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 everyone is having a good September...or at least better than MY September!
It all started with a bit of Covid. I celebrated Labor Day with lots of tea, chicken soup, medication and naps. It was here and gone within the week, but in that time, it created havoc with my schedule.
It wasn't all bad. It gave me time to work on my Bunny Health presentation I will be giving in Canada next week. I'm very excited about that. Any time I get to talk about rabbits is really fun.
Unfortunately, I was having some computer issues, specifically syncing issues. I was told - by tech support - to do the classic "delete and reinstall" method to fix the bugs. So I SIGNED OUT of iCloud...and watched in horror as chaos ensued.
First, the background picture disappeared to be replaced by blackness. One by one, files disappeared. Then a message box appeared - Dropbox thought it was a brilliant idea to start deleting my back up, and THOSE files began to disappear as well.
All my business files, accounting, client lists, photos...the presentation I spent three days working on....all vanished. To say I was freaking out was a bit of an understatement.
I called a friend in a complete panic. Of course this was pretty late in the evening, and he thought one of my bunnies was crashing and I needed help. He answered the phone, listened to my tale of woe, and said he would come over in the morning and figure things out.
He spent 3 hours mucking around with my computer. He restored my files, resynced my Dropbox and iCloud, and made sure everything was backed up properly on my external hard drive. He did things that I would never have figured out. I basically owe him bunny/cat sitting for the next 10 years...maybe more.
However, I was still shaken by the whole thing. When I told friends of my hair-raising tale, one of them said, "Well Mercury is in Retrograde". I had no idea what that meant. I looked it up and read that technology could be twitchy. Since I was also dealing with car problems and credit card issues this week as well, I totally believe it.
Whether you believe in astrology or not, be aware of your crazy technology. At least for the next three weeks, lol!
I hope everyone is having a lovely summer. It's been a bit weird with tropical storms and earthquakes, and now triple digit weather, but hey! Hopefully the rain will reduce the wildfire danger for a bit...maybe?
I normally spend a large portion of my time grooming bunnies and getting to know their owners better. A concern I get asked about regularly is hairballs and the likelihood of excess hair causing GI stasis.
This is a misconception that needs to cleared up. Fur does not cause GI stasis. There is ALWAYS fur in bunny stomachs. In fact, the stomach is never empty. A proper diet high is fiber (hay) pushes all the contents along without much incident.
Research has shown the problem comes when the GI tract slows down for whatever reason (illness, stress, poor diet, etc.). The fur stops moving out of the system, then collects to form a trichobezoar (furball), which then may form a blockage.
GI stasis comes FIRST, then the furball. Not the other way around.
In other words, there is no reason to brush your bunnies every day (unless you have an angora, then they should have a comb run through their coat). There is no reason to lay awake at night wondering if you brushed your bunny enough, nor should you consider shaving your short-haired rabbit, or combing your bunny until he or she is bald and bleeding. This is not only unnecessary, but it WILL stress out your bunny, CAUSING GI stasis. So please, don't do it.
Things to do: Exercise patience. Getting your bunny to trust you requires a lot of patience in the best of times. However, I understand that losing chunks of flesh is not fun. It can be down right annoying, so protect yourself. Wear shoes and long sleeves. You can also feel really frustrated. One thing to do is find a friend who understands what you are going through. Maybe it's a friend with years more of bunny experience or who may have a bitey bunny themselves. Make sure it's someone who is supportive and just won't say, "Get rid of it" or "Eat it!". That's so not helpful.
Watch that body language! If you see your bunny getting that “look”, gently push his head out of the way. Reward good behavior.
Trimmed nails without biting? Extra cookie for the bunny!
Need to pick up a skittish bun to place in a carrier? Handle him securely. Make him feel safe.
Need to remove a cherished litter box for cleaning? Distract him with something else.
Does he bite because you don't spend time with him or there's nothing to play with? Give him a bigger space, rotate toys, think about getting him a friend.
What if you can't figure it out what is triggering? What if you are in the situation my friend is in which he has owned his tiger of an English Lop? What if your bunny still nips at your heels wherever you go? Well, in the case of my friend, he still wears closed-toe shoes (I wear boots when I go over to visit) and he deals with his bunny with gentle good-humor. I'm sure his bunny thinks it's a game (I think my friend has the same view).
I think his bunny is damn lucky to have found such a tolerant home.
This is Part 3 on my blog on aggressive rabbits.
7. Personality Quirks. Some rabbits have certain preferences. One of the rabbits I worked with just likes females more than males. When he lived in a big group, he was in a corner surrounded by other girl bunnies. He would occasionally nip a person, and for the most part, he would bite a male before a female staff or volunteer member (it was kinda funny actually).
There was another rabbit I worked with, who was very particular. He bit most people at random. Usually when someone forced him to do something he didn’t want to do. However, he wasn’t very predictable. He could cuddle with you one day and charge you with an open mouth the next. I warned staff and volunteers to deal with him with extreme caution. I was one of the lucky few, who he loved. I could do anything with him - move him out of a litter box, pick him up and cuddle him, groom him, etc. I would have adopted him, but he hated my husband and Baci (my dog). Fortunately, someone was interested in him and he in turn, loved her back. I could tell he loved his new Forever Home, and I was happy for him.
8. Traumatized Past. This may be difficult if you don’t know the history. You can guess if there are physical injuries - such as from a dog or mishandling. Sometimes those rescued from a lab can show aggression (not always, but sometimes). Years ago, I met a former lab rabbit named, Cookie. She was a very pretty Dutch, and so, so grumpy (whether from living in a lab or just in general - who’s to say?). Her family nicknamed her Cookie Monster, because she terrorized the mom, daughter, cat and dog. They only one who was fearless around her was the dad. I liked her very much and could handle her without losing fingers. Here, you need to be fearless. Don’t let a nip (even a really hard one) get the better of you. Otherwise a bunny will chase you up the stairs like Cookie frequently did to the majority of her family.
I can tell Winston was most likely mishandled as a young rabbit. When I met him, he did have a back injury, which may have been a result of him either jumping out of someone’s arms or being dropped. He is normally very relaxed around my husband or I, however, if I need to pick him up, it’s like picking up an angry snake - there is a lot of wiggling and trying to bite. Once he is secured and on my lap, he settles down, but becomes anxious again when I move to put him down on the floor again. I minimize how often I pick him up (only when necessary) and make sure I am well protected when I grab him (or at least keep my face away from his teeth).
9. Physical Issues. Lop bunnies are frequently deaf, and there are bunnies who are blind in either one or both eyes. Sometimes that is hard to figure out right away, and we may accidently sneak up on them and startle them. My boy Slimmy was blind in one eye, and he would sometime box us when we woke him or he didn’t see us. However, since he was like 3lbs, it was just cute. We did try and avoid his blind side and made sure he didn’t crash into things like the pen when he was running around.
If dealing with deaf bunnies, try and announce your presence by walking heavily on the floor (so they can feel the vibrations). My dog, Baci, would often sleep heavily and become startled when woken up. In his case, I would often put my hand in front of his nose so he could smell me and that way, I didn’t accidently startle him. In case of blind bunnies, don’t approach on their blind side. Keep things in their space in the same location, so they don’t stress out about where they are going.
In conclusion, a rabbit (or really any animal) doesn’t bite or become aggressive for no reason. If you label a bunny “mean”, you’ve already decided he’s a lost cause. The important thing to do is figure out why your bunny is behaving the way he is. Can you stop or change it? Maybe. If it’s something like he’s going to bite you when you startle him awake, that won’t change. What you can change is your interaction with him. Once you understand why the behavior is the way it is, you can work on either trying to change it (with positive reinforcement) or try and avoid triggering the aggressiveness (in the case of my Winston, I put on a heavy sweatshirt when it’s time to trim his nails.).
Things not to do: Don’t yell or hit the bunny. Don’t flick the nose, either. Those are actions that only reinforces the behavior and creates fear towards you. That’s the exact opposite of what you are trying to achieve. I’m not a fan of letting out a high-pitched squeal either. I tried that with Emma, and it just made her bite harder. Remember, I thought that Emma’s biting had more to do with communication. Squealing just made her continue the conversation by biting more. Do not use a spray bottle. Bunnies are not cats. I once squirted water on Zoe’s butt to get her to stop pulling the carpet. She whirled around and growled at me, then went back to chewing the carpet. Clearly, not a useful technique. Squirting water - even with the use of bonding - is not a good idea. Bunnies usually become stressed or angry, which is not the outcome you are looking for.
Zoe is not unusual. I’ve heard of rabbits peeing on clothes that smelled like other rabbits. I’ve also heard of bunnies preferring one spouse over another...and making their choice very obvious.
Zoe grew out of her jealous tendencies for the most part. However, they did come back just after Winston arrived. I remember bring him in the office while I worked. Zoe was SO MAD. At 10-years-old, she jumped her pen and was ready to kill him. I quickly whisked Winston back to his regular spot, but Zoe was angry, specifically at me, and her grudge lasted most of the day. I knew I had to make it right, so the following morning, I made some time (like 2-3 hours), I opened her pen and I just laid on the floor with her and was just present. With my actions, I told her that I still loved her, she was still Queen of the Universe and I wasn’t going to replace her with this youngster with the crazy hair.
6. Frustration/Lack of Space. When I worked in rescue, I remember receive a call from a family saying they were looking to rehome their bunny. “He was mean”. They kept him in cage. No one interacted with him because he bit. The rescue took him in. I took him out of the carrier and he seemed OK. I placed him in a 4x4 exercise pen which he explored. As soon as the family left, he let out a giant binky. He never bit anyone every again.
I’ve seen that a lot, especially in city/county shelters where space is limited and homeless rabbits are placed in a cage. Rabbits who are bored easily, have been waiting for a home for several months or just want to race around, quickly feel trapped and frustrated in their surroundings. They become aggressive whenever someone approaches. This becomes a vicious cycle and people are reluctant to take a chance on such a bunny.
In reality, these type of bunnies just need space. The more space they are allowed, the less aggressive they become. I’ve seen such “aggressive” rabbits become the most friendly and laid-back bunnies ever.
I will continue with the last part next week. I hope you find the topic helpful. I'm not an animal behaviorist, but this blog is based on my experience with my personal bunnies and those belonging to clients and those I met in shelters and rescue.
