The Diamond Blog

Welcome to The Diamond Blog

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.

Jun 17, 2024

Great Sadness

Hello!

It's been a stressful June for me. My brother passed away this weekend after a four year battle with esophageal cancer. Although I am sad right now, I am relieved he is no longer suffering.

I was very close to my brother so I know that the loss will continue to be devastating as time moves on. It will come as I'll watch a new Batman movie, or I finally get to those audiobooks he recommended to me last year (I'm a painfully slow reader). He was always a fabulous cook and I could always count on him giving me advice when I would buy the random roast beef and have no clue as to how to make it delicious. Now I'll have to Google that info like everyone else and hope for the best. Nor will we no longer have fun texting each other Craigslist offers of the most outrageous used cars (I like cute and purple; he liked cars from the last century). He was smart, weird and fun. He was my best friend, and I was his. He was a large part responsible for shaping me to the person I am today (except for the bunny part. That weirdness is all me).

Although he is no longer here, I know his spirit will continue to live on with the people who loved him best.

May 21, 2024

Home Sweet Home

Hello,

I hope you are all enjoying May. I like spring here as it can be sunny without the heat trying to melt the sidewalk.

Even though a large part of my job is grooming, I also educate bunny owners with whatever issues they are experiencing. One common question I get asked regards housing. Many people fret they are unable to provide a decent area for their bunny. They imagine a huge garden or farm where bunnies frolic in the grass, or maybe a huge room where they can pass out in a beam of sunshine. They may see posts on social media, and think there is no way they could recreate something like that - and because of this - they may think they need to rehome their bunny.

Some of these ideas are fantasy and others may not be realistic. For example, even though a free roam house bunny is lovely, but if he’s chewing a hole through the drywall, that isn’t realistic. Every house is different, every family is different, and every bunny is different. I’ve had over two dozen rabbits living in my home. There was only one whom I trusted to leave out of his pen unsupervised for a large part of the day.

Let’s put on the table what isn’t appropriate housing - cages, crates, hutches and living outside. For a more detail discussion, you can read the articles on housing on The Educated Rabbit website.

The minimum size for a rabbit enclosure is a 4x4 exercise pen. That is big enough for a hidey house, food & water dishes, a litter box and some toys.

Make the bunny center of attention, especially if the bunny is by himself. Don’t set up bunny in a garage or basement, unless you live in the garage or basement. Interact with them. Observe the silly antics and zoomies. Make the bunny a part of the family.

Keep the bunny safe. Keep the home cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Protect your stuff by covering wires and moving house plants and valuables out of reach. If your bunny doesn’t like wood floors, use runners to let your bunny move. Bunny proofing is always a work in progress. Sometimes a bunny finds a work around or they start chewing on something new. I’ve always told prospective adopters to consider what is really precious to them. If it’s grandmother’s antique furniture, maybe don’t let your bunny in that room.

Maybe you need to rethink your living room arrangement (or your bedroom, kitchen, etc.), but you can make it work. If you are stuck with how to make something work, contact your local rabbit rescue (in person or social medial) and ask for tips and ideas. Your bunny doesn’t need a palace or visual masterpiece to be content, nor does your bunny need to be outside. He just needs a little bit of space and lots of love.

Continue reading "Home Sweet Home"

May 09, 2024

Gimme Food! Part 1

Hello!

I know it seems as if my blog fell off the face of the earth. I can't even remember what went on the month of March...or April for that matter. I was either that busy or that distracted...or a bit of both.

A friend of mine recently took in a bunny to provide some one-on-one hospice care. The bunny is about 13 years old, and his health has declined lately.. He has cancer in two separate locations. He's lost weight, has dental issues, and now has some trouble standing and moving around.

My friend is a very attentive nurse. She already has a senior bunny, who is a ridiculous hot mess - ongoing dental and respiratory infections issues along with never-ending gut drama (lots of diarrhea and mucus happening at random times). Despite the odds, that little bunny is living her best pampered life, and has so for a few years now. My friend is the ideal caretaker for this newcomer.

My friend had never before taken care of an immobile bunny. Besides making him comfortable on a bed, the biggest challenge was to get him to eat. He was no longer interested in hay or pellets, yet he was willing to eat Critical Care (actually my friend prefers Emeraid, which is just a different brand of supplemental feeding). He might even be interested in veggies, but my friend thinks she may need to get a food processor to make sure it's all cut super fine.

This bunny still wants to do everything himself. He'd much rather lick up Emeraid from a saucer than a syringe. He will even try and change which side he wants to lay on the new bed I made for him.

Continue reading "Gimme Food! Part 1"

May 09, 2024

Gimme Food! Part 2

These first couple of weeks are always experimental. That means figuring out which bed works best - do rolled up towels make good bumpers? Does he need a stuffed animal? How often does he need a butt bath or his bladder expressed? How much food do I need to offer an how often?

In feeding hospice bunnies, you have to unlearn much of what you learned about a proper bunny diet up to this point. Not many elder bunnies are that excited about hay (or pellets for that matter). To keep up their energy and weight, I will make a pellet mush which often has Critical Care (or an equal herbivore supplemental feed. I prefer the Critical Care Fine Grind and Emeraid Sustain Herbivore), some plain and simple soy protein powder, fruity baby food, water and some banana. My elder buns get a helping of this once a day, then handfuls of herbs throughout the day. Usually dill and mint are a big hit with Panda and Cupcake. Dandelion, Italian parsley, basil and tarragon are acceptable too. Panda will still nibble on the occasional piece of hay, but Cupcake is pretty much over it. I’m less concerned about fiber and sugar, and focus more on how much is being consumed overall. I still provide hay and some pellets, I just don’t fret if it’s not touched. My guys always get oat groats as a good-night treat.

