This is a weekly blog to let you know what is going on at The Educated Rabbit and with those bunnies in my life who inspire this website. I will announce any new exciting products, alert you to local rescues (and how to support them) and what is going on in the world of rabbits. Thank you for tuning in!
The Diamond Blog keeps you informed on all the new additions and updates to the Educated Rabbit website.
I hope you and your bunnies are all well. Summer is almost over (so hard to believe it!). Fall in Southern California can feel a lot like summer, so I think it will probably be another month or so before temperatures are consistently cooler.
One sure sign that Fall is just around the corner is all the Halloween goodies for sale at the grocery store. There is the candy (yay!), spooky decorations - and of course - the pumpkins.
My husband loves the pumpkins. He will get a couple of gourds and fill the kitchen with pumpkin guts as he carves grumpy bunny faces. Afterwards, he'll pick out the seeds, clean them, then roast them in the oven as they swim in salt and butter (so good, and so BAD for you!).
You may ask, "Don't your bunnies get any pumpkin?" My bunnies are a funny bunch and don't think much of it. This is unusual, as pumpkins are primarily made up of water and sugar.
Pumpkin is high in Vitamin A, K, zinc and other minerals. A small dollop can be a nice treat for your bun, if they like it.
Many bunny owners will have some canned pumpkin on hand. That's because it is easy to mix a spoonful of pumpkin with some Critical Care or moistened pellets to help entice a bunny to eat. This can be a good way for elderly or disabled rabbits to get additional fiber and calories. If you have a bunny recovering from an illness or surgery, adding a small dish of pumpkin/Critical Care mush will be much less stressful than trying to syringe-feed them.
You don't need fresh pumpkin to offer it to your bunny. As mentioned previously, canned pumpkin works just fine. Be sure to use JUST pumpkin and NOT canned pumpkin pie. If you are not sure if your bunny will eat it, go to the baby aisle and look for pumpkin in the baby food section. The jars are small and you don't feel too awful if you need to throw it out.
I hope you are all having a loving day. I wanted to talk about something which, really, I should have put in an article somewhere (if not given the topic it's very own piece).
Last week, I met a new grooming client and his bunny. We chatted and I answered several bunny-related questions, before settling down to the task at hand. When I flipped the bunny over to trim the nails, I called over the owner.
"Did you know your bunny is a boy?"
"What? No! Well, I guess I won that bet."
This is a very typical conversation. Also the statement, "I was told I got two girls, and now I have a litter of baby bunnies." is a common statement that I hear often too. Why is it so hard to sex rabbits?
Basically - when you turn over your rabbit - you are looking for either a cone (male) or a slit (female). The trouble is babies are notoriously difficult to tell apart. Up to about 8 weeks, that cone or slit looks pretty much the same. As the bunny gets older, that structure becomes more pronounced.
When I have a baby, I will take a quick peek, but I don't really start checking with earnest until the baby is weaned. I will then check 1-2 times a week until I am sure that what I'm looking at is a cone or a slit. Do I still get it wrong? Sometimes, especially if the baby is 5 months old I'm still looking for testicles. Then I know I need to take a closer look.
If you choose to purchase babies at a pet store (which I absolutely do NOT recommend) or take in a baby or two from your neighbor, be wary about their insistence that what your are holding is two boys or two girls. It is so easy to get it wrong.
If your bunny is 8 weeks or a little order, bring to a rabbit-savvy vet for a wellness check and to confirm the gender, then schedule a neuter or spay. Alternatively, you can bring your bunny to your local rabbit rescue and speak to the local rabbit expert there to help you.
If you adopted a recent stray or private owner surrender (many, if not all, rescues and shelters spay and neuter before adoption, unless there is a medical reason not to), go ahead and take a look at the underside. You may be a little surprised that your girl isn't really a girl. If so, don't despair! There are many who have had the same experience.
Happy Labor Day for all my US and Canada readers. I hope it's been a relaxing day for everyone.
This morning, I got up early to take Dior down to see Dr. Gleeson at Access. It was a scheduled appointment, so no emergency (for which I'm always very thankful). I wanted to see what other ideas would be possible to help Dior's foot, as progress is SO not happening. I was able to speak to Dr. Gleeson at length about what I have been doing, what I've thought about, what I've tried, what I think is a terrible idea, and what I'm worried about. The immediate plan is to take another x-ray to make sure there is no osteomyelitis (bone infection), and try a different method of wound care. I can imagine that the wound is causing a great deal of discomfort for Dior.
Since sick pets do not appreciate the concept of a long weekend, the clinic was quite busy, and so, I'm at home...waiting by the phone and fretting about my little diva.
Lately, I've been a little absent with social media. It's been a crazy couple of weeks. First, I was supposed to see a friend, but that visit was delayed, then I got very busy with some grooming appointments, and lately, I've been working on getting my First Aid guide formatted.
I had a set back in the post production of my guide. Due to circumstances beyond anyone's control, I had to find someone else to format and design the book. These things happen, so I'm not raging against the Universe or anything like that. It does mean that I've been busy researching other services, getting quotes and figuring out what to do next. It's both terrifying and exciting. I can hardly wait to see the finished product!!
In the meantime, I might enjoy this hot afternoon with a nap (or a book, haven't decided which yet) and wait by the phone.
I hope you are all doing well. Much of the nation is either on fire or under water, so I hope you and your bunnies are safe.
I've spent the last few days in a cleaning frenzy. I'm expecting company, so I have to at least pretend my house isn't transitioning into a barn. Cleaning isn't my favorite thing, so the dust bunnies have been pretty impressive. Of course, I've procrastinated on the dusting by visiting a friend who is fostering a very bitey English Lop.
Now, getting bitten by a rabbit - regardless of the size - is no fun, especially when he's chasing you like a lion in the Savannah. How do you get him to stop?
A couple of points to remember when it comes to aggressive rabbits. One, they have a giant personality. Once they've calmed down, they become very engaging pets. You never have to wonder, "What is my bunny thinking?" It will be REALLY obvious. Second, turning a bunny's attitude around will usually be a large commitment. It may take several months to calm him down. You may need to greatly expand his space or even get him a bunny friend. It will require you to become a psychologist. Figure out what triggers the bunny. Is he possessive of his food, litter box or space? Does he get angry with certain objects like brooms? Can you touch his bowls or toys? Is he possessive of you? Will he bite if he smells other bunnies on you? Will he bite, if you stop petting him or walk out of the pen? What is the bunny's background? Was he locked up in a cage or hutch? Was he abused?
The cause may also be physical. Is he neutered? If so, how long ago? Is he in pain? Is he mobile? Is he deaf or blind? If the cause doesn't seem obvious (randomly charging after you and removing your ankle), pay close attention to the circumstances - time of day, what were you wearing? Did you step over him and startle him?
Putting yourself into your bunny's skin may help you understand where he is coming from. Is your home a new place and scary? Be aware that he could have been surrendered, in a rescuers home, in a shelter and in your home in less than a week. That's a lot of change!
You will need patience. It's no fun receiving bloody bruises, and each wound causes you to regret your decision to open your home to this rabbit. Of course, if you are afraid to live in your own house, the situation isn't working out. If you are determined to win this bunny over (even if it means bloody harm), it's worthwhile to protect yourself. Wear closed-toe shoes, long pants and shirts and gloves.
Never get angry. Always treat with kindness.
I will write a future article on aggressive rabbits and go into more detail. Meanwhile, learn his triggers and give him TIME.
I hope you are all having a wonderful August!
I've been keeping busy with grooming appointments. I'm enjoying meeting new people and bunnies, and listening to the stories of how my clients got their bunnies in the first place. My clients range from the brand new to the very experienced (and everything in between). Many of my clients are experiencing various challenges with their bunnies - long coat needing regular brushing, waiting for their rambunctious young bunnies to be neutered, and some with health issues.
People generally enter a relationship with a pet with certain expectations. Even if they do all the research, and even if they've had other pets before, there is an image in their mind as to what life will be like with their pet. This is not something that only happens to new rabbit owners. Whenever I take on a new rabbit, I try to gather as much information as I can to understand what I am getting myself into. However, many times my image of how this bunny will integrate into my home needs to be adjusted.
I researched rabbit care before I got my first two boys, Whoppy and Oso. I thought I would take them to work with me every day, so they could hang out with the other bunnies who belonged to my boss (I didn't cross my mind that bunnies could be violently territorial). I thought my bunnies would keep themselves company and let me cuddle them once in awhile. Well, I left my job soon after I adopted the two boys. I delayed Whoppy's neutering, which resulted in an enormous fight. I had to separate the boys for about 8 months. I had no idea how to get them back together. Neither bunny was into cuddling, but especially Oso. Over time, the boys got back together, and I accepted that they were affectionate with me at a distance.
Of course, I have had to adjust my expectations with even my most recent bunnies, Dior and Winston. I had assumed I could heal Dior’s urine scald and pressure sores in no time. I had no idea her foot would be so problematic and I would still be dealing an open wound 6 months later. I took in Winston because he was a sweetheart with a back injury. His back injury is almost healed (he still has some compression in his spine. Some changes are good!). He's still affectionate, but he is also quite territorial and has bitten both James and I and drawn blood. It makes cleaning his pen in the morning somewhat of a challenge at times.
