What Age of Rabbit is Right for You?
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What Age of Rabbit is Right for You?
Here at SaveABunny, we have been hard at work in many different areas — outreach, crafts, bunny care, RABBIT RESCUE (of course) and art history research.
Hold on, art history research? Yes, many of our volunteers are artistic and interested in the arts, and a few of us have even been researching the role of rabbits in art history. Here, we reveal the results of our research and debut some SaveABunny postcards!! Each image links to the postcard page; send one to all your friends! Without further ado:
On the first night of Hanukkah, the subject of Munch’s painting was chatting with his rabbit friend, Seth, and the subject of Seth’s neutering experience was raised. 8 Days of screaming ensued. (He felt better by the ninth day!)
SaveABunny’s meticulous art historians have unearthed the original version of Gainsborough’s The Blue Boy. The Blue Boy originally included his 3 best buds before the artist was forced by the court to create a more somber work.
When Grant Wood painted American Gothic, he found inspiration in the American Gothic House so he painted the house along with “the kind of people I fancied should live in that house.” SaveABunny art historians have found the original version of his painting, in wich he also painted the type of rabbit he fancied should live in that house, and the type of festivity they would have.
So, you’re a lover of all fuzzy creatures, and you imagine your home filled with singing birds and animal friendship a la scenes from Disney’s Cinderella. But can that actually happen? Well, fellow bunny-lovers, I’m here to give you some tips on how a great co-species friendship can evolve, specifically between rabbits and dogs. Read on and see the photos for actual proof that such a thing does exist!
Hazel is my 2 lb, 3 year old, spayed female Netherland Dwarf. She was an “only child” before I adopted Nola, an adorable Dachshund mix, special-needs puppy in April 2012. Nola was headed to a rescue organization from the animal shelter because she was born deaf, and with some other congenital abnormalities that go along with the “double merle” gene. Being the sappy veterinary student that I am, and a lifetime dog lover, I decided to adopt her. However, I realized that I needed to go about things carefully in introducing her to my bunny Hazel, as I wanted it to be a safe and positive experience for both of them.
Nola doesn’t have an aggressive bone in her body, and Hazel is a very outgoing and social bun - it ended up making them a great match. When I first introduced them, Nola was only 5 pounds, and not too much bigger than Hazel. Hazel wasn’t afraid of Nola, so both of my girls just checked each other out, sniffing and following the other around. Hazel was somewhat miffed, and wasn’t as social for the first few weeks that Nola was at home, often hiding under the bed or leaving the room when she’d had enough exposure to puppy time. As time went on, Hazel grew bolder, and before you knew it, she was stealing dog food out of the dog dish at dinnertime, often while Nola was still eating! Of course, dog food isn’t a great choice for rabbits, and I had to shoo her away - but it was great that Hazel had no fear of Nola, and Nola didn’t have any issues with Hazel getting near her, her toys, or her food.
As time has passed, Nola and Hazel have only become more comfortable with each other. Hazel now sticks her head or entire body under Nola’s face, begging for groomies! Nola sometimes obliges, licking her face, nose, and back. Other times Nola isn’t in the licking mood, but Hazel sits patiently while Nola sniffs, sniffs, sniffs her. It’s adorable to watch. Recently Hazel thought Nola had been getting treats and she was feeling left out - so what did Hazel do? Got on her hind legs, put her front legs on Nola, and sniffed her face to see if she had anything yummy to share! Such a bossy little bun.
When Hazel has had enough, she can escape to her room, under the bed, or behind the furniture to get away from an annoying puppy. I always watch them closely to make sure that Nola isn’t being too rambunctious - there have been a few times where Nola has pawed Hazel, or tried to get her to engage with her toys; of course this is only in play, but it is important that your bun never gets hurt (or vice versa- bunny bites are bad!). I always discourage chasing or rough-housing of any kind from my puppy; it is absolutely not tolerated in my house. Also, Hazel makes the rules - if she has had enough interaction, I let her choose to go elsewhere, and do not let Nola continue to try to play or follow her. This has worked well, and as time has passed, the interactions between Nola and Hazel have become natural, friendly, and fun for both of them.
So here are some overall tips I would follow for INTRODUCING A PUPPY OR DOG TO YOUR BUNNY:
I can’t stress enough that safety is of the highest importance when introducing a dog and a rabbit. But if done properly, bunnies and dogs can get along well! I know of many people who have rabbits and dogs that live together in the same home that do excellently. I love having a dog-bunny friendship in my house, and it makes life a little less stressful when my animals don’t have to always be separated. So good luck to you, everyone! And keep us posted on your journey to a dog-bunny bond!