This is Part 2 on aggressive rabbits. I'm going to continue where I left off on possible causes for the aggression.
4. Lack of Socialization - being taken away from mom and siblings too early. Of course, when you adopt a bunny from the shelter, it may be impossible to know what sort of situation the bun comes from. However, there is plenty of research out there that describes the importance of keeping puppies and kittens with their mom and littermates, and it stands to reason that removing baby bunnies right at 4 weeks may be doing more harm than good.
I believe my Emma had socialization issues. I didn’t know her background - I adopted her from the city shelter when she was about 6 months old, but pretty early in our relationship, I discovered she communicated a lot by biting down HARD. I could come up to her and pet her and she would be very happy. As soon as I stopped, she would bite me to the point that my blood was flowing. She bit the dog to the point I just had to separate her to protect the dog. She chased the boys in her group. She may have bullied Whoppy, Oso and Wilbur, but when it came to dealing with me, I think it had less to do with anger or fear, but the inability to communicate. She wanted me to continue petting her, so she let me know. I learned to just push her head and body to the side when I wanted to get up and leave. A lot of my interactions with Emma involved watching her mouth and pushing her head to the side when she got that look in her eye.
5. Jealousy. Zoe did this a lot during her teenager phase. She frequently tried to challenge Whoppy (who was the dominant bun in the group at the time) and me. She would do what I called “drive-by biting”. She would race up to me while I was sitting at my desk, bite my foot several times, then run away. I’m not going to lie, that was really annoying and painful. My solution to that was to pick her up, hug and kiss her. She wouldn’t be far off the ground - I could be kneeling on the floor and holding her. I would determine how long I held her. If she squirmed out of my arms, I would immediately pick her up again. She quickly learned that I was the one in charge and the biting eased up. However, if she smelled other rabbits on me, all bets were off and she would go back to biting me. This was a problem since I worked in a rabbit rescue. I solved that issue by immediately showering and changing clothes the minute I got home.
(continued in next entry)
I hope you are all having a good summer and are able to stay cool.
I had to think about what I wanted to talk about today. I was inspired when last week, I visited my friend's home and got to interact - once again - with his very aggressive tiger...I mean English Lop - who is coincidently - also named Winston.
Over the years, I've met several aggressive bunnies. Actually, "aggressive" may not be the right word. I would probably describe them more as "highly grumpy" or "intolerant to human actions".
In my experience, the key to dealing with a grumpy bun is twofold - show no fear and find out what triggers the unwanted behavior. If the thought of bunny bites terrifies you more than swimming with sharks, this is a problem. Bunnies will know immediately that you are terrified and the problem will be exacerbated. If they know that chomping down on your hand or foot will cause you to scream and run away, they have accomplished what they wanted - to chase you away. So make sure you are prepared - gloves, long-sleeve shirts, jeans - and probably - some hiking/rain/work boots while you are working with your bun.
There may be several reasons why a bunny shows the Grizzly Bear in him. Let’s start off with some of the most obvious reasons.
1. Hormones. If your little baby ball of fluff has suddenly turned into a biting monster every time you walk into his pen or put down food, this is probably due to hormones. Spaying or neutering your bunny will eliminate a lot of these unwanted behaviors which has to do with being territorial.
2. Dominance. Even if your bunny has been spayed or neutered, they may still want to prove that they are indeed the king or queen of the household. They may challenge their role and place in your home. Frequently, this may come up with younger bunnies, who may be already spayed/neutered, but are not quite adults.
3. Health. If aggressiveness comes suddenly from a normally easy-going bunny, there may be a medical issue. A trip to the vet may be a good idea.
If the problem isn’t hormonal or health, then you need to take a deeper look. Next week, I’ll talk a little more about additional causes and what can be done about it.
I hope everyone and every bunny is keeping cool. Southern California is in another heat wave, which...I guess it's to be expected since it is July.
Although I am still grieving my Zoe, I am aware that there are still other bunnies in my care that I need to watch over. I try to keep the house has comfortable as possible (it's also for me - I'm not a huge fan of the heat either), and I am aware that I'm not dragging around a fur coat either.
I have pieces of ceramic tile and frozen water bottles in the freezer that I will rotate during the worst of the weather. Most of my guys aren't excited about the water bottles, but will sometimes lean up against it when they think I'm not looking at them.
My biggest concern is Panda, since she is not physically able to get to the water bowl. Unlike Zoe, she will not drink when I offer her the water bowl, so I keep her well hydrated by administering sub-q fluids (that is giving her bagged fluids via an injection just under the skin. By doing this daily, I know that she stays hydrated.
I make sure to offer her wet veggies throughout the day. Normally, I just feed my healthy bunnies veggies once a day, but I know with Panda being on her side, she is losing muscle mass. I will give her a small handful of parsley, cilantro, dill or basil (whatever she likes) to make sure she continues to maintain her weight and feels comfortable. Cupcake is also in the same pen as her, so no doubt he is helping himself to some snacks too.
On the hottest days, I will wipe down the outside and inside of the ear (I don't dig around in the ear canal - I'm just touching the outer part of the ear) with cool, damp wash cloth. Bunnies regulate their body temperature through their ears (primarily). Wiping the ears down lets them cool off faster.
Finally, I have some floor fans that circulate the air at their level. For Panda and Cupcake, it's an oscillating fan that is set at a very light breeze. For the others, there is a stronger fan that will blow a stiff breeze in their direction. It's angled a bit to the side, so if anyone doesn't like it, they can sit away from it.
Winston loves it. He'll stick his nose in the fan's direction and his mane billows away from his face. He looks like he should be either on a runway in Paris or in a Beyoncé video. That boy is hilarious.
Of course, ice in the water dish is always helpful. I got that trick from when I had my dog Baci. That boy loved to chew on ice cubes like it was a beloved bone. What a weirdo!
Hope you are all enjoying the summer!
I wanted to write this on Monday, but the loss still felt too raw. On Wednesday, July 12th, I helped Zoe cross the Rainbow Bridge, where she truly can be Queen of the Universe.
It's hard to put into words just how much this little girl meant to me. She came into my life as a 3oz baby bun, who defied the odds and became this beautiful rabbit who ruled the house. I learned so much from her. Although I had Whoppy and Oso as babies, they were always pretty laid back (in retrospect of course). She was anything but laid back. I experienced her inquisitive baby phase, the moody I'm-mad-at-you teenager phase, the loving adult phase and finally the grandma stage. Every moment in this journey was precious.
She made me a better bunny mom and - in turn - a more knowledgeable educator. I've helped many people based on my journey with Zoe. She was my guiding light.
Her ashes are back home with me. She is joined by her friends Whoppy, Oso and Wilbur, who have passed before her. Those were her first friends. In truth, her loss makes me grieve everyone anew (which is really problematic when you have shared your heart with so many).
When you experience a devastating loss, self-care is so important. Take some time off (if you can). Reach out to a friend or family member who will understand the loss you are experiencing. Post tributes to social media (like I'm doing). Do something soothing like spending the day at the beach or mountains. If the pain is particularly acute and/or if you are thinking about self-harm, please contact a therapist or call the suicide help line 988 (in the United States).
Be kind to yourself.
I hope you are all having a good summer and staying cool. Most things in my life has taken a pause as I focus all of my attention on my two disabled girls, Panda and Zoe.
The two have had declining mobility issues for some time, but around June 10th, they both decided they were on their side and hopping wasn't much of an option anymore.
This is always a tricky stage as bunnies struggling with rear end paralysis don't really understand why everything hurts and why they don't have the strength to move properly. It also requires you - the caretaker - to quickly adjust their living situation, so they are both safe and comfortable. Your routine is also upended as you are trying to figure out what you need to do - continue or change medications/doses? Add a medication? Attempt a butt bath? What can I do? What can I use?
No matter how long you have been doing this (taking care of disabled rabbits), there is always an adjustment period where you yourself are figuring everything out.
I've had a couple of vet appointments as well as weekly physical therapy appointments at CARE. Panda started off looking very alarmed with her situation. I adjusted her medication (in consultation with her vet, Dr. Misetich). After a few days, she seemed to settle down. She's still alert, but not panicked. Her BFF, Cupcake, will frequently sit with her and give her kisses. I'm sure that has helped enormously.
Zoe's energy level has dropped dramatically over the last couple of weeks. Her appetite has dropped and she has lost interest in most of her favorite things, including treats. She spends a fair amount of time sleeping, and she lets me cuddle her without her characteristic grunts, growls and paws in my face.
My husband and I have made the decision to let her go this week. We're spending whatever time we have left with her spoiling and cuddling her. She gets all the blueberries she wants. Everyone who has loved her over the years are taking the time to drop by and say goodbye. She is holding court like only the Queen of the Universe can, and I miss her so much already.
This is certainly not the first time I am dealing with rear end paralysis. This is the first time have been dealing with rear end paralysis bunnies, whom I have also bottle-fed. It's making this process particularly hard for me. It’s difficult to see my babies struggle with old age.
Right now, I’m trying to figure out the best way to accommodate everyone. Even though, Zoe and Panda aren’t moving much, Cupcake still is on his feet. I have pulled out all my fleece pillows and bedding to see what works best. Last year, I purchased a cute monkey pillow for Emma (thinking it might be helpful). Zoe almost decapitated that poor monkey. He is now in my mend pile. I’m constantly adding and removing pillows and blankets, trying to figure out what would make them best comfortable. Often times, the girls will just refuse my attempts to help and just go back to where they were before. It’s an ongoing process, but it usually is. Every bunny is unique in how they best like their bed.
With the need for more fleece and such, I will need to be prepared to do more laundry. I will also need to make sure I hit my building’s laundry room during a time when I don’t get a lot of weird looks when I stuff the machines with things that clearly doesn’t look like clothes.
Both girls are getting my pellet mush, made with baby food, banana, protein powder, Critical Care, water and juice. I don’t have to worry about Cupcake eating it - he is one of the very few bunnies on this planet who doesn’t like banana. I am also feeding out a lot more veggies. It’s a good way to get hydration and encourage eating. Right now, I am giving them a fair amount of dill and parsley. I’ll even add a bit of kale, knowing that Panda won’t be able to resist it. Do I worry about poopy-butt? Well, not really. They already have a hard time with cecals, so they already have twice-a-day butt examinations and bedding change. Today was the first day I had to trim their fur around their butt and groin so I could better protect the skin from urine scald.