There is nothing wrong with having expectations. We all have them. More experienced rabbit owners can adapt more easily to changes (because they've probably seen it before), than perhaps a brand new owner, who may not know where to seek advice.
If you have questions on any aspect of rabbit care, you can always email me a question. I'm always happy to help.
I hope you and your bunnies are keeping cool this blistering hot day.
I wanted to talk a bit about mastering certain skills when taking care of rabbits. I'm not really talking things like handling, but more like trimming nails or administering medications.
These tasks can seem nearly impossible at first. A lot of bunny owners - especially new ones - are terrified at the prospect. Tasks like nail trims may be transferred to a vet or groomer, but things like giving medications can't. After all, if the bunny needs to be on medicine for several weeks, are you really going to bring the bunny in daily to the vet?
Chances are that you will learn how to do it yourself. Some bunnies are really awesome and don't need much convincing to take their medicine. However, there are many bunnies who believe you are out to get them.
Dior is one such bunny. She came to live with me in March, and she had a lot of issues (hence why I ended up taking her in). Right away, she needed medication, expressing her bladder and making sure she was clean and comfortable.
I'm used to handling rabbits (with varying degrees of cooperation), so I don't really think, "Can I get this done?", but more "How can I complete this task in the most productive and comfortable manner?" (in actuality, there may be more cursing, especially if it involves Critical Care). Dior is not necessarily the easiest bunny to handle. She is a very good bunny and doesn't bite, but she does get nervous.
A few weeks ago, I began showing my husband how to medicate, change her bandage and express her bladder. Let me tell you, I don't think she was a fan about being the teaching subject.
Dior fought a lot about taking her medication. She did not like it. She did not want it. Quite often, the medicine ended up on her forehead, or our clothes. She really fought us since March, but all of a sudden, a couple of weeks ago, she decided that maybe it was tasty. Now, we put our arm around her and present the syringe to her (I kinda poke her lips with it). She'll still turn her head away a couple of times, before she remembers how tasty banana creme gabapentin is. Once she remembers, she laps up all her medicine.
Dior is even getting used to my husband changing her bandage. She may still breathe fast, but she struggles much less.
Expressing is a different matter. For some reason, only I am able to get her to pee. I think it has less to do with any magical abilities on my part and more to do with her level of trust.
It's a reminder that with patience (on the human part) and a little trust from your bunny, you can manage your bunny's care. Be kind to both yourself and your bun.
I hope you are all having a great day and staying cool.
This weekend, a friend of mine needed some help with a baby bunny. I learned a lot about bottle-feeding rabbits when I first started working at the rescue and I built-up my knowledge with subsequent babies over the years. Let me share with you some of the tips I’ve learned.
Babies - like everything rabbit - are complicated. There are guidelines, but much of the care also depends on flexibility. How quick can you assess the problem and find a solution? Of course, if you’ve never handled baby rabbits before, it’s hard to follow your gut when you don’t have a basis of comparison.
Newborns look like cocktail weiners. They should look fat (like they’ve been drinking a barrel of beer every day for the last 50 years). They are born naked with closed eyes. After 7 days, you can see the soft sheen of fur growing in. After 10 days, their eyes open, and by 14 days, they start climbing out of the nest and go exploring. Typical x-pens will not keep them in as the babies just wobble between the bars and head towards the most inconvenient thing to dig them out of (behind a bookshelf, under a sectional, etc.). Mom feeds babies about 5-10 minutes twice a day. When you think about it, this means rabbit milk is densely packed with the necessary fats and nutrients to not only sustain a baby, but make the baby thrive in such short feeding sessions.
This also means it’s difficult to replicate the milk. I use KMR (Kitten Milk Replacer) and add acidophilus to help with the digestion. However, others recommend also adding goat’s milk and/or heavy cream to add calories. How much you feed depends on the individual baby, the age and how long has he been without milk. They’ll start nibbling on alfalfa hay pretty quickly. Hands down, their favorite are the dried leaves and flowers. At around 6-weeks old, they’ll start to show an interest in pellets. Veggies and treats should not be introduced until much later. Some people won’t introduce veggies until the baby is 6 months old. I start much younger (around 8-9 weeks when they are completely off milk). I slowly introduce one kind of veggie at a time in very small portions.
The younger the orphans are, the harder they are to raise. Keeping them adequately warm and fed is a huge challenge, and it’s difficult to know if the babies are not dealing with health issues, especially if you know that the mom has rejected them (there may be several reasons why this happens). I’ve had the best success when babies were at least 3 weeks old.
Baby bunnies are always a pleasure. Of course there is work involved, and the crazy teenager stage is not too far away. Still, there is nothing quite as fun as having these young babies in the home.
I've had a stressful few days as both Winston and Emma decided to get sick at the same time. It seems like Emma was starting to experience the first signs of head tilt, while Winston seemed to have a tummy ache from hell, as it took him almost 4 days to start feeling better. Emma started to feel better by the next day (my princess is a tough cookie).
Despite my description of GI stasis as "a tummy ache", it can kill if the bunny can’t recover. That is why most rabbit owners are vigilant about making sure their bunnies eat and poop. If they aren't doing one or the other (or both), it's an emergency.
Many experienced rabbit owners know how to treat stasis at home. This is helpful as it minimizes stress and it can save you the cost of a vet visit. The most essential things you need to address is pain management, fluids and temperature. That means you need to know how to take your bunny's temperature with a thermometer and how to administer at least oral medications.
Owners who have a bunny with a chronic condition, such as dental, megacolon, or just a delicate stomach, may be particularly sensitive as to when their bunny falls sick and have their own routine.
Not everyone treats stasis exactly the same way every single time. I like to take the temperature right away to know whether the bunny needs to sit on a heating pad or next to an ice pack. However, another long-time bunny-owner friend of mine won't take the temperature right away, but rather waits until an hour or two after administering the first medications to avoid more handling. If the bunny still doesn't eat, then she will take the temperature.
It's important to recognize signs for other conditions. If the stomach feels hard or looks distended, there is a build-up of gas, which may indicate an obstruction. This is something that shouldn't be handled at home, and you need to go to the vet ASAP. If your bunny is battling a bad respiratory infection and has trouble breathing (never mind eating), this too requires an immediate vet trip.
It's also important for the owner to feel calm and confident about their nursing skills. If a person can't stop shaking long enough to give their bunny some medication, it's better to just pack the bunny up in a carrier and take them to the vet. There is no need to feel embarrassed even if you've asked your vet 100 times to show you how to take the temperature and you still can’t do it. Obviously, practicing when your bunny is healthy does help your confidence, but everyone reacts different in an emergency.
To read up more about what GI stasis is, click on the link below. If you would like to sign up to be notified the moment the First Aid guide becomes available, click on the link below and scroll to the bottom.
I know, I know, I'm late! I had a very busy afternoon, and in the evening, the choice was to write my blog entry or give Winston some run around time and cuddles. Winston won.
This last Sunday, I and a couple of friends (who are also a bit bunny-mad too), went down to Lake Elsinore to drop off some donations to Kribs for Kritters. This great rescue exclusively takes in those bunnies abandoned in parks, golf courses, streets, parking lots and other areas. Where is Lake Elsinore? It's south-east from Los Angeles, not too far from San Diego.
It was lovely to see Judy, who is the founder/manager, again. My friends and I got to help socialize the young 14-18-week-old bunnies (Oh, what a chore!), and we all chatted about rabbits all afternoon (because that what happens where you get 4 crazy bunny ladies together at a rabbit rescue).
The young bunnies were super cute, and no doubt, they will be adopted quickly once they are old enough to be spayed and neutered. The rescue has a number of very cute bunnies of all ages, but Judy said that the longer the rabbits stay at her rescue, the chances of them being adopted diminishes. This was my rescue experience too.
A trio of black New Zealand siblings caught my eye. Preston, Prudence and Priscilla are striking, but they have been at the rescue for a long time. Not only are they big bunnies, there are three of them. I know the odds. The chances of them finding a forever home together is unlikely.
Most people looking to adopt a bunny, are frequently looking for single lops, dwarves or giants. There is not an abundance of these types of bunnies in shelters or rescues. There are, however, lots of medium to large sized bunnies (like New Zealands), smallish 4-5lb white, red-eyed bunnies, spotted bunnies, pairs and trios. Bunnies who are no longer babies, but rather young or middle-age adults.
I understand the feeling of walking into a facility and looking at a sea of REW bunnies and not seeing the individuals. It's like looking at a blob of bunnies. How is an adopter to choose?
Some of the nicest rabbits I've ever met are these non-descriptive REW bunnies, bigger bunnies and middle-aged and older rabbits. I understand when faced with so many choices, that an adopter will gravitate to that bunny who has a bit of different coloring in his or her coat, or a tuft of fur sticking out behind the ears.
I would like to ask that anyone interested in adopting to take a second look at those bunnies that don't stand out. Introduce yourself to a white, red-eyed bun, or a 8lb nervous boy peeking out from underneath a box, or that pair who have been at the rescue for 5 years and counting. You may find that there is a wonderful treasure in front of you, ready to transform your life and your home with joy.
I hope all my American friends are having a terrific holiday weekend, and everyone else is having a lovely July. How did you all survive the fireworks?