Here is a little update on Glen and Ava, who we’ve now renamed Anastasia and Freddie.
It’s been four months since the arrival of these two wild hearts, and the process of falling in love goes on. Gayle, the bunny mommy, has developed a very special relationship with Freddie and Anastasia. They perk up and bound towards her when she enters the room, and she returns the favor. Even the shy Anastasia will come up for a nose bump. Feeding time at our house is no affair of dropping greens into a bin. It’s more like an intimate dinner with friends. Bon appétit and hugs all round.
GI stasis is a health emergency that all rabbit owners should know about. So what exactly IS GI stasis, and how do we prevent it in our rabbits? And how is GI stasis treated if your rabbit develops IT? Well, fellow bunny lovers, here’s GOOD INFORMATION for you to know!
What is GI stasis?
GI stasis is a condition that in which gut motility (peristalsis) decreases or stops all together.
What causes GI stasis?
A number of things can cause GI stasis. Stress, pain, dehydration, intestinal blockage, or improper diet can cause the condition.
How can you prevent GI stasis?
Make sure your rabbit is receiving a proper diet that is high in fiber. This means a small amount of timothy hay-based pellets for adult rabbits (dependent on weight), fresh, bunny-safe vegetables (red or green leaf lettuce, romaine lettuce, kale, spinach, cilantro, parsley, etc.) and LOTS of hay. Hay should make up the majority of a rabbit’s diet, so make sure that your rabbit is getting his or her fill! There are plenty of types of hay that bunnies can eat, so if your rabbit doesn’t like one variety, try another! Some options to try are timothy, orchard grass, oat, or botanical hays. Alfalfa hay isn’t a healthy option for adult rabbits, so make sure you’re reading the label on your hay bag! Also, keep the number of treats that you feed to a minimum, and only use healthy options, like small pieces of fresh or dried fruit, or treats specifically formulated for rabbits. That means NO yogurt treats, or excessive amounts of sugary foods - keep those bananas and craisins to a minimum. WE know it’s easy to spoil your bun, but make sure it’s only in moderation!
Bunnies need exercise! Not only is this great for your rabbit’s health, but it’ll help keep his gut motility going strong. Rabbits should be housed in a 4′x4′ pen, MINIMUM, and should receive at least 4 hours of exercise outside of their enclosure daily.
Groom your rabbit frequently, especially during molting or if you have a longhaired breed. Cutting down on excess hair (which rabbits groom off and will ingest) will reduce the chance of buildup within the intestinal tract. Hair in the intestinal tract is normal in rabbits, and is usually only a problem if the rabbit becomes dehydrated or already has stasis, as the hair, food, and feces in the gut becomes a hardened mass that is difficult to pass. But grooming is always a good idea - better safe than sorry!
Keep fresh water available at all times so that your rabbit doesn’t become dehydrated. If you feel your rabbit isn’t drinking enough water, maybe change the container (from a bottle to a dish, or vice versa).
What are the symptoms of GI stasis?
How is GI stasis treated?
If you are EVER worried that your rabbit may have stasis, even in the slightest, take him or her to a qualified exotics or bunny-savvy veterinarian IMMEDIATELY. Stasis can rapidly turn fatal, and it is truly an emergency. Your veterinarian will perform a physical examination, and will often do abdominal radiographs (xrays) in order to determine if there is an obstruction and/or gas present in the intestinal tract. Your rabbit will be placed on IV fluids to increase hydration, motility drugs, and pain medications. Your veterinarian may also draw blood for a CBC/Chemistry panel to determine if any systemic abnormalities are causing the problem. Your bun may have to be hospitalized, and even be syringe fed to receive critical nutrition (often Critical Care/pumpkin mix) and initiate gut movement. Abdominal massage may also be helpful in relieving discomfort and promoting motility.
So that’s the rundown of GI stasis, friends! Keep a close eye on your bun, and make sure you’re being the best bunny slave you can be by providing the proper nutrition, exercise, grooming, and attention!
Now that summer has officially begun, I thought I’d write a post about how to keep your precious bunnies cool in this hot weather.
For your bunny to be safest and live longest, domestic rabbits should be kept indoors, period. They are highly susceptible to heat extremes and stress, which can rapidly cause death. Keeping your rabbit in your home is also the best way for them to relax and bond with your family. You’ll also be able to tell quickly if there are any other health issues you might miss if your bun lives outdoors. So what are some ways to keep your home cool and comfortable for your fur-baby?