Both girls get pain medication and sub-q fluids to make sure they are well hydrated. Their weight will drop significantly due to muscle loss, but hopefully, I will be able to stabilize so they can maintain their new weight.
It seems like a lot of work, but it is a labor of love.
This blog comes ridiculously late. Part of it is because of work, my extensive To-Do list and my bunnies (of course). Most of my focus has been on my two elderly girls.
Zoe and Panda are pretty much on their sides now - Panda more than Zoe. If I help Zoe to her feet, she will make her way to the litter box or hop a few steps before returning back to her side. Panda, on the other hand, just cannot stand on her own.
This is pretty typical of senior bunnies. Not all of them end up on their sides, but a fair number do. Zoe seems to be taking everything in stride. Down or up, she knows she's the Queen of the Universe. I'm sure she would rather be upright, but I think as long as everyone else knows she's boss, I don't think she's too bothered by it. Besides, she knows there are a pair of humans who constantly cater to her every need. What's there to complain about?
The same cannot be said of Panda. Zoe's decline has been a very slow progression. After all, I started taking her to physical therapy and acupuncture for over a year to keep her mobility intact as long as possible. Meanwhile, Panda's decline has been like a bolt of lightening. Within 6 weeks of her first physical therapy visit, she is already on her side.
My little Panda is not taking her situation well. I don't have to be a rabbit to understand the dismay and panic in her eyes. She simply doesn't know what has happened. Despite my current efforts, she can't seem to get comfortable. She doesn't want me touching her, she doesn't even want me looking at her. She is off her food (but fortunately not her treats). I’m worried about her.
The group dynamics is interesting to observe. Cupcake is trying to act calm her. He'll groom or simply just nap close to her. Zoe is trying to let her know that things aren't so bad. Before I had to leave the house today, Zoe had made her way to Panda's corner and (awkwardly) settled next to her. When I came home several hours later, Zoe was still snuggled next to Panda, and Panda was finally relaxed and sleeping.
I hope everyone is well. I spent the morning on an online workshop on Rabbit GI Stasis, forgot to move my car from the street before the workshop, and got a parking ticket. Sometimes the Universe does hate me.
I did learn a lot of interesting new things about GI stasis and how to treat. I think I will write about it in more detail when I put together all my notes and have a moment to think about it. In general, pain management and fluid therapy is essential. However, a visit to the vet is also important. X-rays and blood work can help the vet pinpoint exactly what the issue might be (or rule out what it isn't). Does this make my First Aid Guide irrelevant? Not at all. After all, rabbits can feel uncomfortable any time of the day - often when a vet is not immediately available. My guide helps you make your bunny feel comfortable until you can find professional help.
Another important fact (which I have mentioned before), underlying disease, pain and stress can be huge causes of GI stasis. This means that very rarely is stasis caused by too much hair in the gut. Combing your bunny excessively will most likely cause stress inducing stasis, so please! Don't obsessively comb your bunny for hours on end!
Of course there is no harm in spending a few minutes (I'm talking about 10-15 minutes), running a comb through the coat to cut down on the haze of hair that seems to follow your bunny everywhere he or she goes. However, a high fiber diet (ie lots of hay, minimum of pellets and sweets), along with plenty of water, will effectively pass the hair through the system.
Of course, if you have a bunny who goes into stasis every other day or week, it's important to consult with your vet, because this suggests that there is something wrong, such as an infection.
Get to know your bunny well. If they are uncomfortable due to an old injury or a chronic condition such as dental or arthritis issues, refusing treats may be the first sign that you get that they are uncomfortable. The sooner you jump on it, the quicker the recovery.
I must apologize for the horrible neglect of both my blog and social media. The last couple of weeks I have been helping out a couple of my clients with their special needs bunnies. I have also been dealing with my own three rapidly aging bunnies. On top of it all, I thought it would be a grand idea to purge all the junk from my home office. It's slow going, so it looks like my shelves and closet has just vomited out an obscene amount of boxes, books, paper and forgotten memorabilia. It's really quite horrific.
I have split my beautiful group of five. Sooty-Girl is just too much for Panda, but Sooty still has Joey. He matches her energy very well, and they snuggle and play together all the time. Joey still visits Zoe, Cupcake and Panda (they are all still neighbors) on occasion, and there is peace.
I've covered the pen of my old trio in soft-foam mats, cushions and lots (and lots) of pee pads. Cupcake still has the desire to explore the living room (I even caught him doing a binky!). Zoe's idea of exercising out of the pen is laying 3 inches away from her favorite cushion, and Panda doesn't seem to trust herself to even leave.
Between all three, the bunny I'm most concerned about is Panda. It seems that for the moment, I have Cupcake and Zoe's aches and pains under control. However, Panda's situation seems more severe. She is the one who seems to struggle the most to stand and who seems the least comfortable.
When you are in a situation in which your rabbits seem to rapidly age before your eyes, it's important to observe your pets and try to make adjustments to make them more comfortable.
The first stop is at your vet. Do a complete physical and consider getting an x-ray and basic blood work done. X-rays will show arthritis, spondolysis or anything else joint related. Bloodwork will show how well the kidneys, liver, etc. are functioning. This is important if you need to consider long term use of metacam or any other NSAID.
If you are in an area which offers animal physical therapy, acupuncture, or other holistic therapies, that can also be a good place to go. Ask your vet if there is anyone they would recommend.
Observe your bunny to see what they struggle with. Do they need more support? Are the dishes too high for them? Do they need low-entry litter box? Is the floor too hard for them?
There are plenty of ideas you can learn from various rescue organizations or even Facebook groups. There's a good chance you aren't the first person to have experienced an aging pet!
I hope you are all having a good May. I've been really busy personally and professionally. Rabbits have been keeping me very busy as well.
Yesterday, I spent a good part of the day at CARE (California Animal Rehabilitation, West Los Angeles). It was the initial evaluation for both Panda and Cupcake. Both bunnies are over 9 years old, and I have noticed some subtle changes in their behavior and movements. At their senior check-up in March, x-rays showed some arthritis and other age related changes. It was time to have them try out some physical therapy.
The timing was right on. Sunday, Panda struggled to find her feet and needed my help to stand. It turns out that she not only has arthritis in her elbows (that I already knew about), but also arthritis and tightness in her hips, knees and lower back. Cupcake was also a bit of a hot mess with neck and shoulder pain to go along with the lower back and hips.
Fortunately Zoe was also there to show them how it's done. She quickly stretched out on the heating pad and let the therapists stretch out her legs and massage her joints. I'm not sure how convinced Cupcake and Panda agreed with her assessment.
It brought on another concern. At home, Sooty-Girl still likes to chase Panda (and occasionally Cupcake). It might be time to separate the more compromised bunnies from the rambunctious ones. It's not a decision I take lightly. I'm bummed that I need to break up this beautiful group so soon after they came together, but situations change. I just have to figure out how best to serve the needs of every bunny.
You might ask if I need to protect Zoe at all since she is the oldest. The answer is not really. Zoe growls at anyone who bothers her, so everyone is pretty respectful around her. It seems Panda and Cupcake are a bit too nice to be such grumpy pants.
I hope everyone is doing well. I have been a little under the weather last week or so. Not enough to hide under the bedcovers with a box of tissues, but almost. Allergies are killing me!
Today is Zoe's Gotchya Day anniversary. Twelve years ago I brought home that tiny ball of fluff, and she grew up to be the sassiest of all bunnies. I love her a great deal and hope we will still have more time together.
The group bond is still progressing. Soot is still chasing Panda, but dare I say it has calmed down ever so slightly? There are brief moments in which all the bunnies are gathered around the bowl of pellets or treats, and there is only peaceful munching to be heard.
One of the things I wanted to talk about last week (but then got distracted by allergies) was about baby bunnies. Bunny Bonder, Molly Musto (of The Musto Rabbits) and I were discussing bunnies (because, is there any other topic?), and we both believe on the importance of babies staying a full 8 weeks with their mom and siblings before rehoming.
Part of it is making sure the babies get all of the necessary nutrition (both mother's milk and cecotropes). When babies are separated too early, they may suffer poor gut health for the rest of their lives.
Health is not the only issue. Removal from mom and siblings can cause antisocial and skittish behavior, resulting in a difficulty in forming strong bonds with other rabbits. Please note, I'm saying 'difficult' and not 'impossible'. Many times these bunnies lack the social cues to interact properly with other rabbits, and they need a bit of help from us to get them to understand what the other bunny is saying.
Bunnies are not the only ones that need to stay with mom. Puppies and kittens need to stay with their mom and siblings for 12-13 weeks for the same reasons - health and socialization. In many cases this also means the ability to bond with the owner too.
This is something to keep in mind and speak to your rabbit-savvy vet if your bunny has continual health or behavioral issues.
I have been a bit absent of late. I was helping out a friend with her pets last week (after she took a spill on the ski slopes - this is why I am a couch potato). I've also been trying to re-organize, purge and re-imagine my giant pile of bunny laundry and supplies. It's a disaster. My office looks like it should be in an episode of 'Hoarders', but I'm slowly working through all of my stuff and figuring out what to do with it all.
I was recently approached by someone who was looking to rehome her bunny, due to the fact she is expecting another child. She felt the amount of space and time devoted to the bunny would not be enough. She felt the bunny deserved to be with a family who would have the time to be devoted to her.
I've heard this reasoning before. People think they are not able to give their pet the life they deserve and try to look for a better home for them. Although this theoretically may sound reasonable, in reality this is not how this plays out.
There are always more bunnies available than homes. Bunnies - particularly pairs - can languish in rescues for a long time. Sometimes it takes years, and sometimes bunnies spend almost their whole lives in a rescue setting. Even if the rescue is run by loving staff and volunteers, a rescue is not a Forever Home. There are too many things pulling at your attention. There is no time to dote on every single bunny. Most rabbits are OK in a rescue, but some find it very stressful. They may not thrive until they are in a permanent home.
