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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Problems in the Herd- Split Penis

If the word "penis" offends you, please read no farther. It will appear several times in this blog, and you will be seeing pictures of rabbit penises.

Ok, for those of you sticking with me, please take a moment to recite this aloud. "There are problems in every line, in every breed, in every country in the world. Admitting the problems and willingness to talk about them is the first step in educating other people and finding cures."

Today, we're talking about the split penis. We don't know a lot about it- I want to share some theories of mine and give opinions of others I've talked to.

First- what is a split penis? How do you identify it? Thanks to Donna at Snowberry Holland Lops in Canada, for allowing me to post the pictures you're about to see. They ALL are property of Donna, please do not remove them from this blog. You may visit her website to obtain permission for any use you may want to put them to.

This is a split penis from the tip. It is not fully extended in this picture.

See the slit running from the tip down? Yep, a split penis is just what it sounds like- it's split open.Here is "Mr. Flare's" split flared open. This flare was achieved by applying a small amount of additional pressure.

Splits do not always start at the top. I've seen them where the underside gaped open, almost as if someone had used a pen knife to cut a small line lengthwise. I'm trying to locate good pictures of this kind of split, so if anyone could donate some, you can do it either anonymously or with full credit.

I do not believe split penises cause physical pain. Much as if a rabbit were born without a tail or a human born without a finger, it's a situation where they don't know any different. If it had been caused by a tear, yes it might be painful.

Split penises can cause problems with breeding. In some cases, a buck can not fully extend the penis, making it difficult for him to breed. Other times, the penis curls due to the split in such an odd way, he would not be able to "catch" the doe. However, some bucks with this issue can and DO breed.

Is it genetic? I believe it is. We know it has NOTHING to do with feed, cage conditions, thumping the rabbit or calling it names. I believe does, as well as bucks, are carriers- after all, lots of bucks with the split penis problem can't "seal the deal", so it has to continue on from somewhere. I have heard of some instances where a doe bred to two different bucks has thrown babies with splits- whereas neither buck had produced them before. A friend from the Rabbit Habbit forum has also noted that does who throw the split penis babies tend to have a more elongated vulva.

So what are the signs you might have a problem?

*Gender confusion- thinking a buck is a doe beyond the normal period of time. If you have a 4 month old buck you're still confused on, you need to check him very closely.
*Trouble Breeding
*Difficulty extending the penis.

None of these (other than seeing the actual split) is a surefire sign that your animal does have a split penis. These are just flags that should get you to check your animal more closely.

So what do you do if a split penis shows up in your line?

My personal preference would be to cull the animal. I do not believe it is worth it to breed in a genetic fault, anymore than I would breed in bad teeth or mismarks. I've been very fortunate in that the only split penis I've had in my barn did not come from a rabbit I bred and was not used in the breeding program before it was caught. I'm not so vain to think that's because I did anything special.

Some folks cull the entire line. That's up to you. I do think if you have a buck that throws a split penis with every doe he's bred to, you will want him gone, even if he doesn't display the split himself. Sometimes splits become more obvious with age.

If you do breed the animal, keep a close eye on the offspring. What is the use of having really beautiful babies if 90% of them are DQ'd for splits?

Keep's Rabbitry


Dody said...

Do you think a buck can produce offspring that are fine, but then those offspring throw split penis'?

We have a buck (Dusty) that throws awesome Mini Lop babies. Now, I have bred 2 of his daughters and 1 son, I have 8 to 12 week old bucks with split penises. I did line breed the buck to his 1/2 sister. The other sister was bred to a different line. All split bucks.

Keep said...

Ack! That definitely seems like the buck is a carrier of split Ps. As hard as it is, in this case it's probably best to retire him as a show-only buck or retired him from your herd altogether, especially since the daughters are carrying it and passing it on as well! I might try the son with an unrelated doe to see if he produces bucks with splits with her though.

princessshagun said...

Is there any other other problem apart from breeding issues in split penis bucks?

Kazel said...

Thankyou, i have my first split buck, thought he was a doe for a long time. He will be culled and I'll keep a closer eye on the next litters!

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anne said...

I know this is an old thread, but I found one of the comments very interesting.....their buck does not throw a split but both of his daughters do. According to human research....and the animal research they did to try to understand the human cause of split penis (hypospadias)..... it is determined that the cause is genetic (but the gene is carried on the X chromosome) and is environmental (just because you got the gene does not mean you will display it, it makes you much more likely to display than a non carrier depending on environmental factors, they blame estrogen from birth control for the increase of cases in humans). So being associated with the X chromosome, this means it is like the human male baldness gene (a son gets it from his mother). Females are XX and males are XY. If you know anything about rabbit color genetics....what determines the sex of the rabbit is the same....and if the sire is a carrier he will pass it down to ALL of his daughters and NONE of his sons. If the doe is a carrier, she will pass it down to 50% of her male and female offspring, unless she carries it on both of her X chromosones then it is 100% of her offspring. Hence if you think the rabbit's genetics are worth saving....if the male has a split, save one of his sons as his replacement (he can't pass the gene to his sons since the sire contributed the Y chromosone to make a boy rabbit).....if a doe throws splits, save a daughter and you will have to test breed her to determine if she carries the split....you don't want to save a son because it will take 2 generations to determine if he was a carrier.

Unknown said...

If a doe had 3 bucks and 1 doe and only one of her bucks has a split, would the other bucks or do pass it on as well?