I thought Winston might be a problem. I don't know how he reacted to New Year's Eve fireworks (that was before my time with him), but felt he might get scared. There was a constant distant rumble for most of the night, but there were some explosions very close by, which startled both him and Dior (Cupcake and Panda were spending the evening inside their castle), Joey was sticking close to Zoe; Zoe and Emma were napping on their respective towels - those girls are old pros). Dior was in either her castle or her tent sheet (and also snacking at the litter box) for most of the evening.
I held Winston for some time, while watching TV, but after awhile, he wanted down. I had an exercise pen ready for him, and he spent the rest of the evening binkying and being on high alert. I think he couldn't decide what emotion to go for.
Earlier in the day, I noticed his urine had a large amount of sludge. There can be many reasons for rabbits to have sludge in their urine. Regardless of the reason, I needed to make sure he was properly hydrated, so he got some Lactated Ringer Solution (which is just an electrolyte solution) administered sub-q (meaning that the fluid was administered directly underneath the skin). He also got some metacam, because passing gritty urine is not pleasant and it can irritate the bladder. Also, while he was on the bathroom counter, he got a brush out to help keep all that fur under control. Overall, he was a very good boy and very patient. This morning, I did not see any evidence of sludge, but I'll keep up the fluids for a few more days.
Winston is just so lucky he's so adorable and handsome!
I hope you are all well. For those of you who live in the Pacific Northwest and Western Canada, I hope you are all staying cool and safe.
It's the end of June and pretty soon, everyone will be celebrating July 4th and Canada Day (July 1st). Both holidays are about the founding of their respective countries. People will celebrate with picnics, BBQs, games and - of course - fireworks.
Personally, I've always loved fireworks (sparkly lights and colors - what's not to love?), but over the years, it has become less fun. Here in Los Angeles county, it's illegal to shoot off most types of firecrackers (although many cities will allow sparklers and whatever is labeled as "safe and sane"). The big concern here is wildfires and people burning down their homes. Every year, several people (particularly little kids) get injured and maimed. Of course, people suffering from PTSD and those owning freaked out pets are not happy with the loud bangs outside their window. How bad does it get on July 4th? Well if you ever see some aerial news coverage (see link), it looks like a sparkly war zone. It sounds like one too.
Hopefully, your bunnies will be OK with the noise, but there is always that chance a bunny will become so stressed, they will suffer literal heart failure. I hope that rare occurrence will not happen to you. There are a few things you can do to ease any stress.
If you are home, I would make the evening as normal as possible. Do you and your family sit around the TV or play games or read? Having the TV, radio or smartspeaker on can help drown out some of the outdoor noise. Close the windows and drapes (or blinds). Make sure your bunnies have a hidey box.
If you are having a get-together at your home, I would put the rabbits in a quieter spot in your house (such as a bedroom). If you are going out, definitely put on some music or the TV. If your bunny is very alarmed, cover your bunny's pen completely with a sheet.
Hopefully these tips will make your bunnies more comfortable this upcoming week. Have a safe and wonderful holiday!
I hope that everyone is well, and for those of you who are either in extreme heat or dealing with flooding and tornadoes, I hope you and your loved ones are safe.
Everyone in my house are OK. We - including the humans - survived the first heatwave and enjoying the next day or two of (somewhat) moderate (for Southern CA) weather.
I groomed a couple of bunnies this afternoon, and I have to say, Bruce and Charm are pretty amazing. They are a pair of Holland Lops, whom I have groomed a few times now. They are two cute and personable pair, and they are always shedding a ton of fur.
I see them about every 5 weeks, which is more frequent than what I normally recommend, but every time I see them, they have tufts of fur poking out (what I like to call 'porcupine butt' and I fill up half of a large paper bag. Their coats are so thick and fluffy (yes, I love petting them).
Generally speaking, bunnies shed about every 3 months with every other shed being a heavy shed. However, not every bunny sheds the same way. When I was a groomer at the rescue, I saw lots of bunnies like these two lops. In one way, bunnies with this sort of coat are easy to groom, because you can see the area that needs work and attack it. The problem is that this type of coat is never-ending. You can brush all day and what you end up with is a half-naked, grumpy - and still shedding - bunny. A lot of time the old coat sheds before the new coat comes in, so it is very easy to overgroom and create bald spots.
Some bunnies - like my Emma - have the permanent butt skirt. The butt skirt is the clump of hair that sticks out around the bunny's butt like a ballerina's tutu. Lionheads are famous for it. I've found the best way to deal with it is to lightly shave it off, so the whole coat is even.
Most of my bunnies typically follow the general pattern (looking OK, then slowly displaying shed line patterns on their back or face. The exception to this is Cupcake. Although he has a short coat, he drops hair all the time. I know, because every day, the hand vacuum fills up with his hair when I clean his pen. However, if I sit down and comb him, I'll actually get out very little fur. Why? Well, I'm not sure what the genetics of it are, but it's just his special superpower - always shedding (lucky me).
So if you are just learning about grooming and you feel like you are getting nowhere, take heart! It might not be you, it might be your bunny too.
If you want to read more about grooming, check out the grooming articles on the website. If you are local and would like to have your bunny groomed, click on the link below!
I hope you are all having a pleasant week. I spent the afternoon getting together with family, which was the first time since the pandemic. It was nice to see and hug them again.
In truth, I was supposed to meet up with them yesterday, but Joey decided to be sick instead. Joey was under the weather for most of yesterday, and I'm glad I had cancelled my plans to watch him. He seemed to be really uncomfortable for a large part of the day. Thankfully, he is feeling much better today and is back to eating with the determination of a creature who has not be fed in 34 years.
The next challenge is the incoming heat wave. It was already in the mid 90's today, but it will be triple digits for the rest of the week. Even with air conditioning, my house will be warm.
Not including fans and air conditioners, I have a couple of ways to help keep the bunnies cool. My favorite is putting several ceramic tiles in the freezer and then laying them in the pens. The bunnies love laying on the cold tile. I make sure I have enough pieces to go in rotation from the pen to the freezer. The tile can cool down as soon as 30 minutes, which makes it easy to make sure your bunny has a cold slab to cool off.
I also like to soak a washcloth in cold water, wring it out well, and then wipe down the inside and outside of the ears. The ears help keep bunnies cool, but if it's already hot, there is a limit to what the ears can do. Often I will wrap the ears in the cool cloth and wipe both sides until the skin feels cool. The down side to this technique is that not all rabbits will allow you to touch their ears. Spraying a fine mist on the ears can also help.
I also freeze some water bottles. I just have individual sized bottles (due to freezer space). Most of my bunnies just look at the bottles with great suspicion, so it does have limited use in my situation. Some bunnies really enjoy snuggling up against a frozen 2-litre jug. Those are not my rabbits. However, if I'm worried about the night time temperatures, I will set out the frozen bottle in each pen before I go to bed - in case some bunny needs some relief. In the morning, I rinse the fur off the side of the bottle and put it back in the freezer.
For those of you without access to air conditioning, fans with a wet cloth draped over them help cool the air. Swamp coolers can also help, but just be aware that they can also be a source of mold and mildew.
Hopefully these tips will help you and your bunny deal with the summer heat!
I hope everyone had a good weekend. It's hard to believe that it's already June. Where did the time go?
Today, Zoe is at ACCESS for another echogram to make sure that fatty lump snuggled against her heart is really just a fatty lump and not cancerous. Her buddy, Joey, will come along and hopefully, I can have both bunnies get their annual Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease vaccine. I am very grateful this vaccine exists to protect my bunnies.
Dior's foot had a minor setback last week. Her foot was looking so good, I thought I would see if her foot would be OK if I left it overnight unbandaged. The short answer to that is no, no I cannot. The skin was red and there had been some minor bleeding, so back to having her foot wrapped twice a day. I lost a bit of progress, so I have to rinse the wound with a little saline again (Honestly, the skin seemed tougher than it was). Well, now I know not to be fooled again. At least we're heading the right direction (hopefully).
A friend of mine sold her house and cleaned out a great deal of her belongings. This meant I got a giant donation of bedding!!! This means more of my current bunny bedding can be tossed into the "pile of stuff bunnies can destroy" and their pens can have pristine, non-ripped up sheets. Yay!
Some of my bunnies, Winston, Joey and Emma in particular, love to maul fabric, so I like to stuff sheets in a box or tie it to the pen and let them bite and tug at it. This provides quite a bit of amusement for them as they try to get their hidey hole just right. I'll be writing about more playtime ideas in my next upcoming article!
I hope everyone is having a good Monday, and for those of you in the US - a great holiday weekend. It's a beautiful day to curl up with your bunny and read a book or take a nap.
This past week, I've been thinking a lot about bonding and grooming - (mostly because I am consulting a client on bonding right now and my bunnies are shedding like their little lives depend on it.)
Both tasks fill owners with dread, and it's not because it interferes with naptime. Bonding and grooming can be terrifying experiences for both owners and bunnies alike. I completely understand this, as I was in that same position when I got my first two rabbits, Whoppy and Oso, not so long ago.
My two boys have passed away now, but I very much remember the dread and uncertainty of that first year or so. I didn't know what was going on or what to do, and it wasn't like I could turn to anyone for help. I was the only weirdo in my family and group of friends with rabbits.
Through much patience from me (and the rabbits), I managed to deal with each challenge as it came up, and sometimes, I was lucky and the rabbits figured it out on their own. Each challenge taught me something valuable.
