Rabbits and myxomatosis

Posted: Wednesday 11 January 2012
by Pippa Greenwood

Gardeners have a difficult relationship with rabbits, and I myself sometimes swear inwardly, when a rabbit finds its way into my veg plot, and munches through my veg.

Rabbit on grass

I’ve just found the body of yet another rabbit, which has suffered a long, drawn out, and unpleasant death, as a result of myxomatosis. Gardeners have a difficult relationship with rabbits, and I myself sometimes swear inwardly, when a rabbit finds its way into my veg plot, and munches through my veg. But I never want to kill one.

You might think I’m a softie, and perhaps I am. I do know that rabbits can be serious pests, and although I wouldn’t do it myself, some people resort to shooting them. At least this method dispatches them relatively quickly.

In my vegetarian, animal-loving way, I’m almost frightened by what I feel about the person who deliberately introduced the virus to rabbit populations. He knew what it would do to the animals and how they would die. If I wrote down my real thoughts about that man, this blog would not be published!

Myxomatosis takes about two weeks to kill a rabbit, which is an extremely drawn out death, especially when you consider how short a time most rabbits live for. In human time it would be the equivalent of many months, or perhaps even years, of gradual deterioration with bleeding, swelling, respiratory failure and virtual blindness.

It makes me very sad, and almost embarrassed and ashamed to be part of the human race. Perhaps at the start of another year, we should all think a lot harder about everything and everyone we share this planet with.

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happymarion 11/01/2012 at 16:09

Well said, Pippa. I remember the poor rabbits strewn about the country roads in dreadful distress in the early fifties when I used to go cycling in the East Yorkshire countryside. It was very distressing.

lijemc 12/01/2012 at 18:53

I know you can't publish what you really think about that man, but I bet I share your sentiments. Humans are a cruel race at times.

Typewriter 12/01/2012 at 19:05

In 2010 I had to have 2 rabbits put down who contracted myxomatosis. They were in the early stages of the disease, but it is the most horrible disease designed by man. I was really devasted to have them put down as there is no cure. I now have the remainder rabbits injected every 6 months so they don't get the disease. This is not a quick death it is like you say slow and painful. I think when pet shops sell rabbits they should inform people to get them injected to save the heart ache of them getting the disease. It is about time there was a cure for this disease.

Homelovingirl31 19/01/2012 at 19:03

I have rabbits in my country garden, they eat everything except the weeds! I've never forgiven them for eating all my young hellebores!
However, a year or so back I found a young rabbit sitting quietly at the edge of my garden, he didn't look well and made no attempt to move off when I got close up to him. His eyes were almost shut and he looked as if he was ready to nod off, however, he had disappeared when I came back to check on him.
What are the symptoms of "myx"?

enzo 06/02/2012 at 08:50

Couldn't agree more, a horrible way to go. it tends to come in waves through areas, leaving a few resistant rabbits who increase in number till it returns and kills them off again. May not be very palatable but i put them out of there misery if i can get to them, i don't have the heart to leave them to die so slowly.

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