To Worm Or Not To Worm

by Debbie Vigue

In a recent "Dollars and Dough" newsletter, author Bob Bennett questioned the need for worming rabbits if you are raising them "The Modern Way" on wire. Although it may be easy to justify not worming because of this non-exposed type of environment, think twice if you show.

I had never wormed my rabbits or felt there was a need to, because of the wire environment they were kept in. Also, they all appeared to be in good health with shinny, dense coats and well fleshed bodies. Then, I attended the Columbus '92 ARBA Convention and changed my mind.

While judging Holland Lops, judge Scott Williamson, was heard to say, "is there anyone who hasn't seen worms on a rabbit?" stepped forward for a closer look. While holding the rabbit on its back, Scott pulled back on the rabbit's tail. This exposed the undulating worms emerging from this poor animal's anus. Unpoetically, it reminded me of sea anemones - the same type of clear whitish strings moving back and forth in slow motion. He stated that either the rabbit had been recently wormed or else it had an extremely bad case of worms. I chose not to ponder either. My thoughts focused on the fact that this rabbit was being returned to the sitting position on the same carpet my best animals were to go across. That is one of the chances you take when showing; the least concession being that this condition is curable - unlike snuffles.

Since that convention, I have started worming my Hollands. I've even taken in a fecal sample to the vet and gotten the report that all was well. My opinion is that yes, there is a reason to worm your rabbits if you show. If your animals are kept on wire, not shown, and live in a more or less closed herd, you probably don't need to worm.

I worm the rabbits orally with Ivomec (Ivermectin), bovine strength with 0.10 cc, the recommended dose for a three to four pound rabbit. I have heard from several breeders that a subcutaneous injection sometimes burns a rabbit's skin, and they may scream. The rabbits here haven't experienced any side effects and do not go off feed at all. When administering a dose, I hold the bunny on its back and squirt the minute measured amount into its mouth. Most just, lick their lips. It takes only a second, and you know they're done - way easier than tattooing! But that's another can of worms, so to speak.

HLRSC Official Guidebook - 5th Edition 2002