This Unit is about Rabbits and their diseases.

Animal life

Rabbit keeping

External parts of a rabbit


Common terms used in rabbit keeping  

  • Doe: Female rabbit.
  • Buck: Male rabbit.
  • Litter: Group of young rabbits.
  • Bunny: A young rabbit.
  • Hutch: House of domestic rabbits.
  • Burrow: Habitat of wild rabbits.
  • Kindling: Giving birth to young rabbits by a doe.
  • Weaning: Stopping of young rabbits from suckling their mothers.

Types of rabbits

  1. Local rabbits
  2. Exotic rabbits

Breeds of rabbits

A breed of animals is a group of animals sharing the same characteristics.

Examples of exotic breeds of rabbits

  • New Zealand white
  • Chinchilla
  • Angora
  • Californian
  • Ear lop
  • Rex

Difference between local and exotic breeds of rabbits

i)                    More resistant to diseases

ii)                  Small in size

iii)                 Grow slowly

iv)               Have different colour

i)                    less resistant to diseases

ii)                  big in size

iii)                 grow faster

iv)               have specific colours

Characteristics of exotic breeds

Chinchilla rabbit

  1. it has good fur
  2. it is kept for meat
  3. it is grey in colour

Angora rabbit

  1. It is white in colour
  2. it has fine fur
  3. It is kept for meat
  4. It also provides good skin

California rabbits

  1. They are white in colour.
  2. They have a black nose and ears.
  3. They are kept for meat.

New Zealand white

  • It has short legs.
  • Its body is white all over.
  • It has pink eyes.
  • It grows very fast.


  • It is kept for meat.
  • It is bigger than all other breeds.
  • Its ears drop at the sides of the head.

Characteristics of local breeds

  1. Most of them live in the bush.
  2. They are more resistant to diseases.
  3. They are strong and run faster.
  4. Local breeds are also called indigenous breeds.

Why people keep rabbits

  1. They are kept for meat.
  2. Their droppings can be used as manure.
  3. They are sold to get money.
  4. They are kept as pets.
  5. For their skin which can be used to make handbags and shoes.
  6. They are kept at school for study purposes.

Why farmers prefer keeping rabbits to other animals

  1. They have a high breeding rate compared to other animals.
  2. Feeding rabbits is not as costly as other animals like cows.
  3. They grow and mature faster than other animals.
  4. They occupy a smaller space compared to animals like cows.

Rabbit feeds

  • Sweet potato leaves.
  • Banana peelings.
  • Green vegetables.
  • Maize and milk.
  • Weeds, e.g. amaranths.
  • Small blocks of salt in water.
  • Pellets (manufactured animal feeds).

Types of hutches

  1. A mordant hutch

A hutch should be strong enough to protect rabbits from dogs and other wild animals.

It should not have a leaking roof.

It should have enough ventilation.

It should be kept clean and dry.

How to care for rabbits

  1. Provide good housing
  2. Proper feeding of rabbits
  3. Early treatment of sick rabbits
  4. Vaccinating rabbits
  5. Isolating sick ones from the normal ones

Rabbit diseases

  • Pneumonia
  • Colds
  • Coccidiosis
  • Snuffles
  • Ear canker
  • Weepy eyes


Coccidiosis affects the liver and intestines of rabbits.

A rabbit with coccidiosis has;

  • A swollen abdomen
  • Rough fur
  • Diarrhoea
  • Loss of weight
  • Dies suddenly

N.B.  Coccidiosis affects both rabbits and birds.


  1. It attacks rabbits at any age.
  2. Rabbits start sneezing at late hours and discharging mucus from the nose.
  3. Rabbits with snuffles suddenly die.

Ear canker (mange)

  1. It affects the ears of rabbits.
  2. Rabbits feel itching ears and later wounds develop in the ears.
  3. The ears of rabbits will be bent downwards.
  4. It attacks rabbits at any age.


  • It affects the lungs.
  • Rabbits get pneumonia when the environment they live in is wet and cold.
  • A rabbit with pneumonia shivers.
  • Rabbits have difficulty in breathing.
  • A rabbit does not eat
  • Rabbits develop high body temperature


  1. Rabbits with colds always sneeze
  2. Rabbits develop a running nose

Weepy eyes

  1. Rabbits with weepy eyes have tears or watery substances coming out of their eyes all the time.

Prevention and control of rabbit diseases

  • Proper feeding of rabbits with plenty of green vegetables
  • Always keep the hutches clean and dry
  • Avoid overcrowding rabbits in a hutch
  • Vaccinate rabbits
  • Early treatment of sick rabbits before the disease spreads
  • Kill rabbits with snuffles to stop the disease from spreading

Records kept in rabbit farming

  1. Number of young ones produced by each doe.
  2. Production records in terms of meat in kilograms.
  3. Dates of kindling by the doe.
  4. Profits and losses made after selling.
  5. Vaccination records.
  6. Types of feeds given to rabbits.



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