Mink Hollow Rabbitry Blog

Permanent link: http://bit.ly/mhr-blog

In an effort to move away from Facebook more, I am starting a blog. I will post things here that I would normally share on the farm page on FaceBook.

—- watch this space for more —–

Veterinarian Jennifer Graham, head of Zoological Companion Animal Medicine (ZCAM) at Cummings School, examines Murphy, a house rabbit with GI and ocular issues, as he’s held by ZCAM intern Corinne Mayer. Credit: Taraneh Pettinato

Source: Genevieve Rajewski, Tufts University https://phys.org/news/2019-08-diagnostic-imaging-pet-rabbits.html

Gastrointestinal issues are the most common emergency that brings pet rabbits—the third most popular companion small mammal in the U.S.—to the Foster Hospital for Small Animals.

Bunnies develop life-threatening complications quite easily from stress, improper diet, dental disease, exposure to toxins such as lead, and other common circumstances. “They are very sensitive little animals,” explained Associate Professor Jennifer Graham, head of the Zoological Companion Animal Medicine Service at Cummings School. “When it comes to GI problems, rabbits can die in a much shorter period than dogs or cats. If a rabbit hasn't eaten or pooped in twelve to twenty-four hours, the owner needs to get it to a clinic right away.”

However, many GI diseases and problems outwardly look the same in pet rabbits. Knowing if—and how—the gut is functioning could help veterinarians narrow the list of possible causes to begin treatment.

With that in mind, Graham and her research partners at Cummings School recently studied if ultrasound can reveal normal movement, or motility, of pet rabbits' gastrointestinal system.

Similar studies have been done in humans, horses, and dogs, and as a result, their clinicians use ultrasound to look at movement of the GI tract to evaluate motility. With the information on normal motility, ultrasound can better be used to differentiate underlying diseases and conditions.

For the bunny study, the researchers used ultrasound to look at the GI tracts of ten healthy pet rabbits brought to the Foster Hospital for routine wellness exams. They also used ultrasound to look at the GI tract in eleven rabbits being spayed and neutered at the Foster Hospital, both before and after the pets were sedated.

“If sick bunnies are painful and stressed, we may use a sedative to help make them more comfortable,” explained Graham. “We wanted to know if sedatives affect the motility of a rabbit's GI tract to the point that it changes what we see with ultrasound.”

In the July issue of the American Journal of Veterinary Research, the researchers reported that ultrasound indeed can accurately show normal motility in pet rabbits' small intestines. Ultrasonography also appeared an accurate way to assess the movement of the small intestine, regardless of whether the rabbits had been sedated.

The research helps pave the way for veterinarians to better use the imaging technique to diagnose rabbits with GI symptoms. Ultrasound can have some benefits over radiographs—X-rays—both of which are noninvasive methods commonly used to look at rabbits' GI systems.

For starters, “we may be able to perform some ultrasounds with a rabbit sitting upright as it normally might, versus having to stretch it out to take radiographs”—positioning that can require the pet to be sedated, added Graham. While radiographs can reveal a buildup of gas in a pet rabbit that points to a problem, they do not show the movement of the GI tract. “So ultrasound gives us information on how the intestines are actually working versus providing a static image,” Graham said.

She explained that this information is key to distinguishing between when GI symptoms are caused by something blocking the intestines, versus GI stasis, which is when the intestines having slowed down or stopped contracting normally because of another underlying issue.

Currently, veterinarians often perform exploratory surgery to get to that answer in species such as dogs and cats. Surgery is much riskier in rabbits and best avoided unless absolutely necessary; Graham hopes this study will help some rabbits avoid unnecessary surgery.

Whether veterinarians can take the team's findings and build on them to apply ultrasound to diagnosing sick rabbits, of course, remains to be seen, Graham said. “But the first step is always determining a baseline for normal.”

2019/08/11 18:54 · becker

This app allows users to view different aspects of the bunny's anatomy to fit their needs. It is especially useful for a surgeon to show clients where and they might be working by turning on particular layers of the bunny's anatomy. Along with showing different views of the anatomy, this app also allows the user to draw on top of the image. This feature can aid the user in circling certain parts of the anatomy, or writing text. There is also a save image feature that allows the user to save views to their device, which can be sent via email or text at a later date. These images are saved in a folder called The Visible Bunny in the Android pictures folder.


