Saturday, 21 March 2015

Three Years Old!

Our beloved boy has turned three years old. Oh, how time flies! This sounds old-fashioned but - it seems like only yesterday that we brought him home.

This little prince has opened up even more parts of the bunny's world to me. Through him, I've learnt how bunnies would also have special needs. I thought I'd already know everything after reading lots of bunny books, but it turns out there's still so much to learn.

Jippie never let his disability get in his way - his binkies are spectacular! Sometimes, he would trip on the splayed leg when turning a corner (when he runs too fast), but he simply stands up and resumes his energetic hops. 

He's a shy fella, though. It took a really long time before he completely trusted us. In the past, when we were eating apple and cutting out a small piece for him, he would stand beside his treat bowl politely, waiting for us to place the apple inside the bowl. Getting too close to humans wasn't something he felt comfortable with. 

Now, the apple routine has changed. Jippie's steps his feets on ours and uses his nose to bonk our legs impatiently! (... And occasionally his claws would poke our skin at a certain angle ... Ooouchh!!) 

Every single night before I go to sleep, I gently rub Jippie's cheeks and tell him, 'Good night, Rup. See you tomorrow, boy.' And I say, 'I love you.' Maybe animals can't understand human language, but they can feel and understand our voices. 

The arrival of bunnies in my life is the best thing that has ever happened to me. Without them, I would never have anything else I have today. They changed my life. Even if they have crossed the Bridge, they're still close to my heart. They're with me, just not physically. 

Jippie's our special boy and we love him so very much. Happy birthday, little Jup. xx May we have many bunderful years ahead together! 

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Litter Training Your Bunny

What is litter training?
Litter training is the process of training an indoor pet (in this case, bunnies) to dispose of his/her waste materials in a litter box. Bunnies can be trained to urinate in a litter box.

Benefits of litter training:
  • your cleaning work is eased and the process is made faster. Further benefits from this include:
    • you'll have more time for your bunny.
  • the bunny's play area space can be expanded. Further benefits from this include:
    • more toys can be placed into the play area.
    • you'll have more space to sit when you're hanging out with your bunny.
    • bunny will have more space to hop, run and binky.
  • the bunny can be given full access to all places of the house. Further benefits from this include:
    • interaction between bunny and human naturally increases even more.

The advantages listed above obviously benefits both bunny and human. However -

Expectations and reality facts:
  • the bunny will still be extremely likely to poop at random places OR while hopping around.
  • occasionally (or even a few times a day), bunny may still urinate outside the litter box.
  • the litter training process may take weeks or months; the time varies between bunnies.
  • young bunnies (below 6 months old) tend to be more difficult to litter train.
  • adult bunnies (above 6 months old) tend to be easier to litter train.

Beginning with the Right Attitude
  • DO NOT scold, hit, or punish your bunny in any way when he/she does not use the litter box. The bunny would associate the litter box with bad treatment in this way, and this does not help the training process.
  • When you spot your bunny using the litter box, DO
    • give lots and lots of praise!
    • reward your bunny with a piece of his/her favourite vegetable each time.
  • Bunnies learn by doing the right thing and being rewarded, NOT by making mistakes and being scolded.

Things needed:
Note: Various suggestions are listed in (i), (ii) ... etc.

1. Litter box
  • Purpose: The litter box is where the bunny hops inside to urinate.

(i) Household-item-turn-litter-box
This is the litter box my bunnies use. It is a two-layered basket-like object - its original usage was for people to place washed vegetables and fruits in it to dry.

  • Notes on litter box:
    • If the litter box purchased has two layers, check that the holes on the upper layer are smaller than your bunny's feet. This is because if the bunny's foot gets stuck in one of the holes, there is a dangerous risk of the leg breaking as he/she attempts to pull out the foot in panic.
    • You can place rubber matting on the upper layer to better ensure safety.

      Rubber matting on upper layer of litter box

(ii) Cat litter box*
More on using cat litter boxes for bunnies here

2. Litter
  • Purpose: To be placed in the litter box to absorb the bunny's urine.

(i) Newspaper
  • the cheapest and safest kind of litter.
  • you can tear newspapers into shreds or simply into halves before you line them on the litter box.

    Dutchie amidst shredded newspaper.

(ii) Carefresh litter*

  • Notes on litter:
    • It is strongly advised that you DO NOT purchase the following types of litter:
      • pine OR cedar shavings - phenols, natural volatile chemicals in the wood, have been found to cause respiratory problems and liver damage in bunnies.
      • clumping OR clay-based litter - causes potentially fatal blockage if the bunny consumes it.
    • Personally, I also advise that you DO NOT purchase any shavings that are sold in different scents. Once, I bought a "natural" scented shaving and I noticed that my bunnies (and also me) sneeze a lot when the shavings are used. When I stopped using the shavings, everyone returned to normal.