I've given a lot of advice over the years on both bonding and grooming. Today, I'll share with you a couple of my favorite tips.
Bonding: Bonding is completely up to the rabbits and their personality. Every bonding pair is unique which means the way you approach a pair of bunnies may be different every time. Sometimes you can throw all the rules out the window, and sometimes you have to be creative to your approach. The key is to understand the personalities you are working with and adapt accordingly.
Grooming: I've never met a rabbit who enjoyed getting groomed (I've never had a dog either for that matter). I always try to traumatize them as less as possible. For my guys at home, this means keeping grooming sessions short. I'd rather just freak them out for 10-15 minutes, and then come back another day and brush them out some more. For one thing, rabbits tend to shed in stages, so it's impossible to get ALL the loose hair in one sitting.
Some people are convinced that if you don't comb your bunny for two hours, he will get a hairball and die. However, studies have shown that hairballs are usually the result of GI stasis and not the cause of it (Harchourt-Brown 2001). Second, the skin of a rabbit is very delicate. Obsessively running a comb through the same spot can irritate and break down the skin. Therefore, unless you have a matted angora, don't torment your rabbit with a 2-hour grooming session. Your bunny will thank you.
If you would like to book a consultation or grooming session, click onto the link below.
I hope you are all having a great day. I've been keeping myself busy. At the moment, I've been researching on ways to tackle the issue of litter box training, specifically how I can apply that wisdom to Winston.
Generally speaking, rabbits take to the litter box quite naturally, and there is very little you have to do other than observe where they like to go to the bathroom and slide a litter box into that corner. Sexually intact rabbits, too small of a box, moving into a new home, new bunnies in the home and illness can all throw great litter box habits out the window, but all those issues can be resolved fairly easily (spay/neuter bun, bigger box and/or low entry box, adjusting to a new territory and new bunny friend can resolve itself within a couple of weeks, trip to the vet to look for underlying disease).
Most of those issues do not apply to Winston (at least not anymore), so I need to dig a little deeper. I recently purchased a book, "Behavioural Problems in Rabbits: A Clinical Approach" by Guen Bradbury. It takes a bit of a more scientific approach to understanding rabbit behavior - what influences it, how to understand it, and how to address the problem and solve it.
Winston is a bit of a puzzle. I'm looking at both his personality and health. His back injury may cause him some pain, but it doesn't seem to interfere with his ability to urinate or to climb into his box, but is there something else?
So far, Winston is very patient as he waits for me to get it right. I'm working on it.
He's so lucky he's adorable.
Continuation of Part 1
The key is to know your pet very well. Sometimes the decision may come easily (such as a catastrophic injury or illness). Certain situations take the decision out of your hands (for example, acute kidney failure, uncontrollable seizures, severe difficulty breathing, sepsis, large amount of blood loss, failure to control pain, etc.), however, when the bunny has a more chronic condition, the decision becomes more complicated.
Don’t get trapped with thinking, “If my bunny stops eating or pooping, that will be the time”. Quite often, that is not the best indicator as the bunny may still eat something - a favorite treat or favorite herb right up to the end. Instead, I’ll look at the general trend. In the last month, has my bunny eaten all of the food I’ve given him? Is he leaving more and more uneaten? Has he stopped eating on his own? Is my bunny as enthusiastic about food as before? If your bunny is not as frantic about breakfast (or dinner) as he used to be (and this is a general trend), that may also be a sign.
Is the bunny less responsive to you or his surrounding environment? If your bunny spends more of his time hiding in a box and no longer curious about what is going on in his environment, that may also be an indicator that something is wrong, especially if this is unusual behavior.
Does the bunny have a medical condition that cannot be controlled? If the bunny has cancer or an infection that is spreading fast and cannot be stopped by medicine or comfort cannot be maintained through supportive care, there may be little you can do.
If your bunny has bonded friends, observe their interactions. Often times, the bond-mates will know when the end is near much sooner than we do. They may spend more time apart. If this is a group of rabbits, the bond-mate may spend the majority of the time with the others and the ill rabbit may spend a part of the day alone.
Listen to your intuition. You may intuitively have a sense, especially if you have gone through the process many times before. You may understand from previous experiences what it looks like when your bunny is tired and doesn’t want to go on anymore. Maybe you’ve experienced a situation in which you know you waited too long. All of that can come together to form your decision.
Most of all, be kind to yourself. Many times as caregivers, we can feel a sense of guilt and doubt, especially if the situation leading up to the euthanasia was traumatizing. Learn from the experience, even if you don’t think you’ll get another pet right away. It may help you in the future or it may help you support a friend who might be going through the same decision.
This past weekend, I got a request to speak in my weekly blog about the topic of knowing when to say goodbye. I will write a future article on the topic, but I'll address it briefly here.
The decision to euthanize an animal is something that long time pet owners and animal caregivers usually face at some point in their lives and/or careers. It’s an emotional decision, and one that is not always determined by obvious signs. Every pet and every circumstance is different, making the decision to euthanize unique .
Be aware that how I make this decision may not necessarily work for you. It depends on your own personal philosophy. Many factors come together - what does quality of life mean to you? What sort of medical treatment are you willing to put your pet through? Can they handle the stress? What are you willing to pay? If you started a GoFundMe or if a family member or friend gave you the money, would you go through or continue treatment? Are you able to provide the additional care (like adjusting the housing, administering medications, changing up the diet, etc.)? If you can’t, is there someone else who can? What are you not willing to do? Some questions may not be applicable in all situations, and one answer isn’t necessarily better than another.
Another important aspect is how you view euthanasia. Many people have a strong aversion to the concept. This can create a barrier, in which treatment may continue far longer than your pet wants. In actuality, euthanasia is just a tool. It is a chance to end pain in the most gentle way possible. It can be the best thing we can do for our pets.
Don’t be alone in making this decision. It’s always good to have another person who cares as much about your rabbit as you. This may be a spouse, significant other, family member, neighbor, best friend, roommate or co-worker. This person will not roll their eyes and make rabbit dinner remarks. They see the rabbit often or maybe live with the bunny too. They too can observe the day-to-day subtle changes and may confirm your suspicions or point out other things you may have missed.
Consult with your vet. Bring in your bunny regularly, especially if your bun is a senior or terminally ill. Establish a connection with your vet. It will be very difficult for your vet to notice the subtle changes that may take place slowly over time, but they will see physical signs if the body is starting to decline. They can tell you if a medical situation can be adequately managed to provide a bunny any sort of comfort and quality of life for any reasonable length of time.
So how do you know? What is sign that tells you this is it? Read further in Part 2.
I almost skipped this post today. It has been a very busy couple of days, and my thoughts have been a bit scattered.
I have been concerned about my two girls, Zoe and Dior. Outwardly, Zoe seems fine. She is just hanging out doing her thing, grunting at me when I administer her gabapentin, and looking adorable when it's treat time. She is going in to see Dr. Gleeson tomorrow morning at ACCESS. There, Zoe will have an ultrasound, and an aspirate will be done (basically sticking a big needle in the chest to take a sample of the mass). Zoe is going to be seriously dopey, so I am not worried about her being in pain. However, I expect her to tell me to "Talk to the Butt" the next few days afterwards.
Dior's foot has worsened. Pus had formed under the scab in her foot, which I did not see until the scab peeled away. Fortunately, my regular vet, Dr. Misetich, had a cancellation, so I am able to take her in tomorrow afternoon. In the meantime, I've been cleaning out the wound and bandaging it about 3x a day. Dior is a wonderful girl. She allows you to gently manhandle her without much of a fuss. I can see in her face she's not happy about the situation, but she will not fight me. For that, she gets a blueberry after every session. Is that too many treats for her? Not for Dior.
Hopefully, I'll get good news on both girls tomorrow.
In other bunny news, I've been trying a different method to get Winston to use the litter box. Joey, Zoe, Cupcake and Panda are all very good with the box. Dior has an excuse. Emma is atrocious, and frankly, I don't know if I can survive another Emma-level of messiness. However, Winston is very headstrong. He is a whirlwind of activity and probably thinks a force of nature like him, cannot be confined to rules, and I get that feeling he thinks he's cute enough to get away with all sorts of naughtiness.
In case he has figured out how to use the Internet and read this blog, I will not admit to anything.
Anyway, I have just launched two new services - at-home consultations and at-home rabbit grooming. More details can be found on the website. If you live outside of Southern California, but would like to do a virtual consultation, please contact me.
In the meantime, I am working on a couple of different articles between the bunny madness!!
Until next week!
Do you need some help with your rabbit? Personal rabbit consultations are available to guide you
Rabbit grooming services are available for short and long-haired bunnies and every sort of rabbit in between.
I hope you are all doing well this May Monday.
I spent the majority of today at the vet or sitting on a LA freeway. Today, my baby girl, Zoe, went to see Dr. Gleeson at ACCESS in Culver City. ACCESS is the clinic I typically use for emergencies or if my bunnies will need more advanced diagnostics. I've seen Dr. Gleeson and Dr. Schacterle many times and like both doctors and their staff very much.
Zoe just passed her 10th birthday, and it was time for a check-up, but even more pressing, I felt something was not quite right. There is a slight bulging of her eyes when she bent her head to groom her tummy. She eats less and less veggies (although everything else is great). The changes are slight, but there.