The truth is your bunny will probably adjust to the new baby in the house better than you think. Also the rabbit does not have to be terrified, confused or stressed about living in a shelter or rescue, nor will it be in danger of his/her life if you happen to dump the bunny outdoors or place a wanted ad.
If you happen to be in the situation in which you move, go to school, get a new job or having a baby, and you don't know if your bunny will be better off somewhere else, talk to a bunny expert. They will be someone who has tons of experience and will have ideas have how to improve your bunny's life without the stress of re-homing. You might just need a slight adjustment to your home situation to make everything work better.
Your bunny will be happiest in the home they know best.
I hope you are all doing well this lovely March Monday.
I'm really tired - a full 8-hours and two morning naps later, and I'm still not sure I won't take another nap before it's time to go to bed, lol!
A brief update on the bonding. Last week, I mentioned that Sooty-Girl is picking on the smallest member of the group - Panda. Soot comes up to Panda; Panda freaks out and runs away, causing Soot to chase Panda and take out a bit of butt fur.
I know there is some bunny communication going on here, and I brought this up to my bonding partner in crime - Molly Musto from The Musto Rabbits. Yes - Soot is asserting her dominance, and instead of just keeping her ground and accepting it, Panda gets spooked and takes off.
Panda does excel at the "Deer-In-The-Headlights" look. I feel a little bad when I pick her up to trim her nails. She looks like I am going to hit her with the car (she does gets kisses and treats when we're done, so please don't feel that bad for her). She is also been known in the past to be bossy, so why she's wary of Soot is a little odd.
In the meantime, Soot is having a ball running around the living room and getting into shenanigans with Joey (ie jumping on the couch and looking for cushions to tear up) or binkying around the hay.
So I'm continuing to sit Soot and Panda down for a talk and try to convince them to resolve their conversation without the use of terror and fur pulling. Let's see how good my negotiation skills are. Somehow I don't think the FBI will be hiring me anytime soon!
I do have to apologize for flaking on my blog duties last week. It's been a pretty busy month for me, particularly this last week. A couple of my grooming clients had lost their bunnies, and I do like to take the time to listen and offer them some comfort. It effects me too, since then it does seem to take up some head space. Suddenly the thought of doing 5 billion loads of bunny laundry seem less appealing than usual.
The bunny bonding at my house is pretty much done. Well, I should clarify that a bit - the constant supervision part of it is done. Major squabbles should be resolved. What takes place now is the bunnies further getting to know each other and getting comfortable.
It's not unusual to see a bit of chasing and nipping. The rabbits are still establishing their role in the partnership. However, you should be beyond flat-out fighting and terrorizing.
Sometimes though, a fight may break out not long after the bunnies have established themselves in their permanent space. It's important to understand what the issue is, if you hope to resolve it. Are the bunnies fighting for space in a litter box? Is one bunny bullying the other to be first at the dinner plate?
Some fights can be easily resolved with just altering the living space or how you give them food. Other times, the issue may be more subtle and requires to think about the personalities involved. If one of the bunnies is a new addition to your family, this might be too much change for him/her. It might be better to just take things slow.
In my situation, Sooty-Girl seems to be a bit of a brat. She's stealing everyone's boyfriends and chasing Panda. Right now, I'm just watching what is going on - how the chases are triggered and how the bunnies resolve the issue. I may have to interfere at some point, but right now I want to just understand what is going on (and tell Soot to behave herself). We'll see if the girls can work it out on their own.
I hope everyone has survived the SoCal blizzard of 2023. Coming from Canada, blizzards are not a new thing, but it is weird experiencing it in Los Angeles.
If you have been following my progress on Instagram & Facebook, my group of 5 are pretty much done bonding. Tomorrow, I will extend their pen into their final size (4ftx8ft), keep them confined in that space another 5 days and then let them have some exercise space.
Many people unfamiliar with the bonding process are surprised with just how long bonding takes, even when it goes well. This particular group was easy, because there wasn't any fights which I had to break up. All the issues that came up during this time could be resolved by the rabbits themselves. Nevertheless, I still had to be careful about their space and slowly expand it.
A few people have asked me about the size of my bonding pen and if the size was stressful for the bunnies. I would not house 5 bunnies in a 4x4 exercise pen, but for bonding, it is fine.
Controlling the bonding space is really important for the process to work. You need to start off in a smaller space (4x4 for a bigger group like my 5; a pair can be in a 2x2). The reason is that a smaller space will initiate an interaction. No bunny can wander off into the distance and claim that corner as their territory and anyone who crosses that barrier is the enemy. The sooner they get to meet each other, the quicker they can become friends. A smaller space allows the bonder to keep a close eye on everyone and stop behaviors that can lead into fights and anxiety.
A pair can start off with an approximate 2x2 space. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a pen either. Cat Logsdon from Zooh Corner in Pasadena, CA likes to initially bond her bunnies in a pet stroller. Since the vast majority of her rabbits are seniors and/or special needs, this is a less stressful way to bond. People who bond a lot (aka, either people who bond professionally or who work in a rescue) have figured out different ways to introduce rabbits to each other that are less stressful than the methods of old (aka - the dreaded car ride).
I don’t believe you can completely eliminate stress during bonding, but you can minimize it and you can make the process enjoyable for the bunnies. Petting during those initial moments to calm everyone down, rewarding good behavior and sessions with a favorite treat, and introducing some fun toys can make it all easier for the bunnies over all.
Much of bonding may seem counterintuitive, but there are actually good reasons why bonders do what they do. They also are very sensitive to the bunnies themselves. Sometimes it requires some creative thinking and knowing when to push forward and when to find alternative methods.
If you have been following me on Instagram, you may have seen that I've been attempting to bond my seniors along with Sooty-Girl.
It's going surprisingly well (really, I go in expecting the absolute worst). I had hoped the match would work as the seniors are not wild and territorial (well, not more than normal) and Sooty is a real gentle bunny (maybe).
I want to point out a couple of things to dispel some misconceptions about bonding. This group of 5 range from 12 years of age down to about 2-4 years. There are 3 girls and 2 boys. Sooty has some mild head tilt, while everyone else have some varying degrees of arthritis and spondolysis.
You can bond groups. You can have same sex bonds. You can bond all ages. You can bond disabled bunnies. Size of bunny doesn't matter.
It has to do with personality. Some matches work better than others. Some bunnies may have preferences (ie may like to hang out with girls or boys). There are no absolutes. Babies are usually the easiest to bond, but not always (Godzilla was literally a brat. Yes, there was a bunny named Godzilla in my house. She was a terror.). Most people dread male-male bonds, but some of the most devoted pairs I've seen are male-male pairs. Personally, I dread female-female bonds, but many people have had tremendous luck with them, and one of the sweetest pairs I ever met were Roxanne and Abbey.
Bonding is difficult for those who are just learning it, and that’s because most of the time you are flying by the seat of your pants. It’s hard to produce a step-by-step guide, because not every pair or group behave exactly the same way all the time. About the only thing you really need to do is spay and neuter and work in neutral territory. Obviously, you want to prevent fights and bloodshed, but there are other things that look aggressive that are not bad. That includes nipping (not to be confused with biting down and drawing blood), chasing and mounting.
Bonding is all about problem-solving - how do I get them to be friends? How do I get this bunny to be less scared? How do I get this other bunny to be less territorial, etc.? The more tricks you have in your toolbox, the easier it is to solve the problem at hand. It’s also good to brainstorm with other people who have experience with bonding. They may have a perspective that you haven’t thought about or they may have experienced that problem in the past and overcame it.
Or you just need someone to give you a hug. Sometimes you need someone else to tell you that you are not a failure, even though you cannot convince a pair of rabbits to be civilized with each other for the greater good.
We’ve all been there.
I hope everyone is having a lovely President's Day. I've spent my morning with Apple Support, so my morning could be better.
I've decided that I'm going to start bonding this week. It's not my favorite thing in the universe to do, but sometimes it needs to be done. Currently I have two senior pairs and two singles., and the plan is to put Sooty-Girl with my two senior pairs and make a group of five.
Why not a group of 6?
Well, Winston is a terrorist, but that aside, he is just complicated in general. His diet is different from the others and so is his exercise needs (needs to run around like a fool as often as possible). However his lack of bladder control doesn't work if I have to move him out of his area (which I would). He is also very reactive. He bites first and thinks about what he has done later. I have a feeling the other bunnies would not appreciate him biting them first and then apologizing. They are less tolerate of that sort of nonsense than I am.
Sooty-Girl seems to have a milder temperament and might be a good fit, despite her younger age. If it works, Sooty can have a bigger space to run around, the old folks can get longer exercise time (rather than splitting it between the two pairs, and everyone gets a bigger space to lounge around.
Is there a secret to achieving a successful bond? You have to be willing to put in the time, control your space and exercise a lot of patience. I will start this week with making some quick introduction sessions (1-2 hours), then this weekend I'll be settling in for hours and hours of non-stop excitement. Fortunately, I have a couple of friends who know how to bond. They will keep me company for a little while and be an extra set of hands if necessary.
Is there a chance that this bonding plan will not work? Possibly. It will depend on how stressed the bunnies will be or if someone gets injured. I will do my very best to not let either happen, but fights happen very quickly and sometimes bunnies are not happy with the situation at all. They don't care that you want to give them a bigger space and that you want your office space back.
Bonding is all about personalities and how they get along with each other. It's hard to predicate how everything will go until you put them together. Afterwards you just have to go with the flow and try to keep everything civilized.
Will Winston mind being by himself? Most likely not. He's a big fan of sitting in the middle of the house where he soaks up all the attention.
Fingers crossed it all works!
I hope you all are having a nice February. I am reminded that it's been a year since I lost Dior. I miss that girl quite a bit. Not long ago, I had passed a perfume display that showed off a number of different Christian Dior perfumes. I took a tentative sniff of "Miss Dior", thinking that if I liked it - even a little bit - I would buy it in memory of my dear little rabbit.
It smelled awful.
Well, maybe awful is a little dramatic. I'm not one for perfumes to begin with, so it doesn't take much for me to dislike a scent. Really, it was just a little too much. Maybe one day, I'll look for an empty bottle.
