Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Make mine chocolate

Easter is fast approaching. The Make Mine Chocolate movement is strong, and once again I want to add my voice to it.

Over the years, I have owned two rabbits. Tobin was a birthday gift to myself eons ago. He was so tiny he lived in a 10-gallon aquarium for a while. He lived 11 years before dying of cancer. Bri came along a few years after Tobin. I waited for the right rabbit and she was a sweetie, but she ended up bonding with my cats and not me. That is OK, she was still a lot of fun, and a joy, and I loved having her in the house.

Owning a rabbit is slightly different than most other animals of their size. They have more in common with hamsters and gerbils being rodents and prey animals.; They can be very loving and sweet and a lot of fun, and I would never want to discourage anyone from owning a rabbit, but you should know that they do entail some work.

Rabbits can and prefer to be litter trained. Providing a box big enough for them to sit in near a source of hay will pretty much litter train them. Their stool is round and very dry - often referred to as "pellets" From my experience, they do not seem to control when they come out, but since they are very dry and leave no marks, sweeping them up is easy and do not lead to problems.

Rabbits need to chew. There are multiple reasons behind this. They chew hay and food and need a constant and steady stream of it all day in order to maintain proper digestive health. Rabbits should always have good quality hay and it should make up the bulk of their diet. They are designed to be foragers and to eat all day. Rabbit Pellets - the commercial food you can buy for rabbits - are a good way to make sure the rabbit's nutrition is balanced, but it should not make up the bulk of a rabbit's diet - doing so will most likely cause the rabbit to become overweight. Think of them as a good multivitamin and feed accordingly. Vegetables and fruits are also integral to a healthy rabbit diet, the former more so than the latter, but fruits are a great treat and most rabbits enjoy them. Grains, nuts, and seeds are not. Some rabbits like them, and if you think of them as rare treats they can bring enjoyment to your bunny. I knew one woman who loved to give her bunny toast. Bri liked Melba Toast bits. Tobin hated carrots..

Rabbits also chew for mental and physical reasons. Physically, their teeth do not stop growing. If a rabbit doesn't wear down their teeth with chewing and gnawing, they will become overgrown and impair the rabbit's ability to eat. Normally their teeth line up and the act of chewing wear them down naturally. If a rabbit's teeth do not line up properly, regularly scheduled trips to the vet to get them trimmed will be necessary (or you can learn to do it yourself but it is not for the faint of heart and you will need help). Since the rabbit was designed to chew, they find a lot of comfort in this. They also find a lot of comfort in foraging and digging. Providing toys and stimulation for them in these activities is important to a happy bunny. hiding fruit treats in boxes of hay will be a lot of fun.

There are a lot of commercial products out there for rabbits. You need to be aware that not all of them have the rabbit's best interest at heart.; Cages with wire floors are nice for humans because pellets fall out and are easier to collect, but are hard on soft delicate bunny feet. Food with seeds and nuts and puffed colored pieces look appealing to us with our varied pallet, but most are not healthful to a bunny. Toys with soft pieces or pieces easily removed can become hazards. A lot of good products for bunnies aren't even manufactured with bunnies in mind. NIC cubes (make it yourself cube shelving) can make amazing rabbit homes.  (I had to laugh, one of the images is of kittens, and I said, why kittens?? when I looked at it, it was one of my kittens from my blog, apparently I talked about NIC cubes for rabbits before). Toys made for human babies can make great interactive toys for rabbits such as rattles and rings of keys. You can find some great toys in the oddest of places.

Rabbits are very delicate. There is not a great deal of vet care out there for them because of this. I know that sounds counter-intuitive, but when a rabbit gets sick it is quite often fatal.; If you are going to own rabbits, it would be a good idea to find a vet trained in rabbits and has experience with them. Most will tell you they are trained.. and most are. Diarrhea in a rabbit can be fatal. So is a head cold. If you have a rabbit that won't eat, immediately take it to a vet. period. Do not wait, do not see if they'll eat later. Go.

Just such a thing happened to Bri.

I believe now Skippy has remitting bordatella. He has bouts where he coughs and sneezes and then he seems fine.. I thought nothing of it. He and Bri were best friends and would often be seen hanging out together. If ever I wondered where Skippy was, most of the time he was in Bri's room.

One day Bri stopped eating her pellets. Well, she ate some of them, but not much, and I was concerned, when I gave her some water she drank that. Since she wouldn't eat pellets if she didn't have water I thought that was all it was. But the next day she was covered in urine and wouldn't eat her favorite treat. I was hoping it was nothing but I ended up bringing her to the emergency clinic - where she blew a snot bubble. It was the first sign I had that she had URI.. The vet prescribed antibiotics and a few other things but by the time I got home from the hospital and filled the prescription, she was dead. As much as I would LOVE another rabbit, I won't bring one into the house while Skippy sneezes.

Anyway.. this was supposed to be about rabbits in general. Great pets. They are not cats nor dogs and need you to follow a different learning curve.; They are not disposable and they do not do well if you just 'let them outside" once you are bored or sick of taking care of them. House rabbits are not wild rabbits. They will chew your wires if you do not prevent it by removing access to them. They will chew your baseboards. They will lick your toes, do bunny flips when happy, and beg for their favorite treats in an endearing, charming, almost too cute for words sort of way.


  1. I can't believe, in 2012, that people would still consider buying chicks, bunnies, or any animal for an Easter basket gift. Getting an animal is not a "last minute" gift idea.

    As a child, we had a number of rabbits. The last one we had lived 10 years. DH had a rabbit when I first knew him, a mini lop. She never liked me (not sure why, I'm the one who cared for her primarily), despite my experience. :-)

  2. Good post! I've had several house bunnies and they are very delicate creatures. And sadly, as you mentioned rightfully, there aren't many rabbit savvy vets around.

    And it doesn't help that there are too many irresponsible breeders who are out for a quick buck. I find far too many rabbits for sale at pet shops that look way too young to be separated from their mothers. Tragic.

  3. side note, rabbits are not rodents; they're more closely related to elephants. When I found I was allergic to every rat, mouse, hamster, guinea pig, etc. that I met, but not rabbits, I looked it up. I'm probably not allergic to elephants.

  4. Barbara is right. They aren't rodents they are lagomorphs.. but for the purpose of caring for it as a pet, they have much more in common with rodents then they do with cats.. except the litter box training :)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...