Rabbit sold has died. What happened?

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KelleyBee

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On March 26th, 2022, I sold a single buck to a buyer. This evening she contacted me to tell me she came home from work to find him lying dead in his outdoor hutch. On the day I sold him, he was 13 weeks, 1 day old and weighed 4lb 7oz on the day he left here. Today, he would have been 4 months, 5 days old. He was one of 5 kits I've sold from the same litter....actually the litter I posted for sale in these for sale forums. All of the other kits sold from this litter are doing fine. One is still in my care as he goes to his owner in Delaware at the end of this month. I asked her what his latest weight was, she said she's never weighed him.

She said she came home from work today and when she went out to feed her herd, he was laying in his hutch like he was sleeping, but it turns out he was dead and she wants to know what could cause this. She hasn't described any other symptoms. She says: "No injuries, no symptoms, no sniffles, no diarrhea- he was just laying there like he was sleeping. No signs of illness...he was eating and drinking and growing..." She said he was sweet, eating and drinking, would come up to her for petting, etc..

She was feeding him the same Manna Pro Pro Formula that he ate here. I do not know if she was also feeding hay. I feed hay to my herd, so he would have been accustomed to eating hay daily while living with me. She says all of the other rabbits in her rabbitry also appear healthy, and of course now she is worried about them, and rightly so. She said he was "isolated all day and died in his box, laid out like he was sleeping." I don't know what she means by "isolated all day" unless she just means he was in his own cage.

Any ideas? I've only ever lost nestlings, so my experience is very limited. I told her I would ask here and see if anyone has any ideas. I did suggest a predator frightening him to death, as that can happen with rabbits, but I really have no idea because, as I have said, I have only ever lost kits who were still in the nest, only a few days to a week or so old. Never have I lost a rabbit at this age, so I have no possible answers due to lack of experience. My entire herd is kept off of the ground. I do not know if she puts her herd on the ground, or not.

Thank you for your help and insight!
 

ladysown

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Since she wasn't home she won't know if a loud noise happened that frightened him, if he choked on something, or simply had a heart attack.

My guess... would be heart attack.

I've had in my rabbitry. Use a buck for breeding, he's healthy happy, did his job. Come back in two hours and he's dead. It's a go-figure moment. With bunnies (and well I guess with any animal, but more likely with the smaller prey species of animals) it happens frequently. I've had my fancy mice up and die unexpectedly as well.

Sometimes rabbits will let you know when they are unwell (not eating, not drinking, sitting quiet in a corner in a hunched position etc) and then you can try to intervene. BUT sometimes they just randomly die and the most likely culprit is a heart attack or stress. This bunny was in his new place for over a month so it is most likely NOT stress, but just a random heart attack.
 

KelleyBee

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Since she wasn't home she won't know if a loud noise happened that frightened him, if he choked on something, or simply had a heart attack.

My guess... would be heart attack.

I've had in my rabbitry. Use a buck for breeding, he's healthy happy, did his job. Come back in two hours and he's dead. It's a go-figure moment. With bunnies (and well I guess with any animal, but more likely with the smaller prey species of animals) it happens frequently. I've had my fancy mice up and die unexpectedly as well.

Sometimes rabbits will let you know when they are unwell (not eating, not drinking, sitting quiet in a corner in a hunched position etc) and then you can try to intervene. BUT sometimes they just randomly die and the most likely culprit is a heart attack or stress. This bunny was in his new place for over a month so it is most likely NOT stress, but just a random heart attack.
Hello @ladystown. Thank you for your answer. I, too, thought possibly a heart attack due to a fright of some sort. As for the customer, do you think I should offer her another rabbit? Same price? Discount? I would appreciate hearing your thoughts in this regard, as well.
 

ladysown

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nope.
once they have had the bunny longer than a day it's no longer my concern to replace the bunny. Bunnies are too fragile, people lie too often, and weird things happen.
I will offer support and advice, but I don't replace rabbits after 24 hours. (and then only if they unexpectedly die or something weird happens).
I will take them back if they no longer want them for whatever reason. No refund.
 

Mini_stead

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Sounds like heart attack to me. I’m definitely not an expert though. I had a bunny recently that escaped for two night. Finally caught it. One week later I found it dead laying down like it was sleeping. It looked perfectly healthy. I chalked it up to stress and heart attack.
 

Preitler

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Hello @ladystown. Thank you for your answer. I, too, thought possibly a heart attack due to a fright of some sort. As for the customer, do you think I should offer her another rabbit? Same price? Discount? I would appreciate hearing your thoughts in this regard, as well.