In other news, a few days ago, I was asked if I would be willing to help out with a sick little bunny. The owners were feeling overwhelmed with the urgent care their bunny suddenly needed (she had suddenly tilted and couldn't find her feet at all). They were looking for someone to help them.
I'm not sure why I thought taking in a severely tilted bunny would be a good idea, but I soon found myself with a rolly bunny in my bedroom. The fact she is in my bedroom is insane. Bunnies do not limit their rolling between the hours of 9am-5pm. So there is a lot of scrambling of paws and throwing of hay in the middle of the night.
Winston is feeling neglected. Zoe and the seniors are happy I'm not around to pay attention to them. Sooty-Girl is anxiously awaiting for me to work in my office so she can frolic in the laundry pile (she knows that she can only go in there under supervision), and I'm sure my husband is questioning his life's choices.
Nevertheless, Coco is worth the trouble. She looks like a very helpless mop in her pen, which makes your heart melt and do whatever you can to help her recover. She is really a sweet girl and absolutely loves her Critical Care. I am happy to help her and her anxious owners.
Coco's recovery will take some time and patience. In these early days, I'm focusing on stabilizing her (weight and mobility), as well as keeping her clean and comfortable.
I'll be posting about her progress. Fingers crossed that she improves!
I hope all of you are having a great start to the new year. I've been ridiculously busy, which is a good thing. Hopefully that means less time on the Internet where I'll be tempted to buy lots and lots of cute Year of the Rabbit themed trinkets. Honestly, I HAVE actual rabbits. That should satisfy my need to have ornamental bunnies.
As people have come back from holidays and getting back to their normal routine, I've been busy combing and clipping pampered bunnies. However, this weekend I took a little break and went whale watching near the Channel Islands (a little north of Los Angeles). The Grey Whales have given birth to their babies and are starting to make their way back north to colder waters (really, I thought it was plenty cold from my vantage point on the boat). I got to see lots of sea lions, birds, dolphins and yes, a whale flipper and tail. It was a lovely way to spend part of the day.
While waiting to board the boat in the morning, I got to meet a lot of people just walking their dogs along the harbor. I said hello to a Scottish Terrier and an Afghan Hound - not the sort of dogs I see every day. I am quite fond of Scottish Terriers - it's the bushy eyebrows, big nose, and short legs. They are a surprising solid dog and not the type you would shove in a purse (unless you want lots of back and shoulder pain).
The Afghan Hound is a really beautiful dog. They are a nightmare if you are a lazy groomer, but every one I've met (which is not a lot) are really sweet. They belong to a class of dogs called sighthounds (like Greyhounds, Salukis, etc.). They are sprinters and were bred to hunt rabbits and hares, so unless you have a particularly sighthound who is a shame to his or her breed, they are not a dog to have around rabbits.
I grew up with a terrier (not really sure what sort, but at the time lots of people mistook him for Benji if you watched the show in the late 70's and early 80's). He was a fabulous dog around people, but did not tolerate cats or smaller animals. This was the sort of dog you would never have around rabbits. He was very true to his heritage of clearing the property of rodents.
Although I do love dogs, I am not interested in getting one when I have a house filled with rabbits. Mostly because Winston will beat up the poor dog and I don't need the drama. I do like to meet them on the street and say hi. Dogs are always excited to meet me and give me a wet smooch (if they are not busy investigating me - I always smell like a dozen bunnies).
If there is one thing I know for sure, I will always be surrounded by animals.
I hope you are all having a lovely 2023. We are experiencing Southern California-style winter. It's raining quite a bit these last two weeks or so, which is great. Hopefully it'll go a long way to end the drought we've been experiencing. Unfortunately, the ground is so packed, it doesn't absorb the water so well, so there's run-offs, mud and rock slides and pot holes the size of a small city. I hit one of those pot holes and wrecked two of my tires (I'm such an over-achiever). I spent Friday getting that fixed. Today is another soaker, and unfortunately, I do have to go out in the rain to visit the California Wildlife Center for my volunteer shift. Apparently injured wildlife don't feed and medicate themselves.
It's days like these that I wonder about those bunnies living outdoors. I know the subject can be controversial. Some people do believe rabbits are more in the "livestock" category than the "pet" category, or they grew up having rabbits in a hutch outside and just assume that's the way you keep rabbits. Others may keep them outside due to allergies or other reasons.
Although Southern California has relatively mild weather, it does experience certain extremes. Most people know it's usually too hot for most of the year for a bunny to be permanently outside. However, the winter isn't always a piece of cake for bunnies either. Although they tolerate lower temperatures better, their limit is really about the mid 50sF (about 13C). Nighttime temperatures can be in the 40's and occasionally the 30's (the two days a year when I wake up to frost, I take a picture and send it to my friends in Canada as proof that it can get cold here too).
Wild rabbits can protect themselves from the elements by burrowing. Domestic rabbits living in a hutch usually don't have that option (nor should they, if you want to protect them from predators), but that means that there may be minimal protection from the cold or rain. One other thing you may want to watch out for is mold on your hay. When hay gets wet or damp, mold can grow. This can be very bad for the bunny.
If your bunnies happen to be outside this winter, please bring them inside when it rains or the nights are really cold. Set them up in a bathroom, spare bedroom or heated garage. It doesn't have to be really fancy, but just protect them from the elements. Of course, if your bunny is getting older and experiencing arthritis, you should consider bringing them inside permanently.
Need help or tips? Feel free to send me an email: email@example.com
I hope you all had a lovely Christmas & New Year, and didn't spend it hunkering down in an airport. Due to my lack of planning and terrible procrastination, I spent Jan 1st cleaning out bunny pens, litter boxes and doing bunny laundry. Womp, womp.
Sooty-Girl is healing well from her spay surgery from last Monday. Everything looked healthy, and hopefully, this means I will have her for a long time.
I brought Cupcake down to Access to visit Dr. Gleeson today. It was mostly a follow-up to see how his bladder looks after his nasty infection. He had been battling it for most of 2022, and I was sure it was really something awful like cancer.
Ultrasound images showed a very abnormal bladder. It was inflamed and thickened, and the inner wall was highly irregular. There were globs of mucus and the ureters (which connect the kidneys to the bladder) were also inflamed. Despite multiple medications, nothing seemed to reduce the inflammation, pain or the bleeding.
Dr. Waldman from CARE suggested that I try glucosamine, since some vets use it for cats prone to a lot of UTIs. With some consultation with Dr. Misetich and Dr. Gleeson, I tried adequan injections twice a week for a month, along with a different antibiotic. I continued treatment for another 6 weeks. The pain eased and the bleeding gradually stopped. Even though Dr. Misetich no longer saw any bacteria in Cupcake's urine, I wanted to bring Cupcake to Dr.Gleeson for an ultrasound. We were curious to see if his bladder still looked abnormal or different.
It turns out that his bladder has returned completely back to normal. The inflammation was gone and the bladder walls had returned back to their normal shape. There is no longer anything odd in his bladder.
Thank goodness for my awesome vets! I get to have my Cupcake a little longer, and I hope my experience will help future rabbits.
I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas - whether you celebrate it or not. I can't say I make a big effort. My absolute favorite thing about the holiday is being in a cookie coma in my pajamas and watching Doctor Who Christmas Specials.
I also love buying presents for my bunnies. It's really fun for me, and the bunnies sometimes like what I get (and sometimes they just end up playing with the packing paper). I'm OK either way.
Sooty-Girl is getting a special present - spay surgery today. Honestly, that's probably not fun for anyone involved. I know Dr. Misetich is a great vet, and will take good care of her. I also know she is a healthy bunny, and she will probably be OK. Still, every surgery for everyone, regardless of age and health, is a risk, and I have a little trepidation for my girl.
There are quite a few new bunny owners who are unaware of the benefits of spay/neutering. Some people have strong opinions about it ("I wouldn't want to put my (insert pet) through something like that!"), some are unaware that this is a thing for rabbits, and others don't feel the urgency.
No one knows exactly how old Soot is, but the older a female bunny gets, the higher the chance she is in developing uterine cancer (and not the benign kind either). That is the number one reason I spay and neuter my pets, followed closely by number 2 - dealing with the hormonal drama that ensues when buns are intact (oh the biting and the pee!).
I'm not horribly worried about baby bunnies as she lives inside with a bunch of neutered males, but it is also a big reason why I advocate for spaying and neutering. I know how hard it is to find good homes for bunnies. I do not want to be part of the problem. Also, mothers can have up to 12 kits. I do NOT want to increase the rabbit population in my house to 18!
Oh good! I just got a text from the clinic. She is doing well and is ready for pick up soon! Merry Christmas to both Soot & I!
It seems like time runs away from me during the holiday season. I'm late buying gifts, sending out cards, decorating, etc. Honestly, I don't have much of an excuse as I rarely have a schedule packed full of parties or anything like that, and I don't have a large group of family find gifts for.
My husband is a bit of a pain to shop for. Mostly because his biggest hobby is rock climbing and I think it's moderately insane. I have no idea what's a cool, interesting or safe gadget. I normally take him to REI and let him pick out something he finds useful.
I love shopping for the bunnies though. They are usually the first I shop for and it's so much fun! I have this giant box sitting in the living room for the past month just waiting for Christmas so I can open it and pretend I'm Bunny Santa.
And for me? Well, I'm pretty set for the holidays. I have a box of homemade shortbread cookies, and I'm going to settle down with them along with my Kindle and be a lump. I will spend some cuddle time with Soot, as her additional present will be a spay surgery set for the day after Christmas. That seems really rude of me, so I'll make sure she gets extra treats the night before.
I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday. Even if you do not celebrate Christmas, I hope you have a very restful weekend.
I hope you are all enjoying the holiday season. This is probably my favorite time of year. Lots of cookies, get togethers, and presents. I've already finished shopping for my bunnies. The humans in my life require more brain power. All the bunnies are getting toys, and Sooty-Girl is also getting spayed (26th). She may not be as excited about that as I am.
The newest member of our family is settling in very well. So much so that she's decided that it's OK not to be on her best behavior anymore and that she can release her inner Godzilla. Last weekend, she decided to go into a carpet-pulling, towel-chewing, litter box-digging rampage. After jumping on crates and getting stuck behind doors and bookshelves, she lost her running-around-without-supervision privileges.