The veggies and mush provide water, but I always offer a little bowl of water on the side. Sometimes Panda drinks (Cupcake thinks I'm going to poison him). When it gets really warm, I will provide sub-q fluids. However, it's important to have your bunny checked by a vet to see if sub-q fluids is the right option for your bunny. Sub-q fluids are not ideal if your bunny has a heart and/or lung issues. If your bunny does, then syringe feeding some water is an alternative.

Pain medication is a must. Be observant. Many times medications need to be adjusted to ensure the greatest comfort.

Be sure to check out the articles on Senior and Rear End Paralysis care. Also be aware that both you and your rabbit are learning how to deal with this new reality. It'll take a little bit of time to get used to it. Be patient to yourself and your bunny. You'll get the hang of it!

Continue reading "Gimme Food! Part 2"

Mar 19, 2024

Joys of Senior-hood

Hello!

I hope you all had a great weekend! I got to see Iphigenia, the 15-year-old bunny girl today. Her mobility has become compromised over the last several weeks, but she is still giving her human a ton of attitude, which is always a good sign.

I have been guiding her owner regarding her care. Of course there are the big things, such as keeping her clean and comfortable, but I have also been discussing smaller things. Does she like to eat the same things she used to? Is something like carrots just too much for her or does she prefer softer food like lettuce or dill?

Health issues arise as we all get older, but other things change as well. Perhaps you have noticed these changes in yourself or with an older relative or friend. Vision and hearing isn't the same. Our sense of smell and taste diminish and change. Maybe we become more unsure in typical surroundings. Maybe we become extra cranky, as we get frustrated that we can't do the same things we used to do.

Our pets are not immune to these changes either, and how they deal with it emotionally is very individual. In the case of Iphigenia, she is very opinionated (according to her owner). She doesn't want to be fussed over, and even though she liked blueberries last week, she is not even going to look at them this week. I imagine her to be THAT patient is the assisted living home that all the nurses dread. Luckily, Iphigenia has a loving owner who doesn't mind the sass.

If you have a senior pet who is starting to slow down, keep in mind of the changes that may be occurring. You may need to add an extra blanket (as they insist on lying on the hardwood floor). You may need to offer softer food or mush up pellets. You may need to offer them a variety of treats to encourage them to eat. Whatever they like to eat, give them a generous helping. I feed Panda and Cupcake a handful of herbs throughout the day. It keeps up their strength, energy and hydration.

This extra supportive care doesn't take a lot of time, but it does take consistent little checks and adjustments to ensure these special bunnies are truly living their golden years.

Feb 23, 2024

Where Did You Get That Bunny? Part 4

Why do I not recommend a breeder? There are thousand of homeless and abandoned bunnies every year that are in need of a good home. They are all beautiful animals that are in desperate need of some help. Each of them will make just as good of a pet as one that is bought.

Another reason is genetics. There are many breeders out there (specifically backyard breeders or those who sell babies at the flea markets), that do not pay close attention to just which animals they are breeding. This is especially true for those breeds like the Holland Lops, Netherland Dwarves, and the giant breeds. These breeds are an exaggeration of the European rabbit from which they all stem. These extremes cause a host of internal issues which leads to a reduced quality of life and shortened life span. If there is inbreeding, there can be massive health problems. It’s important that the parents are healthy and do not pass along any disorders to their offspring. However, many breeders do not screen the buyers and do not bother following up on the status of the babies sold. Do not assume that a rabbit sold by a breeder is healthier than one in a shelter.

Finally, rabbit breeds are less important than for a dog, (whose breeds point to a specific job). Rabbits have been traditionally bred for fur and meat. It has only been recently that more fancy breeds, such as the Holland Lop have been developed, which has put the emphasize on appearance. However the personality between a giant, an angora, a lionhead or lop are not vastly different. There may be some generalizations, such as bigger rabbits are easy going, but each bunny has an individual personality in which breed may have little influence.

In essence, adopting a rabbit can be a wonderful experience, not only because it has the potential to add a special new member to your family, but also because you could be helping someone else and the bunny as well. However, it can also be a less than optimal experience if the source is a questionable one. Overall, you want to ensure you’re adopting a bunny from a source who cares for the rabbit’s health and welfare.

When rabbits are used as a way to make money or entertain, there’s a much higher chance that you may end up with an animal with poor health and/or poor genetics, which can be costly and heartbreaking if there is unexpected loss. You also might be unknowingly assisting in keeping an illegal or unethical practice in business.

The solution? Do your homework. Find out as much as you can about the origin of the rabbit, what care has been taken, and what the intentions are of the owner or organization. Adopting a rabbit should be an experience with positive outcomes, and one that will hopefully bring you and your family joy.

Feb 23, 2024

Where Did You Get That Bunny? Part 3

6. Social Media. If you are checking social media accounts, you can see if the person posting (or sharing) is doing so for themselves or on behalf of a rescue or shelter. Sometimes rescues will make a courtesy post for someone, meaning the rescue could not take in the rabbit themselves, but will spread the word to help the bunny find a new home. Often times you may see senior, special needs and young rabbits looking for the right place to call home. This may be a good resource if you are looking for a specific partner for a current older or special needs bun.

Places I don’t recommend.

1. Flea markets/Swap Meets/Street Vendors/Fairs/etc.: These locations may be more common in Los Angeles than in some areas, however there are areas in the country where bunnies may be given out as fair prizes (this is actually illegal in many states). In most cases, rabbits are bred with no thought on the health or welfare of the parents, nor is there any consideration for the type of homes they end up in. Babies are usually pulled from mom too soon and die quickly. Baby bunnies are ridiculously cute, and that often leads to impulse purchases. These bunnies usually do not live long lives. The selling price is cheap, but any purchase just encourages the seller to continue the abuse.

2. Pet Stores: Most of the big chain stores like PetCo and Petsmart host adoption events from local rescues, or they may display some animals from a local rescue. Many cities and states around the United States have banned the sale of dogs/cats and rabbits in pet stores, unless the animals are from a local rescue or shelter. Usually the only places that may do so (illegally, mind you) may be small mom & pop pet stores. In the past, most animals sold in pet stores have been obtained by mills, which are notorious for breeding sick animals and keeping their adults in poor conditions.

