Clyde is a magnificent continental giant buck born in 2017 with a lovely silver agouti coat. Sadly he has sore feet and a heart condition and gets extremely out of breath after any stress or exertion. This means it is extremely important to keep him on soft bedding as he doesn’t cope well with having his feet attended to and I am petrified of giving him a heart attack by trying to handle him. We have built him a tent over his run so that he can have the space but it can stay dry and be bedded thickly to protect his feet. Hopefully this will enable us to manage him we into the future minimising the stress we need to put him through. He has been less breathless lately probably due to the fact that cold weather is easy for him than heat, but it may also be that he is getting fitter from having the opportunity for lots of movement. I hope so anyway. It would be heart breaking to lose a young rabbit to a disease that ought only to appear in an old animal. But sadly giant rabbits are very prone to heart problems as their chest cavities are not large enough to supply their over sized bodies’ needs. Yet another example of inbreeding for a trait desired by humans to the animals detriment:(
Clyde lived with his sister Big Bonnie in their big shed and covered run. They used to mob people who ventured to open the door or gate. They were very very very friendly and also very keen to get out and explore the rest of the Sanctuary garden. It was quite challenging trying to clean them out of even just refill their water bowl. But at least they were not grumpy like Neptune our last Continental Giant. He was challenging in a completely different way! He was all bite and no bark! Sadly Bonnie died a few months ago. As she grew her chest completely failed to keep up with her needs. She was extremely narrow through the chest, but very long in the body. It also became clear that her back legs were abnormal too, and goodness what else was wrong inside. She faded in front of our eyes but was the sweetest, friendliest rabbit I think I have ever met, and I have met more than my share. Clyde appeared to have outgrown some of his earlier problems and was doing really well. His chest is much broader than Bonnie’s was and he had become fitter and was no longer struggling to breathe. But since Bonnie died he has lost weight and is not doing well. He has a new friend, Kiki, so I don’t think he is pining. It may be simply the warmer weather not agreeing with him, or another problem arising from the inbreeding may be surfacing. It is such a shame, it makes me sad every time I look at him:( It is very difficult to do much for him as he panics when you try to restrain him in any way and then can’t breathe and seems in imminent danger of dropping dead. There is no one more experienced at handling rabbits than me but I hardly dare try. I am used to our rabbits getting old and passing away, but that is after they have had a good life. These youngsters doing so poorly is much much worse:(
In order to make Clyde happier we took to letting he nd Kiki loose to hop around the garden when it was dry. This, along with daily probiotics, made them into much happier rabbits. They really blossomed. Clyde has now grown into a big strong adult with a far broader chest and he breathes far more easily than when he was younger. He has proved to be a bit of a delicate flower when deprived of his liberty and is prone to sulking when the weather doesn’t allow him to get out, and he sulked big time when we limited his access to the main garden because they had been so destructive. It is a big garden, it took them quite some time, but they ate just about everything! They are now limited to the area around the sheds and hutches in the hopes that the rest will recover. Recently we moved them into one of the guinea pig sheds as the cover on their old run needs to be removed as it is damaging the shed beside it and is un any case so worn that the next strong wind is likely to shred it once and for all.