Archive for the ‘Resources’ Category

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.

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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.)

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!

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!

 

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.

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!

Bunny on a budget

June 21, 2017

They’re fuzzy and lovable and impossible to resist! But if we’re not careful, our rabbits can easily turn iu-1into furry little money pits. We all want our rabbits to have the best, but the best can be a budget-breaker. But there’s no need to take out a second mortgage just to provide for your pet. Here are a few ideas how to skip the pet store markups and score smart substitutions.

bun pen1-1Start by thinking outside the cage, literally. The typical Pets-R-Us offerings are overpriced and far too small. Possibly the easiest way to house your rabbit is to invest in an x-pen. Your rabbit will have room to run, you’ll have easy access when it’s time to clean, and the panels are flexible, so you can reconfigure them as your room layout changes. Worried about the floor? Pick up an inexpensive waterproof tarp, and cover it with newspaper.iu-2

Don’t fall for the “Official Rabbit Product” sales pitch. Why spend $15 for a deluxe “rabbit” litter pan when you can get the same sized cat box for $3? And there’s no need to pay $20 for a bag of paper litter. Try wood stove pellets instead. A 40 pound supply runs about $5, and it lasts forever. An inexpensive spray bottle, a gallon of vinegar, and tap water make an effective and economical substitute for commercial cleaning solutions.

iuRabbit-friendly toy alternatives are everywhere. You could invest $20 in a fabric tunnel destined to be gnawed to shreds, or you could stop by the home improvement store and bring home a chew-resistant cardboard concrete form for half the price. While you’re there, grab a straw whisk broom and a roll of sisal rope for your bunny’s munching enjoyment. The next time you go grocery shopping, pick up a pack of lunch sacks. Fill them with hay and treats for a bunny scavenger hunt.

Speaking of munching, your rabbit, as well as your wallet, will thank you profusely if you avoid those iurdusty bags of stale pet store hay. Why pay $8 for a tiny one pound package that will last maybe a week? A bulk package of 25 pounds of farm fresh timothy on Amazon runs around $60 (with free shipping). That’s a net savings of $144! Use your windfall to splurge on locally grown dried herb and flower mixes to sprinkle on top.

 

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!

Thar she blows!

May 25, 2017

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.th-2

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.

th-1Does 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!

Furst aid

May 10, 2017

thHow would we get by without our medicine cabinets? Bandaids for those little cuts and scrapes, Benadryl for bug bites, Tylenol for headaches—these are just some things we need to keep on hand. They make us more comfortable, and keep little problems from spiraling out of control.

It’s just as important to nip our rabbits’ health concerns in the bud. Stocking up on a few inexpensive essentials for your rabbit can not only save him from discomfort, but might even save his life! Here’s a list of easily obtainable items that every rabbit parent should have at the ready. Most can be found in the pharmacy section of your favorite store.

  • Infant gas drops. Look for the active ingredient simethicone. Common brands are Gas-X and Mylicon, but generic versions are just as effective. Give 1-2 ccs every hour along with tummy rubs.
  • Desitin or A&D diaper ointment. These work well for sore hocks or urine scald. Be sure to use only original, plain formulas—no added zinc or aloe.
  • Styptic powder. As careful as we may be, sometimes we’re going to cut a nail too close to the quick. Styptic will stop the bleeding quickly. In a pinch, you can substitute corn starch.
  • Digital thermometer. A normal rabbit’s temperature is between 101 and 103. Anything lower and you’ll want to warm him up with towels from the dryer, anything higher and you can spritz his ears and paws with cool water, before calling the vet.
  • Critical Care. For rabbits in GI stasis who are refusing to eat, or for older rabbits who’ve been losing weight, this apple/banana flavored supplement can be a lifesaver. Available on Amazon or through your vet.th-2
  • Metacam. A prescription pain reliever, this wonder drug eases the pain from injuries, surgeries, stasis, and arthritis. Your vet can advise you on the proper dosage based upon your rabbit’s weight.
  • Pedialyte. Plain, unflavored only. If your rabbit needs supplemental fluids, you can syringe feed water or try this. Especially helpful for rabbits going through stasis.
  • Syringes. In a variety of sizes, to administer the above treatments. 3cc is the most common size, although some rabbits prefer 1cc. For force feeding, try 10 or 20cc syringes. These can be found at the pharmacy counter or on Amazon.