Feb 23, 2024

Where Did You Get That Bunny? Part 2

2. Taking in that stray. OK I admit, I only see feral cats in my neighborhood, but there are some people that see all sorts of animals roaming their yards and local parks. If you do decide to open your home up to a stray, that is an excellent way to take in a bunny. You are definitely saving a life, and you are taking the pressure of space and financial burden away from local shelters and rescues. It’s a little unpredictable as to what sort of rabbit you are getting, since you may never know the circumstances the bunny is coming from. No matter the circumstance, that bunny needs your help.

3. Taking that unwanted bunny from your relative/friend/neighbor/co-worker/hairdresser/barista/classmate, etc. Sometimes these people just find you. Taking in that bunny does save them from an unknown fate. If you can provide a good home - go for it. You can also let your local vet clinic known that you may be interested in adopting a bunny. People may surrender their treatable rabbit, if they cannot pay for a procedure or surgery. Some just drop off their bunny and ghost the clinic. If your vet knows you are interested, they can reach out to you when a bunny comes in. It doesn’t happen every day, but sometimes the timing is just right.

4. Taking in a meat/fur/lab/farm/classroom rabbit. Research labs usually reach out to rescues to take in the rabbits after a study has been completed (this is assuming that the lab has a policy to try and rehome them afterwards). Rescuing a meat rabbit can be more informal. This may be someone who is breeding the rabbits in their backyard or small acreage as food, and they are looking to get rid of some animals. Sometimes there may be a breeder who is retiring their stock and is looking to rehome whoever is left. Sometimes there is a neglected classroom rabbit that desperately needs attention and saving. You are definitely saving a rabbit from a less-than-ideal situation and providing a loving home.

5. Checking classifieds/Craigslist. You have to be careful here. Some backyard breeders (aka people looking to make some extra money by breeding their bunnies) will post the babies here to sell. Other people need to give up their pet for whatever reason and post here. You can usually tell as they may say they are moving, they’ve lost their home, they’re allergic, a baby is coming, the family is no longer interested, the dog wants to eat it, etc. People may or may not charge money; they may or may not include cage, food, toys, etc. Some people may post about an accidental litter. Depending on the situation, you may get details on age, health, behavior, etc. This is a situation where you can help someone out and save a life while you are at it.

Feb 23, 2024

Where Did You Get That Bunny?

Hello!

It's Adopt-A-Rabbit-Month, and I want to talk about something that may seem straightforward for some and not for others - where can I get a bunny?

For some people - especially those who work/volunteer in rescue - the answer seems obvious, yet a lot of people don't know. I've met several rabbit owners who got their first bunny from a friend/neighbor/relative/co-worker (actually one of my clients got her bunny as a gift from her boss on her first week of work. Awkward.), or as a stray. When they decide to get a second rabbit, they are unsure where to go. They never thought about it, because the first one arrived in their home without much effort. So let's break this down!

1. Shelter or rescue. Most urban areas have a municipal and/or county shelter. A big city like Los Angeles has 6 city shelters and 7 county shelters. Most people know they can get a dog or cat, but may be surprised about the bunnies. Unless you live in a very small community, you can get a rabbit from the local shelter. Shelters are usually over run with rabbits. However, they usually have very little information regarding the animal. Information like behavior, likes/dislikes, etc. may come from foster families or volunteers who may be spending the most time with the animals. Issues like being territorial can often be resolved when the rabbit is adopted and settles in their forever home. Shelter life is usually stressful for many animals, and it takes time for them to adjust.

Rescues come in all sorts. Some are sanctuaries focusing on disabled and senior bunnies, while others may focus on rescuing and adopting out strays, while others focus on assisting city and county shelters by taking in their overflow of rabbits. It’s important to keep in mind that rescues are limited by resources. Money, food, medicine, volunteers and foster homes all play a part in the decision to take in new bunnies. Usually a rescue will take in what they can handle without sinking their financial boat. They are familiar with the animals in their care and will be aware of any health issues, behaviors, etc. of each. They will screen potential adopters to match the right animals to the right homes. Rescues will often offer free (or almost free) guidance and be a great resource for information and/or supplies and services such as boarding and grooming. Many rescues will also offer bonding services when you adopt a friend for your current bunny.

Jan 23, 2024

Adopt vs Buy Part 1

Hello!

I hope you are all doing well. It seems that I have survived my cold and now I have to go work to pay for all those things that make my bunnies fat and happy.

Today I want to talk about the difference between adopt vs buy, and I don't mean why you should adopt, but rather the difference between the two words. I often hear people describe how they got their rabbits as "I went to the shelter and bought a rabbit" or "I adopted my bunny at this store" or "I want to donate my bunny to your rescue". Some of the problem may be that English may be a second language for some, but I notice that even native English speakers mix that up too. So I’d like to illustrate the difference between the words in the event that it might be helpful.

A rescue or shelter is set up to take in unwanted animals and find them permanent homes (or in the case of sanctuaries just provide a permanent home with the rescuer. This kind of rescue may still have foster homes, but adoptions are not a focus and rarely take place. Intakes are only done if there is space due to more foster homes signing on, there is money, or if one of the sanctuary animals dies). The business model is to help animals. They need money to be able to pay for food, medical needs, etc., but these organizations are a non-profit, meaning that any funds raised goes back into helping rabbits. Any rescue would love nothing more than to see their service become obsolete.

When you chose to get a rabbit from a rescue, you typically go through a screening process (unless you go to a city/county shelter). The rescue has a right to deny the adoption for any reason. They also have the right to work with you, if they choose (such as help pay for medical needs). The adoption fee is usually there to discourage impulse adoptions. That fee can be any amount, but it rarely covers the cost the organization had to put into the animal (food, housing, medicine, spay/neuter, etc.). For example, lots of rescues have an adoption fee ranging about $100-$200 (depending on how many rabbits you adopt). Spay/neuter costs in Los Angeles range about $600-$1,000. Rescuing is not a money-making business.

