Thursday, October 11, 2018

A Swift Jump from a Tattoo Table, a Bloody Nose and a Worried Bunny Breeder

I had my first attempts at tattooing some of my rabbits pedigree numbers into their ears recently and it didn't go as expected or well at all.  First I ordered a kit for ear tattoos online.

This kit to be precise.  It had great reviews and came with everything I would need to begin my rabbit ear marking career.  Well everything except experience that is.  I read through the directions, and brought my first rabbit into the house.  Then I had my 13 year old daughter hold the rabbit while I attempted to punch the first number.  Maybe I pressed too long and too hard, or maybe it wasn't long enough or hard enough but when I rubbed the ink into the punctures only a few of them picked up the ink at all and the rabbit had squirmed and flipped around so much I worried about whether my daughter could handle holding any of the other rabbits.

Next came the you tube video.  Because when something doesn't go as expected we all turn to you tube for advise right?  Turns out I should have wrapped the rabbit in a towel and then had my daughter hold it.  And I did press the clamp for too long and not hard enough.  So okay I am thinking I have got this now.  The clamp works great.  You pick the letters you want slip them into the holder at the top add any numbers you need and flip the top bar over them to hold them in place and tighten the screw.  Then you do a test press into a scrap of paper to make sure they are right side up and in the right order and you are good to go.

So in comes the second rabbit and my 14 year old daughter to help as well.  We followed the video and I pressed harder and not for as long.  The rabbit didn't squirm as much and when I rubbed the ink into her tattoo it was clear and readable but very red and angry as well.  So two rabbits down and two more to go.  I reset the clamp for the next doe while my girls are bringing her in and that is when everything goes wrong.  First she freaks out and doesn't want to be caught so they come in upset with scratches on their arms.  Then even after wrapping her in a towel and holding her it is like we have a free agent with a license to kill on the table and she in not happy.  I should have known better and stopped there, but of coarse I was ignorant and continued with my mission.  The minute the plier clamped down on her ear she was flipped over backwards and twisted around and in the shock of it all I must have loosened the clamp enough that it released and reset because I managed to double stamp this poor doe's ear.  When the ink was rubbed into the ear among growls and begrudged stillness I had a bunch of puncture marks and not a single readable anything.  I now also had to traumatized teenage girls and one Mom who was shaky and absolutely all done doing ear tattoo's forever.  Or at least for that day.  The last bunny had been given a reprieve because there had to be a better way.  I must have missed something in all of my newbie book learning.

Fast forward a couple of weeks through more reading, facebook group searching and website shopping and I am now the owner of a battery operated handheld tattoo machine called the kbtatt.
This tattoo pen came in a zipper case with an instruction booklet and a couple of ink wells.  I also ordered a skin marker pen and a cleaning bristle brush set.  I figured I had gloves and ink from my clamp kit and looking back I only wish I would have ordered a couple of extra needles.  The other item that I ordered that came recommended to me was Gigi Anesthetic Numbing Spray.

When all of it arrived I felt ready to begin and as a bonus I had a sister in town visiting so she could help me instead of my teenage daughters.  We set up the grooming table in the workshop where we have moved our rabbits to for their winter quarters and pulled my first doe.  Cleaned her ears.  wrapped her in a towel and sprayed her with numbing spray.  After giving it a minute I wrote on her ear to connect the dots from the clamp tattoo that was hard to read, wiped it with a smidge of vaseline so I wouldn't get ink everywhere and started.  Except for a small jerk or two she did get and her new hand done tattoo is readable.  Ear cleaning is tomorrow to see how the ink held and the ears healed.  Both my second, and third does went just as smoothly.

Now came my fourth doe.  The one I put off because of her double stamped ear and the trauma she put us through the last time I had tried to tattoo her.  She was a champ.  Easy to catch, enjoyed being groomed, didn't fuss on the table, I had a couple small jerks in the spots I had to go over twice but otherwise she did great.  What a relief it was at that moment to be in the home stretch.  Or so I thought.

My black buck Swift would be our final tattoo of the day and our first injury in the rabbitry as well.  I followed the same steps as before and we started the tattoo, but we instantly had the same fight as I had with my doe and the clamp a few weeks before.  I wondered if I hadn't waited long enough for Gigi's to kick in and work so I wiped his ear completely clean and sprayed it again.  Giving it some extra time to start working.  We re-prepped the ear and started.  Again with no seeming affect.  We had a volatile rabbit who wrenched out of my sisters grasp flipped himself over and kicked himself backwards and completely off the table landing head first on the concrete floor of the workshop.  We scooped him up and checked his pupils, which reacted normally.  So we quickly wrapped him up and I held him while my sister tried to finish the tattoo.  It isn't complete because we quickly noticed that he was bleeding and realized that he had a bloody nose.  So I held him until the bleeding stopped.  Fortunately it did fairly quickly and checked him for swelling.  There was none.  Then we put him back in his hutch and watched him carefully for the next 24 hours.  We got lucky that it was nothing more than a knock to the head and bloody nose.  He had a head tilt for a day, but ate normally and still wanted all the loves and pets he could get.  And now a couple weeks after you would never know it had ever happened he has totally recovered, except I still have an ear tattoo to finish and it is one I am not looking forward to because this is one of my bucks that has crept into my heart and he is going to be around this rabbitry a long, long time.

Long story short, I now have an ear tattoo clamp set that is almost new for sale, as I don't think I can ever bring myself to use it again.  Even though I know it works well for some people it just didn't work out for me.  And I am open to ideas or suggestions for how to finish one guys ear number without him falling off the table.  Advise?  Leave it in the comments below.

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