Cold comfort

October 5, 2018

Well, this is it—the whiplash season, with roller coaster temperatures and soggy days that turn parking lots into bathtubs. Furnace running at night, AC during the day, umbrellas everywhere…It’s the time of year for Costco-sized bundles of tissues, a time when Ny-Quil could easily be sold in gallon jugs. Asthma, allergies, colds, and the flu–they’re all lurking, and sooner or later, the majority of us are going to get ambushed.

In families it’s pretty much a given that if one person goes down for the count, everybody else in the house will soon join them on the mat. But what about four-footed housemates? Can our germs make Germane sick?

The simple answer is probably not. Human viruses require certain receptor molecules in order to attach to a host. Rabbits don’t have those molecules. Imagine trying to start your car using the key to your daughter’s diary. Just isn’t going to happen. That menacing cold virus that terrorizes us? To Germane, it’s just about as threatening as a slice of bread.

When it comes to bacteria, science isn’t as certain. While there has never been a known case of human bacteria affecting a rabbit, we just don’t have enough physical evidence to declare with 100% confidence that it is impossible.  But we can declare that it is 99.9% likely that Germane can climb all over us, drink out of our glasses, and snuggle up in bed with us without succumbing to chills and a fever!

If you’ve any doubts, follow the same safety precautions you’d use with anyone else. Wash your hands before and after handling your bun, don’t breathe directly in his face, keep used tissues safely out of reach. Take advantage of the medicinal benefits your rabbit has to offer! We’ve found that a session of bunny snuggling is more therapeutic than Advil and cocoa, and more comforting than the fuzziest socks.

 

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Bold as brass

September 5, 2018

Those of us who are of a certain age (or actually pay attention in history class!) are familiar with the Berlin Wall. Constructed at the height of the Cold War, the Wall divided democratic West Berlin and communist-run East Berlin. It was a nasty edifice, 15 feet high, made of concrete and steel, topped with razor wire, and surrounded by a “death strip”, a patch of no-man’s-land protected by big guys with big guns.

German citizens loathed the wall, and precious few made the near-suicidal attempt to cross it. Well, precious few two-legged citizens, that is. Which made it the perfect playground for Germany’s large population of rabbits!

Berlin bunnies thrived in the area around the wall, building their burrows and playing fearlessly in the death strip. Unimpeded by draconian border control policies, Deutche Kaninchen tunneled back and forth underneath the wall, crossing from side to side at will.

The border bunnies were treasured by townsfolk, who appreciated the symbolism of supposedly timid creatures thumbing their fuzzy noses at political idiocy. Even the grim guards admired the rabbits and refrained from using them as target practice. It’s not hard to imagine what brightness and joy the rabbits provided in those bleak days.

When the wall came down in 1989, the resident rabbits dispersed, but never faded from local memory. In 1999, artist Karla Sachse installed 120 brass rabbits into the concrete along the former Kaninchenfeld (Rabbit Field). Today, only about 44 remain.

Some are in the middle of the street, brightly shining from the constant pressure of tires. Some are off to the side, in the sidewalk, hidden under parked cars. The others were lost to repaving or construction. (It’s worth noting that there are no reports of damage or theft by vandals.)

 

 

Riding the rails

August 22, 2018

Long distance relationships can be tricky. Especially if you’re a special needs rescue rabbit in Michigan, and your intended lives 600 miles away. Little GoGo, barely four months old, was earless thanks to a highly stressed mother who used her son as a chew toy. A safe home and loving human mom waited for him in upstate New York. But how was he going to get there?

It was time for GoGo to hop aboard the Bunderground Railroad! The BGRR is a non-profit organization made up of carefully screened volunteer “conductors” who transport rescued rabbits from shelters all over the country to their forever homes. A designated route coordinator maps out each run, and divides it into several legs. This information is posted on Facebook. Conductors who live in an area near the run can sign up to participate in a leg.

We were privileged to chauffeur GoGo on the first leg of his trip. BGRR has strict health and safety guidelines for conductors, and we’ve documented a few:

Keep it cool! GoGo’s transport day was stifling, and the car interior was black. Without ears, GoGo had no way to regulate his own temperature. We used a white sheet on the passenger seat to reflect heat, and removable sunscreen film on the side window. AC ran constantly, even while we waited for pickup, with vents aimed above GoGo’s carrier, not directly into it. Windshield visors on both sides helped block the sun.

Ready and steady! We used bungee cords and the shoulder strap to hold GoGo’s carrier securely. The side opening faced the driver, in case we needed to get to him quickly. GoGo is tiny, so there was plenty of room in his carrier for a litter box and fresh hay. A water bottle is fastened to the outside. The bottom of the carrier is lined with an absorbent puppy pad. A stuffed toy can be comforting to a nervous bunny.

