I’ve been concerned about Tigger, my harlie buck, for a week or so. He started looking a bit unhappy on his feet and “rough” generally – ungroomed, a bit miserable – towards the beginning of last week so I moved him to a smaller cage where he didn’t have to travel so far between food hopper, hayrack and water bottle, just leaving the door open for a couple of hours a day so he could go sunbathe, socialise or whatever. He wasn’t getting any better though and watching him when he reluctantly moved around, he seemed to be trying to keep his weight on his front feet and off his back legs, trying not to move them more than he had to – which is a problem when you’re an animal that hops in long bounds, normally. That made me wonder if he’d damaged his back.
The cage-rest didn’t help and he carried on looking worse, so this morning I put him out of his misery.
I was right about the back injury – there was a patch just behind his last ribs where the tissues around his spine had swollen and discoloured, and the muscles just behind that felt softer and thinner than the rest of his back so I think he must have slipped a disc or the like. I know from my own experience that injured backs take months to stop causing agony, years to heal and they never come back to 100% anyway, so I’m glad I put the old boy down. He had a good life, he fathered some excellent kits for me, and his genes will continue through Jet, Ebony and Ivory, so for a rabbit he’s left a pretty good legacy!
I’ll keep a harlie kit from Ivory’s bunch, I think – a doe, if she’s got one! – and pick out a good harlie buck from a future litter by Ebony to go with it.
I’ll take a screwdriver to Tigger’s old cage and take the upper levels out of it, then any future occupant won’t run the risk of falling off them and doing its back in, too. If they’re determined to fall off something, they’ll have to go a bit further afield!