Archive for the ‘General’ Category

One more time

September 13, 2017

Our neighbors to the south are getting pounded. Harvey, Irma, now Juan…the wild weather is relentless. No doubt you’ve seen the pictures of the destruction, flooding, the empty store shelves and crumpled buildings. You’ve heard the news reports confirming how difficult it is for residents to find adequate shelter, food and water for themselves. Imagine the challenge faced by families with animals!

We published this blog a few months ago, but it seems like a good time for a reminder. In northern states like Michigan, we’re not likely to ever face a hurricane. But that doesn’t mean we’re off the hook! Tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, flooding, gusting winds, hail…if you haven’t experienced any of these yet, give it a couple more months!

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It’s storm season in Michigan, and that means we’ve got to be prepared. Whether we’re getting by with candles and canned food for a few days during a power outage, or hunkering down in our basements waiting out a tornado warning, having a plan is crucial. It’s even more important if we have four-legged family members.

Think about the last time you prepared to take Puffball in for a simple 20 minute vet visit. First you unearthed her carrier from the back of the closet, wiped out the dried pee you somehow missed when you put it away last time, dug around under your bed to find her favorite travel stuffie, remembered she needs a brave bunny goodie for the trip home, flushed her out from behind the fridge, and wrangled her into the carrier. Finally, an hour later, you were ready to hit the road.

A quick response is crucial in any emergency. A little advance planning now can save valuable time and untold stress later. Don’t wait a crisis hits! Gather the necessary bunny supplies and have them ready and easily accessible, before you need them.

If a storm strikes, you may have to move your pet quickly. A stressed rabbit can easily gnaw through a soft-sided carrier, so invest in one made of sturdy, hard plastic. Line the bottom with a thick towel and puppy pee pad. You don’t know how long she’ll be confined, so you want her to be comfortable. Make sure your name and contact information is written on or securely fastened to the carrier.

Fresh water is essential, so stash a couple gallons in a safe place (along with a bowl). We recommend storing at least five days worth of hay and pellets alongside the water. Pellets will stay fresh up to three months in a Tupperware container or Ziploc baggie. Hopefully, you won’t ever need to use this food, so remember to rotate it regularly to keep it from going stale.

Does your rabbit take any medications? Be sure to have a backup supply on hand. Same goes for extra puppy pads, in case you won’t have access to a litter box for a while. And don’t forget about your bun’s emotional health. A snuggly toy with your scent on it will be a big comfort to her.

Our buns absorb our emotions, so the calmer we remain, the easier it will be on them. Here’s to a safe, storm-free summer!

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Let me call you sweetheart

August 16, 2017

When you think of ancient Rome, what comes to mind? Many of us remember endless lists of names and dates, drummed into our heads by our teachers while we watched the clock praying the bell would ring soon.

Sure, Romans showed impressive military prowess, mastery of engineering and architecture, and progressive ideals regarding the rule of law—all remarkable for the time. But we might have paid a bit more attention in class if our teachers had thought to point out the most obvious example of Rome’s advanced culture—their respect for rabbits!

It’s true that Romans weren’t known for being vegetarian. And that respect wasn’t always enough to keep Fluffy off the dinner table. But rabbits were viewed much more highly in ancient Rome than they are in many places even today. Not simply “livestock”, Roman rabbits were revered not only for their practical value but for their grace, beauty, and cunning.

When Roman Emperor Galba “acquired” Spain early in the first century, he celebrated by issuing a coin featuring a lovely woman with a rabbit at her feet. The rabbit was thought to represent the desirability and usefulness of this new land. Later coins also featured rabbits on one side, with various other motifs on the reverse.

Rabbits were also a hugely popular subject for public art, mainly intricate mosaic floor designs. For the most part, these were peaceful scenes, with no hungry foxes or snares in sight. Artists took great care with shading and contour. Very often a rabbit was more than just a peripheral figure. It was actually the main subject.

Prominent Roman women with disposable incomes chose bunny brooches made of bronze and silver. One fascinating pin is in the shape of a rabbit, with two smaller rabbits engraved into its side. Rabbit figures were also incorporated into household goods, like this bronze handle.

When Rome expanded into Great Britain around the 11th century, they brought their rabbits with them. Thanks to British farmers, the bunnies enjoyed covered, free-range enclosures, quite a luxury for that era. And even in those hard, hungry times, some rabbits’ appeal and charm were sufficient to earn them a permanent place inside the home. The colloquial term for ancient British house rabbits? “Sweethearts”!

