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Taking Care of Rabbits

  • Skin and Clean on the spot

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OK, with the rabbit season in process and soon to be in full swing here is a question for those that chase these waskley little buggers.

I personally will skin and clean them as soon as I kill them. I figure that this eliminates the problem of fleas along with being able to leave the innards and hides on the hill.

I know that some wait until they get home to skin and clean them and others will just clean them in the field.

I remember one days hunt years ago when we took a couple of young kids with us. We all went in different directions and when we got back to the truck here came the two young boys. They each had a couple of rabbits but they were carrying them with sticks to keep the fleas off of themselves.
 

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I assume we are talking about cottontails and snowshoe hares and not jacks.

I prefer to clean them in the field and skin them there. I really don't want to take them home with fleas crawling around on their ears.
 

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Stomp, stoop, stand, yank. Done.

⫸<{{{{{⦇°>
 

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There's usually a box of latex gloves in the car, and when I'm hunting rabbits my backpack contains a couple gallon storage bags along with 3-4 quart storage bags with a pair of gloves in each. A post by Grumpy Grandma in this post http://utahwildlife.net/forum/15-upland-game/3374-rabbit-question.html taught me the trick of leaving the rabbits alone for a while after shooting them so that the fleas leave on their own. So what we do is follow trails through rabbit-y zones and if we kill some in a spot we toss em next to the trail and move on, then backtrack and collect the rabbits that have been losing fleas, clean them in groups of 3-4, put in ziploc bags and move on to the next area.
 

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I don't know how letting it lay on the ground for a while even with snow out is going to get rid of the fleas on them. The fleas will stay where it is warmest and if the dead rabbit is warmer than the surrounding area they are going to stay on it.

At leas this is my thoughts on it. That is why I clean and skin them as soon as I get to them, and I have never had a problem with fleas crawling up my arm.
 

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Are the fleas found on rabbits host specific? The reason I ask is that I am yet to see fleas on a dog in Utah. If they are host specific than who cares if there are fleas on them? I've brought them home whole and I'm not flea infested.
 

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Let your dog run around out in the sagebrush for a couple of days without a flea collar or any treatment and he'll have fleas on him.
 

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Haven't been out for them yet this year but will be this next weekend
 

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I don't know how letting it lay on the ground for a while even with snow out is going to get rid of the fleas on them. The fleas will stay where it is warmest and if the dead rabbit is warmer than the surrounding area they are going to stay on it.

At leas this is my thoughts on it. That is why I clean and skin them as soon as I get to them, and I have never had a problem with fleas crawling up my arm.
The theory behind this is that as the rabbit's body cools down, the fleas want to leave the carcass in search of a new host. I have actually tested this theory and it does work to a certain extent, but not all fleas left the carcass in my test.

The fleas that were actually attached and sucking blood did not leave (maybe its hard to detach?) where as the loose fleas that were crawling all over the ears were laying dead in the snow after 30 minutes. I assume that they froze to death when they tried to leave the host.

Mind you, this was a very cold day hunting and the sun was going down behind the mountain when I tested this, but it does seem plausible to me that if I had left the rabbit out for a while longer that most of the fleas would have left given the body temperature would have continued to drop while laying on the snow.

Second observation: I have rarely seen fleas on jack rabbits (and the only time I have seen them on a jack rabbit was early fall before frost). And when I have, it has only been a very mild infestation. Generally, cottontails seem to be more affected by fleas because they spend more time in their burrows to stay warm where the fleas can survive. But jacks spend quite a bit of time above ground where their extremities get cold enough to repel fleas to a certain extent.

I still like to clean my cottontails fairly quickly, but I do believe that sitting in snow will be an effective way to rid the animal of fleas if needed.
 

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If they are host specific than who cares if there are fleas on them? I've brought them home whole and I'm not flea infested.
No way I'd throw a flea infested rabbit in my vest :shock: Went out about a week back and shot a bunch of mnt and desert cottontails...plus one jack. That jack was infested with fleas. The cottontails were not as bad, but definitely enough to give you the willies if they started crawling down your back.

Ran into this ***** who seemed to be having good luck....

 

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Kinda snarky looking aint he?8)
 
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Not a whole lot of jackrabbit left after that 40gr Varmageddon hits it. :D

As for cottontails, bring along a garbage sack or supermarket plastic bag to put them in until you get around to cleaning them. Keeps the ticks / fleas separate from your person.

-DallanC
 

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It's hard for them to spread from dog to dog in climate zones that have long freezing seasons, because in nature the way they work is to lay eggs basically exposed on the ground which then wait for warm C02 from a passing animal to trigger hatching and then they hop on to the host. Your dog can definitely get them though, and then if you have other animals they'll jump back and forth between the pets in your house.

I've watched the fleas jump ship off of a cooling rabbit, if I come back 10-15 minutes later there's almost no fleas on the thing. But that's when it's freezing outside.
 

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No way I'd throw a flea infested rabbit in my vest :shock: Went out about a week back and shot a bunch of mnt and desert cottontails...plus one jack. That jack was infested with fleas. The cottontails were not as bad, but definitely enough to give you the willies if they started crawling down your back.

Ran into this ***** who seemed to be having good luck....

ah ha ha ho ho hee hee

whack em n stack em

.
 
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