One of the things bulging eyes can indicate is a thymoma, which is a tumor of the thymus (which sits in the chest). I wanted to know if that was something I was dealing with.
I managed to get an appointment (no easy feat!) and have her seen. On physical examination, Zoe is in great shape (other than her spondylosis). She is blessed with great bunny genetics. On her x-rays, a tumor could not be seen, but her heart looked enlarged. Dr. Gleeson suggested an echogram to see exactly what was going on, and I authorized the extra test.
Well, the echogram showed that Zoe's heart is just fine. Instead, there's a mass present that just made the heart look enlarged on the x-ray. Unfortunately, the echogram was unable to indicate what type of mass this is - further testing will need to be done.
However, the mass was caught early, because I noticed a subtle change in her appearance and behavior. No animal likes to advertise an injury or illness, but rabbits make an extra effort to hide any pain or discomfort. It's so important to know your bunny and act on anything unusual.
For now, Zoe is back home with her boy, Joey. She's giving me quite the stink eye for all the indignity she suffered this afternoon. I know she loves me anyway.
I hope everyone is doing well. I just came from the dentist, in which my dentist described to me how plaque forms and how gum disease destroys the teeth. It was quite the terrifying thing to hear while you're having your teeth cleaned. I swore off Red Vines licorice (which lasted about 20 minutes, because I picked up more on the way home).
I have spent the last week adjusting my life without Eddie. Losing a special needs or senior bun kind of throws me off balance for a bit as I wonder at the extra time suddenly on my hands. Honestly, it didn't seem like he took much time at all, but I suppose those extra minutes here and there add up.
I've also finished washing all of his bedding. It's amazing how much fleece pillows you collect for one little bunny. I don't think I actually made any new ones for Eddie. Some of my pillows go all the way back to Kirby - my first rear end paralysis bunny in 2013. I've accumulated quite the collection now for all those senior and special needs bunnies in my care over the years.
I've also spent the last week putting together a new service I would like to offer through my website. I will start offering at-home consultations for those looking for advice on bonding, taking care of seniors or special needs bunnies, and for new bunny owners looking for advice on diet, housing and bunny-proofing. I will also be offering at-home grooming services and individual grooming instruction. All services will be available to those living in Southern California. Pricing and other details will be coming very soon. A large portion of the profits will probably go to keeping Winston's toy box well stocked.
Speaking of toys, I've started an article on rabbit toys. I think this will be a very fun topic (I love toy shopping for bunnies!!).
I hope everyone will have a terrific week. It's hard to believe May is almost upon us!
I hope you are all having a good Monday.
It's was a difficult week for me. As some of you are aware, I had to put Eddie to sleep on Wednesday. It was not unexpected, as my husband and I had noticed a significant decline. The vet clinic had created a peaceful room for him, and James and I were able to hold him as he finally slipped away. It was sad, but beautiful. I had his body cremated and now have his ashes resting with the remains of his two best friends, Roxanne and Poppy.
For me, the hardest part is cleaning up - taking down the pen, throwing out his syringes, washing his blankets. It's removing even more of his physical presence from my life.
I still will have lots of things to remind me of him. There are tons of pictures, because seeing him draped over Poppy was funny (at least for me). I will always remember his dill addiction and his weird fascination with bunny feet (he was always licking Roxanne and Poppy's feet).
Although he had only been living with me for a year, I had actually known Eddie since 2012. He was part of a large rescue and he was one of several white, ruby-eyed bunnies. In fact, those 17 REWs looked so similar, they needed to be numbered (Eddie was White Bunny #3). He was always pretty laid-back. He hardly ever started fights or was a bully in that group of bunnies. He did have some health issues, and by the time he entered my home last year, he was already pretty much on his side. Most of those bunnies rescued in 2012 were somewhat people-shy and Eddie was not an exception. However, he endured my attention and affection with good humor, only planting a foot to my face if he thought I was coddling him too much. I needed to remember that he was a fierce creature and respect that.
He was one of several bunnies that have entered my home and become a large part of my life. It was a privilege to have been his caregiver. I will forever love and miss him.
An important part of rear end paralysis care is cleanliness. Keeping your disabled bunny clean is essential for a good quality of life.
I hope you are all having a good day. As usual, it's been a busy couple of weeks. Dior is still getting settled into our house and we are getting used to her. She is a great little bunny and such a trooper too! I'm amazed how resilient bunnies can sometimes be. I think if I had a broken back, I would be a sobbing puddle. Yet, this little girl scoots around the house like she needs to inspect every single corner. She wants cuddles. She wants treats, and she wants to explore!
While we are still getting to know each other, I decided that there wasn't enough things to do in my life. A friend of mine convinced me to apply to volunteer at the California Wildlife Center in their Orphan Care Unit. I get to bottle-feed orphan squirrels, birds and opossums. I know absolutely NOTHING of these animals, and I thought this would be a fun way to learn a little about them.
My very first day was last week. I was shown how to feed squirrels that were already on solid food, but still given some supplemental milk. They are very funny creatures. They are always on the move. They would grab the syringe with both front paws and try to suck back the milk as fast as they could, often smearing it around their whole mouth. Suddenly, they would stop and want to do something else. I would have to gently poke them with the feeding syringe to get their attention back to the milk.
I won't be hanging around any wild bunnies coming in, due to the RHDV2 virus in the state, and the organizers know I have bunnies in my house. That's perfectly fine. I wanted to try something else animal-related, but NOT be tempted to bring home more animals. Working with wild ones is a nice change, because you are not supposed to get them used to you, nor are you allowed to take home anyone.
If you have always wanted to experience some activity (such as bottle-feeding baby animals), I would encourage you to find an organization where you can volunteer. There are some really interesting opportunities out there. For example, I always thought it might be fun to take those volunteer vacations where you spend two weeks in the heart of Africa radio-tagging Cheetahs (then I remember I'm not that big a fan of camping). However, you don't need to be nearly that adventurous. Perhaps you are a dog-lover, but cannot commit to one. You can volunteer at your local shelter and walk some rescue dogs or help out in a mobile adoption clinic. Maybe help socialize some kittens at a local rescue or maybe even help out at a local wildlife center and help rehabilitate sea birds. There is always something interesting out there.
There is madness in my house, and yes, I brought it upon myself (even willingly). I'm OK with it, but...the rest of the household needs to be convinced that this is really a good thing.
About 10 days ago (or so), I was approached by Zooh Corner Rabbit Rescue if I could help out with a special needs bunny, who was previously with another rescue, Lily's Legacy Foundation. Unfortunately, the founder of Lily's Legacy is going through some serious health issues and could not take this bunny back. Zooh Corner was also very full and just could not take in a bunny who needed extensive care.
James and I discussed it and agreed to take her in. We went to pick up Dior last week and she has been settling in our home the last few days.
Dior is about 2.5 years-old. Several months ago, she injured herself and broke her back and foot. Despite her medical issues, she is still a bright, happy bunny and very eager for human attention.
She had some medical treatment several weeks ago, but I'm waiting for a vet appointment to see if everything is still the same, better or worse. She has her first physical therapy appointment with Dr. Waldman at C.A.R.E. tomorrow morning, and she will put together an exercise plan which hopefully will make Dior more comfortable.
Surprisingly, Dior gets around very well by just scooting her butt around. However, the bad posture and unsuitable flooring, has created some nasty sores on her butt. She is currently getting some butt baths and sitting on lots of padding, which is all helping to heal her skin.
I'm still getting to know this lovely girl. I've discovered she likes raspberries, but not dill. She's a great hay eater and likes to hang out in her litter box. She may be disabled, but she is not above nipping any bunny nose that foolishly comes within reach (Cupcake, when will you learn?), and she likes watching TV on the couch with people.
I think this will be a busy few weeks!
It's been a crazy busy Monday (and weekend). So much so, I almost forgot to write a blog post (whoops)!
This morning, Winston had another visit at C.A.R.E. where he got re-examined by the physical therapist and got some acupuncture done (I've never had acupuncture myself, but my bunnies have had many sessions). Winston has improved a great deal, which is fabulous news!! He just needs to improve his litter box habits now.
He has grown quite a bit since he first arrived almost 2 months ago! He's turning into a very sassy bunny, but he will still come (eventually) when I call his name. Sometimes he wants affection over treats. Occasionally, he'll even want some cuddles over being naughty (like pull up the carpet naughty), but that often takes extra persuasion. He is a young bunny with seemingly endless energy and curiosity. Sometimes it's a challenge to keep up with him.
Tomorrow, a new bunny will be welcomed into The Educated Rabbit household. She is going to need some specialized care, so we'll see tomorrow how much help she needs. She already has appointments lined up at C.A.R.E. and my regular vet. Hopefully, she'll feel better in no time.
An important part of rear end paralysis care involves diet. You need to be aware that a disabled bunny's nutritional habits may change.
I hope you are having a nice Monday. It's rainy today, and since it doesn't rain enough in Southern California, my body thinks it's night-time and refuses to wake up. Coupled with the time change yesterday (boo with losing an hour), and I should just throw in the towel when it comes with getting any work done today.
This last week, I attempted to put together an email newsletter (you know, since I do have people signing up for one). I already produced one via my hosting site, which I wasn't horribly happy with in terms with how it looked. I hemmed and hawed for some time, and decided to try MailChimp. I had tried MailChimp many years before, but didn't really like it. It felt 'clunky' to me. At the time, the rescue I was working for was using Constant Contact and I was used to creating newsletters with that set-up.
