The Trouble with Ears

On Sunday I took Thumper his breakfast. Something just wasn’t right. He didn’t want any breakfast, and he appeared disoriented. I put him down on the floor to observe him. He tried to take a few hops and fell over. I thought his back legs were paralyzed. I put a call in to his vet, Dr. Maro, who advised me to bring him in right away.

On the way, my mind raced. He was fine just the night before, but now he couldn’t even hop. It all happened so suddenly.

Dr. Maro studied Thumper as I was talking. I set Thumper on the exam table, and Dr. Maro checked his ears. I wondered to myself, Why is he checking Thumper’s ears? There’s something wrong with his back legs.

Dr. Maro diagnosed a middle ear infection that caused Thumper to lose his sense of balance. Dr. Maro put drops into Thumper’s ears and gave him antibiotic and anti-inflammatory injections. We brought Thumper home after Dr. Maro showed my husband, Alan, how to give injections. On Monday, there was some improvement. Thumper moved about more but still had difficulty completing simple “bunny tasks.” He would try to sit up as rabbits do to wash his face only to lose his balance.

By Wednesday, he showed better coordination, and I allowed him out of his cage for a while. Sara, Thumper’s mate, was showing signs of being depressed. They had not been together since Saturday night, and I thought it might help both of them to spend some time together. It was remarkable how much better he looked, felt, and acted after spending a few hours with Sara. She, too, had her spirits lifted. Sara groomed Thumper from head to rear. Thumper was hopping about okay now, only losing his balance when he shook his ears.

On Thursday Dr. Maro decided to continue Thumper’s antibiotic a while longer. Thumper is still recovering, but at least he’s on his way. It was a frightening experience for me and for Thumper and confusing for his companion, Sara. Soon, we hope, all will be back to normal.

by Diane K. Gosnell

House Rabbit Journal Volume III, Number 1, Winter 1994