All about ambiance! Windows stayed up at all times. This kept the car’s interior quiet, and prevented accidental escape, particularly when we stopped for a rest and opened GoGo’s door to offer him fresh parsley. Radios must be set to a low volume, with soothing music. Think Tchaikovsky vs Metallica. We are only slightly embarrassed to admit that we forewent the radio entirely and serenaded GoGo with Sesame Street songs. 

Get your back up! You know that bad weather emergency kit we’re all supposed to keep in our trunks? Yeah, we don’t have one either. But the rabbit transport kit is a must. We used a cardboard box and threw in paper towels, vinegar in a spray bottle, rags, old towels, a gallon of water and bowl, fresh damp parsley in a small cooler bag, duct tape (can we EVER do without duct tape?), and more bungee cords. In the console, we stored the phone, charger, list of contact numbers, wallet and human snacks.

Want to learn more about the Bunderground Railroad and how to help? Check their Facebook page!

A happy ending–GoGo meets Mommy!

 

Amazing Anatomy 101: Eye Spy

August 2, 2018

You’ve heard the saying: If you want to understand someone, try looking at life through their eyes. How about some bun? How rabbits see can explain a great deal about how they behave. Here are some common questions that we’re often asked.

Why does my bunny freak out when birds fly overhead?

There are a couple of reasons for this. First, rabbits are farsighted. They also have pretty pitiful depth perception. What this means is that although Ivan can see those birds better than we can, he has no idea how far away they are. And he can’t distinguish between a flock of friendly robins and a gang of ravenous hawks. For all Ivan knows, those things in the sky could be three seconds away from dive bombing him and making him their lunch! No wonder he’s a bit skittish!

Well then, how come I can put a treat down right in front of his nose and he has to sniff all over to find it?

That has to do with the way Ivan’s facial features are arranged. See how his eyes are on either side of his head? Rabbits are prey animals. Their lives depend on being acutely aware of their surroundings. With the way Ivan’s skull is configured, he has a visual range of almost 360 degrees! Notice we said “almost”. Rabbits have a blind spot right in front of their noses. Ivan can’t see that treat, but his nose knows!

My rabbit plays at night. Can he see in the dark?

Yes and no. Rabbits have much better night vision in low light than humans do. But this doesn’t mean they see things clearly. Think about what you would see with cheap night vision goggles. You could find your way through the living room, but you wouldn’t know how many sofa pillows there are or what color.

Speaking of color, I thought all animals were color blind. Is that true?

You might wonder how we could ever know either way. We can’t ask Ivan to take one of those funny “which number do you see” tests, after all. So science has to make an educated guess, and they do that by examining the internal structure of the eyeball. The technical description is way over our heads, but suffice it to say that rabbits appear to have the proper physical components to see blue and green. Handy, then, that much of Ivan’s food is gre

My rabbit has red eyes. Does this mean he’s going to go blind?

Nope. That’s a common myth. Red eyed rabbits have the same visual abilities as blue, brown, or grey eyed buns. There is one important caveat, however. All rabbit eyes are sensitive to bright light, but red eyes more so. That means Ivan’s face should be shielded from direct sunlight, high wattage light bulbs, laser pointers, etc. If it’s too bright for you, it’s WAY too bright for him. And while there might actually be some on Amazon, we don’t recommend trying to find Ivan a pair of bunny sunglasses!

Hiding in plain sight

July 25, 2018

When’s the last time you nearly drove past your exit because you were concentrating on what might be left in the fridge for dinner later on? Or spent 20 minutes rifling through your drawers in search of one particular T-shirt, even though it was lying right there on top of the dresser? 

We humans have an amazing tendency to ignore what’s right in front of us. Sometimes it pays to slow down and pay closer attention, so we don’t miss anything important. Like rabbits!

Remember those hidden picture games you played as a child? You’re never too old to use your imagination. Once you’ve spotted your first bunny, you’ll see them everywhere! 

Here are a few unretouched photos of the rabbits our eagle-eyed friends have spotted! Can you add more?

Bedding bunny

Radar bunny

Wine stain bunny

Lava flow bunny

Cloud bunny

Bubble bunny

Trash bag bunny

Bunny on bun

Modem bunny

Cactus bunny

Veggie bunny

Bunny pee bunny

Space shuttle bunny

 

Play fair!

July 17, 2018

Planning to attend the Ann Arbor Art Fair this year? Be sure to stop by the GLRS booth and say hello! Look for us on Liberty St., between Division and Fifth. We’ll be there this Thursday, Friday and Saturday (July 19-21) from 10 AM to 9 PM, and Sunday the 22nd from noon-6PM.