Signs of Heat Stroke or Stress in Rabbits
What should you do if you think your rabbit has heat stroke?
Remember, though, that summer time can also be a fun time for your bunny, because trips outdoors are possible! If you would like to give your rabbit time to play outdoors, make sure they are in a secure space (i.e. exercise pen) that is safe from predators, toxic plants, and stressful noises. Make sure the top of the pen is covered to protect him/her from predators, and keep the pen in the shade. Supervise your bun at all times when he or she is outdoors, and always provide fresh water. It’s ok to let your rabbit munch on grass and dandelions when in your yard, but they need to be pesticide and poison-free.
Have a happy, and safe, bunny-filled summer!
- Emily, Veterinary Student and Bunny Blogger
The following is a guest post from Christopher St. John, foster dad to Anastasia and Freddie Mercury. We welcome guest posts from SaveABunny supporters and love to hear from you!
In my work as an advertising creative director, I often take part in anxiety festivals that last from morning til night. So it’s always wonderful to come home to my two bunnies, and sit with them for a few minutes in the gathering dusk, with a big plate of Italian parsley, pea pods and dill next to me.
Rabbits are crepuscular, which means they are most active around dawn and dusk. I usually miss the dawn frolics, alas, but the twilight friskiness is something I look forward to all day. As soon as I arrive with the greens, I can see Anastasia perk up. Apparently, she can hear the sound of broccoli slices being carried down the hallway.
I sit down, and she bounds towards me, because I’m the candyman: Purveyor of fresh cilantro and, on special days, the watercress from Whole Foods. She lays into the leafage with a will, and even with my impaired hearing, I can hear her crunching. Freddie comes out a bit later. He doesn’t rush, but lollops over with a kind of careful insouciance. (A curious thing about words is that only when writing about rabbits do you have occasion to use the word “lollops.”)
The silence is marvelous. In my work, I’m beavering about all day, figuring out ways to convince Americans that they don’t have enough, and that they need more. Even while unemployment stays stubbornly high, and American jobs drift away to other lands. This kind of work is done by hyper-verbal people with fervid imaginations, and the high-speed yak can go on for hours without stopping. Of course, I’m the yakker in chief. Often, by the end of the day, I sick of listening to myself most of all.
The buns are silent. Whether feeling fearful or frolicsome, they are almost soundless. A happy rabbit is something you see, but you will listen in vain for a rabbit to cry “Yowza!” at the end of a great piece of endive. And with the studied dignity and stoicism of a prey animal, they would never tell you if they are hurt. A lion with a thorn in its paw may lay by the side of the road making a great play for sympathy while keeping an eye out for Androcles, but no rabbit would ever do such a thing. Crying is an indulgence for predators and traders at JP Morgan Chase. It is hard to be bold if you are a prey animal, but every day, they are brave.
Our rabbits look wild. Anastasia is a mottled brown, and Freddie a dappled grey. When you see them, you don’t think “hutch,” or “eight-year-old girl.” You think of them bounding away over the downs with Hazel and Fiver, looking for the perfect spot to found a new warren. * They don’t rush up to you, like a puppy, or expect to served by you, like a lordly feline. They are elusive. They keep their own counsel. When we first brought these creatures home, they ran from us. That they will guilelessly approach me now feels like a gift.
The dusk draws down towards night. My day of unique selling propositions and “More!” fades. The moment lingers and hangs. The shadows lengthen. The corners of the room disappear, and the quiet makes me sleepy.
Freddie and Anastasia tussle over a piece of parsley. “Hush, babies,” I tell them. “There’s enough for everyone.” And for a moment, in this tiny corner of America, there is.
* As I’m sure many readers already know, these are characters in the classic heroic fantasy novel, Watership Down, which chronicles the lives of a group of rabbits as they search for a new home. This is Penguin Books’ best-selling novel of all time.
Java Bean was a beautiful, feisty, and strong black satin bun. She came to her forever home feeling a little sad and depressed after losing her previous home, but she quickly warmed up and showed her true personality - curious, bold, and unconditionally loving.
In some ways, Java was a bunny of extremes. Java loved to snuggle, but she was not a snuggle bunny. When she wanted attention, she’d run to her people at full speed and demand to be pet until she had enough. Then with a flick of the ears, she’d be off to explore or stretch out in one of her favorite places. Java knew that she was the boss of the house and made sure everyone else knew it, too.
