Parker was a lively Lionhead rabbit who enjoyed his food and was a faithful house companion for his owner. Parker shared his home with Lou Lou, a recently acquired female rescue rabbit. Rabbits kept together will often become bonded, with mutual grooming and sleeping in contact with each other. However, social interactions between rabbits can be complicated and have some unfortunate outcomes.
Parker was taken to Braid Vets when his owner had noticed an innocuous lump below his left ear. He was well in himself, but the lump was a new development and required investigation. A needle aspirate drew back a thick white material, typical for pus. Infections under the skin in rabbits often result in the formation of thick, tenacious pus. The body reacts to this by ‘walling it off’ to form an abscess with a thick capsule. Abscesses in rabbits are always potentially serious and generally respond best to surgical removal depending on location.
Parker was admitted that day for a general anaesthetic and surgery. The operation proved to be challenging but vet Peter Sharp was able to remove the vast majority of the abscess and capsule. A small section had firmly attached to underlying bone and could not be removed – to deal with this, the surgical wound was partly closed and the cavity was flushed with an antiseptic and antibiotics were given daily.
Fortunately, Parker has made a good recovery and the abscess has healed. It is likely that a bite to the side of his face from Lou Lou was the source of the infection.
Fighting between rabbits is not uncommon and can be significantly reduced if male and female rabbits are neutered. This removes any hormonal drive for aggression. Non hormonal dominant aggression between rabbits can be harder to deal with and will not be resolved by neutering. Introducing a new rabbit ideally involves keeping them in separate cages initially, followed by supervised play in a neutral territory. Over time a bond should develop and hopefully the start of a long and happy friendship!