3. Some poop and urine-soaked litter
  • Purpose: To be placed in litter box. This tells the bunny that the litter box is where he/she should "go".

4. Puppy pens
  • Purpose: To confine the bunny to a limited area and used throughout the litter training process.
    Puppy pens
  • Note on puppy pens:
    • The puppy pens should be able to be hooked and unhooked, so that they can be rearranged to create different play area sizes.

      One of the hooks

5. A shallow storage box (optional)
  • Purpose: To contain the litter box. I use such a box because sometimes, my bunnies back up so far in the litter box that urine goes over the edge.

    The storage box lined with a layer of newspaper

*Recommended by many bunny owners, but I personally have not tried this.

The litter training process
1. Place your chosen type litter into the litter box.

A layer of newspaper at the bottom and shredded ones on top.

2. Place urine-soaked litter and several poop into the litter box.

Placing urine-soaked newspaper into the litter box.
(Alternatively, you can use a paper towel to mop up a puddle of urine and place that.)

Placing poop into the litter box.

3. Place the prepared litter box in your bunny's favourite toilet spot.
  • Also, make Timothy hay available right next to the litter box. Bunnies like to munch on hay and use the litter box at the same time.
I've made two holes in a paper towel and stuck hay into them; the paper roll is hung onto the cage using a S-hook.

Jippie eating hay

4. Confine your bunny to a limited area using puppy pens.
  • When your bunny successfully uses the litter box for a period of time, eg: a week, rearrange the pens to create a larger space. Then, after a week, if he/she successes again, expand more!
  • Example:

Week 1
Week 2

Week 3

The cleaning chores
  • Litter boxes should be cleared and washed daily
  • Rinse the box thoroughly with water. 
  • DO NOT leave out any areas, or they'll get really foul-smelling.

As an additional note here, I would suggest that you buy more than one litter box, so that while Litter Box #1 is being washed, your bunny can use Litter Box #2.

The cleaning process:
  1. Wear a mask and a pair of plastic gloves.
  2. Throw out the litter and wash the litter box.
  3. Place new litter into a second, clean litter box.

General tips
  • If your bunny has chosen a new toilet spot right after the litter box is placed in his/her old one, move the litter box to the new spot. It's easier to follow the bunny's choice rather than instruct (which is quite impossible) him/her to urinate in a spot you have chosen.
  • If your bunny has many favourite toilet spots, you can supply the bunny with more litter boxes, one for each spot. Reduce the number of boxes gradually as your bunny develops the habit of using a litter box.

Lastly, as a reminder, be patient when litter training your bunny! Bunnies learn by doing the right thing and being rewarded, NOT by making mistakes and being scolded.

First published on 04/08/2011

Monday, 9 March 2015

Taken 3

Taken 3, the third movie in the Taken series. Taken was epic, Taken 2 was great, but Taken 3 ... I personally think it's okay as an action film because a plot exists and Liam Neeson stars in it.

What I didn't expected was the movie to be unintentionally hilarious at certain points. :P

#1: Stuart St John's "poems"
Oh, this made us laugh like hysterics! We still laugh about it till now. Stuart owes money to Malankov, and is terrified by him, but when Bryan Mills demands Stuart to tell him everything he knows about Malankov, Stuart begins dramatically, "Oleg Malankov".

He then proceeds to talk about how Malankov is a skilled, evil man. This wasn't supposed to be funny at all, but the way Stuart says it was as if he was eulogizing Malankov's "achievements" in a poem.

Oleg Malankov
He's as tough as they come
He served in the Russian army when they invaded Afghanistan
He was Spetnaz
It's like our Navy Seals ...

The second "poem" was about the security in Melankov's bulding. Stuart began, once more, with "Malankov."

He works out of his penthouse apartment
He has a private elevator with two bodyguards ...

Why does he have to state Malankov's name each time? XD

#2: Battle between Malankov and Bryan Mills 
Mills was as cool as usual. Malankov, on the other hand ... Despite using a machine gun, he kept missing Mills, who was only holding a small pistol gun and was probably exhausted after fighting off the bodyguards outside. So much for skilled evil. :P

What made it even funnier, was how Malankov here was simply wearing a bath robe and underwear. And as known by the audience, Malankov died in the end. In the underwear, in a very hilarious posture.

