Neglected Rabbit Had Teeth So Long He Couldn't Eat
“He was so happy to have those teeth removed — he ate nonstop for like an hour.”
Last month, a woman moved into a new rental home in Georgia, but when she looked in the backyard, she found that the previous tenants had left something behind — three pet rabbits in a filthy dog crate.
“They were just in deplorable conditions,” Jennifer McGee, shelter coordinator for Georgia House Rabbit Society, a rabbit welfare organization and shelter, told The Dodo. “It didn’t look like the crate had been cleaned in months, and there were inches of feces and urine in there. The rabbits were malnourished and urine-scalded and missing fur from fighting with each other.”
The woman who found them organized new homes for two of the rabbits, but the third one — who was the scrawniest and sickest of the bunch — remained. So she contacted Georgia House Rabbit Society, and arranged for them to take care of the neglected bunny.
The rabbit, whom a volunteer named Gnocchi (since she thought he looked like a piece of potato pasta with legs), was in terrible shape. He was covered in matted fur, and filthy from living in his own waste. But his teeth were the worst part.
“His teeth were so overgrown from not having proper nutrition, and from probably not having proper breeding from whomever [the former owner] got the rabbit from in the first place,” McGee said. “His teeth were actually curling out of his mouth, so it was virtually impossible for him to eat. He was still managing because he survived, but his teeth were almost 2 inches long and he couldn’t properly chew.”
The shelter volunteers cleaned Gnocchi up as best as they could, washing his fur and cutting the mats out. Then they took him to the vet for a checkup. Everyone quickly decided that it was in Gnocchi’s best interests to have his overgrown front incisors completely removed (instead of just cutting them, which would only offer a temporary solution, McGee said), although his molars would remain.
“It’s a really expensive procedure, and it’s actually pretty traumatic for the rabbit,” McGee said. “It’s like us getting a root canal.”
But it was worth it. An hour after Gnocchi woke up from the anesthesia, he started to eat, according to McGee.
“He was eating like he’d never eaten before,” McGee said. “He was so happy to have those teeth removed — he ate nonstop for like an hour.”
The shelter team is also helping Gnocchi regain his health by feeding him high-quality rabbit pellets, hay and fresh green vegetables. And they’re giving him lots and lots of attention.
“Most rabbits don’t like to be picked up and held because they’re prey animals, and they associate that with, ‘Oh God, I’m about to be eaten by a predator,’” McGee said. “But not him — he would spend the whole day in your lap or in your hoodie. That’s all he wants — to be loved.”
“He’s just a happy little guy,” she added. “He licks you all day long — he kisses, kisses, kisses.”
Gnocchi is also learning how to “binky,” which is a hop and a twist that rabbits do when they are really happy.
“He’s not very coordinated,” McGee said. “We doubt he’s ever been able to binky. He does it, and then he scares himself — he’s like, ‘Oh wait, what just happened?’ He’s not the most graceful, but it’s really cute.”
The shelter will hold onto Gnocchi for another week to monitor his health, but then he’ll be up for adoption.
“What happened to him was nothing that he deserved, and we are certainly spoiling him, and we’ll make sure that whoever adopts him continues to do so,” McGee said. “Basically humanity failed him, and we’re going to work to make it up to him.”