On the road again

July 26, 2017

It’s a summer tradition, the road trip! What could be more relaxing than spending the day cruising cross-country, sleeping in quaint roadside motels, stopping to explore new and exciting places? We humans love an adventure. Our bunny friends, on the other hand…

We’ve met a few rabbits who actually enjoy hitting the open road. One lives six months of the year in a travel trailer, navigating the West with his retiree parents. Another regularly accompanies his family to a campground up north, where he hangs out around the tent with everyone as they roast marshmallows or walk the beach (in his harness, of course!)

These rambling rabbits, however, are few and far between! Most of our furry family members are quite content to never leave their home. It’s stressful enough braving the car ride to the vet and back, and that lasts maybe an hour total!

If you’ve ever taken human kids four states over to visit Grandma, you know that as heartwarming as these trips seem in retrospect, in reality there’s a lot of boredom, car sickness, fussiness, whining, and bathroom close-calls. And unlike your bun, your kids likely had access to travel games, iPods, videos, M&Ms, ice cream cone pit stops, and varied scenery.

This is not to say that we should never travel with our rabbits, but weigh the pros and cons. As a general rule, if you’re planning to be gone two weeks or less, it’s probably best to leave Pawla behind with a pet sitter. If you decide to bring her along, be mindful of a few bunny travel tips.

Stick together: If you’ve got bonded bunnies, they both need to come. If one isn’t healthy or calm enough to travel, they both stay. Choose a carrier big enough for both of them, and line it with a soft towel and pee pad. And keep that carrier close. Never leave your rabbits unattended in a motel room, campsite, rest area—and especially not a car, even with the windows down!

Location, location, location: The safest and most convenient position in the car is in the backseat, with the sides parallel with the seat back and the front opening facing the center of the seat. If you have to stop quickly or get in an accident, their heads and necks won’t absorb the full blow. You’ll also be able to access them easily, and reach in to comfort them.

Food for thought: You probably wouldn’t have much of an appetite for lunch after a few rounds on a roller coaster! So don’t be surprised if your rabbit doesn’t touch her food during the drive. The stress of traveling, the unsteady motion of the car, the unsettling sounds all tend to suppress appetite. Putting a few soaking wet greens in her carrier may entice her to nibble a bit, and provide necessary water.

Be prepared: When we travel, we often tend to play it by ear. Didn’t pack enough food? We’ll just grab something along the way. Need aspirin, bug spray, clean socks? There’s a Walmart around every corner. But find yourself at the bottom of a bag of timothy hay with three days left to go on your trip, and it won’t be nearly as easy to replace. Always stow extra food, dishes, pee pads, medications and syringes, bedding, and at least a gallon of fresh water.

Out of the mouths of buns

July 19, 2017

If we can chew it, say goodbye to it! That’s a universal house rabbit motto. And that can lead to some dicey dilemmas. Sure, we want bunnies in our home. But we’re also pretty fond of our upholstered living room set and wall-to-wall Stainmaster carpeting.

Even little things can cause big headaches. Ever tried to charge a cell phone with a frayed lightning cable? Or change channels with a remote that’s missing half its buttons? And it’s safe to say that every one of us has learned the hard way not to toss our dirty clothes on the
floor…unless we’re into the “distressed” look.

It’s a given that we love our stuff. And it’s also a given that rabbits love to chew. A lot. So how do we balance our desire for creature comforts with our creature’s need for comfort? Here’s a list of dos and don’ts.

DO:

–recognize that you’re dealing with the four-pawed equivalent of a hyperactive toddler. Frodo is not going to respond to “no, no, we don’t put electrical cords in our mouths, sweetie”. Try the old bait-and-switch. Distract Frodo with a willow ball or seagrass mat, and get that cord out of sight! Block it with other furniture, run it under the rug, duct tape it to the floor, encircle it with cord protectors, etc. Out of sight means out of mind, and out of mouth!

DON’T:

–yell, chase, or strike your rabbit. Sure, he’ll drop that cord and run, but what has he learned? Not that cords are bad, but that humans are scary. This is a tough one, especially when you round the corner and see him about to take a big chunk out of your favorite video game controller. One sharp “Hey!” to break his concentration, followed by redirection to something chew-safe, is generally all that’s needed.

DO: 

–go undercover. As in, cheap area rugs over good carpeting. Newspapers under food and water bowls. Incontinence pads positioned on inviting “accident areas” like the bed. Cardboard shielding the floor under the sofa or around baseboards. Tarps or shower curtains to protect wood floors or tile. Tin foil wrapped around table legs. Think of it as “shelter chic”.

