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The Lettuce Letters, Issue #001 -- Welcome!
September 16, 2020
Welcome!In this issue:
Thank you for signing up for the newsletter and welcome to the very first issue!
The purpose of The Lettuce Letters is to announce any upcoming articles, talk about newly discovered rabbit products and post answers to any bunny questions you may have submitted. I will also talk more personally about my experiences on already published topics on my website, The Educated Rabbit.
First, let me tell you a bit about myself. My name is Jody Springborn and I have owned rabbits for over 12 years. I took home my first two bunnies in 2008 after a former boss let his two unspayed females get pregnant in quick succession. The rabbit population in that pen went from 3 to 14 in less than a month. The babies would need to be rehomed after they were weaned. I thought about it, did my research, made sure my husband and dog were cool with the idea before I eventually took two young bunnies home.
Even though I had done my research, I was still overwhelmed. In those first few weeks, I admit, I did ask myself, ‘What I was I thinking?’ Becoming a rabbit owner seemed like the craziest idea I had in a very long time. I felt the information I was reading online was either incomplete, confusing or contrary. It was hard to know what was right and what was not. I didn’t understand that when two babies sexually mature, they will fight if one or both are still intact. I didn’t know the best diet (even though I had given hay, I experimented wildly with vegetables). I was unsure how to best handle the bunnies, especially when they stopped fitting into the palm of your hand and started kicking to get away from you. I had absolutely no idea what to do with them if they got sick. I wasn’t even sure if I could tell a sick bunny if faced with one. I certainly didn’t know what to do.
Fortunately I was blessed with two very healthy boy bunnies and I wasn’t a complete idiot when it came to their care. As time went on, I learned more, and tweaked housing and diet accordingly. The boys managed to rebond (with very little effort on my end - bonding was still a big mystery to me at the time) and I learned at least to watch that the boys constantly ate and pooped.
When I started working/volunteering at a local rabbit rescue, I got a crash course on rabbits. Suddenly, I was responsible for over 60 bunnies of various ages and health conditions. I learned on the job and I continued to learn at home as I dealt with not only my two boys, Whoppy and Oso, but the ever rotating (and expanding) population of foster bunnies coming in and out of my house.
I found that the greatest educational resources were a rabbit savvy-vet and other rabbit owners, especially those that have been living with various bunnies for decades. Those seasoned owners have seen it all - young, old, happy, grumpy, healthy and sickly - and they are invaluable when it comes to asking for advice (Does your bunny do that thing? Yeah, that thing. What does it mean? How do you handle it?). They can answer questions you will never find in a book.
After more than 8 years of working daily at a shelter, I’ve become that person people reach out to for advice. They know that I’ve seen and experienced quite a bit and probably have some words of wisdom for them, no matter how odd the rabbit-related topic.
I still remember that sinking feeling of dread those first few weeks of Whoppy and Oso’s arrival; that nagging suspicion that I’ve done something really silly and there was no backing out of it. I hope that The Educated Rabbit can provide some guidance to those looking for help or advice. There are still a lot of topics I have not covered, because they are still in the planning stages. If you have a topic or a question, please do not hesitate to send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org
Coming Soon!Right now I am working on the release of my Rabbit First Aid Guide. This is important to me, because I know how delicate rabbits can be and I know their tendencies to get sick at the most inopportune times (for me, that was either holidays or Saturday evening as I was about to leave the shelter and head home). Often times, a rabbit-savvy vet is not available or you live too far from the nearest clinic. This guide is intended to help you in those times. It will include the following:
To be notified as soon as the guide becomes available, sign up at The Educated Rabbit
New and Upcoming ArticlesIn the next couple of weeks, I will be publishing two articles on head tilt - what it is and how to care for a bunny with tilt. It's a topic that I know well as I have one senior girl with it.
The latest article out is on senior care. It lists the signs of aging and common health issues that arise. I go over the basics of care, so be sure to read it, especially if you have an older bunny! Senior Rabbit Care
Ask an Expert!Q. Help! I got up this morning and noticed a large red puddle of urine on the floor of my bunny's pen. I think he's peeing blood. What is going on?
A. Rabbit urine is quite different from ours. It has a lot of sediment (relative to what you may see in a dog, cat or human), which is due to how rabbits eliminate excess calcium from their body. The color of the urine can vary wildly from pale yellow all the way to a light brown, orange or red/burgundy color. This can be due to certain foods, high in beta-carotene, or antibiotics. If you have multiple rabbits on the same diet, it's not unusual for just one bunny to urinate red, while others do not. Usually the urine returns to a pale yellow within a few days. Red urine is homogeneous in color.
Actual blood in the urine is not common at all. It can be the result of kidney, bladder or uterine problems. Bloody urine will usually have streaks of blood. Blood clots may also be present. The rabbit may also be acting unusual. He could be straining to urinate, in pain, reluctant to move or not eating.
Another clue you can perform to check for blood is to put a drop or two of hydrogen peroxide in the urine. If the peroxide foams, then blood is present and you should seek out the help of a rabbit-savvy vet.
A. True diarrhea in rabbits is extremely rare, especially in adults. It's usually seen in very young rabbits who are weaning off milk and transitioning to a regular diet. The usual culprit is coccidia, which is bacterial infection that targets the gut. Diarrhea in a young rabbit is a life-threatening situation and needs immediate vet attention.
What is described here is most likely soft poop or poopy butt, which is technically not feces but rather cecotrophes. Cecotrophes are produced in the rabbit's cecum (Which is located near the large intestine). Billions of bacteria ferment the plant material consumed by the bunny. At regular intervals, cecotrophes are formed and passed out of the anus. Normally, rabbits ingest the cecotrophes straight from the anus. These cecotrophes provide rabbits extra vitamins and minerals that does not absorb the first time the plant material moves through the rabbit's digestive system. Cecotrophes are dark brown and comes out as a cluster (that look a like a blackberry).
If the diet is high in fiber and low in protein and sugars, you should almost never see a cecotrophe. However, if the rabbit has a rich diet, including an excess of pellets and treats (which supply extra sugar), the cecum produces more cecotrophes than the rabbit can consume. The result is uneaten cecotrophes which usually end up stuck on the rabbit's bottom or left lying on the floor. Often the cecotrophes will smell and not be well formed, thus giving the impression that this is diarrhea (true diarrhea is very watery).
A simple fix is to adjust the diet. Increase the amount of hay, limit the amount of pellets (follow the manufacturer's directions) and treats (fresh fruit and carrots - usual serving size is a sliver or the size of a thumbnail or pinkie finger 1-2x a week). Quite often, rich vegetables can also cause problems. Kale, chard, dandelion greens and carrot tops can cause poopy butt. Usually these foods - especially kale - are very popular with bunnies. You don't have to cut it out entirely, but maybe limit your offering of it to 1-2x weekly.
For more information on diet and portion sizes, read Rabbit diet on
The Educated Rabbit.
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