Archive for the ‘General’ Category

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!

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“Bond. Buns Bond.”

December 6, 2017

“It is not good for man to be alone.” Those are some pretty famous words. And they’re just as true when you substitute “rabbit” for “man”. Nearly all of us have had the urge to flee our hectic lives and hole up in a remote cabin, far away from the the rest of humanity. But you won’t find many hermit bunnies! Rabbits are social creatures, happiest when they’re surrounded by others of their own kind.

We encourage potential bunparents to adopt in pairs, and for owners of single rabbits to find a friend for their bun. But it’s not as easy as throwing a bunch of fish in a tank together. How would you feel if a stranger showed up in your home and started eating out of your fridge or soaking in your tub? Rabbits are as choosy as we are when it comes to accepting a mate.

Bringing unfamiliar rabbits together isn’t like an episode of The Love Boat. Try Survivor, maybe! So how do you go about ensuring domestic harmony between your adoptees? Repeat after me: PATIENCE, PATIENCE, PATIENCE!!! A few lucky bunny bonds are a case of love at first sight, but most will take a few weeks, possibly a few months. Humans don’t go ring shopping on the first date, after all.

Step #1: Misery loves company. Start right off the bat by bringing your rabbits home in the same carrier. Trust us, they’ll be too anxious to fight. You might take back roads or make a few extra loops around the neighborhood. When you check on them, chances are excellent that they’ll be cuddled together. This is a good beginning!

Step #2: Quantity vs quality. For the next several days, keep your buns in separate pens, but within eye/ear/nose shot of each other. Let them get used to their new roomie’s sounds and smells. Then begin switching pens. On opposite days, Snowflake moves into Cottonball’s pen and vice versa. Both rabbits get accustomed to sharing the same spaces, just not at the same time.

Step #3: Short and sweet. Now you’ll bring them together in one smallish area, like an X-pen or a bathtub. Set your phone alarm for ten minutes and let them interact. If they ignore each other, gently guide them closer. It’s likely that there will be some minor tussling and a few tufts of flying fur as they decide who’s going to be top bun. Stay calm, nudge them apart and speak softly. At the end of the ten minutes, break out the banana. You want your rabbits to associate “togetherness” with “yummy”!

Step #4: Slow and steady. Gradually lengthen the amount of time together and vary the surroundings. You might set them up near the washing machine or beside the rug as you vacuum near them. The goal isn’t to terrorize them, but to encourage them to seek comfort from each other. If either rabbit seems overly stressed, or if you see too much hostility, it’s time to slow down a bit. Go back to ten minutes at a time.

Lots of treats, lots of praise, lots of patience! And lots of supervision. If you see mutual grooming, eating out of the same bowl, napping together, or nose-to-nose contact, you’ll know your buns are on the fast track to bonded bliss. (Keep in mind: ONLY after you’ve witnessed a continued period of harmony, with only minor sibling rivalry, should you put them together permanently.)

Wander in Wonderland

November 1, 2017

You’re probably familiar with the story of “Alice in Wonderland”, the children’s classic about a magical underground universe, accessed only through a rabbit hole. Everything is slightly askew in Wonderland, eye-popping and most definitely unexpected. Imagine the fun of exploring such a place!

Emma and Wayne, animal lovers in central England, decided to make the fantasy come true… for rabbits, anyway! It had long been their dream to open a sanctuary on their rural property. But a simple collection of pens just wouldn’t do. Never the kind to go halfway on a project, the couple unleashed all their creative energy on designing a rabbit utopia!

Wonderland Rabbit Sanctuary is a marvel of aesthetics, engineering, and practical luxury. There’s a treehouse, a clubhouse complete with “tap room”, log bridges, hillocks, and temperature controlled sleeping hutches, all under the watchful eye of Eddie, a two ton clay and sod bunny sculpture who dominates the yard.

All of the structures are linked above and below ground by a 400 foot maze of tubing (including a stretch that runs right through the middle of Eddie!). The perimeter is reinforced with buried fencing and electric wiring. Alpacas and donkeys patrol the exterior, warding off foxes, while flying kites dissuades buzzards.

When the rabbits have a hankering for a snack, they can munch on anything growing within their reach. Emma and Wayne plant only bunny-safe grasses, herbs, and flowers. Eddie’s fluffy tail is actually a patch of lavender! Well-placed plants repel biting insects, eliminating the need for caustic pesticides.

Wonderland is quite an undertaking, especially considering the couple’s tight budget. They foraged for whatever materials they could find, adapting their designs to fit. And they did all the landscaping and building work themselves. Truly a labor of love! To learn more about Wonderland Rabbit Sanctuary, check out their Facebook page!

 

Buns in Toyland

October 11, 2017

So you’ve brought home your new rabbit, and you’re sure you thought of everything. Little Pawla has a spacious, solid-bottomed pen. You’ve stocked up on the best quality hay, and your crisper drawer is stuffed with fresh herbs and greens. The litter in her box is dust and fragrance free, her water bowl is full, and you’ve got a reputable “bunny basics” guidebook on your shelf next to the nail clippers and grooming tools.

Pawla is destined for a very comfortable life, no doubt! You’ve made sure all her physical needs will be met. But there’s another facet to raising a healthy, happy bunny, one that often gets overlooked.

We all know that rabbits are extremely intelligent, curious creatures. They’re also social animals, with a ton of energy. And bored bunnies are destructive bunnies! Imagine spending all day in a room with a TV that only gets one channel (and that’s C-SPAN!) You might not gnaw your way to freedom like Pawla, but we’re willing to bet you’d be tempted.

Don’t let frustration build! It’s easy to entertain a rabbit. One of our former residents, Gordon, would spend hours burrowing, digging, and ripping newspapers. Phone books and cardboard boxes are bunny magnets, and they fulfill your bun’s innate need to chew. Want to get some use out of all that junk mail? Rabbit teeth are far more effective than any shredder! Pinecones, empty oatmeal boxes, clean laundry detergent caps are all quick and easy playthings.

Try to find time every day to get on the floor with your bun. Playing together is a surefire way to build or strengthen the bond between you. Make towers out of plastic stacking cups or wooden blocks, and let Pawla knock them down with her nose. You might roll a small ball across the floor for her to investigate. Hide treats in toilet paper rolls, lunch sacks, or tissue boxes and encourage her to dig them out.

Willing to offer yourself as a human jungle gym? Try lying flat with a treat on your stomach (if you’ve got a large bun, you might want to roll over!) and wait for Pawla to climb up and get it. Once she catches on, you can do this on your hands and knees. Believe us when we say there’s just nothing more entertaining than feeling a bunny bouncing around on your back!

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!

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!