. But in terms of again touching on what John said, you know, if you've got towing or fleecing down and you're you're kind of cleaning it once a once a week, and that's getting wet. And that's gonna make a fairly unpleasant, um, environment for the for. For those animals. Um, whilst we are talking about bedding, um, just a little bit of a reminder about the Napa nest, Um, bedding that we do, it's it is a paper bedding, but it is made from teabag, uh, material. Um, so it is highly absorbent, and it it it doesn't kind of form into big the big squashy wet lumps that you get with newspaper. Um, you can spot clean it. It does allow the animals to burrow into it. Um, it's got no dust. There's no sharp points. There's no fals any of the problems that you get with, uh, with sawdust or or with the soft kind of wood bedding? Um, you will have seen it. We we do take it to the vet shows to share everybody around it. Um, it does come in a 750 gramme bag, as you can see there. And here's an example of it being used just in the litter tray. Um, there's a nice little soft bedding there, along with the hair for the for the animals to eat when they're in the in the litter tray. And just in terms of that 750 grammes, this is the the trial that we did, um, in the office, Um, and based on a rough estimate of the volume, there's about 32 litres of, um of of bedding there. So a little bit of that does go, uh, does go a long way. The reason why we have these these webinars, um, in kind of mid may is always an opportunity just to remind people again about rabbits awareness week. Um, so that will be at the end of June. Um, the theme this year is healthy diet happy bunnies. Um, and again, you know, John talked talked a lot about diet. The reason why we want to talk about diet, Um, from a Burgess point of view is 10 years this year. But since the first paper was published from the Edinburgh University Study, that showed that the risks around selected feeding, um, the risk of obesity, dental disease, and and digestive issues that come from the animals picking out the, um, the starchy bits of the diet leaving the the the fibrous uh, pellets, Um, and the consequences of that, um and it's still an issue, actually, Not just if we're talking about muesli, we talked about 13% still being fed muesli. Um, last year's P DS. A R report did state that 73% of animal rabbits are fed hazing M part of the diet. That's great. But the consequence of that is also that 27% are not fed hay as part of the main diet. So that is a is a big issue. Um, and also in the re the report, the the kind of top five welfare concerns. Um, the second one was inappropriate diet. So 42% of veterinary professionals stating that um inappropriate diet is a top welfare concern. The number one, with 53% of veterinary professionals was just a general lack of knowledge about the animals. Um, animals, basic care. Um, which kind of highlights why we still need to to to continue with rabbit awareness. We can continue to, um, to encourage people to to learn how to look after these animals correctly. Um, so just just to share some ideas, if you if you sign on to Rabbit Awareness Week and I'll share a link later in the presentation. Really, What we need to try and do is reach outside, Um, the our normal audience. It's great having a beautiful display and a really informative display in your in your waiting room. But that will reach the people who go to into practise. And we need to to move beyond that. So some of the ideas that we will be sharing, And when you download your pack, you you'll have more information around. These are to have live social Q and a sessions, uh, Facebook live and things like that posting lots of healthy tips. Uh, rabbit health tips, um, on Facebook instagram. Um, And if you're much younger than me, uh, potentially Tik tok, Um, can you encourage new people to come into practise with discounted or free health checks? Um, there's always some debate about that. I it's it's It's your choice, you know, um, I I know speaking to to to people in the industry, you know, we need to value your skills. So giving them away for free free isn't necessarily the right thing to do, but What we we need to try and do is to is to encourage people to come into practise and and understand who we don't reach and what I would encourage you to do. Really. Um, if you can do on your social media, if you can link into your local community pages and get things shared there, that's a great way to to reach a wider audience. Um, and we do have There's a There's an Excel Vet award for the for the Best Rabbit Awareness Week campaign. So if there's a I need to encourage you to just try that little bit harder Um, there you go. Um, that's a That's a great reason. This is the slide I was just doing as John finished. Um, we talked about husbandry and all aspects of care. Please don't forget about the, um the good P code of practise for the welfare. The good practise code for the welfare of rabbits. This was put together with a go with, um a waf being the main driver of of this along with the RS PC A. We have printed copies that that we can post out. Um, you can also download this from the RWF website. Um, and there are other digital versions available. So, please, um, if you ever want to understand, um, yeah, all of the rabbits needs that. That is kind of a really good place to start. Um, we do have lots of, uh, support