The art fair is a fantastic opportunity for us introduce the sanctuary to the public, and to educate people about the important work we do. Many people have never heard of GLRS, and have no idea that such a place exists! This is our chance to talk with people, one on one, and promote responsible rabbit ownership.

Wondering how you can help the rabbits? Talk to us about making a donation, or volunteering your time at the sanctuary. Whatever your interests and abilities, we can make good use of them! Drop by our booth and learn about the many ways you can be of assistance.

Don’t worry about melting into the pavement! Ann Arbor temperatures for the weekend are expected to top out in the low 80s. After endless days of Death Valley-like weather, this is going to feel downright refreshing to us humans!

Alas, the heat and crowds would be a little much for our furry four-footed friends. So you won’t meet any of our rabbit residents at our booth. They’ll be lounging back at the sanctuary, in air conditioned comfort (thanks to your generous donations!). If you’d like to see our rabbits “in person,” talk to us about arranging a tour of our facilities.

We look forward to meeting you and answering your questions. See you at the fair!

Summer fun

July 17, 2018

Planning to attend the Ann Arbor Art Fair this year? Be sure to stop by the GLRS booth and say hello! Look for us on Liberty St., between Division and Fifth. We’ll be there this Thursday, Friday and Saturday (July 19-21) from 10 AM to 9 PM, and Sunday the 22nd from noon-6PM.

The art fair is a fantastic opportunity for us introduce the sanctuary to the public, and to educate people about the important work we do. Many people have never heard of GLRS, and have no idea that such a place exists! This is our chance to talk with people, one on one, and promote responsible rabbit ownership.

Wondering how you can help the rabbits? Talk to us about making a donation, or volunteering your time at the sanctuary. Whatever your interests and abilities, we can make good use of them! Drop by our booth and learn about the many ways you can be of assistance.

Don’t worry about melting into the pavement! Ann Arbor temperatures for the weekend are expected to top out in the low 80s. After endless days of Death Valley-like weather, this is going to feel downright refreshing to us humans!

Alas, the heat and crowds would be a little much for our furry four-footed friends. So you won’t meet any of our rabbit residents at our booth. They’ll be lounging back at the sanctuary, in air conditioned comfort (thanks to your generous donations!). If you’d like to see our rabbits “in person,” talk to us about arranging a tour of our facilities.

We look forward to meeting you and answering your questions. See you at the fair!

Home of the (not so) brave

June 30, 2018

We commemorate the 4th of July in all sorts of ways. Some of us pack up a hamper and head to the beach for a picnic. Others take the family to Cedar Point or a Tigers game. There’s nothing like a relaxing float on the pontoon, or escaping summer’s stifling heat by spending the afternoon at the movie theatre.

No matter how we choose to spend our holiday, it wouldn’t be a true Independence Day celebration without fireworks. Depending on where you live, your neighborhood could be bombarded with everything from firecrackers and bottle rockets to elaborate (and loud!) pyrotechnic displays.

To our four-footed friends, bright flashing lights and window-rattling booms are far from festive. Think more along the lines of bunny Halloween. And not the fun kind with free candy and Peanuts TV specials! The 4th of July and other noisy holidays can terrify the most hardy rabbit.

You’ll know Sammy is stressed if he stomps with his back feet, races around in a panic, or huddles wide-eyed and motionless. He may become more aggressive, stop eating and drinking, or forget his litterbox training. He might decide to self-soothe by gnawing a hole in your sofa cushion or favorite shoes.

Save your loved buns from Fright Night with a few simple steps. Soundproof the best you can by keeping the windows and curtains closed. Run the AC on low, or set up a box fan for white noise. (Be careful to aim the air flow away from your pet.) Many bunny parents swear by relaxing background music as a calming aid.

Your rabbit needs somewhere to hide away. This can be as simple as a cardboard box with holes cut in it. Add a security blanket or old towels so Sam can work off his tension by burrowing. This is a good time to introduce a new toy or “brave bunny” snack.

Sometimes the best gift you can give your rabbit is your presence. Spend as much time as you can in the same room as him. Talk to him, sing him the Star Spangled Banner (trust us, he doesn’t care if you shriek like a wounded hyena) or better yet, a lullaby. Best wishes for a happy, safe holiday for ALL our friends!

