Friday, 6 January 2017

New To Rabbits? Start Here!

I was once a new rabbit owner, and the one thing I clearly remember was feeling so helpless and confused. There's an incredibly enormous amount of information on the internet and I felt bombarded by them all.

This post is intended for those who are taking their first step into the world and community of rabbits. If you currently have a rabbit at home but feel at a lost as to what you should do, I'm sure you'll find something useful here. 

Let's take it slow and start small, shall we?

So, the rabbit. The cute furry animal with long ears and a small poofy tail. They hop around and oh - they eat carrots.

But how do you really go about taking care of a rabbit?

First things first - what do rabbits really eat? In general, a rabbit should have:
  • Unlimited hay
  • Limited amount of pellets (depending on the rabbit's weight, etc)
  • A mixture of vegetables
  • Small amounts of fruits as treats

It must be highlighted that carrots are considered to be the treats mentioned above.  A rabbit has a delicate digestive system. Treats, if given in excess, could cause severe or lead to fatal issues. A rabbit should NEVER have a whole carrot that he/she can munch on whenever and wherever like Bugs Bunny.

Yes, cartoons lied to us. Our childhood has been a lie. I know that feeling, my friend.

For details on a rabbit's diet, click here. 

Moving on - how should you house a rabbit?

" ... In a cage, maybe?"

Indeed, nearly all pet owners need a cage. But a cage is not enough. Because of their relatively small size, many people automatically have the impression that a rabbit "should be kept in a cage". Rabbits need space and freedom as well!  So, here's what you'll need:
  • A cage (Note: Take the rabbit's adult size into consideration. He/she should be able to fully stretch out within the cage.)
  • Puppy pens to build playpen setup

Other miscellaneous items you would need to complete the setup should include:
  • A food bowl
  • A water bowl
  • A hay rack/ball to contain the hay (sold at pet shops) OR make your own!

For more information on housing a rabbit indoors, refer to this post.

This post has covered the basics of food and housing - the two most important aspects you'll need to know to care for this magnificent creature we call a rabbit. You don't need to have the knowledge on the history or the Greek or Latin origin of the word "rabbit" to care for one - do all of that at your own leisurely pace. You're now good to go! 

Before you continue on your journey, one word of advice I'd like to give you: see every single rabbit a singular, unique individual. What one rabbit does another might not. There is just so much more to rabbits and I just can't find words to describe how amazing these fellows are. 

Alright, ignore my sentimental feelings. Explore the rest of the blog posts here.

Good luck! 

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Rabbits in Malaysia

This post is to share specific little bits of bunny things and where we got them in Malaysia. No more googling for items and seeing everything quoted in US dollars. (Aw, I do feel a little like a left-out foreigner sometimes.) 

To the fellow Malaysians out there who also have beloved rabbit(s) as a part of the family: I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels that, when it comes to rabbits, there is just so much lacking compared to other countries. For one, there aren't many good choices if you need a rabbit vet. Another, whenever the term "Adopt, don't shop" phrase pops up, you think: "I want to. But where? There are no organisations or anything rescuing rabbits here ... "

On a lighter note, you're usually the only one having a herbivorous furry among your relatives while the rest of them have dogs and cats. When your friends see photos of your rabbit, more often than not the reaction you get is: "Wah! You don't keep in cage meh? Just walk around the house like that ah?"

Oh, well.

But without further ado -

Over the years I have bought hay from different brands. Currently, I'm sticking with Gold Class Timothy hay from Beh & Yo. We used to buy Oxbow hay, but our rabbit, J, didn't like eating it much after a while. And with the exchange rate dropping ... *cough*

Anyhow, we're currently sticking with this Timothy hay, and we buy them from Global Pets (they have a lot of branches, especially in Johor). It's approximately RM30 per box.

It's possible to directly order hay from Beh & Yo. I'm actually from JB, and around this area jumbo value packs are rather hard to come by. There's the postage cost, but bulk-buying can help save a bit of costs over time. Contact them through this email:

Hay is crucial in a rabbit's diet, so please DO NOT settle on buying cheap hay. Not to say that cheaper hay are all evil (EVILL, EVIIIIL), but when I bought Dr Bunny's Timothy hay (about RM15 per pack), J's fur began to shed in abnormally huge amounts. His fur thinned out considerably, and he looked so dishevelled. Quality hay is important when it comes to maintaining a rabbit's coat and health!

