Friday, 2 October 2015

Book: When Your Rabbit Needs Special Care

About two weeks ago, Jippie suffered a minor bone fracture in his splayed leg. 

I was getting a strand of Kangkong from the fridge - Jippie always had a veggie snack before I put him in his cage for the night - when I heard a scuffling from Jippie's playpen. 

He hopped towards me eagerly for the vegetable, but I could see that his gait was slightly different from normal; he must have injured some part of himself. When Jippie hopped back into his cage, I quickly noticed what was wrong.

Jippie was eating the Kangkong, he could move, he could hop - but the foot on his splayed leg was bent. It was usually straight, it had always been straight, but now it was bent.

I alerted my mother. From articles I've read, his injury was definitely bone-related. For the night, we placed Jippie in his pet carrier to restrict his movement. He could eat and move, and he didn't seem in too much discomfort ... There aren't any small animal emergency vets where I live, so at that moment it was the best course of action we could take.

The next day, we placed rugs in Jippie's playpen. He was perfectly normal: eating, pooping, begging for snacks ... but we could tell that he tried not to put his weight on the splayed leg. Twice a day, Jippie received full body massages and TTouches (which, I think, he's now a little addicted too. He tends to plop down bossily right in front of me, and I get the feeling that he's demanding massages instead of simple pets).

About 10 days later, the bone fracture must have healed, because his foot was properly aligned again! 

"Why didn't you take him to the vet throughout the 10 days?" ... you may ask.

The truth is, sadly, there are no rabbit-savvy vets in Malaysia. Yes, I've posted a 'Recommended Vets in Malaysia' article, but a vet trip, for me, is used as a last resort. Jippie was eating and active, he may have felt slightly uncomfortable because of the injury, but he wasn't in pain. Carrying Jippie into the pet carrier and taking him all the way to the vet, where it's an hour's drive away ... The extra risk wasn't worth it.

I found When Your Rabbit Needs Special Care when googling for bone issues in rabbits. "No stabilizations" was one of the solutions when alternatives weren't available, I felt so relieved! I kept thinking: This could work. This could work. Thankfully, Jippie's case was extremely minor one. It did work!

Special Care is an excellent book. It's written from various experiences - the struggles, the personal methods to cater for specific bunny needs ... And I couldn't agree more with this sentence in the preface: 'Not all readers are fortunate enough to live where they have access to a veterinarian experienced with rabbits'. It's the exact bunny book I needed! 

Friday, 25 September 2015

Grooming Your Bunny

What is Grooming?
Grooming involves brushing your bunny's fur and, if necessary, trimming your bunny's nails. Generally, short-hair breeds require less coat maintenance. It's the long-hair breeds that require more attentive fur care.

Wally the Angora rabbit (Look at how well-trimmed his long fur is!)

The Purpose of Grooming
  • To reduce ingested fur
    • Bunnies are clean creatures. One of their daily activities is grooming themselves with that cute little tongue.
    • However, they tend to swallow a lot of hair in the process, and that is why they occasionally need assistance from us to brush away the excess loose fur, especially during molting periods.
  • Short nails for safety
    • Long nails are uncomfortable for a bunny when he/she hops. 
    • Long nails are more likely to get accidentally caught in items and teared off - needless to say, this would be painful for the bunny! 

What to Use
Bunnies have delicate skin, so it is important that you take note of the type of brush you use: 
  • soft bristle brush or fine-toothed comb is recommended. 
  • Personally, I strongly advise against using a slicker brush. The metal teeth can be quite uncomfortable for a bunny's sensitive skin. 
Metal slicker brush - A no-no tool when grooming bunnies.

How to Groom Your Bunny
The steps are very easy - in fact, there are only two steps.
  1. Pet your bunny so that he/she assumes a resting position.
  2. Follow the direction of your bunny's fur when you brush!

Dealing with Heavy Shedding
Bunnies tend to go through a heavy shed at least once a year. During such periods, a soft pet on your bunny's back would literally send loose fur fluttering in the air. A few more strokes and it's not an understatement when I say you'll yield THIS (!):

A ball of loose fur

Jippie and the ball of fur

Now, what should you do?

  • Brush more frequently
    • Alternatively, you can simply stroke your bunny more often. The thin layer of sweat on your palms naturally pick up and remove the loose fur. 
  • The right foods
    • Check on your bunny's hay consumption - make sure he/she is eating his/her hay! Fibre is crucial in pushing all the ingested fur out of their gut. 
    • If your bunny isn't a keen water drinker, offer more vegetables when he/she is shedding. Water is important to ensure an efficient digestive system as well.