DON’T:

–forget to think like a rabbit. Cunning, clever, and creative, that is! That two-inch gap in the fencing? Might as well be an open hangar door. The burrow box placed within a foot of the bookcase? Think of it as a trampoline, launching Bunny up to his choice of shelves. Are you convinced he won’t dare cross the shiny kitchen floor to get at that bag of bird seed? If your bunny can dream it, he can do it.

DO:

–use this as an opportunity to streamline! Not all of us are inclined to neatly fold or hang our clothes every night. But we can be selective where we toss them. Even a dedicated rabbit can’t jimmy open a fully closed closet door (and we’ll never tell what ends up behind it!) It’s easier to take a few minutes and put the chips away after a snack than it is to clean up the carnage that will result from Squishie discovering them on the coffee table while your back is turned.

DON’T:

–lose your sense of humor! Make a game of outwitting Voracious Veronica, and pat yourself on the back each day your home remains relatively unscathed. Trick her into chewing what you want her to chew—old ratty towels, margarine tubs, cardboard boxes, junk mail, toilet paper rolls stuffed with hay, balls of newspaper. Surround her with fun things, and she’ll never notice your treasures.

Something to chew on

July 5, 2017

As a rescue facility, we hear certain questions over and over. Two of the most common are “Why does my rabbit chew on everything? How do I make him stop?” The answers are easy: “Because that’s what rabbits do. You can’t stop them. And you don’t want to.” Let us explain.

There’s a reason that so many of us are addicted to our gum, our pretzels, our gummy bears. Chewing them just feels good! But there’s a difference between our buns and us. We enjoy using our teeth; rabbits NEED to chew and gnaw. It’s vital for their dental and emotional health. Don’t mistake your rabbit’s destructive desires to be willful Bad Bunny Behavior. They’re not!

You’d hardly blame your toddler for taste-testing that six-month-old jelly bean he retrieved from under the sofa. Or for deciding that Dad’s sunglasses are the perfect afternoon snack. We know that if something makes it into our kid’s hand, it’s probably going in his mouth next. That’s just the way young children work.

Guess what? Our four-footed kids have the same all-consuming curiosity and lack of boundaries as our human ones. Rabbits, lacking hands, can’t pick something up and look it over, so they rely on their noses and mouths to tell them what they need to know. Which is mainly, is this edible or is this useful?

Look into your bunny’s mouth. Those fangs are hard to miss! Did you know that unlike our teeth, rabbit incisors grow continuously? Without anything to grind against, bunny teeth will just keep lengthening, until it becomes impossible for the rabbit to chew at all. Without intervention, this inevitably leads to starvation.

A diet rich in fibrous hay is sufficient to keep the normal rabbit’s teeth in check, but that’s only half of the equation. Nibbling and gnawing is a rabbit’s main means of entertainment. It’s how they examine the world, how they interact with it, how they have fun with it! Chewing is instinctive behavior in rabbits. It’s what they were designed to do, it’s what they excel at.

Of course you don’t want Fluffy leaving her mark on Grandma’s heirloom credenza, and you’d rather keep your computer cord in one piece. And if she gets her jaws on your Hershey bar, you’ll have bigger problems than sugar shock. Many things in our homes should and must stay off limits.

In our next blog, we’ll give tips on how to keep Fluffy satisfied without sacrificing your furniture, shoes, textbooks, earbuds…and so on. It’s easier than you might think!

Hold everything!

June 14, 2017

Have you ever held a newborn baby? No doubt you moved slowly, supporting the most delicate parts like the neck and spine. We all know infants are fragile. One wrong move could cause serious, lifelong injury. Would it surprise you to learn that our rabbit friends are equally vulnerable?

Watching your rabbit race around the room in a Bunny 500 or launching acrobatic binkies, it can be hard to believe he’s not indestructible. But beneath that impressive musculature lies a skeleton about as sturdy as the balsa wood airplane you made in second grade. Remember what happened the first time you accidentally sailed that plane into the side of the house?

You surely remember the shock of seeing a certain pop singer’s young baby dangling over the side of a balcony, supported only by a crook of Dad’s arm? We can come up with a dozen reasons why this is a bad idea—dangerous, painful, frightening to the child, a whole list of moral objections—yet most people don’t bat an eye when seeing a rabbit hauled around much the same way.