My big bunny-cleaning day is on the weekends. This is where I change the litter boxes, take down the pens, remove the old sheets and such, vacuum and lay down fresh sheets and pee-pads. Since I'm a horrible procrastinator, I usually have to do a billion loads of bunny laundry before I can even start (my weekends are so much fun!).
Since Sooty-Girl was driving me bonkers, I knew I needed to redesign her pen and run-around area. I decided to check out Home Depot to see if I could find anything inspiring. I was thinking of a large painter's drop cloth because it would be thick and harder to destroy - especially if I cover the edge of the cloth. Instead, I wandered down the aisle with their area rugs. Home Depot has a selection of welcome mats and some indoor/outdoor rugs. I have used something similar before and found it useful.
I look for something with a really tight weave. It might be an entrance mat a business may use for their front door (I have several of those that I like that I've ordered from Uline). This time, I got a 6x8 indoor/outdoor rug, which I figured would cover her pen area and a large chunk of her run-around space.
I laid plastic on the floor, and then I placed the rug on top. I actually turned the rug upside down. Even though the pile is really tight, the underside is smoother, which will be even harder for her to chew a hole in it. I covered the edges with loose tile or toys.
Then I released the Kraken.
So far, she is loving the new set up. She's running like a fool and doing binkies. She still isn't allowed unsupervised run-around time. She likes to try and climb on precarious things and look cute.
That is a problem for another day.
I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! It's a fabulous holiday filled with a ridiculous amount of food and enjoying family and friends. It's a great time of year!
This year, I was looking after two pairs of bunnies belonging to a friend of mine. I've known these bunnies for several years and my friend talks about them all the time, so I was reasonably certain of what to expect.
I was also aware that they would act completely different at my house.
And they did.
When bunnies go to someone's place (or a boarding facility) for a short time, they need to establish themselves in this new space. So partners are mounted; there are more territorial markings (aka urine and poop outside the litter box). There is more activity from bunnies who typically sleep all day, and maybe some cage fighting from neighbors who have lived side-by-side for years. Some may hide in their box more, while others may venture out more often.
This is all OK! The bunnies are just getting used to their new space (with new smells and sounds) and new schedule. A bunny may be inclined to explore or re-establish boundaries with a neighbor or reassert their dominance in the partnership or group. Once they go home, everything will go back to normal.
It just means as a bunny-sitter, you have to go with the flow. Sometimes you need to put up an extra gate or just watch the bunnies and say, "No!"
Things usually settle down within a few days, but it's also good to know what is normal behavior and what is just new territory behavior. I'm in regular contact with my friends to update them on their babies and sending them cute pictures, and they will tell me what's normal ("Oh yeah, she doesn't want her greens until later in the evening", "Her favorite toy is a grass mat", etc).
It can make bunny-sitting a little challenging at times, but you also get a better grasp of bunny behavior.
I have to apologize for missing last week's blog. My husband surprised me by arranging my best friend to come and visit me for the weekend for my birthday. It was so lovely and unexpected, and I enjoyed catching up with her.
This year I'm turning 50, which is a big milestone. I'm not one to get really stressed about my age - I just enjoy the day. However, I do notice it when songs I listened to as a teenager are now on the Classic Rock station. I remember a time before personal computers, cell phones, VCRs, streaming, answering machines and the Internet. Lots of changes have taken place over the decades.
One thing that has also changed is rabbit care. I have a couple of friends who have owned bunnies since the 90's. Back then, owning a house rabbit was a lot of riding by the seat of your pants. The food wasn't great (a lot more pellets), the housing wasn't ideal (lots of living in a hutch) and the medical care was not well understood. Pain management was not much of a thing.
Luckily, the house rabbits of today have more advocates and knowledgeable owners than ever before - and that's a good thing. There is a lot more work that needs to be done, but it's coming along. Now there are lots of videos and images of very loved bunnies living their best lives. That's always so lovely to see.
Happy Thanksgiving to you all!
I hope you are all having a wonderful November. Personally, it's my favorite month - all things awesome happen in November.
Soot has been with me for two weeks now, and she is adjusting well. She did well during her check-up, got vaccinated and I'm now looking to schedule her spay. She still has a physical therapy appointment later this month, and we'll see if we can help her straighten out. It seems that she has adjusted to her tilt just fine.
At the moment, she's all cuteness. She spends a lot of time in her box, but if she hears you enter the room, she dashes out to say hello! She certainly enjoys her time outside of the pen and will grunt at you when you put her back before she is ready (yes, I've caved in and let her stay out longer). She loves her food, and it seems like her favorite activity is fighting with a towel.
I'm spending some extra time with her so we can get to know each other better. I'm offering her a variety of greens and toys to see which ones are her favorite. She is curious about her new surroundings, but has adjusted to our schedule very well.
At the moment she has not been introduced to my other rabbits. Since she is not spayed, everyone will be exponentially more dramatic than usual.
I don't know much about her or how traumatic her life was before she came to me. Sometimes an animal can give you a glimpse of their past, but often, they are just content to move forward in your care.
I look forward to a wonderful relationship with this sweetie.
I have a few friends who are really, really into this holiday. They just love the costumes and spookiness of it. Personally, I'm just in it for the candy (come to think of it, that's my attitude to most holidays). I'm not a fan of horror movies, so it can be challenging to find something non-terrifying on TV during this time.
Some of the more pessimistic people I know insist that real life is terrifying enough, they don't need to pretend anything with Halloween. Although that can be true, there's no need to point that out. Just enjoy the candy.
This week I read an article in Dame Magazine, "The Long-Term Consequences of the Veterinarian Shortage".
None of this is news to anyone who has had rabbits for some time. In fact, the issues mentioned in this article are more acute for rabbits. There are even less vet care for rabbits, than there is for dogs and cats. Many times, owners can only schedule an appointment weeks and sometimes months away. Many times emergency care is not available or it's on a "will call" basis.
It's become more important than ever to be able to care for your bunny yourself if necessary. Now there are some instances in which there is nothing you can do, you MUST take your bunny in, and it's up to you to advocate for your bunny. However, if you bunny just has an upset tummy and a bit of gas, it can be very helpful to have a first aid kit at home and know how to use it. There is nothing worse than the feeling of helplessness at seeing your bunny uncomfortable and in pain.
Don't know where to start? You can start with my "First Aid Guide for the Domestic Rabbit", which will tell you what you should have in your Bunny First Aid kit, and how to use it. The guide will also show you how to treat GI stasis (which is the most common bunny ailments), and when you absolutely need to pack up your bun and rush him over to the vet.
Don't be caught unprepared!
So despite my determination to downsize my herd of bunnies into a more manageable number, I took in a new one yesterday.
This is what happens when you have worked in rescue and you are still good friends (or even passing acquaintances) with people who have rescues and do the daily nitty-gritty of rescue work. I see a lot of need in my social media feed (and sometimes the occasional text message). There are a lot of rabbits out there, who need medical care or even just some place where they can have a roof over their head and some loving care.
People in rescue work are some of the toughest people I know...and also the most fragile. They have the heart to care about rabbits and have mobilized themselves and others to help in their mission. However, they also know they cannot possibly save them all, and so they steel themselves, because they have to say 'no' more often than they say 'yes'. They have to. They have finite resources, room, time and themselves. Yet every once in awhile - despite better judgement - they come across a bunny that just speaks to them - and they say 'yes'.
Well, that is what happened to me. I hemmed and hawed. Tried to find someone else who might be interested in taking this cute, head tilt girl, spoke to my husband (since he is very involved in the bunny care himself), and ended up agreeing to take her in.
We named her Soot, because of her all black coat. She is NOT 4-years-old as the shelter says, but probably more like 1-years old. She has head tilt, but it's not severe. She will visit Dr. Gleeson later this week. Soot is a little thin, but she has eaten everything I've put down for her.
For now, I've been keeping my distance from her. Partially, because I need to quarantine her for RHDV and partially because she has had an exhausting few days. I'm sure she would just like to chill out in her pen.
Currently, she is in my office, surrounded by bunny toys and food. She is stretched out and getting used to us. I feel like she will be a fearless sort of girl and will start bossing me around in a week or two.
Good for her!
It's a beautiful October! We had a bit of rain this weekend (very welcome!) and it's a nice mild day and the air feels fresh!
This weekend, I got to meet a new grooming client and their brand new baby bunny. Lola the bunny was ridiculously cute, and I was very happy to spend a few minutes snuggling her.
Part of my job (at least how I see it) is education. My goal is to make sure bunny is happy and healthy, and the humans don't regret their life's choices (at least not the ones pertaining to their bunny). I always tell people to do their research before getting any pet (not just bunnies, but especially bunnies).
Although reading books and articles online are helpful, they don't always give you the whole picture. More than once have I been stuck staring at an animal and thought, "What was I thinking? What do I do now?"
What helps is speaking to someone with much more experience. This may be a friend, family member or a vet. They can give you insight and specific guidance that you may not get from a book alone. This is because they have gone through the "What was I thinking?" stage themselves, and they found a path that worked for them. Whether it was just taking home a new pet for the first time, or transitioning foods or dealing with destructive behavior, there is someone who has been there and survived the experience.
I always tell my grooming clients that they can reach out to me anytime if they have a question. I know what it's like to have a pet none of my family or friends have ever had, and feel like maybe I have done something exceptionally rash (I still personally don't know anyone who has had either a Beta Fish or hermit crabs).
If you are feeling a bit overwhelmed with rabbit care, go ahead and reach out to me via social media or email. Chances are I have either been through it, know about it, or at the very least - know who you should reach out to.
Hugs to you and your bunnies!
I know! I know! I have been neglecting my social media accounts fiercely! No, I haven't fallen into a coma (unless ice cream coma counts), nor have bunnies chewed off my hands.
It's been an interesting couple of weeks. First the good news - I recently purchased a new (used) car. My husband and I have been sharing a car for about 22 years...and I've hated it. For the most part the sharing has worked and we have been able to accommodate each other without screaming, crying or throwing dishes. However, I've always wanted my own wheels and have saved up my pennies to make it happen.
I bought it at the end of September and have been beyond ecstatic. I've been busy getting it checked out by my mechanic and arranging on the legal DMV stuff, so there has been a lot running around. I've also had to practice with it. It's a manual transmission, and even though all of my cars have required me to use a clutch, this baby feels different than our other car, and so I am shifting gears like a newbie. It's really embarrassing.
