RABBIT OWNERS: PLEASE BE AWARE OF RHDV2 - A FATAL VIRUS TO RABBITS THAT IS GETTING CLOSER TO LOUISIANA
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Please do not release your rabbit into the wild. It is not only illegal, exposing them to predators both natural and domestic, but they now have a high chance of catching an extremely contagious and FATAL virus called Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus (RHDV) that is contagious to BOTH DOMESTICS AS WELL AS WILD RABBIT SPECIES. We do NOT have access to a vaccine here in Louisiana at this time (5/20/2020). RHDV is often a very swift and sudden killer, giving little warning. Rabbits may die without showing any symptoms at all. Any sudden rabbit death is suspicious and should be reported to your veterinarian as a possible case of RHDV. For more information on this virus and the symptoms click here: https://rabbit.org/rhdv/
Pet rabbits are not wild rabbits. Have you seen a lop-eared rabbit in the woods? Ever found a group of spotted rabbits running loose? Domestic rabbits are not built to live outdoors. Before you "set free" a pet or domesticated rabbit, ask yourself the following questions.
Would you go to a foreign country without first learning what's safe to eat?
- Most pet rabbits that are unwanted have never had the luxury of nibbling on grass in the yard. If it had a pellet diet, there certainly aren't pellets lying about in the wild, and just because a plant or seed tastes yummy, that doesn't mean it's safe!
Would you go out for a long trip without first checking the weather?
- You can grab a jacket if you get cold. You can go inside into an air-conditioned building to escape heat. And if necessary, you can grab an umbrella for rain. Released rabbits have no help against tough elements, as they don't have tunnels dug to run into or know where a hollow log is. 85 degrees is hot enough to cause heat stroke, and below 40 can cause hypothermia. Wind and rain make either condition worse. Not to mention that any of these conditions can be miserable and cause stress on immune systems.
Would you go jogging on a back country road on a warm day without a water bottle or sports drink?
- Any "dumped" animal doesn't know where water is in the area. It doesn't have a compass, it doesn't have a map, and it certainly can't ask its neighboring stray rabbits.
Would you knowingly walk unarmed into a room full of wolves with nowhere to hide?
- A pet rabbit that has been "released" into the wild has no clue where to the nearest shelters or hiding spots are, much less what to be afraid of. Hawks and owls flying above can snatch a rabbit easily, and just because your dog was friendly to it doesn't mean the next dog it comes across will be.
Would you hang out with a sick friend, knowing you had a weakened immune system?
- A pet kept indoors or in a hutch has had very little, if any, exposure to many of the bacteria, viruses, parasites, and protozoas that inhabit the great outdoors. Since rabbits eat constantly, it is likely that they will ingest new lifeforms unknown to their bodies and immune systems. Not to mention pick up mites, ticks, fleas, and mosquitoes that are not only bothersome, but also carry diseases.
Would you go camping alone in a remote area without a first-aid kit or some method of communication?
- If you injured your leg or other major body part, there may be no way to get back or find help. If your rabbit becomes injured, not only does it not have a way to get help, but infection may set in and it may die slowly, or it could become easy prey for a predator or stray dog.
Would you take a job as a construction worker if you couldn't even lift 50lbs?
- Domesticated rabbits not only lack the instincts of wild rabbits, but they are not even close in many ways. Rabbits have been bred specifically for our use - meat rabbits were made larger and heavier, fur rabbits were bred for thicker coats, and pet rabbits were made smaller and more unique. All have been caged and lack the agility, muscle, and endurance of a wild rabbit. These body types would not survive in the wild - they aren't bred for it!