Anyway, I thought maybe it was all in my imagination and thought I'd give MailChimp another try. For one reason or another, Mailchimp and I had a huge fight. I wanted the Facebook link to go to 'The Educated Rabbit' and Mailchimp insisted it goes to my personal page, and there was no seeing reason. I gave up and thought I'd get back to fixing that problem later.
A couple of days later, I went back to MailChimp and it still insisted on connecting to my Facebook page. I thought I would try and contact support, but it turns out if you have a free account, there is no support.
At this point, I was texting friends in pure anger and frustration (which my friends found hilarious, because that's the sort of friends I have). I decided to bite the bullet and pay for an account with Constant Contact, since I actually know what I'm doing there (sort of).
So, I got an account, moved my contacts and looked around. Apparently they changed some stuff since I poked around last (lol). I was beginning to think maybe I should just get some stone slabs and just start carving out my newsletters.
Whatever! I'll figure it out. At least my friends will be entertained as I send them angry texts. If you would like to read any upcoming newsletters, you can sign up on the website. If there is a topic you would like me to discuss, you can email anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org and I can post in the newsletter. Hopefully, I'll send out a beautiful newsletter by the end of the month.
I hope you are all doing well this March Monday. I'm always amazed about how quickly time goes. How can it already be March?
This last week, I was asked by a rescue-friend whether I had space for another bunny. This is certainly not the first time I've been asked to take in rabbits (hence why Winston and 6 other bunnies live at my house), and I am very well aware of how difficult it is to find a good home for rabbits. I'm also a sucker and want to help out a friend and a rabbit in need.
For those of you who are bunny-mad or who are in rescue, you have to be aware of your limitations. It's important to remember that even if you are a terrific bunny-parent, it doesn't mean your home is ideal for every situation. Sometimes the right question to ask yourself is not, "Can I take in another bunny?", but "Should I take in another bunny?".
Somethings to consider, where will the new bunny live? Will the new bunny be bonded with one of yours? What happens if that doesn't work out? Do you have time for another bunny, especially if you have a disabled bunny already or if this potentially new rabbit has a disability? Can you afford the additional costs, such as food and vet care? Do you have the time and energy to clean another pen? Are you healthy enough to care for another rabbit? Is another pen in the house going to turn your home into a barn? If so, are you OK with that? Are your family members? You have to consider those in your care already, including yourself.
I looked at all aspects of my situation and reluctantly said no. It was not a good time to bring in another new bunny. However, this story has a happy ending. It turned out there was someone looking for a bunny to bond with her boy. This weekend the two rabbits had a 'date', and it looked like they really liked each other. The bunny was adopted and went home with her new human and new bunny friend.
This made me extremely happy. The new home sounds like a much better situation than what I could initially provide. Sometimes saying 'no' can be a good thing.
Happy March 1st!
This past week, I looked after some animals for a friend of mine that lives close by. He has a bunny, as well as chinchillas, a parrot (whose breed I never remember and I've asked my friend several times over the years) and a skink. Biscuit is a large New Zealand girl. Not many people know that New Zealands are typically 9-11lb rabbits and Biscuit is a good 10lbs. She has outlived two bunny companions and is currently sharing her large space with the chinchilla sisters.
Over the years, I've been asked many times if bunnies need a friend to be happy. Generally speaking, rabbits are social animals and enjoy the company of another bunny. It's important to note that may not always be the case, as bunnies are as individual as the people who love them. Some bunnies absolutely need a friend and are miserable without one. Some will attach themselves to just one and treat any other bunny as their mortal enemy (Sprinkles). Some prefer humans, dogs, cats (basically anything BUT a rabbit), while others are OK by themselves (Emma). Others are happy with or without friends (Benji), and other bunnies collect bunny friends like black pants collect bunny fur (Poppy).
People may hesitate in getting a pair of rabbits for a variety of reasons, and may hold off on a second rabbit until they are used to having the one. In theory, that seems like a reasonable approach. However, bonding your bunny with a new one is a whole new complication that I will discuss in future articles. All I will say is that if you think you may get a second bunny, just save yourself the bonding headache and get a pair now.
Personally, I have always had multiple rabbits and have seen how much they like having another bunny to snuggle with. However, I have always had one dog (which is also a social animal). Making sure he was not bored and lonely was a big concern, especially since my husband and I would be at work for most of the day. We solved that problem by hiring first a dog walker then signing Baci up for doggy daycare, where he was free to bark at other dogs and staff all day long. It worked well for everyone.
If you decide to have just one rabbit, be aware that your bunny IS a social animal at heart. Be prepared to spend time with him. Have his pen set up where you and your family will interact with him frequently, whether that may be in the living room or kitchen. Don't neglect him and leave your bunny alone in the basement, garage or outside. Make sure the bunny knows he is a part of the family and loved.
I hope everyone is doing well, especially those who have been hit hard with last week's weather.
James and I are still getting used to having a very young bunny in the house. Winston is usually referred to as The Baby (Have you fed The Baby? What is The Baby doing now? How is The Baby pooping so much? etc.) Well, The Baby seems to have endless energy and is always on the look-out for mischief (you know, typical baby stuff).
This may make it sound like I don't like Winston at all. That's not true. He's a complete sweetheart displaying all the baby behavior to be expected. It's a good thing that this isn't my first baby or else I might be in a panic. It does underscore the point that any time you upend your household routine with adding a new pet, there is a period of adjustment as you and the animal are getting to know each other.
When I worked in rescue and people came in to ask about adoptions, I would ask if they recently had (or have) any rabbits. Usually first-time adopters wanted a baby bunny. This is totally understandable. Baby bunnies must be the cutest things on the planet. I loved fostering bottle-babies, and I feel lucky that I had the opportunity to do so many times.
However, I also know young bunnies are work. Like small children, they have endless energy and have a bottomless curiosity of the world around them. They are small and wiggly and will do things like get under your couch, or jump onto the shelf that holds your checkbook or attack the beanbag pillow and joyfully distribute Styrofoam beads all over the house or wander into the kitchen and cut the power cord to your stove (this doesn't sound like I'm speaking from experience at all, does it?).
Needless to say, I would try and dissuade first time adopters from adopting a baby and rather have them consider adult bunnies instead. Of course, adult bunnies are entirely capable of doing those same things, but they seem to have settled down a bit. They aren't ALWAYS on the quest to get into things.
In between all The Baby cuddling and cleaning (and chasing), I managed to write the first article of a three-part series on Rear End Paralysis Care. As usual, my first intention was to just condense this into one article, but then realized just how big the topic was. There was just so much to share. The first article deals with setting up the pen and socialization. There's lots of pictures of how I set up pens both currently (Eddie) and with past bunnies, so I hope it will be helpful for those who are looking for advice.
I'm working on the second article right now on diet. The third article will focus on keeping your disabled bunny clean.
If you have any questions about rear end paralysis care, please send me an email. I'll be happy to help.
Rear end paralysis care may seem daunting, especially if this is your first time. Fortunately, it's not as complicated as it first looks.
Hope you are all doing well this President's Day. Of course, being as there is still a pandemic going on, staying at home on a Monday is not unusual at all.
It's been a week since Emma's surgery and she is doing well. I'm amazed at the resilience of animals. Despite having a lump taken out of her thigh, Emma was back to her normal self in about a couple of days. I, myself, have been through a couple of surgeries. Let me tell you, I insisted on being pampered and catered to for at least a week or two before I tentatively decided to do things for myself. It could be that I had more invasive surgeries, but a more plausible explanation is that I'm much more of a big baby than my hardcore bunnies.
It turns out that the lump on Emma's thigh was a benign trichoblastoma, which is a common skin tumor for rabbits. That is very good news. Hopefully, we're done with that.
Winston is continuing to be his young bunny-self (ie. an adorable monster). He had his first appointment at physical therapy, in which the vet was able to identify his mobility issues. It seems like the Baby has a spinal compression between his L2-L5. For now, he gets gabapentin and some stretching exercises. He gets limited exercise time, in which he zooms around the dining room as fast as he can (stopping can be a problem though). He is a happy boy, although he would say he's disappointed that he isn't getting pet 24/7. Poor baby!
I hope you all had a lovely weekend. Normally, I spend SuperBowl Sunday having lunch with an old friend and catching up. Obviously, that didn't happen (stupid COVID), but hopefully we'll get together later this year.
As you can guess, I'm not a football fan. I will often watch Puppy Bowl (football for puppies. It's ridiculously cute), but this year, I turned on the TV, just in time for Martha Stewart to introduce a corgi/boarder collie mix named Lucy. I have a weakness for herding dogs (despite the fact I'm WAY too lazy to ever own one unless the dog was about a thousand years old). Lucy's a 17-week puppy ready for adoption from a shelter in New York. I took one look at her and I died of cuteness overload. I had to shut off the TV before my little heart exploded. (Check out her picture here: https://ew.com/tv/puppy-bowl-xvii-adoptable-puppies/)
Not that I'm looking for a very active baby herding dog. Gawd, no! I have a very active baby rabbit to keep me busy. Winston continually proves that he bamboozled me with his 'disability'. This weekend's shenanigans involved jumping out of his pen. A bed sheet is permanently pinned above his pen now, but the corners are pulled up so he can still look out and see us. However, he gives me this hurt look, like I stole his teddy bear AND the last cookie that will ever be made on this planet. Oy! Baby-Monster, this is not my first rodeo. Those big brown doe eyes will not work on me.
