Like most Australian vets that develop an interest in treating rabbits, Narelle’s passion for bunnies began in the UK, where rabbits have been popular as house pets for many years. Now settled back in Australia, Narelle concentrates exclusively on rabbits and the occasional guinea pig as both a primary and secondary opinion veterinarian. She offers routine rabbit services including desexings and routine vaccinations, as well as surgical and medical care at her hospital Melbourne Rabbit Clinic.
In your own words, what is it about rabbit surgery and dentistry that you find interesting and that you believe general practitioners would benefit from learning from and performing better? Rabbits are fascinating pets and owners are catching on fast! No house is complete without a bunny. The medicine and surgery we are now investigating for this species is ground breaking and we are rapidly catching up to dogs and cats. Although with some surgeries there are correlations to other more well-known species rabbit dentistry is on its own. Particular and specific skills are required, even to just know there is a problem. It is exciting and interesting especially when we vets think we have seen it all!
Do you have a favourite surgery or procedure that you like to perform on rabbits? My favourite surgery is a rhinotomy- removing grass seeds, teeth and clearing sinuses. It is amazing to think we can undertake this simple procedure in rabbits, once thought to be so fragile.
What procedure, technology, or medication have you used and realised that there was a better alternative? The clear rabbit dental skull from IM3, not a fancy toy or medication, but is an indispensable part of every rabbit consultation. Clients are often amazed as they often don’t know what goes on in a rabbit’s head.
What have you learned from experience that you didn’t learn from a textbook? What practical advice would you offer fellow vets? The textbooks for rabbits are now only just emerging, which helps reduce the hours researching articles and conversing with international colleagues. But as we are often in a ground-breaking area many misnomers and assumptions are still around – even in some of those textbooks. It is worth always being open to new ideas and scientific reasoning that is emerging.
What advice would you give new graduates? Always be interested in rabbits but perfect your skills on cats and dogs!
What do you like to do for fun? How do you spend your days off? I spend my days off reading articles on rabbits! No really, I have many hobbies gardening, hiking with my family, playing the banjo and competitive powerlifting. I also have my grandma habits of chutney and jam making and crocheting. I have to retire to fit them all in!
Thanks Narelle, for sharing your story with us. We look forward to working with you at the Rabbit Surgery And Dentistry Workshop in April 27th – 29th 2018.
Written by Alison Caiafa