Bunny Blog

Category Archives: Rabbit Care

Being Top Bunny

I get a lot of emails describing the same scenario:  Bunnikins has taken to hopping on the sofa and peeing on it. It’s a frustrating situation and one that has happened in our household as well. I remember after the third time it happened with Cosette a few years back, I had picked her up and put her in her cage.  (She still had a cage back then although it was always open.)  I closed the cage door and closed the kitchen door where the cage was located.  But even in the other room I could hear her thrashing around in the cage trying to break free.  For a rabbit who detests being picked up and despises even more being cooped up in a cage, this was the greatest insult.  I felt bad locking her in – and I did let her out  again after an hour –  but after that time, she never peed on the sofa again.

I later came across an incredibly useful article on the House Rabbit Society website which helps shed light on this behavior and suggests ways to train your rabbit.  The article is called “FAQ: Training,” and under the heading “Behavior motivated by social structure,” it delves specifically into the peeing on the couch problem.

Anyone who is experiencing this issue should read the article.  The entire article is actually very enlightening as well- covering various issues that most bunny owners will come across at some point.

Cos and P.A. Smith

Bunny Garden Update

We decided to build another 4×4 raised bed devoted just to lettuces and other bunny greens. They really do consume a lot.  So yesterday I planted three different kinds of green leaf lettuce, more cilantro, and some basil plants.

In the fall, we’ll do another round of romaine lettuce, plus we’re going to try growing some bok choy as well.

bunny garden
In our new raised bed, we planted three different kinds of looseleaf lettuce, basil, and cilantro. In the background, we have a pot of mint, more lettuce, and carrots growing in the raised beds behind.

Cilantro
The cilantro I planted a few weeks ago in one of our other beds germinated.  So Cosette will be happy in a little while when it’s big enough to eat.

Bunny Garden

We’ve expanded upon our experiment from last year to grow some of Coco and Cosette’s food.  This season, we have four raised beds of fruits and veggies – both for the bunnies and ourselves.

Romaine lettuce

For the bunnies, we have growing: Lettuce (pictured above), carrots, basil, broccoli leaves, dandelions, and apples (our trees have fruit this year!).

I might try growing cilantro next spring because it’s Cos’s favorite, but I’ve heard it can be difficult to grow.

***

UPDATE: Bought some cilantro seeds.  I read that I still had time to plant them. So we’ll see how that goes.  Also bought a mint plant that we’ll keep in a separate pot because apparently they spread quickly.

Health Scare: GI Stasis

CosetteWe’ve had a very scary last few days here. Cosette had to go to the emergency vet over the weekend because she had stopped eating and pooping and looked quite hunched. After an x-ray, the vet found that her stomach was extremely distended and she had two large gas bubbles. The diagnosis was GI stasis, and her prognosis was guarded.

A dental exam showed that her molars were unevenly worn, which most likely led to her digestive issues. They filed her teeth that night, and during her stay at the vet’s, she received motility medication, pain medication, IV fluids, and force feeding of Critical Care.

Sunday morning, her condition had worsened, and the vet was not optimistic about her chances of survival. With dull, droopy eyes, a hunched, tense posture, and a visibly bloated stomach, Cosette looked like she was experiencing a lot of pain.

Sunday evening, she started perking up a little, and she managed to eat a little on her own and finally excreted some soft stool. We brought in more greens and she ate some cilantro with encouragement by us. This morning, she excreted formed stools and had more of an appetite, so she was allowed to come home this evening. Coco was very excited his friend was finally back.

We will continue her motility medication for the next few days, and if necessary, we may need to continue syringe feeding Critical Care to supplement her diet as well. She is not quite back to her old self at this point. She doesn’t have quite the appetite, and her stools are quite small. But I was pleasantly surprised that her litterbox habits appeared to remain in tact, despite having quite a stressful weekend. (And of course, that she was actually going to the bathroom again, and her digestive system was active again.)