Right now, Miss Emma is at the vet. It turns out that the lump on her thigh is not an abscess, but rather a tumor. The vet wasn't too worried about it when he examined her a couple of weeks ago, but it does need to be removed and properly analyzed. The good news is that it doesn't seem to be bothering her, so hopefully, it's just a benign lump. I'm not really worried, but any surgery is a risk. I hope my princess will be fine. She will get lots of treats when she comes home.
There has been great upheaval in my house since Winston's arrival 8 days ago. James and I have been charmed by The Baby's antics (OK, maybe more me than James). Winston is very excited to see us and always wants to interact. He is also a piggy and he insists on doing as much bunstruction in his pen as possible. At this point in our relationship, I still find it hilarious. He still likes to snuggle with me while watching TV, so I would probably forgive him anything. He's a happy little man.
So what does the rest of the household think?
Well, it's a bit of a mix reaction. When only Cupcake and Panda are out, they sit in front of the fence separating the living room from the dining room and stare intently. If Winston is out at the same time, there is a bit of a boarder skirmish. It's not anything I didn't expect, and after a few minutes, Cupcake and Panda get bored and look for a cozy spot under the couch.
Eddie doesn't care.
Emma is curious at a distance, but I don't let her little mouth anywhere close to him.
Joey freaks out. The ants in his pants increase exponentially.
Zoe magically turns from a mellow, almost 10-year-old rabbit to the 6-month-old little teenage monster she used to be. There is growling, running around and biting anything that moves. She even jumped the pen to eliminate the threat (nice to see the gabapentin working). She's been mad at me for the last 4 days.
Zoe being mad at me means the following: growling every time she sees me, not letting me touch her and biting me if I try, biting me if I ignore her, attacking my feet, attacking Joey and/or me if either one of us gets within striking distance.
This was Zoe when she was a teenager, and honestly, she was lucky she was with me. Back then, it took me some time to realize what was going on and how to solve it. Today, I know this behavior is not only territorial, but also jealousy. If I hold Winston for any length of time and she smells him on me, she will get annoyed. She knows that I've been spending more time with him than anyone on her Approved List this week, and that is not acceptable.
So first thing this morning, I put on fresh clothes and sat with my baby girl and her BBF for a couple of hours. She shoved my feet with her nose, but then let me rub her cheeks and ears for an extended time. She was very happy and there was no biting.
In time, I know she will get over herself and accept Winston, especially when his hormones settle down and he doesn't smell like a giant walking scent gland.
Until then, I'll have to pull out my suit of armor, Lol!!!
I hope you are all having a wonderful Monday.
This weekend James and I welcomed a new bunny into our home. Winston is an adorable brown bunny with dark brown markings on his ears, nose, feet and tail, and just in case there's a question about his cuteness, there's a white dot on his nose. He's not a baby anymore, but he's barely a teenager. He is curious about everything and is desperate for attention.
He originally showed up at Orange County Animal Care Center as a stray with an injury. He was dragging both hind legs, although he didn't seem in pain. Orange County contacted Lily's Legacy Foundation, who then asked if I would be interested in taking him. I agreed.
He stayed with Lily's Legacy until his neuter took place and he was re-assessed by the rescue's rabbit-savvy vet, Dr. Kaufman at Harbor Animal Hospital in Torrance. Fortunately, the x-rays did not show any fractures or spinal compressions, so there is a bit of a mystery as to the lameness.
Since arriving to the rescue, Winston's mobility has improved, but he is still dragging his back right foot. I can see he's a little wobbly on certain things. He can run just fine, but I've seen him do a little wipe out when he tries to change direction too fast. He has an appointment at CARE, so I'll see what sort of exercises they will recommend.
In the meantime, he will be getting used to our routine, and James and I will need to re-acquaint ourselves with a young bunny in the house. This means having a bunny squeezing into corners that were too small to be of any interest to a big fat bunny, but REALLY interesting to a tiny bun. We'll start shuffling our feet so that the suicidal youngster doesn't literally get underfoot. We also need to be an endless source of entertainment and positive experiences.
My favorite thing about young bunnies is the fact everything is just so exciting for them. They are fearless and they want to check everything out. It's a wonderful charm that really brings joy into your life. It's a fantastic experience.
Rear end paralysis in rabbits is not uncommon. Injuries to the back or legs can cause mobility issues, while age-related diseases impact elder bunnies.
I hope you are having a good Monday. I had a blog topic all planned out, but the bunnies decided on something different.
After my phone meeting this afternoon, I noticed that Joey was acting strange. He sat by the gate leading into the hallway and gave me a weird look. Usually Joey likes to attack the gate. There is lots of cardboard attached to the bars so he can tug on it to his heart's content. This time, however, he sat quietly at the other end of the gate.
I gave him one of his favorite foods. He didn’t looked at it. I offered him a pinch of oat groats - his ultimate favorite. He barely acknowledged my hand.
I dug out my thermometer and prepared to give him metacam (pain relief), simethicone (gas relief) and fluids. It didn't matter if his temperature was low, high or even normal. Clearly, he wasn’t feeling well and he was going to get all three medications.
It turned out his temperature was low. I prepared a carrier with a heating pad inside and put him in. I kept him on low heat for little more than 30 minutes, mostly because he was looking to escape. His temperature read normal so I put him back in his pen.
I continued to watch him for the rest of the afternoon. He would shift from sitting quietly under the box to investigating the office. He was reluctant to touch his pellets, but he was starting to act more normal. I suspect he had gas and it was causing some pain as it was passing through his system. By the evening, he was eating dinner, doing binkies and attacking the tissue I tried to drape over his ears.
This event illustrates how important it is to know your bunny, recognize pain signals and act quickly. If I had ignored the signs (or wasn't at home) until dinner time, there is a good chance, I would have to stay up with him for half the night trying to get his temperature to read normal again. If he had been alone until the next morning, he may have needed immediate emergency care or have even passed away.
Even though this was the first time I had to treat Joey, I knew what was normal for him. The actual steps of treating his stasis was not much different than any other rabbit I've had to treat. The steps I used are the exact steps I've outlined in my upcoming First Aid guide. I’m excited that it’s currently being formatted. I hope to be able to offer to you soon, so you will be able to quickly help your bunny, when he needs you the most.
To be alerted the moment the Guide becomes available, follow the link below and sign up at the end of the page!
I hope you all are well and safe this lovely January day. Of course, the weather here is almost hot. Apparently, no one has told the weather that it's January and it should be rainy.
I apologize for the lack of updates on Facebook and Instagram. Like many people, I was glued to the events last Wednesday at the Capitol. It was like a train wreck - I just couldn't turn away. It was scary and depressing, and it made me just want to hug a bunny.
Well, most of my bunnies are not down with the hugging, and Eddie - who does not really have much of a say in the matter - let's me know his opinion by sticking his foot in my face.
That is the nice thing about animals, isn't it? They can provide a solace that people cannot easily replicate. Friends and family are all wonderful, but they are human and therefore complicated. Even if your bunny is snoozing under the couch, just watching him twitch his nose while giving you a dirty look is heartwarming.
Animals are very honest. My own bunnies don't think twice about taking treats and then running away when I try to pet them. They are the masters of the Look of Disapproval.
Still, I love them. Each of my bunnies is a force of nature, which brings me joy. I am grateful how they are such a large part of my life. I don't know why animals are so important to us humans. Maybe they provide a connection to universe, or maybe we can nurture them without the fear they'll grow up to be juvenile delinquents, steal cars and never go to college. Whatever the reason, I am glad they are here.
I hope you and your bunnies had fun ringing in the New Year. I was actually having a pretty good New Year's eve. James and I spent the evening watching TV, waiting for midnight. Around 11:30pm (which is a little later than usual), I decided to make sure Eddie was all clean and comfortable for the night. I checked his butt, combed away some poop and hay, gave him some medicine and water, then handed him to James, so he could hold him while I changed the bedding. Just as I was handing Eddie off, he decided it would be a great time to pee. My couch (actually just the cover), the couch cushions and me all fell victim. Eddie doesn't usually do this, so it caught me a little off guard (Poppy, on the other hand, was notorious for this).
And so, I rang in the New Year hand-washing cushion covers in the kitchen sink. I have to admit. I was shaking my fist at 2020 and shouting 'good riddance'. I rather hope this isn't an indicator of how the rest of the year will be.
The good news is I was fairly productive over the holidays. I finally finished going through the final edits for the text and images for First Aid guide. It's now being formatted and all that other wonderful stuff I honestly know very little about.
I wish I could give you all a firm release date, but I am not sure how much additional work I may still have to do in releasing the work. Stay tuned! I'll definitely be keeping you all informed.
I'll be publishing more articles on the website, including more topics on personalities, bonding, health and specialized care. I'll also introduce the topic of toys. There are a couple of other projects I am considering, but right now they are still in the planning stages.
I hope 2021 will be a good year for all of you and your bunnies. I know it is a stressful time for so many people, and it is my wish 2021 will be a better year.
Grooming rabbits is a necessary part of bunny ownership, but it doesn't have to be a terrifying ordeal.