Vegetables and fruits are bought from mini markets along with us humans weekly groceries. Basil and mint are our own homegrown herbs. I'm now trying to grow Kangkong in the garden to meet J's demand. It's really rewarding to harvest a basketful of vegetables and not have to worry about chemical pesticides.

Ah, I must not forget about the hay ball. A similar hay ball is sold at Global Pets, but the metal seemed to be of lower quality ... The hay balls I have are bought from a pet shop in Singapore when I went on a trip there.

Cage, puppy pens
The cage we bought wayyy back in 2011 costs about RM200. The puppy pens were RM20 per piece. These were bought from Global Pets.

The cage-cum-litter box J's using is a different one. A usual wired cage isn't suitable for his splayed leg, so with a bit of modifications to the bottom (to separate rabbit from litter, poop, etc), here's the result:

J: This is an embarrassing photo. There's hay on my head.
(Oh gosh, sorry!)

The litter box shown in Litter Training Your Bunny is actually a sort of basket bought from the RM5 shop, DAISO. The wide range of household items sold has quite a good quality, even though they're all indeed priced with a mere RM5. With a little imagination, a lot of them can be used by your rabbit!

I don't really know any crazy dedicated rabbit people in Malaysia yet, so if you're from around here and you have some rabbit tips to share, don't hesitate and drop a comment below!

Note: 嗯,马来西亚人嘛,留言用华语的也可以哦,嘿嘿。不过遗憾,马来文就不是很boleh了。

Friday, 25 November 2016

The Sea Dog

Introducing a new member of the family: Wegan (from the term "Vegan". Though being a dog, Wegan is not a vegan.)

Wegan was an abandoned puppy. It was unlikely that she was born a stray, because my mother found her in a cardboard box, which was discarded on the edge of a small nearby forest. It was lucky she didn't venture out from the box, otherwise she would have tumbled down a slope and who knows how deep into the bushes.

Wegan in a cage

There was a maggot-infested wound on Wegan's back. Images of maggots were disturbing enough, but seeing the actual thing ... endless wiggling ... the oozing of this horrible, smelly liquid ... 

The maggot wound (yikes!)

The wound was clearly a source of great agitation. Wegan restlessly paced around our home that evening. We took her to the vet the very next day. Overnight, the nasty maggots seemed to have already burrow deeper into the flesh, and we discovered that there were actually two wounds. The other one was smaller, and was still hidden by her fur.

Wegan waits at the vet

The wound after the maggots were removed 

We didn't really plan on keeping a dog, but things flooded in one after another ... Two days right after her first vet visit to remove the maggots, Wegan suddenly lost her appetite and was extremely lethargic. She couldn't walk several steps without her legs going weak. Another vet visit and the vet diagnosed her with tick fever and severe anaemia. Antibiotics and vitamins were prescribed. A blood transfusion was recommended. 

Now, our personal experiences with vets weren't exactly positive, and we all knew that after the energy-draining blood transfusion process, Wegan would simply be placed in a cage next to other ill dogs and be given a bowl of dry, processed dog food. Wegan was frightened of blood tests to the point that she would have muscle spasms. It was our decision to not go with the blood transfusion. Through nutritious, home-cooked meals my mother made, Wegan regained her health. The wound took about a fortnight to heal over.

The above events took place four months ago. Wegan came to our home on the 21st of July. We were people who were more fluent in the language of lagomorphs, so having a dog in the house is something entirely new to our family. Dogs are common companion animals, so to the dog owners out there, this bunny owner has some questions!

A much bigger girl now

1. Wegan is a puppy. She's very sweet - but sometimes it seemed as though she couldn't control herself and would bite and nip us painfully. The situation has improved as she grew up, but are there ways to stop this behaviour? I have Googled, but personal advice from the dog community would be of great help!

2. Wegan eats 3 meals a day (2 meals split into 3 small portions), but she is still somewhat skinny. Her ribs are visible. She has gained considerable weight (currently 6.5 kg), and is a very active puppy ever since she recovered - but shouldn't she be more plump-looking? 