During a heavy shed, there might be:
  • a change in your bunny's fur colour (eg: dark brown to light brown) 
    Left: 2-month-old Dutchie, his black fur is pure black.
    Right: 2-year-old Dutchie, the tips of his black fur are light brown!
  • bald patches, the thinning out of fur, and artistic patterns appearing
    A heart shape?

Be reassured that a change in fur colour is perfectly normal, and where there are mildly bald patches, the bunny's fur should quickly grow back within 1 - 2 weeks. 

Dealing with Other Fur Issues
  • Long-hair
    • The effective method to make long fur more manageable is simple: keep the hair short. You can trim the fur to about 1 inch. It would also be more comfortable for your bunny!  
    • Make it a must to brush your long-hair bun daily. Lack of manual brushing will often result in the fur tangling into severe mats.
  • Matted fur
    • DO NOT attempt to pull out the chunk of fur with your fingers. You may potentially injure your bunny's delicate skin. 
    • Use a pair of scissors with a rounded end to carefully trim away the mat. 

Trimming the Nails
Many bunny owners are nervous about the idea of cutting their bunny's nails. The greatest fear is bleeding, but as long as you're careful and equipped with correct information and tools, the task is not as difficult as it sounds!

Which section of the nail you should cut:

This is the nail clipper I use:

General instructions and tips:

  • A bunny's nail should be trimmed about every 4 weeks.
  • Instead of estimating from where the quick ends, you can simply position the clippers several millimetres from the tip of the nail and make the cut there, just to be safe.
  • You can ask a family member or friend to help coax and restrain your bunny while you trim the nail.

Video on how to trim a bunny's nails:

First published on 27/6/2011, 26/10/2011

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Why You Should NOT Breed Your Bunny

5 Quick Facts

#1:  The gestation period for bunnies is approximately 30 days (a month).
#2:  At the end of the gestation period, the mother can give birth to a litter of 5 - 10 kits.
#3:  The doe (female bunny) is able to conceive immediately after giving birth.
#4:  Bunnies reach sexual maturity at around 6 months old.
#5:  A bunny has an average lifespan of 10 years.

In the wild: 
By nature, rabbits are prey animals. Facing such high predation, they have evolved to produce litter after litter in a short period of time to keep their species alive. 

Living with humans:
When kept as pets and allowed to mate - whether unintentionally or not - it often results in too many unwanted bunnies.

Due to irresponsible breeding (as well as impulse buying, etc), THOUSANDS of bunnies are abandoned each year. 

A Calculated Example

Combining the facts mentioned above, and assuming that the female bunny is mated upon on:
  • 1st January
  • the start of each of the following months 
Here is an example of the number of bunnies one might end up with after three months:

Now remember, this is just one bunny reproducing. If we take into account the litter of bunnies born on 1st February, and assuming only 3 out of the 6 of them are females ... 

Total: 22 bunnies

Now, imagine the number of bunnies the person could have after a year ... Calculation is not even needed to know that the answer would be startling.

"What if I just breed my bunny once?"
If you're able to find good, loving homes for all of your bunny's babies - what if one of your adopters decides to have "just one litter" as well?

It is highly likely that your bunny's descendants might end up abandoned in the streets - exposed to the dangers of the roads and feral predators, or dumped at a kill shelter - where they would be euthanized when the shelter becomes full. 

People often breed bunnies for the sake of profit, to give away the babies as gifts to friends, or simply out of mere curiosity.

Remember, actual lives are at stake. Please don't contribute to the statistics.

There are many wonderful bunnies waiting in rescue centres. If you wish to spread your love for bunnies to your friends and relatives - recommend them to start here!

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

6 Possible Garden and Outdoor Hazards To Your Bunny

1. Pesticides and chemical fertilisers
  • If you have a bunny at home, it is unadvisable to use these substances on your plants. For instance, your bunny's paws could come into contact with the dissolved fertilisers in water drained from your potted plants.

2. Wild mushrooms, particularly strange-looking weeds, and litter
  • If you spot any of these items on your lawn, remove them immediately.

    Wild mushrooms - these tend to pop up during damp and humid times of the year.
3. Gardening tools
  • Keep gardening tools, especially those with sharp and pointy ends, out of your bunny's reach. Some bunnies might have the tendency to chin these objects.

4. Compost
  • Those who do trench composting - where a hole is dug in the ground, and kitchen scraps are placed into it and covered with soil - be careful not to let your bunny have access to that area. He/she might try to dig out the various rotting vegetables, banana skin, etc underneath!

5. Potential predators
  • You MUST supervise your bunny at all times when he/she is outdoors. Leaving your bunny alone for even a mere 5 minutes could result in an accidental escape.
  • Keep an eye out for eagles circling above your home as well as feral cats.

6. Poisonous plants
  • Check that the plants in your home are not poisonous. Here is a list from the House Rabbit Society's website: Poisonous Plants
First published on 02/01/2012