I hope you and your families and bunnies had a great Christmas. For those of you who do not celebrate Christmas, I hope you all had a pleasant break.
It's a delightfully winter-ish day here in Southern California, complete with thunder, lightening and a steady downpour of rain. I really like these rainy days, mostly because it's rather rare in this arid climate. The rest of the week is supposed to be sunny and dry.
The bunnies got extra treats and new toys. They spent the weekend tearing up their grass mats and I had the pleasure of clearing out the debris. Eddie really enjoyed his flavored balsa blocks. The blocks were soaked in fruit juices and the balsa wood was soft enough to really sink his little teeth into it. I'll have to remember to order those again for him.
It's hard to believe it's the last week of 2020. In some ways the year has lingered forever and other ways, it has disappeared in a blink of an eye. Personally, the year has been OK for me. It had it's good and bad moments. The pandemic has certainly made this year memorable.
I know this year has been very hard on rabbit rescues. Money has been very tight because donations have dropped off and services such as boarding have not brought in much needed funds. Adoption procedures have had to be re-thought out, and the RHDV2 virus have made many rescues and shelters reluctant to take in any strays.
If you are in a position to help out, whether through fostering, adoption or especially monetary donations, that would help out rescues a great deal. After all, bunnies still need medical care, food and shelter.
Thank you for helping to make this world a better place, and have a wonderful New Year!
I hope you are all having a safe and happy December. Although Covid is putting a damper on parties (or at least it should), the bright side should be that you have less stress about putting up decorations and entertaining.
I know this is all theoretical. This week, I got into my head that I needed to scrub the house as if the Queen was coming over. I nagged my husband to help, which really isn't tough - he's very good at helping around the house. Well, this weekend he scrubbed the kitchen, even pulling out the fridge and oven. Meanwhile, I'm looking at the bookshelf in the living room and wondering if I have to take down ALL the pictures or if I can just dust around it...or better yet, insist the shelf is too high and just ignore it.
This last week, there was an interesting post on the House Rabbit Society Facebook group. Someone had posted that they had read an article "The 21 Most Low-Maintenance Pets You Can Own". It was ridiculous. Of course, I had to see what these magical 21 animals were.
1. Betta Fish2. Pugs3. Stick insects 4. rabbits5. turtles6. hermit crabs7. ants8. sea monkeys9. guinea pigs10. butterflies11. Praying Manties12. scorpions13. hamsters14. rats15. chinchillas16. tarantulas17. Leopard geckos18. snakes19. snails20. dwarf frogs21. British Shorthaired cats
A quick scan of the list should tell you that other than the pug and cat, everything else is an exotic. Myself, I've owned Betta Fish, hermit crabs and rabbits. Now 20 years ago, the Internet did exist, but it wasn't like today where you can go on Facebook and find a group for pretty much everything under the sun. When my fish and crabs needed help, I had a hard time finding anyone I could ask. The helplessness was so off-putting that for the longest time, I didn’t want to own an exotic. If you truly care about these creatures and value their lives and the joy they bring to your household, then automatically they do not become low-maintenance.
Animals like guinea pigs, rabbits, chinchillas, rats and mice are social animals. They generally are happier with another member of their own kind. All of these animals have special diets, social and health needs. Everyone needs specialized vet care.
Of course, if your pet is healthy and happy, it may not seem like they are taking a lot of work, or their daily/weekly maintenance is so part of your routine, you barely notice it. I know I feel this way, even with my special needs bunnies. As soon as I have a routine down, I don't even realize just how much of my day these tasks take until they are no longer necessary.
The thought of trimming nails frightens most rabbit owners, but it doesn't have to be a scary ordeal.
I still can't believe it's already December. In some ways, it seems 2020 has lasted a decade and other ways, merely a couple of months. Definitely, it has been an unusual an unforgettable year.
At the moment, all is good in my household. The only bunny even thinking about being dramatic is Emma. Her current obsession is knocking her cardboard tower over and chewing on it. Really, that is only a problem when she does it in the middle of the night and I forget to close the bedroom door. She does give me a dirty look when I stand the tower back up in the corner again.
At the moment, I am still editing the First Aid guide and working on an article on rear-end paralysis. There is so much to say about the care of these special bunnies. I have met so many of these disabled bunnies, and honestly, they are the sweetest rabbits. They seem to know that they need help and you are there to take care of them. They trust you to keep them safe and healthy. In turn, they open up to you. There have been a few bunnies who were stand-offish around people when younger, and now tolerate being petted and fussed over as a senior.
Probably my favorite of all my special need bunnies was Diamond. He arrived at BunnyLuv Rabbit Resource Center in September 2013. He had been injured by a dog and suffered a spinal compression, which affected his mobility. His owner could not care for him, as she herself, had serious health issues and still lived with her cousin, whose dog injured Diamond in the first place. I became his main caretaker over the years, which included keeping him clean and comfortable and socialized. I took him down to C.A.R.E. for physical therapy, where he got acupuncture and underwater treadmill treatments. Yes, my car smelled like swimming pool on the trip home.
Everyone who came to the shelter loved Diamond. His pen was in the store where he could greet staff, volunteers and clients alike. He was good-natured with other rabbits too, and he had a number of friends over the years. After his 5th and last friend died, I decided to formally adopt him and took him home to live with me.
Our time together was too short. He died a couple months later from (what I assume) were complications from dental surgery. The loss was devastating.
I did learn a lot in dealing with his disability, and I hope I can help anyone who suddenly finds themselves with a disabled rabbit. Diamond was proof that an injury wasn't the end of the world. In fact, sometimes, it's just the beginning of a whole new adventure.
I hope you all had a good Thanksgiving and a great weekend. It was very quiet in our household (and that was perfectly fine). I spent a part of last week to order some Christmas gifts. I already warned a good friend of mine that she may receive her gift in time for the first day of Advent.
I did get gifts for the bunnies. Honestly, I find Christmas shopping for the bunnies FUN! James doesn't understand why I don't just give them toilet paper tubes. While he does make a valid point (the bunnies ADORE ripping apart the thin cardboard tubes and they have no concept of Christmas), I do want to get everyone something a little special.
This year, I went with Binky Bunny toys (formerly known as Busy Bunny). Quite often I place my Christmas order with Bunny Bytes because they have lots of colorful and neat toys which have probably thrilled me more than my bunnies (both companies can be found in Shopping for Rabbit Supplies. Click on the link below). I decided to go for the tried and true. Everyone got a willow cube (which will probably last exactly 20 minutes before becoming a pile of little sticks), a scratch mat (so Zoe, Joey, Cupcake and Emma can stop tearing apart the bed sheets lining their pens). I'm hoping this will last at least a week. Every pen gets an extra toy of chewy fun and Eddie is getting some smaller chew toys to entertain him between naps.
If I am feeling very ambitious (that's really a big IF), I may dig out my dehydrator and dry some fresh fruit as a yummy treat for them. I like drying thin slices of mango. The dried strips turn out to be slightly chewy and very tasty! I find it unnecessary to add sugar or anything else to the strips. The fruit is sweet enough by itself.
However, I will most likely order special bunny cookies from my friends at Paw Kreations. They have a mango cookie they bake in their kitchen from scratch. I bet their bunnies are super spoiled!
As the year is winding down, I wish you and your family a joyful holiday season. May you and your loved ones stay safe and healthy.
Yes, I know Thanksgiving is this Thursday, but I thought I would give greetings a little early. Many people will have a quiet celebration this year due to the pandemic. I don't have a lot of family living close by, so to be honest, my husband and I frequently have a "pandemic Thanksgiving" and a "pandemic Christmas" for that matter. It's not so bad. It's pretty laid-back and quiet and there aren't any fights and disagreements.
I like to give my bunnies something extra yummy for the celebrations. Often I will buy fresh carrots with the tops still intact. Then for dinner, they can have the tops and a nice slice of carrot along with their usual salad.
This weekend, a friend of mine told me that her vet found a mass inside the chest of one of her bunnies. Rosie is over 11-years-old and has lived a nice spoiled life along with her bunny-friend, Spartacus.
There are several things my friend can do. There are tests to confirm the presence of cancer as well as the type. Radiation treatment or just administering a steroid to slow the growth. These are all options.
My friend is also considering how much stress her bunny can handle. Rosie has a history of being high-strung. She's just a nervous, little rabbit. She doesn't do well with lots of handling or being taken out of her comfort area (ie, going to the vet). There is a good chance the stress of the treatment may kill her faster than any cancer.
It's a hard decision to make. I have certainly been in similar situations in which I had to decide whether going ahead with a treatment (or even going to the vet) was worth the stress of packing the bunny up and taking the 20 mile drive in Los Angeles's infamous freeway traffic. Sometimes that answer is not clear and you have to guess. Sometimes it was the wrong decision, but you have to realize you did the best you could with the information you knew at the time.
Of course the cost/benefit is always a factor in the decision-making. Will the bunny be cured or just give him more time. Is that more time just a few days, weeks, months or a year? The vet bill should not be the only factor in your decision making, yet I know it is for many owners. I certainly understand why.
Right now, Rosie is feeling fine, just occasionally winded when she binkies too much. I know my friend will continue to consider the options and do what is best for her bunny. All I know is that Rosie will continue to be a happy and spoiled bunny for some time.