Most rescues also have a contract that says if you need to give up a pet for any reason, the animal comes back to them. Rescues are usually there to give you any sort of advice or help you may need. Their focus is on the needs of the animal, and their goal is to make sure you and your pet have a long, healthy and happy relationship.

When you get a rabbit from a rescue or shelter, you ADOPT.

Continued in Part 2

Jan 23, 2024

Adopt vs Buy Part 2

Continued from Part 1

As an aside, when you surrender your pet to a rescue, you are NOT donating. A donation is something that the organization uses to help their mission. Food, medicine, money, towels, cleaning supplies, etc. are things that help the rescue. The less rabbits a rescue has, the better, as this supports their mission to rehabilitate and find homes for rabbits that do not go to a home immediately. Another rabbit diverts resources, which is why shelters and rescues do their best to choose committed adopters. As I mentioned, their goal is for there to be no abandoned rabbits in need of a home.

When you get a rabbit from a store or a breeder, the goal is profit. Breeders may be part of an organization such as ARBA (American Rabbit Breeders Association), and the focus may be on showing or production (raising the rabbit as a source of food and/or fur). Oftentimes, bunnies that don’t make the grade are sold as pets. With showing, there may be considerable thought put into genetics, as something like eye and coat color can be disqualifying.

Many breeders usually breed to make some extra income. In this case probably little thought is put into the health of the parents, what sort of home the babies will go to, how they end up or even if they survive. Buyers are rarely screened or given proper care information.

Pet store employees may know very little about rabbits themselves, and may advise you based on a care sheet or what a manager has instructed them to say.

Whether you get your bunny from a pet store or breeder, the motivation is the money exchanged. A store may take a rabbit back within a certain time frame, but they will not invest a lot of time, money and effort into nursing a sick or injured animal. That is not the purpose of the store. They cannot sell a defective “product” (in this case a bunny). Many rabbit breeders may not take back a bunny back once it has been sold either.

When you get a bunny from a store or breeder, you BUY.

Where it might get tricky, is if you see on Facebook or Craigslist or a flyer that someone needs to find another home for their bunny. They may want $50 to discourage animal abusers or snake owners, but they will give you all the food, bedding, cage, etc. You can call this an adoption too, because the focus of this person is to rehome their rabbit. They are not looking to make a profit. They just want the bunny out of their care and hopefully into a better home.

For anyone who wants to ensure they are understanding the difference between buying and adopting, I hope this helps! Perhaps it is also helpful for those of you already familiar with the definitions to be aware that others may not be using them appropriately, simply because they do not know the difference.

Jan 15, 2024

What's Up With Those Babies? Part 2

Continued from Part 1

Zoe was like this. She threw her litter box everywhere, pre-spay. After her spay (at about 5 months), she became really aggressive. What's that about? Well her aggressiveness had less to do with hormones than it was her figuring out her own bunny self. Think of this as those dreadful teenager years. For humans, we torment our parents at about 12-19 (give or take a few years). For bunnies, this lasts from whenever they hit sexual maturity to about 18-months to 2-years of age. At 2, their personalities are set. Zoe mellowed out considerably was she was secure in her personality. She was still Queen, but she felt less inclined to chop anyone’s head off. She could get her opinion across by a well delivered growl.

Bonding before the bunnies are at least 18-months can be tricky. Sometimes bunnies will try to push the other around or both may be high strung and freak out all the time. You may notice this when dealing with siblings. Everyone got along as babies, but now one is chasing the other. This behavior isn't so much one bunny not liking the other, but one bunny trying to push the other around ("I'm in charge"). Establishing rules, boundaries and allowing safe ways to release pent up energy are all things that need to be addressed when working with young rabbits.

It's as much as accommodating your needs as well as the bunny's. It took me awhile to figure out how best to accommodate Winston's exercise needs with my desire not to have my home covered with puddles of pee. This kind of problem-solving gymnastics is probably familiar for all parents of teenagers.

When you adopt rabbits between this teenager phase, you are also dealing with rabbits who are adjusting to your home and habits. Give the bunnies time. Even if you are very familiar with rabbits, every bunny is their own individual. It always takes a few months for a new bunny to firmly establish themselves into my home. I can always tell, because in the beginning they are a little shy, maybe a little curious and friendly. Once established, they are so sassy. This process can take months though. I like to say about 6 (sometimes it’s a little shorter or a little longer).

Keep this in mind when you take in young bunnies into your home.

Jan 15, 2024

What's Up With Those Babies? Part 1

Hello!

I hope you are all doing well. I am in the middle of a head cold. I know it's not Covid, because all of my colds start with me thinking I got the worst allergies. I try to treat the symptoms with all my allergy medications, and then wonder why I still feel like crap. Repeat the next two weeks before it finally dawns on me that I may actually have a cold.

Fortunately my bunnies can't catch my cold, which is great! I'm in no mood to syringe-feed Critical Care to 5 unwilling bunnies. Panda may have rear-end paralysis, but there's nothing wrong with her front paws. She can still throw a good punch.

Since the new year, I've met a couple of people who have taken in some young bunnies into their lives. If you have only lived with adult or senior rabbits, it's important to realize that rabbits under the age of 18-months can be challenging. I like to do a lot of comparisons with humans, since it can drive home the similarities.

Baby bunnies from 0 to about 3 months old are adorable. They are so excited to explore and spend time with you - life is just so amazing. Really, the only con is trying to bunny-proof every nook and cranny in the house. This is the age where they really need to stretch their legs and run! They also like to do silly things like jump off from the back of the couch. They like to snuggle at this age, and I encourage you - if you have a young one at this age - to spend as much time as possible with your baby, because they grow up fast!

