Amazing Anatomy 101: Now ‘ear this!

May 16, 2018

Ask any kindergartener to draw a rabbit. You’ll get some creatively formed creatures! It may be a challenge to pick out what exactly is a paw and which is a nose, but one feature will always be recognizable. Those long bunny ears! Rabbit ears are unmistakable, but don’t be fooled by their seeming simplicity. Those furry appendages have superpowers to rival the most impressive Marvel comic hero. 

Stupendous sense of sound!

Ever wonder why you can’t sneak up on a rabbit? Your bunny scoffs at your version of “stealth”! The length and curved structure of her ear work like a satellite dish, allowing twice the hearing range and clarity as the human ear. And our ears can’t swivel, bend, or tilt like a rabbit’s. Bunda not only can hear a pin drop, she can detect exactly where in the room it lands!

Makes sense that Bunda and her kin have such a strong reaction to noise that we take for granted, doesn’t it? You might want to keep that in mind the next time you crank up the TV or run the vacuum. It’s always a good idea to provide a “quiet space” for your rabbit housemates.

Marvelous messaging!

Who needs a larynx? Our rabbits say more with a flick of an ear than we could in a fifteen minute phone call! Want to get in on the conversation? Watch your buns closely as they interact with each other, you, and their environment. You’ll pick up certain patterns over time that will help you figure out what’s going on in Bunda’s mind. (And wouldn’t we all secretly love to know what our loved ones are really thinking?)

Thrilling thermostat!

Ah, summer! Lounging around in a sodden smelly T-shirt, sticking to vinyl lawn chairs…if only there was an easy way to stay cool. Learn from the lagomorph! Rabbits can’t sweat, so they use their circulatory system as a primitive cooling method. Heat travels up through blood vessels and out through the thin skin of their ears.

But even Bunda’s brilliant biology can’t compete with BTUs. She’ll still need your help when the weather gets hot. Try misting her ears with cold water, or providing her with a frozen water bottle to nestle against. Always, always provide shade. Our rabbits can handle temperatures up to about 78 degrees. Anything higher, and they’ll need the AC as much as we do!

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Veg out!

April 18, 2018

Weekends in April are kind of tricky. With the wild weather shifts we’ve been having, we might spend Saturday cleaning out our flower beds and Sunday cleaning the ice off our windshields!  It’s enough to make us throw our hands up in the air and collapse on the sofa with a bag of Cheese Curls. But we’ve got a better way to veg out!

Join us at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi on Sunday, April 29, for VegMichigan’s annual VegFest! It’s a celebration of all things vegan.

Save your skepticism, Carnivores! A vegetarian/vegan diet isn’t all lettuce and flax seed. See for yourself, as you make the rounds of VegFest’s food court and try your free samples. Attend cooking demonstrations put on by three well-respected vegetarian chefs, and taste the incredible variety of meat-free meals available to you.

And the v/v lifestyle isn’t just for reed-thin millennials. Just ask Theo Riddick, a very vegan Detroit Lion. He’ll be there to explain why he switched up his nutrition protocol, and the benefits he’s enjoyed as a result. You’ll also hear from PBS contributor Dr. Joel Fuhrman, author and medical researcher Dr. Joel Kahn, diabetes specialist Caroline Trapp, NP, and a host of other experts.

GLRS will be among 150 exhibitors on hand to promote their animal-friendly, cruelty free, ecologically oriented products and services. Here’s your chance to “try before you buy”. Ask as many questions as you like, enjoy free samples, sign up to win cool stuff. Bring the kids! VegFest will have a special section with toys and games just for them.

VegFest runs from 10:30 AM to 5:00 PM. Admission is $17 at the door, but save $3 by ordering your tickets on line at VegMichigan.org for just $14. No raking, no shoveling, no cooking–just a day of free feasting and fun. See you there, snow or shine!

 

 

 

 

What happens in Vegas…

April 4, 2018

…isn’t always as thrilling as slot machines and Celine Dion. Sometimes it’s a cautionary tale for everyone who owns or cares for rabbits.

You may have heard the story on national news, or followed it on our Facebook page. A children’s medical facility in Las Vegas decided it would be fun for their patients to watch wildlife in action. So they released their in-house “patient support” rabbits into a field out back to fend for themselves. Problem is, domestic rabbits aren’t wildlife.  And none of them were fixed.