On the opposite side of emotional spectrum, I've been really worried about Cupcake. He was not doing well at all during the same week I brought home the car. In fact, I was pretty sure I would have to make arrangements to have him euthanized. It seemed that he was too uncomfortable to eat, but if I increased his pain medication, he was too sleepy to eat. This was not a good situation to be in.
During that same week, I brought Zoe down for physical therapy and acupuncture, as she seemed uncomfortable herself. As usual, Zoe was awesome because she is the Queen of the Universe, but during that session I spoke to the physical therapy vet and mentioned my woes with Cupcake. She is not an expert on rabbits, but said maybe I should try Cosequin, as sometimes vets prescribe that for cats with bladder issues.
Most of you may be familiar with glucossamine as a joint supplement. Cosequin is one of several brand names for it. I've never heard of anyone using this as a urinary/bladder support of a cat (never mind a rabbit), but I was going to research it.
I found a website called Medi-vet that gave the following information:
"Many veterinarians also recommend Cosequin to help support urinary bladder health. The inner lining of the bladder wall is protected by a layer, which contains some of the same compounds as are found in cartilage. This layer prevents urine and the waste products contained within it from seeping into and damaging the lining. Since the low molecular weight chondroitin sulfate found in Cosequin is available to more than just cartilage cells, the bladder may use it to help support this protective layer. Cosequin is recommended for cats with recurring urinary bladder infections (cystitis, Feline Urologic Syndrome, Urinary Tract Infection) to be given indefinitely as a means to prevent it's recurrence." (Source in link below)
I reached out to my rabbit vets. They had never used it, but they looked into it. They said it couldn't hurt, and recommended that I try sprinkling a capsule into some Critical Care and syringe feed the mix to Cupcake once a day. Cupcake hates Critical Care, so I opted for juice instead.
The problem is that I don't know how long before I see results (or he feels better). Typically joint supplements take about 4-8 weeks for notable improvement. I don't know if Cupcake has that much time.
It really is my last idea. No one else knows what else to do, and I absolutely do not want him to suffer. Right now, I'm just taking things day-by-day. My husband and I are watching him carefully, but at the moment, his pain is under control and he has moments where he is back to his sassy self.
I'll let you all know if this works!
This blog is ridiculously late! I've was asked this evening by a friend for help. My friend is leaving town and she wanted to know if I could help her roommate with caring for her sick bunny. Both ladies are very experienced bunny owners, but even so, sometimes you need a hand.
I met the rabbit this evening, and I got the details of what is going on and what sort of medications the bunny is taking. At the end of the visit, my friend thanked me and said, "It takes a village to care for these little guys".
She isn't wrong. Nothing can feel quite as isolating as knowing there is something wrong with your beloved pet and there is no one to help you. It helps to have a bunny community of friends, family, roommates, colleagues and professionals to support you in a time of crisis. They can guide you or fill in when there is need, or just take you out for coffee while you complain about the amount of bunny laundry you have to do each week.
Of course for many rabbit owners, a physical community is not really possible (you live in rural area, you don't know anyone else crazy enough to own a rabbit, etc.). In these cases, sometimes social media can be a helpful support. The key word here is 'can be'. Sometimes some of the advice can be hurtful, not presented in a correct way or just plain wrong. It's often a good way to get confused. Still, it is a resource in which you can meet other bunny owners and share ideas and stories. I have met several really wonderful people online - it's not all evil. You just have to choose wisely.
I gathered my village of crazy bunny friends by first volunteering at a rabbit rescue and then working there. Volunteering can be a great place to be part of a community, and you can learn so much from the people there.
Not every rescue, shelter or sanctuary is a great fit for everyone. It might take a bit of time to explore your options. That's OK though. Forming your own village will be worth the time and effort.
Lately I've met a few new grooming clients who not only have some adorable bunnies, but some cute dogs too.
It's not unusual for rabbit owners to have lots of other pets - dogs, cats, birds, guinea pigs, etc. Everyone can get along with a little preparation and forethought.
Bonding is all about personalities, and it also applies to other species. Dogs are predators, and a lot of breeds have been designed specifically to hunt rabbits (pretty much all sighthounds). Lots of herding, guard, hunting and terrier breeds have a really high prey drive, which can present a real danger to a pet rabbit. A dog with a high prey drive can kill. I'd also be careful with smaller dogs who are highly vocal or high strung. The last thing a rabbit needs is to have a little dog run groves into the carpet as it continually circles the pen while barking.
Personalities play a huge role in determining the success of a happy relationship. I had a dog before I got my first bunnies. Baci was a delightful mix of Dachshund, Border Collie and about 5 million other things. He was a very submissive dog and had the prey drive and curiosity of a piece of wood. He had no sense of self-preservation (he wanted to make friends with alley cats, but was sure the giant stuffed animal tiger was out to get him). I had a sense that the bunnies were going to be pretty safe with him - and they were. He was most interested in eating their food, but generally did not acknowledge their presence. Most of the bunnies ignored him too, except for a couple who beat the poor dog up (yes Emma - you may be across the Rainbow Bridge, but I'm talking to you!).
It's not just the dog, but the rabbit too has to accept the newcomer. The dog can be the most gentle thing the world as ever seen, and the rabbit may still opt to have a heart attack.
If you are thinking about maybe adopting a dog, consider reaching out to a rescue and let them know that you need to get a dog that is good with small animals. It's usually better to get an adult, as a younger dog might be too rough with a rabbit and injure them.
Be thorough with your research. Work with a trainer. Never leave them alone together unsupervised. Keep both of them safe! Most of all, listen to what your rabbit is telling you and respect his or her wishes.
This past weekend I met up with an old client to advise her on her aging bunny. I met Gypsy about 5 years ago, and she was always a beautiful and sassy girl. Her bunny mom describes her as a girl who has an opinion about everything and is clear about her likes and dislikes (apparently there are quite a few 'no touch' zones, and there are quotas on the amount of pets allowed).
Gypsy has now entered her senior years and is experiencing typical old age issues like arthritis and spondolysis. Her mobility is compromised, and both bunny and bunny mom are getting used to this new normal.
At the beginning of my bunny career, I did not look forward to senior/hospice care. It seemed so sad and depressing. After all, it seemed to indicate that the bunny's days were numbered.
Although that is true - senior/hospice care means that there are more days behind than in front of them, it doesn't need to be a depressing time. In my experience, I've found that my relationship with my senior bunnies entered a new stage. Even if the bunny was a bit of a wild child in his/her younger years, they tend to mellow out in their old age. Bunnies who would bolt if they thought you were about to touch them, resign themselves to be handled, arranged in a comfy bed, spoon-fed and medicated. It's like they know you are there to help and care for them during this time. They understand you are being gentle and kind, and they accept it. It's a different experience from taking care of bottle-babies (who are ridiculously cute and want to explore all of the forbidden places) or sick rabbits (who are convinced you are trying to kill them with Critical Care).
It's a sad time, because this moment doesn't last, but the love that exists between senior bunny and human caretaker is bond that strengthens every single day. It's a beautiful thing.
It's been a busy couple of weeks (hence the reason I might of skipped last week's blog - the bunnies made me do it!).
I've had a bonding consultation this week in which I helped my client understand the in's and out's of bunny bonding and guided her through the basics of body language interpretation.
In theory, matching bunnies should be easy work. After all, they are cute and fuzzy creatures. How hard can it be? In realty, bunnies are monsters wrapped in cuteness. Bonding can bring out the worst in them.
I personally don't bond other people's rabbits (I barely bond my own. I'm always trying to bribe my rabbit friends to bond for me). Why this reluctance? It's because I know at some point I am either going to question my life's choices or look for a job at my local 7-11. It can be hard and stressful work, but - I admit - it IS magical to see two bunnies become the best of friends. It's an amazing sense of joy and relief to see a relationship come together, and this is why I teach bonding.
Now I admit, there are very few hard and fast bonding rules. About the only ones are: 1. Spay and/or neuter your bunnies; 2. Work in neutral space. I would also had time. You have to spend an extraordinary amount of time working with them. Working with them 15 minutes once a week will never get the job done.
After these rules, it's a bit of a free-for-all. Some people start off with a car ride (not my favorite). Some start off with a large space. Some may be very much hands on, while others may interfere only minimally. Everyone will give different advice. That is why beginners may become quickly frustrated and confused.
People who bond frequently or even professionally will have a number of methods and techniques up their sleeves. It's difficult to list an exact step-by-step, because every bonding pair or group is going to behave differently. Every rabbit has his/her unique personality. The bonder may start out with a small or large space and then just observe. Based on the interactions they are seeing, they may adjust their methods accordingly. Is one bunny stressed, aggressive, possessive, watchful, timid or afraid? Is the other bold, a bully or indifferent? Watching how they interact with the other rabbit and in their bonding pen will determine the bonder's next steps. Sometimes the person needs to re-evaluate their plan and try something else. It helps to talk to others who have bonding experience to see what sort of tricks they may know. This is because sometimes, you need to think outside of the box to be successful. The more you do it, the easier it becomes for YOU to interpret the body language and to understand what is working and what is not.
If you are interested in learning how to bond your bunnies, check out my bonding consultation services!
I hope your summer is going well, so far. I'm enjoying the relatively cool morning. Come tomorrow, Southern California will be approximately a billion degrees. Yuck!
Lately, I've met a couple of new bunny owners, and it's so interesting to talk to them and see what made them choose a rabbit as a pet, instead of a dog or cat. I've always thought of myself as a "dog person", but honestly, I have to rethink that as I haven't had a dog in over 8 years (but have had about a thousand rabbits in the meantime, lol!).
Understandably, some new bunny owners have a bit of anxiety over their bunnies. They are terrified about doing something wrong and their bunny will go toes up. While it is good to be concerned and watchful, it becomes counterproductive to absolutely freak out. It does neither you or your bunny good to be constantly hovering and becoming so anxious that you lose sleep over your healthy bunny's well-being.