Once they hit sexual maturity which is about 4-6 months typically (maybe a little younger - that can be different with individual rabbits), they can start becoming shy around humans. They don't want to cuddle very much (if it all). The hormones may make them territorial (bunnies start to spray urine, charge and bite you when you enter their territory, etc.). Spaying or neutering helps this a lot, but sometimes a bunny still is bossy afterwards. What's that about?

Continued in Part 2

Jan 04, 2024

LuftPets Part 3

During Christmas week, I set the pad up for Winston. Destruction seems to be his middle name, so I was curious to see how the pad would hold up. I set it down in a spot in his pen which he frequently likes to dig and chew up his current supply of pee pads. To give the LuftPets pad a fighting chance, I made sure that the edges of the pad were not easily accessible. This meant that the pen was placed in front of the edge for two of the sides, and I placed ceramic tiles to protect the other two exposed edges.

Winston has been known to pull the edge of the pee pads out from under the pen and chew the fabric to pieces, so technically he could still destroy if he felt like it. Well, this Christmas week, Winston was feeling charitable to all things fabric and left the pad alone. He did pee on it and frequently sat on it (the pad was placed in his favorite spot to beg for treats and pets). Again, the navy covering made Winston's pen look cleaner than it really was. The pad had already gone through two washes and 3 weeks of heavy use. It didn't look bad.

Overall, I think LuftPets should be considered if you have a bunny that is sick, recovering from surgery or an illness, senior and not that into a litter box anymore. I think the pad is works because it can absorb the urine, it doesn't slide around the floor, and makes the pet area look neat. I would NOT use it for an immobile rabbit because there is not enough padding.

I think this is a suitable bottom for carriers or crates. The pads can also work for healthy rabbits in their pen or play area, except I would think about hiding the edges. Otherwise - if your bunny is a chewer - the pad may not last as long as you would like.

If you are interested in checking out the mat, click on the link below. If you do decide to buy, I will earn a small commission.

Continue reading "LuftPets Part 3"

Jan 04, 2024

LuftPets Part 2

Happy New Year!

I hope everyone had a wonderful New Year! I wanted to give you an update on the LuftPet pads. To recap, I was asked by LuftPets to check out their cage liners for small animals. They are a great product for guinea pigs, but I wanted to see how it worked for bunnies - specifically MY bunnies.

Now the pad is a little too thin for a rear-end paralysis bun like Panda to be on it 24/7, but it was great for Cupcake. Cupcake is slowly losing his mobility and doesn't use the litter box consistently anymore. It seemed to work well in protecting the cushioning underneath the pad and absorbing the urine.

The week before Christmas I set the pad up for Joey and Soot to see how it holds up to their abuse. Although both bunnies are OK with their litter box, someone likes to sit in their willow tent and just pretend the litter box doesn't exist. Both bunnies like to chew, so it was interesting to see if the pad would hold up.

After the week, the pad absorbed the urine and I didn't notice a really bad odor coming from it. The navy covering is also good for giving the illusion that it is cleaner than it really is. Both bunnies had access to the edge of the pad, and I could see that there was some chewing damage done along the edge. I suspect the pad probably wouldn't hold up for long if some bunny was determined to make some fabric confetti.

Continued in Part 3

Continue reading "LuftPets Part 2"

Dec 26, 2023

Merry Gotchya Day, Joey!

Happy Holidays!

I hope everyone was able to rest and enjoy themselves this Christmas.

December 25th is Joey's official "Gotchya Day". Technically, he was my Christmas present. I never advocate gifting animals as presents. The only exception is if you have been fostering said animal the last 6 months, and that comes after the previous year or so of doting on him at a rescue.

He arrived at the rescue in January 2016. Someone had found him in a parking garage after a rainstorm. The rescuer had emailed for help and sent pictures. I remember seeing the little kiss-me spots on his face and fell in love. Joey was a young bunny - probably about 6-months old. He ran around his pen like he was on the biggest coffee high.

After he was neutered, he was fostered out with the intent that the situation would turn into an adoption. The foster family already had a trio of rabbits and they were hoping everyone would get along. The two boys were trouble though, and Joey returned.

He was always a big hit with anyone who came in to visit. Anyone who expressed interest in adopting him had to be thoroughly interrogated by me. Joey also made any potential adoptions tricky. People frequently asked to sit in his pen. I warned them that he had this habit of spraying urine. They may become a likely target (they were and he did).

Just before the July 4th holiday in 2017, I took him home to make room for boarders at the rescue. I was dreading it a bit, because he did spray urine on the walls too. I was not looking forward to all the cleaning. However, as soon as he arrived at my house, his litter box habits were perfect. He never sprayed once.

He was at my house for 2 weeks or so. On the day I was preparing to bring him back to the rescue, I packed his toys in car - his cardboard house and his beloved stuffed pig - then I went back to put him in the carrier. The first time ever, I heard him squeak in protest. He didn't want to go. It broke my heart, and so I threw my arms up in the air and left (with his toys still in the car).

Later that evening, I came home with Joey's toys under my arm. My husband said, "I thought you were bringing Joey back."

"He squeaked!!!" I explained.

My husband rolled his eyes in response. He knew what that meant. Several months later when he asked what I wanted for Christmas, I knew I wanted to make Joey's adoption official.

Joey is probably about 8.5 years old now. He's still my little man. Even though he's lived with Zoe and now with Soot, we still have a special connection. I am so happy that handsome boy lives with me and no one else.

Happy Gotchya Day, love!

Dec 18, 2023

LuftPets Stage 1

Hello!

I was recently asked by LuftPets to check out their product. It's technically a cage liner for guinea pigs, but it is suitable for any small animal. Since I have multiple rabbits in various stages of health, I thought it would be great to put this mat through its paces and give you my assessment of it. The mats are 24"x47", which means it covers about half of a 4x4 exercise pen. The bottom is non-slip, followed by a waterproof layer, then a soft cotton layer and finally a navy blue mesh top. It's soft, but not thick.