Did you know a rabbit’s ears are among the most nerve-rich and sensitive parts of his body? They may seem strong, and convenient, but they were not designed to support weight. Imagine you were suspended in midair by only a wad of your hair. Hurts like heck, doesn’t it? And while it’s natural for Mama Rabbit to lug her newborn kits around by the scruff of their necks, handling older buns in this way causes extreme pain.

A frightened, suffering rabbit will often try to thrash and kick his way free. Those magnificent muscles can do a lot of damage…to the rabbit himself. Broken bones, bruised organs, spinal fractures, permanent paralysis—the majority of such injuries are a direct result of a panicking bunny fighting for freedom.

As prey animals, rabbits are aware that any wrong move could mean disaster. Is it any wonder they resist being picked up and held? But sometimes, we have no choice. Vet visits, nail trims, medication dosing…as much as your rabbit hates having his paws off the ground, it’s going to happen.

One of our favorite techniques is called the football hold. Your rabbit is tucked against your chest, head under your arm, just as though you were going to run him in for a touchdown. This position supports his hindquarters, where his strongest muscles are and keeps his spine in a neutral position. Rabbits are a bit like ostriches and small children—they figure if they can’t see you, you can’t see them. It’s comforting for a bun to have a place to tuck his head.

For a calmer rabbit, hold him vertically against your chest, one arm circled under his bunny buns, the other snaked under his front legs. Hold him firmly so that he doesn’t jostle, but not tightly enough to squash him. Picture yourself skydiving for the first time. Sure, you could dangle from the parachute alone, but most of us would probably feel more secure with the trusted, experienced instructor’s arms around us!

The write stuff

May 3, 2017

Why do we write this blog? To educate, to inspire, to guide, to celebrate, to commiserate, to entertain…to promote an understanding of how to make our rabbits’ lives as happy, safe, and healthy as possible. We remember what it was like to be a new bunny parent—all the questions, all the concerns, all the happy discoveries. There’s just so much more to raising a rabbit than what you’ll find in a pet store brochure or basic “beginner” bunny book.

So it is with great pride that we announce our place in the Top 25 Small Animal Blogs of 2017, compiled by Bel-Rea Institute of Animal Technology. Bel-Rea has been educating veterinary techs for over 40 years, and is fully accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association and the US Department of Education. So they know their stuff!

It’s for you, our loyal readers, that we write—those of you who have rabbits, want rabbits, love rabbits. There’s no end to the list of topics we could cover, from the serious to the light-hearted, to the off-beat, to the “why didn’t I think of that?”. You deserve quality information that you can use, and it’s our goal to keep providing it.

What would you like to see here in upcoming weeks? Do you have specific questions about rabbit health or behavior? Are you curious about how our sanctuary works? Have you discovered any useful hacks to save time or money? Have you heard of an interesting rabbit-related event or attraction? Would you like to share your GLRS adoption happy ending?

Please let us know via the comments section, or send an email to carrie@rabbitsanctuary.org.

Snow days

March 1, 2017

iuIt’s been a tough winter for snow lovers. Days of balmy spring weather have all but eviscerated our dreams of snowshoes and sleigh rides. But those of us who still long to be surrounded by soft, fluffy whiteness don’t need to wait for the whims of Mother Nature. We can stock our homes with snowballs from the sanctuary, the special kind that won’t sting our fingers or melt all over our carpet!iur

This week marks the end of “Adopt A Rescued Rabbit Month”, and if you’ve checked out our Petfinder page, you may have noticed a pattern. An avalanche of white bunnies has descended upon our barns! Californians, New Zealands, Florida Whites—these are among the most beautiful rabbits ever created, and the best natured.

1Maybe your philosophy is “bigger is better”. Than you’ll love Martha, a plus-size stunner who never refuses a cuddle. Or a snack. Martha wants your Fritos more than you do, and for a big girl, she’s remarkably quick. But she’ll forgive you for offering fresh veggies instead, as long as you don’t stop petting her until she’s good and ready.

For double the pleasure, consider twin brothers Bailey and Shepard. Just1-1 put down the grooming shears! Thanks to Daddy’s wild streak, Shepard sports a lovely long lion’s mane. Unless you’re their mama, that’s the only way you’re going to be able to tell them apart. These two are on the quiet side, which makes them ideal roommates, especially in the middle of the night!