I wanted to share this story so that other people could learn from our scary experience. For example, it’s so important for your bunny to get regular checkups, including a dental examination. Even rabbits with a hay-based diet, who show no signs of pain, can have molar spurs. And this condition can lead to potentially deadly conditions like GI stasis. For more information about GI stasis, see Dana Krempel’s article, GI Stasis: The Silent Killer.

Thinking about Adopting a Bunny?

In our earlier post, we mentioned that February is Adopt a Rescued Rabbit Month. For those of you inspired to add a bunny to your family, here are a few basic tips before you bring your new furry friend home.

  • Finances: Be prepared to spend money up front on the adoption fee, as well as housing/food/bunny proofing supplies. Be sure you’ll be able to afford ongoing costs for your bunny on food, litter, and vet bills (including spay/neuter fees if your bunny didn’t get the surgery while at the shelter/rescue). So often I receive heartbreaking emails from people whose rabbit needs veterinary attention, but they cannot afford it. Please don’t let that happen to your bunny. Check out Petfinder’s chart of estimated yearly costs of pet ownership to give you an idea.
  • Bunny Housing: Rabbits are social animals. The location of your rabbit’s housing area (which can take the form of a cage, puppy pen, bunny condo, or just an area with the food, litter boxes, and cardboard castles if your bunny is free reign) is an extremely important consideration. Make sure your rabbit has a place to relax by himself, but make sure that he’s not completely secluded from your family. Rabbits need social interaction, plenty of exercise, and a lot of enrichment activities. Take a look at our Housing article to learn more.
  • Bunny Proofing: If your bunny will have free reign in your house/apartment/room, you will absolutely need to bunny proof the area. Even if you keep your bunny in a cage, condo, or puppy pen, you still will need to safeguard your home when you let your rabbit out for supervised exercise. Rabbits are very curious and persistent creatures. They will find a way into your computer cables, wires, molding, couch piping, slightly frayed rug, etc. They will eat your most important documents. Check out our Bunny Proofing article for tips on protecting your bunny and your things.
  • Enrichment: Rabbits will get into trouble if they’re bored. They’ll make their own fun chewing your possessions if you don’t provide alternate forms of entertainment. A great diversion for rabbits is a cardboard castle filled with empty toilet paper rolls, old phone books, and other paper products you find around the house.
  • Litterbox Training: Most rabbit rescues will start the process of litter training the bunnies they take in. So your bunny should have the basics down, but sometimes rabbits forget their good habits once they move into their new home. This is natural because the drastic change in environment can be very stressful. Litter training can be frustrating at times, but the key is persistence and consistent reinforcement of good habits. Read our article about litter training to learn more.
  • Nutrition: It’s important to have a good understanding of your rabbit’s nutritional needs throughout his/her life. Proper nutrition (and in the correct amounts) is vital for your rabbit’s well-being. The staple of a rabbit’s diet is fiber. But for a more detailed explanation, see our article, What to Feed Your House Rabbit. Another great link is the House Rabbit Society’s article about diet, which discusses the appropriate amounts as well as types of food to give your rabbit from youth to old age.
  • Bonding with Your Bunny: Give your rabbit time to adjust to his/her new setting before expecting him/her to be your new best friend. Check out our article about building a relationship so you get off on the right foot. Rabbits can be quite affectionate animals, but personalities definitely vary from individual to individual. Most rabbits don’t particularly like being held/picked up, and some bunnies are more aloof than others. Talk with a volunteer at a local rabbit rescue to learn more about which rabbit (or pair of rabbits) has a personality that will be a good fit for you and your family.

Bottom line: Do your research first! Check out our articles under the Rabbit Care, Rabbit Behavior, Health, and General sections to learn more. There are also many other websites devoted to rabbit care education. Go to our Resources page to find other useful websites.

http://www.petfinder.com/after-pet-adoption/estimated-yearly-costs-pet.html.

House Rabbits and the Holidays

snowbunnyDuring the holiday season, it’s easy to get caught up in all the festivities. But make sure your bunny is safe and comfortable during these bustling times.