2019/07/31 14:36 · becker

puredogtalk.com_wp-content_uploads_2018_03_dr.bellforester.jpgMIXED BREEDS ARE NOT HEALTHIER

First of all, mixed breeds are not healthier than purebred dogs.

“The most frequent genetic disorders that we see in practice are seen equally between purebreds and mixed breeds,” Bell said.

Second, there is a heritability factor in many diseases we had not previously considered. Bell talks specifically about studiesindicating even something as seemingly obviously traumatic as cruciate ligament tears have a genetic component.

Third, all breeders should be health testing their dogs. The increasing number of DNA tests available enables breeds with simple recessive gene pairs creating disease to quickly and easily apply positive pressure to the pedigree. Breeding a quality carrier status animal to a clear, then breeding the resulting quality clear offspring, Bell said, will rapidly eliminate diseases such as a specific form of Progressive Retinal Atrophy.

  “And that’s really the take home message for today,” Bell said. “Is that anyone that’s doing breeding must be doing breed specific genetic testing of the parents and if they’re not doing that then they should not be breeding. Then they are not an ethical breeder and not a health conscious breeder and there’s no place today for breeders that are not going to do that.”

Fourth, for complex inherited diseases, in which a combination of genes is causing a disease process to be expressed, the OFA/CHIC database offers the opportunity to research a “vertical pedigree” to study the incidence of disease in the entire family of the dogs being considered for breeding. OFA IS FACEBOOK FOR DOGS

“So when you look up at dog’s web page on the OFA Website,” Bell said, “and this is Facebook for dogs, this is the dog’s own individual website. They can have their picture on there, it has all their information. It has all the information of the tests results from the parents from the siblings from the half siblings. … even in a normal individual that you’re looking at for breeding, if the parents or the parents’ siblings (indicate) more disease present, it tells you that you’re going to have a greater genetic load of liability genes for that particular disorder.”

Finally, using health testing *appropriately* is mission critical. Bell noted that breeders’ selection processes should emphasize only those diseases which are of concern within their respective breeds. He presented an outstanding webinar for the AKC Canine Health Foundation available here which goes in to even greater detail on this topic.

  “…people might say that because (our dogs) purebred they have limited diversity and therefore they’re unhealthy,” Bell said. “And that is not true.’


2019/07/31 14:34 · becker

Michael Shermer with Dr. Frans de Waal — Animal Emotions and What They Tell Us about Ourselves (#57)

Worth Watching!


Almost every continent on Earth is home to a tenacious family of creatures so adorable that it rarely gets the respect it deserves.

Rabbits and hares are best known for sporting pocket watches and velveteen coats as beloved storybook characters, and for their impressive ability to procreate.

But if you delve deeper, you’ll see that real rabbits and hares are far more fascinating than you ever imagined.

These keystone species play a vital role in ecosystems from the Rocky Mountains to the deserts of Arizona to the northern reaches of Canada’s frozen boreal forest to the concrete jungle of downtown Chicago.

There are more than 60 different kinds of wild rabbits and hares, but despite their remarkable ability to reproduce, many species are actually in danger of being eradicated.

MORE: The cutest rabbit in the world is on the brink of extinction Meet the world's biggest bunnies

In Remarkable Rabbits, we’ll explore the close relationships rabbits and hares have with the landscapes they call home. We’ll learn how hares are more than just a rabbit of another colour, and we’ll take to the water to learn how the swamp rabbit — the Michael Phelps of the rabbit world — has managed to survive in its ever-changing environment.

We’ll also join scientists in the field as they work tirelessly to save native rabbit species from the brink of extinction and reveal groundbreaking new discoveries about how snowshoe hares — the seemingly vulnerable balls of fur that are on many animals’ dinner menus — turn the tables on their predators and control the game.

MORE: Can you tell the difference between a rabbit and a hare? 17,000 rabbits vie for the top spot of “Best in Show” Rabbits at risk: Some species are among the most endangered mammals on the planet

Remarkable Rabbits challenges the common misconception that the world is awash with bunnies, as we explore the threats rabbits and hares face in the wild, from habitat loss to climate change.