materials available. So we do have the posters, as you can see there. This is the guinea pig version of the one that John shared earlier. Um, please, um, just contact us if you want these sending out, um, the one that John shared with the rabbit body. Um, with the different foods that they're made up of the hay and the nuggets and things that's from UK pet foods. But we do have a our own version. Um, so contact us there on that consumer care at Burgess Pet address. And please just sign up for raw. And if you scan that QR code, um, that will take you through, and you can just sign up. Um, and then you'll be able to download your packs when they're ready. You'll get a reminder when the when those packs are ready. Um, and that's it from me. So thank you very much. Thanks. Peter. Please leave that slide up and give people a chance to take pictures and to scan it and everything else, because that is really worthwhile information. And once again, Peter, to you and to Burgess. Thank you so much for your sponsorship. Um, it really is important to bring this information not only into the veterinary field, but also into the wider field. Um, And to try and stop the, um uh, let's call it abuse of rabbits that people are doing, um, out of ignorance. I think more than anything else, in a lot of cases, we have a lot of questions. John, I am going to, um, take a little bit of licence here and and lump some of them together. Uh, the first or one or the first part is about supplements. Um, if if bunnies are on a good diet and a and a nice, varied good quality diet, do you believe supplements are necessary? And if so, what supplements? OK, uh, it might be nicer. Peter steps in this one too, because, um, this is much more history of the mine. But overall, I would honestly say we we sometimes worry a bit too much about micronutrients, which are important. But, um, you know, the macros are really important there. So, too, so, you know, we've got, um, good quality grass and hay and lots and lots of it. Um, we've got, you know, a mixture of, um, of fresh, um, decent quality, um, green veg or veg. And, um, you know, then we probably don't need too much more supplements if we if we use a good quality all round pellet kept correctly stored correctly, brought in small quantities from seal packets from a decent supply. Um, uh, from a decent brand. Because most of your micronutrients can be supplied in there. And so you won't probably need, uh, barring particular special needs to have an individual supplement for a rabbit. But, Peter, I really like your input too, cos you're a nutritional guy. Um, thank you. Um, I feel privileged to be allowed to be answer. Answer a question. It doesn't happen very often. Um, all I can I can say is kind of really echo. What? What? John said. Um, we do have a couple of diets. Um, So the junior in dar, for example, is slightly higher in in protein because we're looking to to supply a little bit of extra protein. They just ensure that amino acid balance in the in the growing rabbits, we have the indoor rabbit food, which has a slightly higher level of vitamin D, and John touched on the UV. So there was a study that showed that indoor rabbits have, um, lower plasma, vitamin D levels and II. I noticed when I was looking through the questions, uh, about mature, um, rabbits, Um, in terms of the we do have mature rabbit food, which has a glucose and meaning which can help help support joint function. And it's also got, um, some specific fatty acids in it, which, um, there was a study which showed that they help maintain cognitive function in dogs. Um, and you know, the the feedback to me was that a dog with brain chemistry is the same as a rabbit's brain chemistry. So, um, that's the the extrapolation from that. But yeah, you know, we don't going out and getting loads of multivitamins and things like that for the for the rabbits. That that's fantastic, guys. Thank you. And that leads on to, uh, some other questions and topics. And that is about, um, the best way to store the food, specifically the hay, Um, And then also, um, about how best to transition bunnies from, say, muesli onto a a decent diet. Go on, Peter. Um, in terms of storing hair, um, our our advice would be in a cool, um, dark place. Cool, dark and dry. Um, when you when you leave it outside, it does kind of take the colour off it. I'm not sure that has a huge impact in terms of the quality, but what you need to do is just to kind of keep it, keep it dry, like you would with any any ambient food stuff. So you're not, um you're not spoiling it, um, through excess moisture and things like that. What was the second part of the the question how to transition? Yeah. Um, we would look, um, and again the there's details on on on our website and on the the Rabbit Awareness Week web, um, website. Now, there's lots of advice from all the charities for for rabbits, uh, and guinea pigs. We kind of recommend about 14 days. So with dogs, you can kind of do it in five, and and cos can do it in 57 days. It's a much longer process because you need not to upset the digestive tract. Um, so it's about a 14 week period just starting to introduce the nuggets slowly and then reducing the amount of muesli that's that's available, Um, over a couple of weeks. Excellent. That's great. Thank you for that. And I, I think you you've brought it up a couple of times, Peter. It's about the the our, uh, website