Unfortunately, bunnies are notorious for not saying a word and suddenly die on you. They can be oddly resilient in some respects and also incredibly fragile. Although humans (meaning owners and vets) cannot always save them (or anticipate future problems), there are some things we as owners can do to make sure our bunnies have the best life possible.
Probably the most important thing is diet. Hay should make up about 80% of the diet. Greens (generally speaking - lettuces and herbs) should be about 15%, and treats (carrots and fruit) including pellets should be about 5%. A proper diet goes a long way in making sure the digestive system works properly and the teeth remain healthy.
A lot of new bunny owners tend to be conservative when it comes to feeding out hay, and they like to wait until the hay bin is almost empty before refilling. My advice is to feed A LOT. If you are not sure if you handed out enough, put in another handful. Bunnies will eat a lot, but they also waste a fair amount. That's OK though. They like digging in that hay and sleeping on it. Make sure you give them plenty.
Since I've always fed my bunnies a proper diet (OK, I've been known to be a little generous with the greens...and maybe treats), they have not had illnesses usually associated with a bad diet. When they've fallen ill, I know there is usually something else going on, whether it's congenital, a serious illness, age-related or an injury that had taken place prior to adoption.
These sort of issues are not something you have control over. They'll happen when they happen. What you do have control over is the diet. Provide a healthy diet, and you'll have a healthy rabbit!
I have been so ridiculously absent from both my blog and social media of late. I was out of town for a couple of days visiting a very good friend, and then I got swamped with life in general (this is my excuse, I'm sticking to it). I also managed to get an ear infection and I'm hating life this moment, but I'm hoping the antibiotics kick in very soon. Pain meds are my very best friend right now.
I spoke with someone over the weekend. He wanted some advice about rehoming his bunnies. I've dealt with these sort of questions many times over my years of working in rescue, and I have some advice for those of you who are maybe thinking about rehoming (I'll do it without shaming you too!)
First of all, if you have adopted from a rescue, please review your adoption contract. Most rescues REQUIRE you to return the rabbits back to them should you feel the need. If your neighbor or friend offers to take your bunnies off your hands, you are still required to bring them back to the rescue and tell your friend or neighbor to please go through the rescue. The rescue approved of you to take one of their bunnies. They want to make sure their bunnies will always be well taken care of. That is the promise they make to every single animal that comes into their care.
Now there are circumstances in which it becomes very difficult to keep your bunnies. For example, if you or your family members lands in the emergency room because you (or they) can't breathe. Perhaps you lost your home and now living in your car. Some situations you can plan for (what if I get married, have kids or get a job in a different city?), but some are unforeseen.
For every potential reason I have heard as to why someone needs to surrender their bunny, I could give an example of someone who had overcome that obstacle. Again, I'm not saying this to shame anyone, but rather to give them hope that someone made it work. It can be done!
The conversation this weekend was one I have heard many times before: My family is so busy with work and school, we just don't have time for them. We love the rabbits dearly, but I think they could have a better life with another family.
I like to ask the families to define what they think a perfect bunny life is. Is it reasonable? Are they picturing endless cuddle time? Or hitting every Farmer's Market to get the best organic produce? (please stop if this is making you want to rehome your rabbits). I also like to give them a sense of the realities of the shelter/rescue life. Everyone is full (even more so now that people are back at work and feel they need to return the animals they adopted during Covid). Adoptions are WAY down - and it's not just in my city, it's all over the country.
What this means is that you will have a very hard time finding someone to take in your bunnies. If you decide to bring to your local city/county shelters, usually they will do their best to find them homes. The bunnies may stay there for weeks, months, maybe even a year. Keep in mind, it is easier to adopt out singles than pairs, and most likely they will break that pair apart if there is a chance one of them can get adopted.
If a rescue can take them (remember, if you got them from a rescue in the first place, they must go back to that same rescue. Even if that rescue is full, they will take them back), the staff and/or volunteers are overworked. They do not have time to spend more than a few minutes looking at the bunnies in their charge. It's simple math. If you have 20, 30, 50 or 100 rabbits in your care, you simply do not have the time to spend hours with each one. Remember, it's not unusual for a bunny to spend his/her whole life at a rescue.
This means that if YOU have 20 or 30 minutes of the day that you can spend with your bunnies, it will be much longer than what they would get at a shelter or rescue. Is this enough for a bunny? A single one, no. A pair or more - it'll probably be OK. Will they just be happy enough to snooze under the couch while you study or make dinner? Definitely. They don’t want you to poke them awake unless you are feeding them.
Worried they will be bored, destructive, or that you don't have time to clean them? Talk to a rescue for tips. Keep in mind, many people in rescue have tons of animals at home. They have figured out a way keep a horde of bunnies squirreled away and still maintain a decent quality of life for everyone (including themselves).
So if you are feeling overwhelmed with bunny-ownership, take a deep breath and reach out to a rescue, vet, the House Rabbit Society (even the HRS facebook group) or myself. Chances are that we can all give you tips on how to best tackle the problems you are facing. It just might be the best place for your bunnies is at home with you.
I hope you are all well! Despite melting away in the summer heat, I'm OK (despite my living room floor fan giving up the ghost. I'm so sad!)
Cupcake had his visit this week with Dr. Gleeson. He did reasonably well (aka better than I expected). I was imagining the worst, because I'm the worried bunny mom. Thankfully, his weight is holding steady and his blood work looked good - no anemia!
Unfortunately, his bladder still looked inflamed and nasty on ultrasound. The doctor did not see the presence of a tumor, but cancer isn't entirely ruled out, since there could be abnormal cells within the bladder wall. However, the vet would need to do a surgical biopsy to confirm this. It is clear that the metacam is not doing anything to reduce the inflammation in the bladder. We were going to try something else.
Dr. Gleeson prescribed Predinsolone which is a steroid used to reduce inflammation. It is similar to prednisone and used for conditions related to an overactive immune system.
I've used prednisone for bunnies and my dog, Baci. For Baci, it helped him get over his itchy paws in the summer. I've used it for bunnies suffering from thymoma (a type of cancer). It was very helpful for both issues. That being said, one of the side effects is a ravenous appetite. I will have to watch that Cupcake doesn't chase Panda away from the food, and that he doesn't feel like he's starving all the time.
He'll be on it for 3 weeks. Hopefully, the bladder will begin to heal, and he'll finally stop bleeding.
It's the first day of August! I hope everyone is enjoying their summer.
I have to admit I'm feeling rather distracted today. Cupcake has another appointment at Access tomorrow, in which Dr. Gleeson will try and find out if Cupcake still is dealing with his bladder infection - and if that is done - where the bleeding is coming from and why is he still bleeding? I admit, it's giving me some anxiety.
Cupcake has been dealing with this issue for some time. He has gone through a number of diagnostic exams and medications, and it's been a bit of a mystery as to exactly what is going on. Certainly there is bacteria and inflammation, but it doesn't seem to be responding like a normal infection.
I seem to bring a lot of puzzling cases to my vets. It can be frustrating for everyone since there is a lot about rabbits we don't know, and a lot of research is not done on rabbit health. Progress can seem very slow, especially if you are the owner of a sick bunny.
All we can do is our best.
I hope you and your bunnies are enjoying the summer.
Like many parts of the Northern Hemisphere, it's hotter than the sun here, but not abnormally so. Summer temperatures frequently reach triple digits (high 30's to low 40's in Celsius). I'm not someone who delights in hot temperatures. I hate the feeling that I'm going to melt, so I have some empathy for my animals who have to drag a fur coat with them all the time.
I don't have central air-conditioning, but rather two window units - one in the dining room and the other in the master bedroom. They do an adequate job of keeping the home cool, but there are the occasional areas that do still heat up.
When we first moved in (I think dinosaurs still roamed the Earth), the summers were unbearable due to the incredibly crappy windows that were originally installed. Jalousie windows are slats of glass that are parallel to each other and installed on a track. They were originally designed to keep rain water out while still providing ventilation. They are absolutely lousy at keeping air-conditioning (or heating) inside the house. You might as well have a giant gaping hole in the wall. We quickly replaced those with double-paned glass. With various fans placed strategically around the house, we are able to keep the temperature inside comfortable.
Still, bunnies are carrying around a fur coat. When there is a relentless heatwave, I really like to do three things (other than keeping them inside). My favorite is to freeze some ceramic patio tiles in the freezer. I have enough for every rabbit, plus extras. The tiles just need to be in the freezer for 30 minutes. Afterwards you can put them in the pen and the bunnies can lay on it. I make sure there are enough to rotate. I know that many people like to freeze some water bottles, but honestly, my bunnies just eye those bottles suspiciously and sit as far away as possible from them.
The second thing is to take a washcloth, soak it in cool water and wring out well. I then wipe both the inside and outside of both ears. I don't stick the cloth IN their ear. Just wipe them down until the skin of the ear stops feeling hot. It works because the ears are how rabbits regulate their body temperature.
The problem with this method is getting the rabbit to co-operate, so sometimes you need to take them into the bathroom and do this.
The last thing I like to do is add ice cubes to their water. It's quick and it encourages my bunnies to drink and stay hydrated. If you have senior or disabled bunnies (or bunnies who think water is for stupid rabbits), you can keep your bunnies hydrated with sub-q fluids (if you have any prescribed by your vet) or you can syringe-feed some unflavored Pedilyte.
Keep cool and enjoy your summer!
I hope you are all staying cool! Summer in SoCal is not my favorite time of year. I'm constantly melting. It's no fun.
It's beginning to dawn on me that I will need to expand my social media presence to include Tik Tok. I've heard from a number of sources that Tik Tok is where all the cool kids hang out. Personally, I'm slightly dreading the idea of being in front of a camera. Fortunately, I am working with an adorable subject matter, so it shouldn't be too hard to muster up the courage to take a few videos. I have already downloaded the app onto my phone and poked around in it.
It's crazy. I don't know what I'm doing. It's Canva all over again ('It's so easy', they said; 'Just play around with it and you'll figure it out', they said; 'You'll master it in no time', they said). Oy!
In any case, learning about Tik Tok and figuring out the best way to take videos in which I am in the frame (and not just my forehead) is my new summer project. I look forward to officially launching it in the next month or two.
Feel free to comment with words of encouragement like, "That's a great shot of your shoes, but next time point the camera at the bunny". You know, things like that.
Have a great rest of the week!