Some observations of enteritis of rabbits

Material Information

Some observations of enteritis of rabbits
Arrington, Lewis Robert, 1919-
Simpson, Charles F ( Charles Floyd ), 1929-
University of Florida -- Dept. of Animal Husbandry and Nutrition
Place of Publication:
Gainesville, Fla.
Agricultural Experiment Station, Dept. of Animal Husbandry and Nutrition
Publication Date:
Physical Description:
4 leaves : ; 28 cm.


Subjects / Keywords:
Rabbits -- Diseases -- Florida ( lcsh )
Enteritis -- Florida ( lcsh )
Rabbits ( jstor )
Diarrhea ( jstor )
Enteritis ( jstor )
bibliography ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent) ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )


Includes bibliographical references (leaf 4).
General Note:
nimal husbandry & nutrition mimeograph series - UF Dept. of Animal Husbandry and Nutrition ; no. 58-9
General Note:
"June, 1958."
Statement of Responsibility:
L.R. Arrington and C.F. Simpson.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
76963928 ( OCLC )


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Animal Husbandry & Nutrition Mimeograph Junes' 95 's ,
Series No. 5U-9 / c


L. R. Arrington and C. F. SimpsonI '.

Enteritis is a common cause of mortality and morbidity among young

domestic rabbits. A study conducted at the U. S. abbit Ekperiment Station

showed that 50 per cent of the unweaned animals lost were affected with enteri-

tis (3). Intestinal coccidiosis is frequently also recognized as a very common

disease of rabbits. Mucoid enteritis, diarrhea, scours and bloat are terms

which have been used to identify an intestinal disorder not caused specifically

by coccidiosis. Symptoms vary in the disease and generally the name applied

is indicative of the type symptoms prevalent in the outbreak. Some workers

believe that the disease is viral or bacterial in origin; some feel that it is

associated with coccidiosis and others think that it may be nutritional in

nature (2). The cause or causes of this widespread problem are unknown and no

specific treatments are available. The period of life during which most trouble

is experienced occurs from the time the young begin to come out of the nest box

at about three weeks of age until they are weaned at eight weeks.

Antibiotics have provided some reduction in the incidence of enteritis

but have not provided satisfactory control (4). Within recent months, nitro-

furazone has been shown effective in reducing the incidence, but experiments

conducted with this drug have not been sufficient to make a complete evaluation

at this time.

The purpose of this paper is to report the observations made on the

intestinal disorders occurring during the past 16 months at this station.

Additional reports of progress will be released as new information becomes


Arrington, Associate Animal Nutritionist, Department of Animal Husbandry
and Nutrition; Simpson, Veterinarian, Department of Veterinary Science, Florida
Agricultural EMperiment Station, Gainesville.



In the course of experiments designed to investigate the nutritional

requirements of rabbits, outbreaks of enteritis causing considerable mortality

and morbidity were observed. Recognizing the importance of this disease, efforts

were made to study all natural occurring outbreaks of enteritis that developed.

No effort was made to induce or transmit the disease.

Rabbits were housed in multiple tier metal cages under adequate shel-

ter. Housing and management conditions were similar to those of well-kept

commercial rabbitries. Good sanitary practices were followed using fresh cages

for each litter and using a disinfectant spray weekly on the cages and litter

pans. Litter pans were cleaned and manure removed twice weekly.

Two different commercial rabbits rations (pellets)* were fed during

the experimental period. Lactating does and growing young were fed ad libitum.

A small quantity of timothy hay was provided twice each week, but no green

or succulent feeds were given.

During the latter portion of the experimental period, limited trials

were conducted using nitrofurazone as a treatment for diarrhea. The soluble

form (commonly known as soluble Furacin or N. F. Z.) was added to the drinking

water for seven days. 'his treatment was started as soon as any evidence of

diarrhea appeared in a litter.

Animals were observed daily for symptoms of intestinal disorder.

When a rabbit developed diarrhea and it appeared that it would not survive,

it was sacrificed and a post-mortem examination was made in the Veterinary

Science Laboratory. Gross pathology was studied and cultures of tissues were

prepared to isolate possible causative organisms.

* Purina Rabbit Checkers and Jim Dandy Rabbit Ration

- 3 -


Intestinal disorders, characterized primarily by diarrhea, were

observed during the 18 month period, but the appearance and duration of the

diarrhea were very sporadic. During some periods of several months, cases

of diarrhea developed in some of the young of approximately one half of the

litters. During other periods of eaual duration, no evidence of diarrhea was

present. These outbreaks were not specifically related to season, nor were they

related to a change of feed or management. In some instances all of the young

in a litter were affected; in others, only a part of the young developed diar-

rhea. A majority of the young affected recovered in two to four days without

any treatment and without any notable effect upon the weaning weight. Approxi-

mately 20 per cent of those affected died or had severe symptoms and were sac-

rificed for post-mortem examination.

Gross observations of the disorder were generally mild to moderate

diarrhea and at times the condition was more the nature of merely loose feces.

In less than five per cent of the cases was there any evidence of the mucoid

type enteritis. There was no evidence of bloat or constipation.

Post-mortem examinations did not reveal any consistent findings.

One rabbit had the liver form of coccidiosis, and a mildc case of intestinal

coccidiosis, but was not considered sufficient to cause the diarrhea present.

The mucosa of the cecum and the terminal portion of the small intestine of this

animal were edematous. Proteus mirabilis was isolated from the intestine and

liver. A Paracolon resembling E. coli was isolated from the liver and intestine

of another animal that died with diarrhea.

Treatment with nitrofurazone appeared to be effective in curing the

diarrhea, but specific conclusions cannot be made from these results. Approxi-

- 4 -

mately 75 per cent of the cases of diarrhea treated with soluble nitrofura-

zone in the drinking water responded in two days. The nature of the problem,

in which a number of the animals recover spontaneously without treatment,

makes it difficult to evaluate the effectiveness of any treatment.


Observations were made over an lb month period of some of the in-

testinal disorders of young rabbits. Numerous cases of diarrhea in mild to

severe form occurred. Little evidence of mucoid enteritis and no evidence of

hemorrhagic enteritis or bloat were apparent. Post-mortem examinations and

isolation tests did not reveal specific causes of the disorder. Nitrofurazone

gave some evidence of reducing the incidence and severity of the disease.


1. Casady, R. B. 195b. Personal communication.

2. Hagen, Karl. 1957. Use of furazolidone (nf-180) for prevention of enteri-
tis and Pasteurella-type pneumonia in rabbits. U. S. D. A. Babbit &Eperi-
ment Station Mimeo report.

3. Lund, E. E. 1951. Mortality among hutch-raised domestic rabbits. U. S.
D. A. Circular No. 883.

4. Templetom, G. S. 1955. Domestic rabbit production. The Interstate
Printers and Publishers, Danville, Illinois.