3Do you appreciate a rabbit that’s a little rough around the edges? Fern’s a former street urchin turned mom of eight. There’s no need to break out the shampoo—she comes by her muddy markings honestly. Fern’s a tough cookie with a tender heart. If you’re looking for a bunny buddy  who can weather any of life’s storms, Fern’s your girl.iu-2

We can understand being a bit hesitant about bringing home a white sweater or a white rug, especially in winter. But you don’t have to worry about dripping hot chocolate down the front of your bunny, or tracking slush through your rabbit’s fur. With a little TLC, your living, breathing snowball is guaranteed to stay sparkling and fresh, no matter what the weather!

Magical Miffy

February 22, 2017

She came into the world as “Nijntje”, and in the sixty years since, she hasn’t aged a day. So screen-shot-2017-02-20-at-4-15-27-pmbeloved is she that she has not one, but two museums honoring her extraordinary life. She’s instantly recognizable all over the globe, and can even stop traffic on a dime! Who is this sainted celebrity? And could she really have…four feet??

gettyimages-76212962-767bc88887ca1978aff2b406706950bf4dd853a4-s700-c85-1Nijntje, or Miffy as she’s known outside of her birthplace, was the brainchild of Dutch illustrator and author Dick Bruna. Everything was creative fodder for Bruna, so when his son spied a wild rabbit on their walk, Bruna quickly concocted a story about it. A deceptively simple line drawing later, and Miffy was born.16233314379_19ba523e13_z

The first Miffy book was published in 1955. Much like a viral video today, soon everyone heard about the little white bunny. Miffy mania struck the Netherlands like a tsunami! Children and adults alike gravitated toward the innocent and appealing Miffy and her newly created animal buddies.

ap_17048581521191_custom-85e8b0b344c6787ce6869624ca8fa889c481d9c2-s700-c85And just like rabbits are prone to do, Miffy multiplied. One country couldn’t hold her; not even one continent! Bruna’s unassuming little bunny found fame across Europe, Asia, and even North America. Miffy went on to star in dozens of stories. 85 million copies of her books have sold to date, in 50 languages.15797030804_47d032ef96_z

You don’t need to read kiddie lit to experience the phenomenon, though. Thanks to a bit of marketing genius, Miffy can be found on just about every product known to man. There are Miffy lamps, Miffy flip flops, Miffy silverware, Miffy toothbrushes, even Miffy bandaids and facial cleanser.

screen-shot-2017-02-20-at-4-21-02-pmWander around downtown Utrecht and you’ll see little white ears wherever you go! There’s so much Miffy, in fact, that it takes two buildings to properly represent her. The Miffy Museum sits right across the street from the Centraal Museum. Miffy will even help you across the busy intersection. Just look up! Instead of a boring “Lopen” (walk)  and “Wacht” (wait) crossing sign, take your cues from a red or green Miffy!

Love lessons

February 14, 2017

How does your bunny love you? Let us count the ways. Or rather, let us show you! Our rabbits 21603863-1-x100aren’t ones to hide their emotions, but bunny affection can take some unusual forms. If you pay careful attention, you just might hear the “I love you” message they’re sending.

iu-2Have you ever felt something poke your ankle, then looked down to see a fuzzy little furball hopping away? That’s a bunny nose bonk. Think of it as a pat-on-the-back kind of greeting, just a casual checking in. Or you might look down to see him rubbing his chin on your shoe. Congratulations, you’ve just been marked as his property!

That gentle chattering you hear whenever you pet your bun? Cats aren’t the only animals who purr iurwhen they’re content. Consider that sound a verbal hug. If you’re really lucky, you’ll get a few kisses too. When your rabbit feels bonded to you, he may groom you with his tongue. If you’ve just eaten something sweet, he’ll probably lay one right on your lips!

If your bunny is young, he may perplex you by running around and around you in an endless circle. Here’s a hint: if he’s still “intact”, this is your cue to make that vet appointment, STAT. He’s letting you know that it’s time for him to choose a mate, and you’re looking like an awfully good candidate.

socks_with_toe_holeSometimes rabbits choose a rather questionable way to express affection. Gnawing and chewing aren’t reserved just for the baseboards. Socks, pant legs, shoelaces, and any other item of clothing at bunny level is fair game. So is bare skin! It can be tough for him to remember that we humans are a bit more sensitive than his bunny buddies.iu

You’ll know you’ve reached the top of his love list the first time you witness your rabbit stop dead in his tracks and flop over onto his side, motionless. Despite what your eyes will tell you, this is not an occasion to freak out and rush him to the ER! What you’ve just seen is the ultimate expression of bunny bliss, the bunny flop. It just doesn’t get any better than that.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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