Rare rabbit reproductive case solved

Stomp with owner Caroline McHugh and vet Ross Allan.
Stomp with owner Caroline McHugh and vet Ross Allan.

Ross Allan, lead vet at the award-winning Roundhouse Veterinary Hospital in Glasgow’s southside, has reported an extremely unusual case this week: a bunny with a very rare reproductive issue.

Stomp, a three-year-old female breeding rabbit, was presented to the vet by owner Caroline McHugh, who was concerned about a firm swelling in her bunny’s abdomen.

Mr Allan undertook some preliminary tests, including an X-ray of the pet to ascertain the root of the problem

“In working up a medical case we often have a list of possible diagnoses – we usually list these from most likely disease or illness processes to the least likely,” he said.

“In Stomp’s case, the diagnosis was fairly open, but I was particularly concerned about two serious conditions: ‘gut stasis’ – a condition whereby bunny’s intestines go to sleep and a growth in the reproductive system. Sadly, both of these issues are reasonably common amongst pet rabbits.”

Unusually, X-rays revealed three oval objects in Stomp’s reproductive tract.

Ross said: “This is only the second time I have seen a case like this in my career, though rare cases are documented in veterinary textbooks. Stomp was going to give birth to three eggs.

“Stomp’s ova (eggs) have been fertilised and are developing in her uterus in the usual way but, unusually, have developed a much thicker coating than usual around the developing embryos – very much like a shell, which is what we discovered in her X-ray.

“This syndrome is known as Oviparum Lagomophi and is a throwback to Stomps’ ancient bunny ancestors. In much the same way as some pythons have a vestigial pelvis and humans have a coccyx (vestigial tail bone) – every now and again genetics throws up a person with an elongated coccyx like a tail, or a snake with developed limbs – so too might a bunny lay some eggs!”

Stomp’s owner Caroline said: “I knew that Stomp was a special bunny: but I’d no idea just how special.”

Stomp is due to give birth to her three eggs this Sunday and Ross expects them to hatch within two or three days.

“The baby rabbits (or kits) have every chance of being absolutely healthy,” he said.

The Roundhouse Veterinary Hospital in Glasgow’s southside is part of The Pets’n’Vets Family, the network of veterinary practices with surgeries around Glasgow and surrounding areas.