#3: Doltzer and the bagels
The police inspector throughout the movie is shown eating and being amused by bagels. He ate the bagels right at the crime scene (!), he ate bagels at a shop, and revealed at the end "It was the bagels" that somehow, made him believe Mills was innocent.

Still, #3 was nowhere near as funny as Malankov. 

Monday, 2 March 2015

Jippie and His First Day Home

- This story took place on 20th March 2011 - 

Dutchie had been our single bunny for almost half a year, and we felt that he seemed lonely. When I saw him resting in his play area, a quiet, lone rabbit,  I hoped for him to have a fellow bunny friend.

One day (that is, on 20th March), my father called back home and said there was one black bunny left in a pet shop he walked by. As my mother recalled now: "When your father told me about it ... I felt sense of urgency - a need, to bring that bunny home."

Black was generally regarded as an unlucky colour to people at my place. Black could be a symbol of elegance when it comes to clothing (exclude during CNY) , but when it's the fur colours of animals, some would say it's 'dark' and 'uncleaned'. 

Me and my family don't believe in such nonsense, of course. This was the other reason that made my mother drove both of us to the pet shop within an hour. We were going to bring the bunny home.

The pet shop* was one of the irresponsible kind. There was a cage of birds right above the rabbit cage, and a cat cage to the left. The seeds and corn-like food for the feathered animals scattered all over the floor. It was a messy sight. 

I bent down to have a better look at the bunny. He was eating his cecotropes. I noticed the posture of his right hind leg was ... different, but I brushed it off. It was probably my imagination. The bunny was eating his cecotropes, and that should be the reason for the weird leg angle.

That was the stupid lie I told myself for 30 seconds until my mother said, "The bunny's leg seems strange."

"Er - no, maybe it's ..." Who was I kidding? The bunny's leg was indeed abnormal.

I remember feeling scared and insecure. How are we going to take care of an injured bunny? How? And the bunny was so little, he was the size of my mother's palm. How? I was still a student, shouldn't I be worrying about my studies instead of such realities? I wanted to save him but I don't know how to ... Finally, it was my mother's insistence that I, for once, came out of my "comfort zone" of ignorance. F

The shopkeeper walked towards us. My mother told him that the bunny's leg was hurt. He bent down and checked the bunny, too. He said he didn't notice it before, then he told us not to buy the bunny as he was injured.

It's funny how animals in pet shops were treated as 'faulty goods' when they're injured.

A few moments later, a person I presumed to be the shopkeeper's son came. He was pressing the buttons on his phone. We demanded a cheaper price for the bunny.

'No,' the young man shook his head and said dismissively, his stubby fingers continued to press the buttons. Nevertheless, just because this loser of a person wasn't going to budge, we couldn't just leave the bunny there. We paid the full amount.

The shopkeeper placed the bunny in a cardboard box and at our request, gave us some of the remaining pellets (so that we could slowly switch them to the healthy pellets we have at home). What I didn't expect was for him to pour the bowl of powdery pellets straight into the box, though ...

On the car trip back home, I sat beside the box. I remember repeatedly saying, "This is crazy ... Crazy ..." with an almost maniacal laugh. It was the first time I did something real to help a living being. The bunny was now safe with us.

Instead of a cage, I set up a pet carrier for the bunny at home. I placed a litter box we bought earlier and lined it with some newspaper. The little black bunny settled in the carrier and ate some hay. He was so small; barely taking up half the space of the litter box. Recalling what I did back then, however, I'll admit that that set-up wasn't the most ideal.

Soon after, Dutchie came hopping into the living room to investigate. "There's another bunny, Dutch. You have a new friend!" we told him.

Dutchie stopped in his tracks when he was at close distance with the pet carrier. He began to approach slowly in careful tip-toes instead of his usual hop. In our heads, we imagined a miracle; Dutchie and the new bunny becoming soul buddies at first sniff. Well ... their  first meeting wasn't as dramatic, but it was certainly pleasant. :)

Dutchie and Jippie; the second day. Their size difference is very obvious!

At night, we opened the carrier door to let the bunny explore around. I remember watching my mother holding the bunny gently in her palm, and I told myself to remember this moment, that this little fella was only palm-sized when he arrive, as I know bunnies grow up so very fast. Their size would double within a few months!

Baby Jippie in the pet carrier

For the bunny's name, I originally wanted to call him 'Tippy' or 'Tippie', because he had a bit of white on his nose, forehead, and the tip of his front leg. In the end, we settled on 'Jippie'. 

Jippie drinking water from the water bowl

His cute, button-like nose! 
(Later on, Jippie was housed in a cage.)

*The pet shop has been taken over by another group of people last year. Though I do not support pet shops, the condition has improved.