Buns in the sun

June 13, 2018

Bright sunshine, a gentle breeze, chirping birds…it’s a joy to be outside on days like these. We may iu-5
be tempted to bring our rabbits outdoors to enjoy the fresh air too. The natural world can be the perfect bunny playground…but it can also present grave dangers. We’re all familiar with bunnyproofing our homes. It’s just as necessary to bunnyproof the back yard!

iu-3The first thing you need to do is figure out how you will contain your rabbit. If your yard is fenced, go around on your hands and knees and check for holes at the grass line. It’s been said that a rat can squeeze through a keyhole. A rabbit can give that rat a run for its money! Even if you have a sturdy fence, you might choose to be extra safe and set up an Xpen. How high can your rabbit jump? Make sure the pen is higher. Or invest in a lid.

Do you use pesticides or weedkillers on your lawn and gardens? These can be deadly to your iu-2rabbit. Only set your rabbit up in an area that you are certain is not chemically treated. Do you have mostly grass, or are there unfamiliar plants in your yard? Some weeds can be poisonous. Wild rabbits know to avoid these, but our domesticated companions don’t have the same instincts. Always be aware of exactly what is going into your rabbit’s mouth.

We can douse ourselves in Off when the bugs start to swarm, but our bunnies are unprotected. Mosquitoes, black flies, fleas, and ticks are all a concern. Choose an area away from tall brush or standing water. Do your neighbors have barking dogs or free-roam cats? Even if they don’t approach your rabbit, just the sound and smell of them can cause her to panic.

iurKeep an eye on the temperature. Rabbits, having lovely thick fur coats, can’t handle extreme temperatures well. What feels comfortable to us can cause our bunnies to dangerously overheat. Anything over 80° can be fatal. Always give your rabbit a place where she can get out of the sun, and provide a big bowl of water.

You wouldn’t let your toddler outside to play unsupervised, and your rabbit is even more iu-1vulnerable. She can’t cry out to let you know something’s wrong. Stay with your rabbit at ALL TIMES! Especially if you have a digger, who can tunnel her way under an Xpen or fence, or burrow under your back porch. We’ve had this happen at the sanctuary, and coaxing a rabbit who’s drunk on freedom back into a carrier is no easy feat!

Be sure to keep playtime relatively short, and watch your rabbit’s cues. Some bunnies love being outdoors and revel in the novelty. Others are much happier inside under the bed where it’s quiet and familiar. Let your rabbit tell you how she feels about her new adventure!

Buns in the sun

June 13, 2018

Bright sunshine, a gentle breeze, chirping birds…it’s a joy to be outside on days like these. We may iu-5
be tempted to bring our rabbits outdoors to enjoy the fresh air too. The natural world can be the perfect bunny playground…but it can also present grave dangers. We’re all familiar with bunnyproofing our homes. It’s just as necessary to bunnyproof the back yard!

iu-3The first thing you need to do is figure out how you will contain your rabbit. If your yard is fenced, go around on your hands and knees and check for holes at the grass line. It’s been said that a rat can squeeze through a keyhole. A rabbit can give that rat a run for its money! Even if you have a sturdy fence, you might choose to be extra safe and set up an Xpen. How high can your rabbit jump? Make sure the pen is higher. Or invest in a lid.

Do you use pesticides or weedkillers on your lawn and gardens? These can be deadly to your iu-2rabbit. Only set your rabbit up in an area that you are certain is not chemically treated. Do you have mostly grass, or are there unfamiliar plants in your yard? Some weeds can be poisonous. Wild rabbits know to avoid these, but our domesticated companions don’t have the same instincts. Always be aware of exactly what is going into your rabbit’s mouth.

We can douse ourselves in Off when the bugs start to swarm, but our bunnies are unprotected. Mosquitoes, black flies, fleas, and ticks are all a concern. Choose an area away from tall brush or standing water. Do your neighbors have barking dogs or free-roam cats? Even if they don’t approach your rabbit, just the sound and smell of them can cause her to panic.

iurKeep an eye on the temperature. Rabbits, having lovely thick fur coats, can’t handle extreme temperatures well. What feels comfortable to us can cause our bunnies to dangerously overheat. Anything over 80° can be fatal. Always give your rabbit a place where she can get out of the sun, and provide a big bowl of water.

You wouldn’t let your toddler outside to play unsupervised, and your rabbit is even more iu-1vulnerable. She can’t cry out to let you know something’s wrong. Stay with your rabbit at ALL TIMES! Especially if you have a digger, who can tunnel her way under an Xpen or fence, or burrow under your back porch. We’ve had this happen at the sanctuary, and coaxing a rabbit who’s drunk on freedom back into a carrier is no easy feat!

Be sure to keep playtime relatively short, and watch your rabbit’s cues. Some bunnies love being outdoors and revel in the novelty. Others are much happier inside under the bed where it’s quiet and familiar. Let your rabbit tell you how she feels about her new adventure!