and that, um And if people need any more information, they can use your information, uh, that you've put up there and you can guide them further on to you know where to find all the great information that you've been talking about. One last question before. We have to finish. I'm afraid we've already run over, John. There's been a lot of questions about, um, sterilising. And should we or shouldn't we Besides what you've already covered, but more importantly, at what age and stage? Ok, um, to be covered in other other webinars and, um, worth having a look there. Um, it's a complex question. Um, I mean, certainly in terms of the dose, it's probably easier. Um, I would recommend, um, uh, neuter all surgery. Neuter all of those, Um, because of a no carcinoma risk. I've always found it easier. Um, between, um, probably between about 4.5 to 6 months over six months, they start becom becoming more of an obesity problem to make surgery more difficult under that, and often, the uterus is very, very unformed. It would be really, really hard surgery to get that out and even find it sometimes. So, um, probably 4.5. 6 months of those. The males, um, again depends on how you're gonna keep them. Um, usually advised that basically giving us, you know, um, a spade dough with a a male, You know, you can be more flexible whether you actually do or or don't castrate them. Uh, because they don't always cause problems. Um, now, if you have got one, it becomes aggressive. Then the nice thing is, they're not like dogs. They don't have this memory being male. If you keep male for too long so you can actually castrate at any age and you'll reverse tho, Tho, tho those, um, those behaviours. Um, otherwise, if you're planning to, if you're gonna keep males together probably best to castrate them because they do fight, they may be similar to try and do it for themselves. Um, and certainly really, once the testes are visible, you C. You can remove them at that point. Um, so you know, anywhere from usually about 78 weeks onwards? Can can be can be done, depending depending on what breed. You know, obviously, um um, dwarf rabbits can be need to be maybe a little bit later cos of the size. Um, but you know, it it is That was a bit more flexible. Um, so and And it's certainly why you do it, how you do it and how many methods to do so again, open to debate and some some important question. I think as a professional, we need to be answering with that. Excellent. And I think you raised a great point there, John. Um, we have done numerous previous webinars, um, on lots of exotics, But there are quite a few that you have covered for us on bunnies and sterilising and all the other aspects. So for those of you that uh, you know, want more information, please go onto our website and and have a look for the other webinars that, uh, Burgess has brought to us um and John Chitty specifically, they are absolutely fantastic. And I know this is in credibly naughty. Was he asked slightly over. There's one question that came out which I think is a really, really important one to ask for it and that somebody did ask about whether we consider keeping rabbits cruel. Um and, um, I thought it was a really important. I thought it was a really good question, a really important one. based on this webinar and I think it's very important to say that rabbit keeping isn't per SE cruel it can be and they're very, very difficult pets to keep. And I think we have a lot of debate now about which are the right species to keep, which aren't and you virtually never see rabbits coming up on the list of species that are difficult to keep. But actually, rabbits are difficult to keep, and that's the reason why there are so many issues at play so obvious things like that 48% kept on their own. You know, that is in many of those cases that will be cruel. That will be difficult. So it's very easy to keep them badly. But there are a lot of people who keep them really, really well. And it's not cruel. It's fantastic. So it is that thing where always these animals, where it's not, Is it cruel? Is it Yes, no, it is a case. It's much more easy to to to keep them badly and cause a problem from that. Exactly that. And it's our job, really to facilitate making it, um, as good as possible. And we can. We can really affect that. Quite a lot. So sorry to jump in. I'm really sorry to explain that. Such a cool question. And it really did need answering tonight. Sorry. No, that's fine. I like, like a lot of things. It's it's, uh it's how it's done. That makes it cruel. It's not the act itself. So that's fantastic. Thank you, John. I appreciate you bringing that up. Really good, right? We have now definitely run out of time. A big, big thank you to Burgess and, uh, Peter, Thank you for bringing the sponsorship and sharing your knowledge with us. Also a massive thank you again to my all time favourite speaker, John Chitty John. I could listen to you forever. Unfortunately, time does not allow that. So thank you for your time and to everybody that attended tonight. Uh, as Peter said, Thank you for giving up your time on what is a lovely evening, Uh, in a lot of areas, uh, and light outside. But you chose to, uh, gain knowledge about these wonderful little creatures, which we need to get out there and share with everybody. So from myself, Bruce Stevenson, It's good night.

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