You might be surprised how many people don’t realize that domestic bunnies aren’t built to survive on their own. Most rabbits who are “set free” have very short, unpleasant lives before succumbing to disease, starvation, attack by predators, or winding up as roadkill.

But what they are built to do is multiply. Rabbit reproduction is remarkably efficient. Male buns start sowing their oats by the time they’re two months old. Each doe can have a litter of up to 14 kits, every 30 days. Talk about a payout!

The rabbit total grew into the hundreds, and neighbors were irate. One dreadful night someone decided to take
matters into his/her own hands and set out lettuce laced with antifreeze. Almost 180 rabbits were found dead the next morning. It was time to fold. Rescue workers swooped in and captured as many of the 800+ survivors as they could. Eight of them came to us.

Those of us in rescue are already well acquainted with the “Easter dump”. Do you know someone, a friend or neighbor, who isn’t quite as enamored of their kid’s “basket bunny” as they were the day they brought him home from the pet store? Please encourage them think twice before they make a regrettable decision like the Vegas medical center did. Please help us spread the word!

Where the wild things are

March 14, 2018

Spring is finally on its way. Crocuses and lenten roses are popping up in our yards…and so are baby bunnies! This time of
year we field several calls and e-mails a week from well-meaning people who have discovered “orphaned” cottontails. Often they’re alerted to the bunnies’ nest by a curious dog, or come across it while cleaning out flower beds or mowing the lawn.

GLRS is not licensed to deal with wildlife, and we’re not the best resource to answer your questions about wild bunnies. We recommend that you contact Friends of Wildlife, an animal rehabilitation organization based in Ann Arbor. Their emergency cottontail number is (734)548-3126. Specially trained volunteers can advise you about the best course of action, which often, surprisingly, is to do nothing.

It’s helpful to know a few facts about wild rabbits. First, Mother Rabbit doesn’t spend much time at her nest. She generally feeds her young twice a day, at dusk and dawn, for five minutes at a time. Just because you don’t see her, don’t assume she’s abandoned her babies.

Secondly, baby rabbits only remain in the nest for about three weeks. That tiny bunny you see hopping around your yard could be well on her way to self-sufficiency. Third, 90% of baby rabbits will die if taken from their nest. The most concerned human is no match for the nurturing power of a bunny mom.

So what should you do if you encounter a nest of baby bunnies? If you accidentally disturb a nest, and none of the rabbits seem injured, reassemble the nest as best you can and place the animals back in it. It’s a myth that the mother won’t attend to her babies if they have human scent.

If you’re worried, mark the nest with a circle of flour, or make a loose yarn grid on top of it. You’ll be able to tell if Mom comes back overnight. Then, stay away! Keep your pets and children far from the area for at least two weeks.

If a baby is injured, please call Friends of Wildlife immediately. Don’t try to feed the animal anything, not even water. You can also call the Humane Society of Huron Valley, at (734)661-3512. Not in the Ann Arbor Area? Check the Department of Natural Resources rehabilitator list at www.michigandnr.com/dlr.

For more information about wild cottontails or other critters, check out the FOW website at www.friendsofwildlife.net.

Bowl me over

March 7, 2018

Bowl or bottle? Among rabbit owners, it’s as ubiquitous a question as “paper or plastic”. Rabbits are heavy drinkers–they can put a shipload of sailors to shame! What’s the best way to ensure our bunnies have a constant supply of fresh water?

You’ll find compelling arguments for both sides. At our sanctuary, we use bowls, for a few specific reasons. First off, we’ve found that rabbits drink much more water when provided with a bowl vs a bottle. It takes less effort to lap up liquid than it does to suck it out of a tube drop by drop. Bowls are easier to keep clean and refill, and there’s no leakage. We also find that lowering the head to drink is a comfortable, natural movement, as opposed to stretching upward to access a bottle nozzle.

That said, there are certain situations where a bottle is the more practical choice. A blind or physically impaired rabbit may find it impossible to maneuver around a water bowl without spilling it. We’ve even had a couple of exceptionally long-eared residents who ended up taking a bath each time they bent down to take a drink!

Whichever delivery method you decide upon, there’s a few things to keep in mind. With a bowl, the heavier the better. A sturdy ceramic or metal bowl is less likely to tip over when Pawla decides to use it as a wading pool or chew toy. Look for one that’s wider at the base. Plastic bowls scratch easily, and can harbor harmful bacteria. Choose the largest bowl that will fit into your rabbit’s space, and keep it full.