For this stage, Cupcake had the first crack at it. Since Panda is 100% on her side, I felt this pad was not ideal for her. It was too thin to offer enough protection and support to a bunny that barely moved. However, I do think it might be useful to have under a heavy fleece to protect the floor or extra padding underneath a down bunny.

I laid it on top of the side Cupcake uses. Cupcake is losing his mobility, leaves his pen infrequently, and rarely uses the litterbox. Cupcake had easy access to chew whatever he wanted. The pad remained in the pen for a week. It was not replaced or washed during this time. It would occasionally be shaken out to remove excess hay and poop.

Cupcake pee'd on it, smeared cecals as he hobbled around. Normally he would do this on some thinner fleece, and I would either change the fleece or the pee pad underneath (or both).

I did my major pen clean up yesterday, and I was most surprised about how it did not smell like a week's worth of nastiness. Now I will admit my nose isn't the best - it's constantly stuffed with allergies - but I have no trouble smelling the fleece. Whether it stays odor-free will probably depend on how often you change the liner and the quality of your laundry detergent. I washed the liner with Earth Breeze on warm, and I tumble dried it on the low setting. I did not notice any shrinkage, which might have happened if I used a higher dryer setting.

Cupcake may have picked at the mat here and there, but I did not notice any damage.

In terms of using it for older bunnies, I would say that it's a great mat to use for those buns that have sloppy litter box habits - such as arthritic buns or those recovering from head tilt. As previously mentioned, I would not use this for bunnies with rear-end paralysis, unless it was under the heavy-duty fleece.

For the upcoming week, the liner was place in Joey and Soot's pen underneath their willow tent. Both bunnies will chew on fabric, so this should be interesting.

If you are interested in checking out the mat, click on the link below. If you do decide to buy, I will earn a small commission.

Until next week!

Continue reading "LuftPets Stage 1"

Dec 12, 2023

Only 14 More Sleeps!

Hello!

I hope the holiday season is treating you well. We are on week 11 of my bathroom remodel. Last Thursday, I thought maybe I could see the end. After the endless delays with the inspectors, it was full speed ahead - the drywall and tiling were done quickly.

And then I discovered that the new vanity was missing in action. Not sure what has happened there, but it seems that it will not be delivered until end of January. I ordered the bloody thing in early September, so this is not making my mood sparkle.

Needless to say, Christmas celebrations are not top of mind. I think friends and family should expect virtual hugs on the gift front from me this year.

The only Christmas thing I have done was shop for my bunnies. I love buying toys for them - it's so easy and fun. I actually tend to finish my shopping for them a month or two early.

A couple of weeks ago, I met Irina Chou from Bun Adventure Series. She is based in La Puente, CA and has been creating toys and treats for bunnies since 2020.

Big chain pet stores lack in creative and fun toys for rabbits (and other small animals). Irina built her own by figuring out what her bunnies liked best - whether it was making a castle or maze that would stand up to some chewing, or creating a puzzle that would both entertain and challenge her bunnies. She's tried many designs and researched how to best make the toys safe and durable.

Today she offers a variety of hideouts, puzzle toys and healthy snacks to make any bunny feel loved and spoiled. She also has some very cute holiday specific themed toys (the Halloween ones are super cute).

It's not too late to order for a special treat for your favorite bunny. Any orders placed before this Friday, December 15th, will make it to your bunny by Christmas time.

Click on the link below to start shopping.

Continue reading "Only 14 More Sleeps!"

Dec 04, 2023

Musto Rabbits of Yorkshire (Part 1)

Hello,

I hope you are all had a lovely Thanksgiving and not too freaked about the upcoming Christmas season. I've been absent on social media and tardy on my blog posts. The stress of having your bathroom torn up and city inspectors hemming and hawing over the hole in my house has caused me to want to stand in a corner and eat an obscene amount of sugar. Fortunately vet appointments and clients have distracted me enough so I'm not a complete nervous wreck.

I’ve taken on a couple of new bonding consultation clients recently. I’m reminded about how delicate rabbit bonding can be, but it’s understandable. You are the diplomat who is negotiating a friendship with two (or more) creatures that are not human (although honestly, people are no picnic either). It requires keen observation and a sensitivity to understand what you are seeing. A bonder needs to know when to push past the disagreements, and when to scrap it all and change direction.

For the novice, it is overwhelming. I remember the first time my two boys turned from two sweet babies to raging wolverines. It was unexpected, terrifying and I didn’t know what to do. Whoppy and Oso did re-bond, but honestly, I had little to do with it. That’s because I didn’t know what I was doing. I did, however, learn from the experience. When I worked in rescue, I learned how to bond more effectively, but I gradually learned that there wasn’t just one proven method. In fact there are many. You just have to find which method works best for the pair (or group) you are working with.

In truth - and this is probably not a secret anymore - I’m not a fan of bonding. I view it like cleaning the house - a necessity, but not a fun one. I tell people that’s because it’s either boring (which means it’s going well) or exciting (which means it’s going badly). Of course my favorite types of bonds are ones that need little interference from me. I may need to keep an eye on them for a week or two, but I’m pretty much done. The instant match-ups are not typical, but they do happen, and it’s always amazing to watch to see an instant friendship form.

Most bonding pairs require some supervision, calling time outs and fouls, going back to respective corners and giving pep talks. I know a couple of friends who absolutely love the challenge of bonding. They find it exciting to get this new puzzle and figuring out how every bunny will fit together to form a wonderful friendship.

One of these friends is Molly Musto of Musto Rabbits of Yorkshire. She is based in the UK. We struck up a friendship shortly after I released my First Aid Guide. She is a professional rabbit bonder. At the time I met her, she had 12 rabbits all living together in one happy group (one has since passed).

Continue reading "Musto Rabbits of Yorkshire (Part 1)"

Dec 04, 2023

Musto Rabbits of Yorkshire (Part 2)

Continued...

