Clostridial Diseases - Rabbit

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These are addressed in many papers by Carman (1994) who refers to several factors that lead to the establishment of C. spiroforme in the rabbit gut, including parturition, weaning, change of diet, heat and dehydration, taking blood, removal from germ-free isolation, shipping, old age and over-crowding. The diseases produced by Clostridia are usually so acute that they are seldom possible to treat successfully

C. spiroforme colonises gut more frequently after weaning (young rabbits do not digest and absorb starch as efficiently as adults and carry a greater risk of unabsorbed carbohydrate reaching the caecum to act as a bacterial substrate from which toxins may be produced by the organism) and less frequently after antibiotics (Carman, 1994) and may be seen in Gram-stained faecal smears and is obvious morphologically as it forms helices, U-, S- and C-shapes. C. spiroforme produces two types of toxins, iotaa and iotaa which have antigenic properties, a property which might be exploited for the protection of baby rabbits after suitable research (Carman, 1994). The role of C. perfringens types A and E in the production of diarrhoea in rabbits has yet to be clarified (Carman, 1994).

C. difficile diarrhoea is a frequently fatal disease of rabbits encountered after the use of oral antibiotics (Carman, 1994). It is interesting to note that this is not listed as a zoonosis by Bell et al (1988).

C. sordelli - experimental.

C tympani cuniculi - one case only (Carman, 1994).

Treatment of clostridial enteritis

It is usually unrewarding and follows the same regime as for other causes but, in addition:

  • Ascorbic acid may limit the absorption of toxins and improve mucosal integrity
  • Metronidazole, used parenterally (intraperitoneal use of the 0.5% solution), is the antibiotic of choice.


  • Bell, J. C., Palmer, S. R. and Payne, J. M. (1988). The Zoonoses. Edward Arnold, London. ISBN 0-7131-4561-7
  • Carman, R. J. (1994) Clostridial enteropathies of rabbits. Journal of Small Exotic Animal Medicine. 2 (4), 179-181