If you go with a bottle, don’t cheap out. Lesser quality bottles will drip and leak, leaving you with a mess and your rabbit without anything to drink. Some ultra-bargain brands look effective, but don’t dispense water evenly. Your rabbit will have to expend a great deal of effort to get a few drops. When positioning the bottle, double check that Pawlette can reach the nozzle comfortably without stretching or twisting.

When in doubt, try a combo unit. It’s good practice to empty and scrub your bun’s dispensers frequently, even if they look clean. Would you really want to drink the water that’s been sitting in a cup on your nightstand for the past week? Use a mild detergent and rinse well. Bottle nozzles can be hard to clean, so try a Q Tip or toothbrush. Then refill.  (Hint: the fuller the bottle, the fewer drips you’ll have.)

Water works

February 28, 2018

You’ve heard the phrase “drinks like a fish”? That’s not particularly logical, or accurate for that matter. It’s more realistic to say someone “drinks like a bunny”! Despite only being the size of a football, rabbits can consume enormous amounts of water in a day. This is something we want to encourage. Hydration = health.

Providing water seems simple enough—turn on the faucet, fill ‘er up. But there’s more to consider than just convenience. Many of us eschew tap water for ourselves because it “tastes funny”, has too many chemicals (look at the lime build-up on that faucet!), or smells like that old Easter egg no one discovered until August. We turn instead to filtered or bottled water.

Rabbits react in much the same way. If it tastes bad or smells unpleasant, they’re not going to drink it. And all those trace minerals have a much bigger effect on a tiny bunny body than they would on a human. This is especially true for rabbits at risk of kidney disease or bladder sludge. These buns should avoid calcium at all costs, and tap water is usually rich with it.

Now, lugging home a case of Dasani every few days for Furdinand isn’t exactly cost effective. Or necessary. We recommend a one-time purchase of a water filtering pitcher, like a Brita. Just fill it up in the sink, wait a few minutes, and you’re all set. You don’t even have to give up precious refrigerator space, as many rabbits prefer their water at room temperature.

Try to get in the habit of emptying and refilling your bun’s water bowl at least three times a day. You’ll find hay, toys, poop, and heaven knows what else sneaking in there! The cleaner and fresher the water, the more appealing it will be to your rabbit.

Two things to remember: don’t be alarmed if Furdinand seems to drink a lot one day and very little the next. This is normal. What you’re looking for is a consistent average amount. But if you notice that he’s always draining his bowl dry no matter how often you fill it, it’s time for a vet visit to rule out kidney issues.

 

 

 

Hoppy days are here again

February 7, 2018

Here we go again. It’s frigid. It never stops snowing. We’re all going through decongestants and tissues like water. Valentine’s Day reminds us we’re (still) single. And that sinking feeling when we realize we’ve eaten our body weight in guacamole during the big game? At first glance, February sure seems like the Month of Misery.

But we’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: there’s no problem in this world that a bunny can’t solve. Which is why we consider it perfect timing that February was named Adopt A Rescued Rabbit Month! Think about it. When have you ever needed somebun more?

Cold? You won’t find anything warmer, or softer, than a bunny belly! Lonely? A rabbit roommate means you need never come home to an empty house again! Too sick to get off the couch? You won’t even need to fumble around for the remote, not when fuzzy four footed acrobats are putting on a floor show in your living room!

Discard the stereotypical image of a bunny as a glorified shelf sitter! Many people are surprised to learn that rabbits have distinct personalities. It’s magical getting to know your new adoptee and watching his or her individuality emerge.

Thinking of adopting? Take your time to ensure your choice is a good fit with your situation. How much space do you have? How much time? Are you looking for an energetic, outgoing rabbit, or would you prefer a quiet, reclusive sort? Research the pros and cons of adopting young vs senior buns, and spend as much time as possible with your potential new mate before signing any papers.

Our free Bunny Basics booklet is a valuable tool. Read and download at our website, www.rabbitsanctuary.org. Think of this as a sort of Rabbit Driver’s Ed! Bunny Basics covers the minimum information every rabbit parent needs before bringing home their new addition.

Bunnamaste

January 24, 2018

Oh, the aches and pains of the new year! Endless trips up to the attic with overloaded boxes of Christmas decor. Shoveling mounds of snow off the driveway, car, front porch, roof. Hours of overtime hunched in an uncomfortable cubicle, trying to pay off those holiday credit card bills. Not to mention screaming muscles, courtesy of your new gym membership!