Molly matches pairs, trios and groups. She works with people, who are interested in adding a new bunny or two, but don’t know how to bond (or don’t want to bother with it). Getting these new bunnies out of rescues and into loving homes means a lot to Molly, and she will do her best to make the magic happen. After all, rabbit surrenders in the UK are just as high as in the US.

Age, sex, size, breed, disability are not reasons why a rabbit cannot have a friend. It’s all about personalities. Rabbit personalities can be as varied as human ones, and each combination provides an unique opportunity to form a one-of-a-kind bond. Watching a pair (or group) of bunnies live out their lives with one another is a wonderful thing to see, and it is a small reflection of the bonds we share with each other as humans.

A professional bonder, like Molly, understands this very well. She seeks to know the individual rabbits in her care and navigates through the process, keeping the bunnies as safe and stress-free as possible. She knows when she must step in and referee the situation and when to allow the bunnies to figure out their new relationship without the interference of the humans.

This sort of knowledge is so valuable. So much of bonding seems terrifying to the novice. A nip can be part of the communication process of bunnies figuring it out, but it can also be the start of a fight. When do you step in? What is acceptable behavior; what is not?

Bonding can be so frustrating to bunny owners. The process frequently ends with the bunnies living in separate parts of the house or one of the bunnies being rehomed. The good news is that there is help. Professional bonders are not common at all. Local rescues may offer bonding services if you adopt one of their rabbits, which isn’t helpful if you took in that stray bunny that has been wandering your neighborhood.

If you are local to South Yorkshire, you can contact Molly and drop off your rabbits for hands-on bonding work. However, she also offers Zoom consultations, where you can contact Molly anytime for advice (she has a toddler who is about to turn one in a couple of months - Molly never sleeps). Having someone there to see what is going on, give you advice and work through solutions with you is a valuable service. I do wish I had someone like Molly when I first was working with Whoppy and Oso. I was utterly confused, and I thought I would have had two separate pens for the rest of their lives. It would have been awesome if I had experienced help.

If you happen to be in that same position - two or more fighting rabbits and at a complete loss of what to do, reach out to Molly for a quote. You will find her to be an invaluable resource.

Continue reading "Musto Rabbits of Yorkshire (Part 2)"

Oct 23, 2023

Diet and Calcium

Hello!

I hope everyone is having a stress-free Fall.

Last week I talked about bladder sludge in my blog. Right after I posted it, I read a blog post from my friend Anna from The Well-Kept Rabbit. The post was about Kale and its role in calcium intake in a rabbit's diet.

More recent research has shown that the amount of calcium in a rabbit's diet is not related to the rabbit developing bladder sludge or stones (whether in the bladder or kidney).

Common advice given in the past (and today too) is that bunnies having sludge issues need to limit their intake in high calcium foods, such as spinach, parsley and kale. However research has shown that the most effective way to deal with these issues is to increase fluid intake (perhaps administering sub-q fluids) to dilute the calcium carbonate, and plenty of exercise to help expel the excess build-up.

In truth, I do limit certain foods in Winston's diet - no pellets, no kale, no spinach, almost no parsley (he gets the occasional sprig when I feel like tempting Fate), mostly because I think it has helped some. The most effective thing to control his sludge issues is plenty of exercise. That has made a huge difference.

It's important to realize that with every list of safe and healthy veggies to feed your bunny, it ultimately comes down to the individual rabbit. Some rabbits tolerate just about everything that enters their mouths, while others tolerate barely anything. It's like people who are allergic to wheat or are lactose intolerant. It doesn't mean dairy and bread are unhealthy, it means that it's not everyone can incorporate it in their daily diet.

The link to The Well-Kept Rabbit's blog is below. There are some sources at the end of that blog which are worth your time to check out.

Continue reading "Diet and Calcium"

Oct 16, 2023

Just Sludging Along

Hello!

I recently received an email asking me for advice for their bunny, who is dealing with sludge issues. For those of you who are unaware of what that is, it is when bunnies urinate a thick yellowish-brown urine. It's about the consistency of toothpaste. It dries fairly quickly, and if you see it on the ground, it looks like sand once it dries.

Sludge happens because rabbit urine typically has a lot of calcium precipitate (due to the way rabbit's absorb calcium). Normally it gets expelled just fine, but sometimes a build-up in the bladder can happen which can cause problems.

This is an ongoing issue with Winston, probably due to his back injury. Not only does he not have bladder control, he doesn't empty out his bladder completely. This means there is a little reservoir of urine that typically hangs out in his bladder. The sludge builds up over time and eventually hardens along the urethra, making urination difficult.

Vets can do a number of things - they can manually try to empty the bladder by massaging the area on the outside. They can also go in there with a catheter and flush the bladder out (obviously a procedure that requires sedation and other fun stuff).

As bunny parents, we can make changes in diet and living space to help our bunny's expel the sludge on their own. In terms of Winston, I eliminated pellets entirely. I try to avoid feeding him vegetables with a higher calcium content. Although I still feed him romaine lettuce, I avoid parsley and kale. I definitely avoid anything with alfalfa.

What is most helpful for Winston is plenty of exercise time. When I expand his space, he will frequently run around like a fool, binky...and pee. Puddles will form very quickly. If he hasn't had "out" time in a day or two, I will notice some sand in some of the puddles. That makes me happy since I rather have the sand on a pee pad than in his bladder.

Exercise works best for Winston, mostly because he's fairly young (about 3-years-old) and a manic. I do worry about when he gets older and takes a more laid-back approach to life (rather than run around like his mane is on fire). I spoke to his vet, and we've decided to do some bladder maintenance.

