Biosecurity Measures to Reduce RHD Risk for your Pet Rabbits

Oct 18, 2021 by Christie Taylor

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Ask your Local HRS Chapters which of these measures are best for your region

  • House your rabbits indoors.
  • Reduce or eliminate outdoor playtime, especially in endemic areas.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly before handling your rabbits.
  • Change your clothes and wash hands after contact with rabbits.
  • Don’t let your rabbit have physical contact with other rabbits from outside your home.
  • Adopt a ‘no shoes’ policy in your home.
  • Trim your rabbit’s nails and groom them at home.
  • Use effective disinfectants listed here.
  • Know your sources of hay and feed and whether they were grown. “Quarantine” your hay and feed for three months if they’re sourced from endemic areas.
  • Do not feed plants, grasses, or tree branches foraged from outside, especially if you live in a region where RHD is endemic.
  • Use monthly flea treatments (e.g., Revolution).
  • Keep cats indoors.
  • Keep dogs on-leash outside, to reduce the risk that they will directly interact with wild or feral rabbits (alive or deceased) and their excreta. Consider having your dog wear booties outside, or washing their paws when coming inside. Designate separate areas in your home for your dog and block dog access to areas where your rabbits live or exercise.
  • Minimize your bunnies’ exposure to insects such as mosquitos and flies. Maintain your window and door screens and seals. Bug zappers or other indoor insect control methods may also reduce your bunnies’ exposure to insects.
  • Quarantine any new rabbits for at least 14 days.
  • Do NOT touch wild or feral rabbits. Contact your state officials to report any unexplained rabbit deaths.

As guardians who take our rabbits to the veterinarian when they’re sick and provide them with a healthy diet and a loving home, vaccination against RHDV2 when possible, in combination with biosecurity precautions, is the best way that we can protect our rabbits from RHD.

Written by Anthony Pilny DVM, DABVP, Susan Brown, DVM, and Micah Kohles DVM, MPA and updated by Christie Taylor, PhD.