Her cuddliness and affection for everyone that met her melted the hearts of friends and family. Her determination to chew up remote controls and shred important papers drove her human family berzerk. When she was caught being “naughty”, she’d stomp, run back to her cage, and then stick her head out for treats. And no matter how badly she destroyed something, she always knew her family would succumb to her beautiful black eyes.
One constant, however, is that she cared for and looked after her family. In addition to being the boss of the house, she considered herself the protector of everyone who lived there. When car tires screeched, thunder boomed, or a dish clanged in the sink, Java would straighten up and stomp to alert the rest of the family that something wasn’t right. She’d stretch out in front her human family and keep watch – ears periscoping if she heard a suspicious sound. Then after a few loving strokes of her forehead, she’d relax again and snuggle up to her people until she’d had enough.
The amount of joy and happiness she brought to the hearts of the people who met her is indescribable. She wasn’t around nearly as long as her human family would have wanted, but her life was full of love and bunny adventures. Some of her favorite activities included munching carrot tops, shredding phone books, running the bunny 500, nibbling on a banana slice (her favorite special occasion treat!), and rolling her pellet canister around and around until a pellet popped out. She is missed very much and loved so deeply. As sad as her people are, they know that Java is taking good care of all the bunnies who passed before her – keeping watch and protecting those she loves.
Sara and Yan
Hi! I’m Emily Krieger, and I’m the newest addition to the SaveABunny volunteer family. I’ll be writing blogs, Tweets, newsletter articles, and adoption and bunny stories for SaveABunny. So what better way to introduce myself than to write my own bunny story?
I, like so many others, got a rabbit on a whim. I’m a veterinary student, and not having any animals in my apartment just wouldn’t do! After reading up on many different species, I decided that a rabbit was the best choice for me. So I scoured Craigslist and found a rabbit in a nearby city; “Wendy” was a 2 year old intact female Netherland Dwarf from a small rabbitry. She was a breeder rabbit that the owner was selling due to lack of space.
I drove that night to pick her up with a friend, and we met the owner at a pet store so I could also buy the supplies I needed. I had done some research, but didn’t know as much as I should have before acquiring a house rabbit. So what did I buy? A 4’x2’ pet store cage, a generic brand of rabbit pellet with nuts and seeds mixed in, a litterbox, and alfalfa hay. Looking back I realize the mistakes I made, but at the time I wasn’t completely educated about proper rabbit health or care.
“Wendy,” on the other hand, was adorable. I loved the black otter coloring, teensy ears, and round little body weighing all of 2 pounds. So I paid my $50, loaded her into the car, and away we went!
The next month was a crash course in rabbit behavior and care. “Wendy” had become Hazel, and was quite the hormonal little lady! Not being spayed, Hazel sprayed urine all over the living room when she was out for playtime, circled me constantly, and honked. She seemed to care less about the litterbox, and obsessively chewed the carpet around the blockade that kept her in the living room when she was out. I made an appointment with the Exotics veterinarian immediately, and she was successfully spayed 3 weeks later. Whew! What a difference that made; Hazel began using her litterbox almost instantaneously, and stopped acting like a hormonal nut! We were also better able to bond, and she quickly became very friendly, people-oriented, and affectionate. The honking, though, has never stopped; it’s just something she does when she’s excited!
In the meantime, I had discovered a variety of reliable house rabbit websites, and I became a well-informed, educated rabbit owner. I quickly bought Hazel an x-pen to expand her living space when she couldn’t be roaming the living room. I switched her from alfalfa to orchard grass hay. I tossed the generic, unhealthy pellets and bought only Oxbow timothy pellets and treats.
Now confident in my ability as a house rabbit owner, aka “bunny slave”, I explored the option of allowing Hazel to be free range within my apartment. She was still chewing the carpet in the living room and trying to escape over the barrier I’d placed in there to keep her from the rest of the apartment; I wondered if allowing her to have more space would solve the problem. So I bunny-proofed my home, then allowed her free range throughout the apartment. And what a difference it made! She loved having so much space to run and binky in. She all but stopped ripping up the carpet, too.
So what is Hazel like now? She is a happy, energetic, extremely friendly little bun with major attitude! She sits next to me on the couch while I do my homework, often for hours at a time. She follows me around the house and licks my feet, hands, and face. When I go to bed, I call her to follow, and she hops up on the ottoman she uses for a bed, begging for her nightly papaya treats. She isn’t perfect; there’s sometimes an accident, or she’ll chew my phone cord when it falls below the bed. But she’s my constant companion, and I can’t describe the joy and comfort she brings me on a daily basis. I love her dearly, and she could never be replaced.