Every two months or so, Winston will have his bladder manual expressed by his vet. It will be easier and less painful for him to pass the sludge when it's not an emergency and he's in stasis (because at that time, the sludge hasn't crystallized in his bladder and urethra). Hopefully the minor discomfort at the vet will reduce the stasis episodes at home (usually when I'm just about to go to bed). This will probably be necessary as he gets older and less active. Regular sub-q fluids (hydrating bunnies via needle in the sub-q space) may also be necessary.

What is your experience with sludge?

Oct 10, 2023

Just Another Day

Hello!

Happy Thanksgiving to all my Canadian friends. I hope you have a great holiday. Everyone else, I hope you are having a lovely October.

The bathroom remodel is progressing. Of course there is the occasional hiccup and another hole is put in the wall and/or ceiling. For those of you familiar with remodeling, this is absolutely normal. For people like me, who have lived with an ugly bathroom for 18 years, it's alarming.

The bunnies have been dealing with everything OK. They stayed with a friend for a couple of days during the rip-out-everything phase. Today was the installation of the tub and there was some drilling, hammering and at one point, the fire alarm was set off, but over all, the bunnies didn't let the noise bother them too much. The plumbers were very nice to leave the the giant box the tub came in "for the bunnies to play with". I'm sure they all will love the extra chew toys.

I am trying to keep things as normal as possible. Of course, it is easier said than done. I couldn't give Winston his regular exercise space, because...well, there was a tub, toilet and a bunch of plumbing fixtures right in the space I would normally set it up. I made some extra space in my bedroom, so hopefully he's enjoying the change of scenery.

Before we decided to put a giant hole in our house, I made a plan on what to do if the bunnies get stressed. Where could I put them? How long would they be moved from their regular pen? Could I still give them exercise space? Where would I wash Panda's butt? Will she be super stressed? How can I make them more comfortable? Worst case scenario, if I had to move them out of the house, where would they go? I have more than one plan ready to implement, should it become necessary.

One thing I hadn't really thought about was the amount of dust created. Even though the majority of it is contained in the bathroom, dust is still present. I moved my air purifier right next to the bunny pens to help with that.

So far, it seems to be going OK with the minimum of disruption. However tomorrow - I believe - the workers will be in to put in the proper venting. I imagine that will entail more punching holes in ceilings and walls.

We'll see how it all progresses.

Oct 02, 2023

Madness!

Hello!

I hope everyone is having a lovely fall. My September and (so far) my October is just...full.

I recently came back from my trip to Canada. I was mostly visiting family, but I did get an opportunity to speak at a Bunny Health workshop for Archie's Angels Rabbit Rescue in Lethbridge, Alberta. It was a pleasure to meet some of their supporters, and it was great fun to talk endlessly about rabbits.

Today is the first day of our bathroom remodel. To put it into context, our bathroom needed remodeling the moment we moved in...18 years ago! It has blue and beige tiles and a pink toilet and shower. Clearly, the previous owner started something then stopped and just sold the place. Since our household philosophy seems to be "If it ain't broke, don't worry about it", we have left the remodel until it has become dire.

Everything will be trashed and rebuilt. The work itself is about 3 weeks (or so I'm told), but with inspections, it may take as long as 3 months. Showering will take some coordination and the kindness of friends.

Of course, what is concerning me the most is the bunnies. I know if Zoe was still around, she would be thumping for 3 months straight. I've decided for the actual demolishing (smashing tiles and taking out EVERYTHING), the bunnies will stay with a nearby friend. I'm told that it may only take a couple of days. After all, it's easier to smash than to build.

Afterwards, the buns will be placed in the farthest place from the bathroom (honestly, which is 100 ft). They can hide in the bedroom during the day and in the evening, go back to their pens and decompress. In theory, this sounds like a grand plan. I'm not sure how well it will work in practice, but I will deal with whatever comes up as it comes up.

The bathroom will look beautiful after it's done, but I'm not sure Panda is nearly excited about the new sink for her butt-bath as I am.

Sep 11, 2023

Mercury in Retrograde

Hello!

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!

Aug 28, 2023

Fur and Stasis

Hello!

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.

Continue reading "Fur and Stasis"

Aug 21, 2023

The Doctor Is In! Part 3

Hello!

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).

Aug 21, 2023

The Doctor Is In! Part 3 (final entry)

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.

Aug 21, 2023

The Doctor Is In! Part 3 (second entry)

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.

Aug 14, 2023

The Doctor Is In! Part 2 (second entry)

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.

Aug 14, 2023

The Doctor Is In! Part 2

Hello!

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)

Aug 07, 2023

The Doctor Is In!

Hello!

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.

Jul 25, 2023

Hottest Summer Ever

Hello,

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!

Jul 21, 2023

Tribute to Zoe

Hello,

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.

Jul 10, 2023

The Bridge is in Sight

Hello,

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.

Jun 21, 2023

Old Age Stinks, Part 1

Hello!

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.

Continue reading "Old Age Stinks, Part 1"

Jun 21, 2023

Old Age Stinks, Part 2

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.

Continue reading "Old Age Stinks, Part 2"

Jun 05, 2023

Rabbits and Their Digestive Issues

Hello,

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.

May 22, 2023

So Many Bunnies, So Little Time!

Hello!

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!

Continue reading "So Many Bunnies, So Little Time!"

May 03, 2023

Things Change

Hello,

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.

Apr 24, 2023

Happy Gotchya Day and Other Things

Hello!

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.

Apr 10, 2023

A Bunny's Place Is In A Home

Hello!

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.

Mar 27, 2023

Conflict Resolutions

Hello!

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!

Mar 20, 2023

It's What Day?

Hello!

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.

Mar 08, 2023

You Wanna Be Friends?

Hello,

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.

Feb 27, 2023

Group Hug!

Hello!

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.

Feb 20, 2023

Bonding Time!!

Hello!

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!

Continue reading "Bonding Time!!"

Feb 06, 2023

It's Too Quiet Around Here

Hello!

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!

Continue reading "It's Too Quiet Around Here"

Jan 23, 2023

Happy Year of the Rabbit!

Hello!

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.

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