It's not something you're obliged to. Since I usually have more kits than I really need and don't sell for profit but to get rid of excess I would offer one with discount, or replace it IF the customer was nice and civil about it and does not demand it, or blaming me.

I only had 1 kit out of the nestbox die for no obvious reasons at about 2-3 months, my first buck died of heart failure several hours after a fox attack, situation matches the description but I don't think the cause is the same, can't imagine a noise can scare them that much and in a cage (my buck was in the garden) there would be some signs if something big was there.

If it were RHD, quite likely more casualities would pile up by now if the buck wasn't quarantined.
 
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If it were me, I would send it to your state lab for necropsy. Otherwise you are just guessing. We do that with our chickens who die unexpectedly. Yes, there is a fee but the info is very valuable for managing our animals.
 

KelleyBee

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If it were me, I would send it to your state lab for necropsy. Otherwise you are just guessing. We do that with our chickens who die unexpectedly. Yes, there is a fee but the info is very valuable for managing our animals.
Thank you. But I no longer own the rabbit. It has been out of my care for well over a month. So, it would be up to the people who purchased it.
 

Mini Lop Mama

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We lost a young doe as well not too long ago. Sometimes something internally goes wrong. Maybe refund the lady partially so that you can continue getting business from her?
 

KenoshaRabbits

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She says all of the other rabbits in her rabbitry also appear healthy, and of course now she is worried about them, and rightly so. She said he was "isolated all day and died in his box, laid out like he was sleeping." I don't know what she means by "isolated all day" unless she just means he was in his own cage.

I would wager it was disease, possibly one on her end in her rabbitry. Without more information it is hard to tell if she was following proper isolation procedures. If she wasn't careful it is possible a disease her rabbits have was passed on to the rabbit you sold her. That makes more sense than a surprise heart attack.
 

KelleyBee

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What did you end up doing ?
I’ve decided to offer her another kit at a discount. She has accepted the offer, but says she’d prefer paying full price, does not blame me. That was my greatest concern because the original was out of my care for over a month and thus I can’t see how that would be my fault. So many things could have caused him to die and all other kits sold from his litter are thriving in their new homes.
 

KelleyBee

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I don't think I would have given a discount at all, but do what you want
I felt for her. She was emotionally devastated and I wanted to treat her as I would like to be treated. Sometimes a little investment can go a very long way, especially in terms of reputation.
 

Burelka

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You are so generous KelleyBee, I wouldn't have offered a discount either. So many things are outside of your control after a month. This happened to a friend of mine recently, she sold a bread doe to a gentleman and after 27 days the doe died. After much back and forth she realized the gentleman had unsuitable housing and did not feed the rabbit a wholesome diet. The poor doe had diarrhea and blood in her stool and died. Needless to say, she is not refunding, discounting or selling rabbits to him in the future. This is obviously different, however you don't know much about the rabbit, and even if the owner is honest and has good intentions, ignorance can also result in mistakes.
 

KelleyBee

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You are so generous KelleyBee, I wouldn't have offered a discount either. So many things are outside of your control after a month. This happened to a friend of mine recently, she sold a bread doe to a gentleman and after 27 days the doe died. After much back and forth she realized the gentleman had unsuitable housing and did not feed the rabbit a wholesome diet. The poor doe had diarrhea and blood in her stool and died. Needless to say, she is not refunding, discounting or selling rabbits to him in the future. This is obviously different, however you don't know much about the rabbit, and even if the owner is honest and has good intentions, ignorance can also result in mistakes.
As you have suggested, I can’t possibly know exactly what happened. She’s been raising rabbits for years, so I really do think it’s an odd occurrence. One thought I’ve had is that her herd might have a particular immunity to something in her area (she’s about 3 hours away from me) and my herd may not. She just came yesterday for her replacement buck and she insisted upon paying full price even though I offered a discount, so I’ve incurred no loss, but do wish we could figure out what happened. This new buck has 50 percent different genes from a different herd, so I am hoping if it is a herd immunity thing, that the different genetics help. If this one passes, I would not sell to her again mainly because we just don’t know why they are dying, but hopefully that will not be the case.
 

hotzcatz

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Good job! You handled it very professionally even though the cause of death is still unknown.

But, they do just up and die occasionally so no telling why. If it were me (and it has been in the past) I would make a note of it and see if any more of the siblings and close relatives of the deceased show similar symptoms, but if nothing happens to them, then it's probably not genetic.
 
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