Put down that bottle of Advil (or Jack Daniels)! There’s a better way to recover, one that won’t cost you a cent or leave you with a fuzzy head. All you need is a quiet room and a mat.

Forget the stereotypical images of new age naturalists twisting themselves into pretzels while chanting mantras. Yoga’s gone mainstream! The physical and mental benefits have been scientifically proven—flexibility, strength, energy, relaxation, lower blood pressure, and more. It’s effective and safe for any age group, any level of fitness.

Enterprising artist and author Brian Russo is a big fan of both yoga and rabbits. He’s combined the two in a delightful book, Yoga Bunny. Designed for the younger set, but equally effective for adults, Yoga Bunny combines a captivating story of woodland friends with a gentle introduction to the practice.

Brian’s website, www.bunnyoga.com, offers downloadable worksheets and charts to guide newcomers through basic movements and breathing. Useful AND adorable—even if you decide yoga’s not for you, we’re betting you’ll still enjoy the whimsical illustrations posted on your wall!

Stay tuned next week for a report on a different kind of rabbit yoga! Get your bunny fix and help homeless animals at the same time!

Love and loss

January 10, 2018

With heavy hearts, and a sense of disbelief, we acknowledge the passing of our sanctuary’s founder, Lake Jacobson. Lake was involved in a car accident right after Christmas, and succumbed to her injuries early last week.

We have Lake’s vision to thank for the existence of Great Lakes Rabbit Sanctuary, formerly PigHoppers. Back in 1995, Lake transformed her own property into a safe haven for pot-bellied pigs, domestic rabbits, cats, chickens, and just about any other animal in need. Over the years she guided our organization through many changes, both internal and external. Lake’s tenacity and compassion ensured that thousands of needy animals had the chance to enjoy the secure, happy futures they deserved.

Lake’s generosity of spirit didn’t end with her death. Countless human patients will enjoy the gift of improved health and quality of life thanks to Lake’s status as a tissue donor. What an incredible legacy to leave the world!

Lake Jacobson 1962-2018

 

 

 

 

The Resolute Rabbit

December 27, 2017

It’s that time again—time to reevaluate, reset, and refresh our lives for the new year. No more empty promises—starting in January we really ARE going to lose that spare tire, learn to line dance, find Mr. Wonderful, get that suspicious mole looked at, call Mom once a week…

Be honest. If you’re like a lot of us here, your 2018 pledges might just look exactly the same as the ones from 2016, 2008, even 1987! Humans are profligate procrastinators. Can you think of any resolution you’ve actually been able to cross off your list? Neither can we!

So how about trying a twist on the old saying, “If you won’t do it for yourself, do it for someone you love”? Make that “somebun” you love! Here are five of our most common resolutions, all of which are equally important for our rabbit friends.

Get in shape/stay active. Encourage Fureddie to make the most of his magnificent muscles! This means lots of play time out of his cage. We’ve never met a rabbit who didn’t relish a challenge. Set up an obstacle course using old boxes and play tunnels, or dangle fresh veggies above him so he’ll stretch to snatch them.

Eat healthy. Yes, we know Furina is partial to her bedtime banana chunk, and we’d never advocate going cold turkey. But will she really notice if that chunk gets a tiny bit smaller each night? Try wrapping the morsel in a leaf of lettuce or cilantro sprig as it shrinks. Is she less than enthusiastic about her hay? Sprinkle dried herbs or flower mixtures over the top of her Timothy.

Reduce stress. Rabbits don’t like fuss and bother any more than we humans do. Loud noises and exuberant visitors will fry Furedo’s nerves as quickly as they will yours. Make sure he has an escape hatch like a burrow box or a quiet room. And do your best to keep his daily routine as stable as possible.

See the doctor. When’s the last time you had a medical check-up? We thought so! Don’t let your bun fall into the old “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mindset. For one thing, with rabbits, it’s pretty hard to know what’s broke without a full exam! Schedule a vet visit at least once a year, more often if Furappachino has any chronic conditions or is over age 6.

Find love. Loneliness hurts our kind, and it’s none too healthy for rabbits either. Rabbits are social creatures. They need each other for comfort, affection, and companionship. We haven’t heard of OKCupid for lagomorphs, but we can offer the next best thing! Bring Furancie to a rabbit sanctuary like ours for some speed dating and let her choose her own BFF.