Here are a few helpful links to peruse:

Littergarden

herblitterRe-Nest has a how-to on creating your own litter box garden. The idea is that the litter box will be filled with potting soil and your bunny’s litter will compost. The compost will be used to feed herbs planted in the soil.

It sounds like a promising idea, but I can see some potential problems for it. Our two bunnies would fill up the litter box well before any of the waste begins to compost. We’d end up scooping out most of the poop and some of the dirt before it starts working. Plus, our hungry little bunnies would eat those herbs down to nothing the first chance they got.

But that’s just our buns. It’s a nice looking project, if not practical for our bunnies.

For instructions, visit Re-Nest.com.

BunFest

bunfest09_flyer2Rabbit Rescue Inc. of Ontario held BunFest on Sunday, August 23rd. The event brought bunny owners from all over for a day of education and pampering. Owners were able to chat with vets and rescue staff about health, diet, care, and a variety of other issues. Bunnies could get pampered with spa treatments. There was even a bunny cafe where the bunnies could have a snack and take a rest.

There was an adoption area where visitors could meet rabbits in search of forever homes. Rabbit Rescue, Inc. took in more than 600 rabbits last year. Each year since being established in 2001 the rescue has taken in an increasing number of rabbits.

Check out a related article from Mississauga.com and the BunFest website for more details.

Modern Bunny Hutch

DIY Bunny Cage

Nicole from designcuriosities created this fantastic indoor hutch using repurposed furniture from Ikea.

Disappointed with the housing options available for their bunny Eames, Nicole and her boyfriend set out to make something that would complement the furniture they had. The result is a stylish and modern hutch that any bunny would be proud to call home.

For more photos and instructions visit Design*Sponge.

Flying with your Bunny

Petfinder put together a list of the top 5 pet-friendly airlines in 2009.

I was pleasantly surprised to learn that pet rabbits are allowed inside the cabin with you on Continental Airlines. Unfortunately, they were the only airline on the list that allowed rabbits in the cabin if on the plane at all.

Pet Airways offers a pet-only travel option as well. The cabin is climate controlled and all animals are monitored and taken care of by attendants.

For the full pet-friendly airline list, see: Petfinder.com.

Bunny Garden Attempt: Phase 3 – Sprouts

The Bunny Garden is coming along. We have little lettuces! Also, we must have had either squash or pumpkin seeds in the compost because we have some other sort of plant flourishing as well. The tomato plants have seen better days, but they’d probably be completely dead if they hadn’t been covered by their little greenhouse cylinders. (Thanks for that tip, Rabbits’ Guy!) We’ll put the tomato plants outside later in the season next year. We’re also growing several strawberry plants.

Bunny garden

Romaine lettuce sprout

Bunny Garden Attempt: Phase 2 – Planting

We took advantage of this sunny Friday afternoon to do some planting! We planted romaine lettuce seeds and two tomato plants in the raised bed, a third tomato plant in a large pot, and dandelion seeds in the rectangular planter box. (The tomatoes are for us.) Eventually, I’d like to add another pot of basil and a hanging strawberry plant.

Container gardening for rabbits

Bunny Garden Attempt: Phase 1 – Building the Containers

Co-editor P.A. Smith and I are attempting to start a little bunny container garden. Our goal is to grow romaine and other dark leaf lettuce in one planter, and since they’re a favorite of Cosette, I thought I’d make another planter dedicated to dandelions. We are fairly new to the world of gardening, but we’ve made LOTS of compost from the rabbits’ litterbox contents, food scraps, and leaves from our yard, so we thought we’d give it a shot.

So for Phase 1 of our plan, P.A. constructed a 4′ x 4′ square bed and along with a 4′ x 1′ rectangular garden box from some wood scraps.

Bunny garden container
4′ x 4′ Square Planter for Lettuce

Bunny garden container
4′ x 1′ Rectangular Planter for Dandelions

If anyone has experience with container gardening or growing lettuce, we certainly welcome any tips!