Coccidiosis (Coxi)

Firstly I would like to reference the blog post about rabbit health checks.

In short this checking system has yet again saves a rabbits life…

So where do we start, like many rabbit story’s at Redbeck it started one morning, 6.30am like most mornings there is a routine where each rabbit is feed watered and given a little head rub and a barley ring treat, rabbits are great the all know the routine and every last one comes to greet you one or to get a little too excited but it never fails to start the day with a smile.

I hate it when this happens one didn’t come to greet me, expecting the worse I opened his cage to find him hiding in the corner, no excitement no reaction just sat there.

First aid kicked, checked his pellets, untouched, herbs for last night untouched, water untouched, hay untouched he loved his hay!!!!

Teeth, eyes, ears, belly, bum all fine……. Run into the house for my stethoscope to the amusement of my neighbour oldman Redbeck in his dressing gown running around garden with a stethoscope around his neck carrying a rabbit lol.

Listening to the gut vert quiet and his heart beat which appeared to be higher than normal level and his breathing had also increased.

  • Heart Rate (pulse): 130-325 beats per minute
  • Respiratory Rate: 32-60 breaths per minute
  • Rectal Temperature: 103.3-104F; 38-40C

Ok we all know the rabbit gut movement is really noisy, a little noise but not normal. Yet no bloating or signs of pain.

Next was the litter tray investigation it was noted the previous day on clear out his facial pellets where smaller than normal. (yes rabbits folk fascination in rabbits dropping). So we had all the sign of the onset of gut stasis.

First of all if you experience the above with your rabbits please seek the support of a vet… speed is key.

Ok a little about gut stasis there are 4 types of stasis

  • Bloat (where the belly swells up and becomes bigger and soft)
  • Blockage ( storage feels hard and rabbit doesn’t enjoy you prodding an poking it stomach)
  • Slowing of the gut ( the reduction or stopping of gut function)
  • Gut failure (Infection, poisoning or parasites eg worms)

So based on the symptoms he was defiantly going into stasis the slowing of his gut, ok straight away he was give pain meds and oral gut stimulant and a couple of his favourite herbs and weighed.

It was then arrange a vet visit that evening, why because stasis is the result of a problem not necessarily the problem itself . So a cause has to be investigated and trust me you have to be very honest with yourself because 90% of the time you the human have caused it.

  • Stress
  • Food
  • Contamination

The Vet confirmed the gut was slowing down and check teeth usually a primary cause for rabbits not eating, we renewed our stock of pain meds and gut stimulant and took him home.

The second day he was nibbling at veggies and his gut was functioning slowly but functioning.

This is usually the stage when the rabbit comes bouncing back, but he didn’t……

After 5 days we stopped the gut stimulant but noticed he would not eat pellets or hay yet there was nothing wrong with his teeth, not the temperature, no out ward sign of illness, yes he was quite but didn’t appear to be in pain just very quiet.

We continued to weigh him and he was losing about an oz a day in weight, not good, 20% drop in weigth usuall mean death, we got close. His poos start to go small again and stopped 7 days later, again gut stimulate was administered he stated pooing again but would only eat strawberrys and cheerio’s and a bit of weetabix (yes I know not a good selection but all he would eat). He weight was still falling so more drastic interaction was implemented and he was being syringe feed twice a day with science selective recovery feed.

So why? Trust me hours where spend hours looking into what was going wrong and firstly we accepted it could be congenial eg a medical problem with him internally. But knowing from past experience we, I mean me the human carer had done something wrong.

So what had change this year

  • We moved him into the new shed? (stress – heat)
  • A couple shows, where hygiene of the cages was concerning (Stress – Infection)
  • We started to use a new supplier of herbs (poisoning – contamination )

i. We moved him back inside (air condition quieter environment)

ii.Stopped taking him to shows and made a point of using wipes on walls base and wires of cages and take our own sawdust to subsequent shows .

iii.Acknowledged we didn’t all give the herbs a good wash before feeding them to the rabbits.

So as you can see its becoming clear where the problem could have come from poisoning – contamination. (we stopped use the herbs)

So how do we prove this , then hopefully fix it, So what could cause a rabbit to go in and out of stasis, no pain but wasting away from not eating properly / I can hear you shouting parasites,

Ok straight on to a worming / parasite control (Panacure – lapizole) 28 day.

Yet there are no sign of worms so what could cause a problem without signs, back to the heavy reading of premature kit death and other cause of the stasis considering dirty contaminated herbs as the source.

Then the penny dropped

We took fecal samples and sent them away to be analysed within three days a report came in coccididial oocysts, Scanty – Moderate levels.

Ok what is a coccididial oocysts well I short it’s the young of a single celled parasite more commonly known as coccidiosis (Coxi) for those wanting more light reading. and comes from contaminated food.

Straight to the vets with the results and a 5 day on 5 day off and 5 day on treatment of sulphaquinoxaline as Panacure – lapizole will not kill coxi…….

Ok let summarise

Cheap herbs save me around £20

£11 vet consultation

£6 gut stimulant

£6 pain meds

£15 analysis

£9 coxi treatment


Normal folk would not share this story with others as it shows poor practise but if this story can help you not make the same mistake. One it will save you money but secondly save rabbits lives, so next time your rabbit goes into stasis think what’s changes otherwise you will find yourself with the same situation.


A vet wouldn’t normally go this deep or this quickly in finding the cause they would just look to cure the physical symptoms, in fact may rabbits can have coccidiosis but have a good immune system to deal with in, but add heat, stress and failing immune system coxi is a killer and more often than not it the main killer of young weaning kits. Me being honest and acting quickly can save a life so it worth sharing.

If you have a k rabbit and this story concerns you please contact your vet and arrange to get a test done, but in saying that if there no symptoms, I would not get overly concerned.

Martin Maran
Author: Martin Maran

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