Now finally, the reason behind this blog post's title.

Have you watched the camping episode in the Spongebob series? The Sea Bear is attracted by all sorts of uncommon things like one playing the clarinet horribly, cubed cheese, how running and limping agitates it greatly, etc. There are several things Wegan absolutely cannot stand:

- A dangling piece of cloth or towel
- The swishing sound of a broom
- Knee-length pants
- Plastic bottles
- Our neighbours talking

... Hence the nickname, "Sea Dog". 

Sunday, 10 July 2016

One-Month-Old Rabbit

"I just bought a rabbit. He's a baby, only a month old. What should I do?"

The dilemma of handling an animal looking so small, helpless and fragile.

On the blog, I have voiced that I am against the purchase of animals from pet shops - here is the article listing the reasons why a pet shop isn't the "furry wonderland" it is often seen as.

But all of my rabbits were bought from pet shops, and I love and care for them dearly. This may make me sound like a hypocrite, but the truth is, during that time, I wasn't aware of the big picture at all. I simply saw pet shops as a place where people could get animals.

There have been occasions where I see rabbit owners being shamed for knowing the truth, yet still buying another rabbit from the commercial pet store. Is that wrong? Think of it this way: the commercial pet industry isn't going to crumple within a day, and in cases where the animal in that cage really need helps ...

Yes, there are many others out there, but it's impossible for a single human being to save everyone. At different moments, in different circumstances, we make different decisions. At the very core of it all, the life of the animal changes for the better - isn't that the most important thing? Education the public and spreading awareness solves the problem, not pointing accusatory fingers at individuals.

One of my rabbits, Jippie, is the one-month-old rabbit I brought home from the pet shop. I hope my story serves as a guide to people who may currently have such a young rabbit at home, but are at a complete lost as to what they should do. And to others out there, who have perhaps went through a similar incident, I believe you can relate to what I would be telling!

Baby Jippie and a food bowl

The last rabbit in the pet shop. A small black ball of fur in a cage, with only a bowl of mouldy-looking pellets and a water bottle at a corner. He was so tiny. He couldn't even move around the cage properly because of the wire flooring. When he bended his body to consume his cecotropes, that was when I noticed his right hind leg had a problem, it was angled out in a weird way.

The pet shop owner advised us not to buy him. His tone wasn't sarcastic, it was matter-of-fact. A "problem" meant damaged goods. But we brought him home anyway. We could not be sure whether or not he would live, but no matter the outcome, at least he would be in proper care with us.

Jippie, as we had named him, settled into our home. Somehow - and I cannot remember what prompted us to do this rather silly thing - we housed him in a pet carrier.

First day home - baby Jippie in the pet carrier

Jippie's food was the same as Dutchie - Timothy hay. He was given a very small amount of pellets in the morning and evening. No fruits were fed, but after a week or so, we began feeding him several tiny vegetable leaves, plucked from Dutchie's portion of vegetables. At times of the day when we were free, we would let Jippie out from the carrier. I thought I was mentally prepared for baby Jippie's lack of litter habits, but oh boy, I really didn't expect new pools of urine every three to five hops ... This is absolutely no exaggeration.

Dutchie and Jippie

One issue we had completely not foreseen, however, was his bum. Because of that hind leg, Jippie's bum tended to land right back on a puddle of urine. Even with a two-layer litter box, his tail and all the fur around his bum was a wet and smelly mess within three days. It was impossible for him to clean up himself.

Bathing rabbits was 99.9% associated with the rabbit being shocked to death. The ultimate dilemma.

  1. Bum continues to be soaked with urine --> Unpleasant odour. Unhygienic. Very likely to lead to skin irritation, urine scald, attract flies, etc.
  2. Try bathing using all our common sense --> Rabbit will become clean, despite the myth.

No fight. Option 2.

*But I do have to highlight that the bathing process was very gentle. We poured small bowls of lukewarm water onto his bum slowly, and the "shampoo" we used was a very mild face cleanser.

Jippie was so comfortable after the bath that he flopped over and groom himself - something he had not done for a week. Perhaps even he couldn't stand how he smelled himself!

There were so many more challenges to come, but we overcame week one, week two ...

And here we are at four years.

Look at that handsome faceee! (Forever our little baby though.)