Happy Easter!! I hope you’ve been enjoying lots of chocolate, that’s one of the things I really miss about not being in the UK. The other, of course, is my bunnies!
My parents currently look after our two bunnies whilst we are away – I can’t wait to get back to them. We have two mini lops – Coco, who is a female broken tri-colour butterfly, she’s definitely the shyer, more intelligent one and Fudge Bunny, who is a male harlequin, with his little tiger stripes. He’s a cheeky little monkey and a little escape artist, who will literally eat anything in sight, including my hair! He is so crazy to watch, he literally runs around and bumps into things. Binkies are mad little jumps that bunnies do and show that your bunny is happy! It’s not ideal that they live with my parents – had we have known we would leave the UK a few years after we got them, we would have never taken the decision to get them in the first place. I’m so fortunate my mum loves them and so will take care of them well for me until I am home, as I can’t imagine life without them. For now though I have to make do with FaceTime, or BunnyTime as I like to call it!
One of the reasons I’ve decided to include my bunnies in my blog today (apart from them being amazing!) is rabbits are often misunderstood and it has become very apparent to me lately from Facebook groups I belong to, that people don’t always know how to care for them. Please do not let your rabbit eat any of your Easter egg – they should not eat chocolate (this also goes for your dog!). Bunnies should never have alcohol or meat either! I really don’t think that dyeing your bunny is a sensible option (even with ‘safe’ dyes), they have very sensitive skin and getting water in their ears can lead to infections and possibly death. Besides, they look so beautiful with their natural coats, don’t you think?!
So another reason this post fits in with Easter is because this time of the year causes a nightmare for rabbit rescues – because people buy a pet rabbit on a whim, usually for their kids. Rabbits usually do not like being picked up, so are not great pets for kids. I work very hard to keep my bunnies friendly and tame, but even now they are not fussed on being picked up, although they love a good nose and head rub! A great way to make friends with your bunny is by hand handing. They sure love cuddling up to each other though!
Contary to what you may have seen on Youtube, rabbits do not need cleaning, that video of the rabbit in the bath – very, very bad for rabbits! Water in their ears can cause serious infections and even death. Stress can KILL a rabbit. The only time a bunny should have a butt bath is if it is to avoid urine burn or if it has a mucky bum to clean up and prevent fly strike. If you’re needing to do this, then a trip to the vets is necessary to determine the cause. Also please NEVER trance your rabbit (putting it on it’s back) – this is induces temporary paralysis and it what happens when a predator attacks and is a rabbits survival instinct. They are not sleepy or relaxed, it puts them in a high state of stress and should never be done. If you can’t cut your rabbits nails yourself, then a veterinary nurse will be more than happy to help you.
This year I was however pleased to see National Geographic highlighting the issue of rabbits at Easter. Rabbits need a lot of exercise, generally store bought cages and hutches are not big enough for them. They can live until 10-12 years old, sometimes longer! Rabbits should be neutered for health purposes, in the females this can even save them from uterine cancer. Ideally they shouldn’t live alone, with a bonded rabbit (usually neutered male and neutered female make the best bond), never with a guinea pig. Guinea pigs tend to get bullied by the rabbit and can have their legs damaged by a rabbit. Rabbits should not to be seen as cheap pets, as vet bills can run high. I spent £250 on a ultrasound for my rabbit’s eye, there was also a number of other veterinary costs in medicines and consultation fees I incurred on just one episode of illness (I estimate it cost at least £400+). You need to ensure that before you get a rabbit that you have the money to pay for vets bills. They also need annual vaccinations and regular check ups to include their front and back teeth.
In terms of costs, they also need a supply of unlimited hay to keep their teeth down (rabbit’s teeth are constantly growing), and fresh vegetables (fruit as an occasional treat). Grass is also great for wearing down a rabbits teeth, but you should be careful about introducing grass fruit and vegetables to young rabbits. It is also recommended to feed an all in one pellet – I use Science Selective, which I researched and found to be a good healthy mix of ingredients. The muesli which they sell in pet shops is NOT good for them! Neither is corn which can create blockages. You need to be aware that you can’t just leave your rabbits when you go away – they need daily cleaning, fresh water, food, plenty of exercise and interaction. A rabbit can go downhill very fast if it gets ill (they hide their illnesses very well) and needs immediate vet attention. This includes if your rabbit stops eating/pooping – get it to the vets fast. If you want to learn more about caring for rabbits, I recommend a good book I have, Living With a House Rabbit . Although it deals with house rabbits, the same information generally applies to those living outside. I’ll cover housing in another blog post, but feel free to ask me any questions you have on bunnies!
If you are still interested in getting a rabbit after Easter, they do make amazing pets. They can even be litter trained, using safe litter products. They are truly part of my lifestyle and so in later blog posts you’ll find out all about my bunnies, how I care for them, products I recommend for them, including how you can build your own enclosure large enough for them. The are lots of rabbits in rescues, so definitely worth contacting your local rescue. I would not recommend purchasing a rabbit from a pet shop, you tend to find they are prone to health problems. If you must have a baby bunny or a particular type, please look for a decent breeder. Bunnies shouldn’t be taken until at least 10 weeks old and you’ll need to swap over their food if you are changing – gradually over 10 days, so not to upset their delicate tummies.
For now, I’ll leave you with a photo of my Fudge bunny enjoying his treat ball. These are great to give some exercise and stimulate their minds. I fill with their food, Science Selective also that they get extra stimulation when getting their meals. You can purchase one of these balls here, they are a great cheap way to entertain your bunnies. Coco and Fudge bunny have a LOT of toys they love, so I’ll let you know about some more in future blog posts.