But it also shows why, even though their numbers are down, we shouldn’t count these important and underrated animals out. For it’s the rabbits and hares that can adapt, the ones that can move and change with the times, that may prove themselves to be the ultimate survivors.

2019/07/31 14:28 · becker

I recall an incident years ago at a dog show. I had a young Rottie bitch and my friend had had her 1/2 sister. We knew they didn't like each other. We were standing away from the show rings, talking, standing about 3' apart. The dogs appeared to be calm, quiet, and minding their own business. At almost the exact same instant, both of us realized that our dogs, who we knew were staring at each other, had shifted their positions slightly. BOTH of us yanked our dogs in opposite directions, yelling at them to “QUIT IT”.

The people around us were shocked - no-one else had noticed anything untoward. They thought we were being mean to our dogs.

WE knew that if we didn't put an end to it right there, it could have been so much worse.

In hindsight, we should have ended our conversation sooner, but we were both pretty young, and still rather inexperienced.


2019/07/31 14:25 · becker

The University of Melbourne

While the human genome sequence has transformed our understanding of human biology, it isn’t just the sequence of your DNA that matters, but also how you use it! How are some genes activated and others are silenced? How is this controlled? The answer is epigenetics. Epigenetics has been a hot topic for research over the past decade as it has become clear that aberrant epigenetic control contributes to disease (particularly to cancer). Epigenetic alterations are heritable through cell division, and in some instances are able to behave similarly to mutations in terms of their stability. Importantly, unlike genetic mutations, epigenetic modifications are reversible and therefore have the potential to be manipulated therapeutically. It has also become clear in recent years that epigenetic modifications are sensitive to the environment (for example diet), which has sparked a large amount of public debate and research. This course will give an introduction to the fundamentals of epigenetic control. We will examine epigenetic phenomena that are manifestations of epigenetic control in several organisms, with a focus on mammals. We will examine the interplay between epigenetic control and the environment and finally the role of aberrant epigenetic control in disease. All necessary information will be covered in the lectures, and recommended and required readings will be provided. There are no additional required texts for this course. For those interested, additional information can be obtained in the following textbook. Epigenetics. Allis, Jenuwein, Reinberg and Caparros. Cold Spring Harbour Laboratory Press. ISBN-13: 978-0879697242 | Edition: 1


2019/07/31 14:22 · becker

THIS is how we need to do it, and livestock are VERY much a part of the solution. We CAN'T do this if we all try to go vegan. We CAN'T save the planet if we do not continue to grow livestock.


2019/07/31 14:16 · becker

Has anyone actually decoded the rabbit genome to identify the exact genes responsible for things like coat colour? I am becoming more convinced that the traits we have identified as “genes” are not, in fact single genes - at least, not always. I think at least some are in fact multiple genes that are on the same locus (so they tend to get passed on together). Some traits can be the result of different genes, but they LOOK the same so we assume the are the same.

“In addition, by RNA sequencing, we identified 951 genes that were expressed at significantly different levels in the skin of short-hair and long-hair rabbits. Nine significantly differentially expressed genes were validated by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction.”

Hair fibre length is an important economic trait of rabbits in fur production. However, molecular mechanisms regulating rabbit hair growth have remained elusive.

Here we aimed to characterise the skin traits and gene expression profiles of short-hair and long-hair rabbits by histological and transcriptome analyses. Haematoxylin-eosin staining was performed to observe the histological structure of the skin of short-hair and long-hair rabbits. Compared to that in short-hair rabbits, a significantly longer anagen phase was observed in long-hair rabbits. In addition, by RNA sequencing, we identified 951 genes that were expressed at significantly different levels in the skin of short-hair and long-hair rabbits. Nine significantly differentially expressed genes were validated by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction. A gene ontology analysis revealed that epidermis development, hair follicle development, and lipid metabolic process were significantly enriched. Further, we identified potential functional genes regulating follicle development, lipid metabolic, and apoptosis as well as important pathways including extracellular matrix-receptor interaction and basal cell carcinoma pathway.

The present study provides transcriptome evidence for the differences in hair growth between short-hair and long-hair rabbits and reveals that lipid metabolism and apoptosis might constitute major factors contributing to hair length.


2019/07/31 14:08 · becker
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