Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Too Hot for Fairs? Rabbits & Heat Stroke in the Bunny Barn

Again this year a large portion of the United States will be experiencing hot temperatures as fair season begins. Rabbits (and other animals) in exhibit halls and barns are exposed to temperatures that can make them ill or kill them.  Last year some fair officials had the common sense to cancel rabbit related events or move rabbits into air conditioned buildings.
Heat can kill.  It's that simple. My vet has told me time and time again that rabbits out of all animals are the most susceptible to heat stroke. After all, they are wearing a thick fur coat. Symptoms can include panting rapidly (open mouth breathing), weakness/lethargy;  laying flat out with tail down and reluctance to move, lack of interest in food, drooling/wet around mouth, convulsions, coma and ultimately death. Temperatures of 85 degrees F and above can be dangerous.  A lot of the country will be will hotter than this in fair season especially in August.  Rabbits regulate their body temperature with those big ears full of large veins.  (By the way, this is tougher for the lop breeds due to the down position of the ears next to the body.)  Misting ears with water can help because it cools the blood that circulates throughout the body. A large cool ceramic tile on the cage floor (in shade) may help. A warm rabbit will lounge on it to keep his cool.  A "cold buddy" consisting of a frozen water filled bottle (plastic) and covered with a wetted down cotton sock is cool comfort, too. 
Fairs are already stressful for rabbits with all the new smells, sounds and strange rabbits in the cage next door. But most rabbit exhibit facilities at state or county fairs are not air conditioned. They just turn off the lights in exhibit halls and turn on big fans. When the temperatures are well over 85 degrees, isn't it reasonable to consider leaving the bunny at home. If the fair officials value animal exhibits over the needs of heat stressed animals, then individuals need to make the good decisions about the safety of their animals. There is always next year. I know this is especially disappointing for kids who wait all year to show their rabbits. But it is more disappointing to have a rabbit ill from heat stroke or succumb to the heat. (Photo: rabbits at a fair in a cooler year and no resting board in sight - don't get me started)

Thursday, October 23, 2014

How to Ruin a Spa Day for Rabbits

Taxpayer funded Bunny Massages have been all over the news in the last week along with nine other wasteful taxpayer funded projects.
The National Institutes of Health did a study involving Swedish Massages for rabbits to the tune of $387,000. Eighteen New Zealand white rabbits received 30-minute massages, four times a day. Hey, I am all for massages for rabbits. They deserve it since they are routinely  brutalized in most other experiments.  As a species rabbits are sacrificed by the millions in the name of science, fashion and dinner.
The really crazy part of the entire study for me wasn’t wasteful spending since I think all rabbits should be pampered. It is much worse. It has been reported the rabbits were euthanized after the study was completed. That’s right – massaged and then killed! It is a turn of events guaranteed to ruin any spa day. The rabbits were not infected with disease or sick.  In fact, I would suspect all the rabbits were in peak health. Yet the NIH in all their wisdom killed 18 New Zealand rabbits I know as a breed can be affectionate companions for people. Senator Tom Coburn may stir up public outrage over wasted taxpayer money, but what about the animals?
(Pictured rescue rabbits Tansy - Rex breed and big beautiful Rosie - New Zealand White Breed)

A Case of Viral Bunny Memes

In the last few days the internet put bunnies in the spotlight from Japan as smartphone case holders. The Japanese love their bunnies and routinely dress them up in costumes and have elaborate outfits for taking their rabbits for walks.  I doubt any rabbit is comfortable in all the clothes, but it is temporary. The bunnies certainly look well cared for and even spoiled.

However, the new rabbit meme doesn't sit well with me because the rabbits need to be on their backs to hold an IPhone 6 and that's putting them into a state of "tonic immobility."  I have addressed the T.I. controversy on my web page about "Trancing Your Rabbit." I am generally not in favor of it.  Yes, it spoils everyone's fun to say bad things about putting rabbits into this state.  Rabbits go into tonic immobility as a defense mechanism when grabbed by a predator in the wild. If the predator loosens its grip, the rabbit will explode into action to escape. When rabbits are on their backs it replicates this defensive and unnatural position for them.  I hope the bunnies put into tonic immobility for these IPhone photos are only kept this way long enough to get a photo to send to friends. My other issue with T.I. is when the rabbit rights itself and possibly drops to the floor. This can happen easily enough if the rabbit is being handled by someone who isn't familiar with how fast rabbits can burst out of their immobile state.  Over the years I have received more than one email about a newly paralyzed rabbit after it fell to the floor when it suddenly squirmed out of a "trance."

Don't get me wrong, I am all for rabbit memes and anything showing rabbits as fun companions for people.  However, when one article suggested attaching the rabbit to the phone with rubber bands that stretched my patience with this nonsense too far.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Some Communities Get it Right on "Easter Animal Sales"

Take for instance San Antonio . . . Animal Care Services is reminding residents the sale of baby animals as holiday novelties is illegal. The ordinance says it is illegal for any person to sell or offer for sale, barter, lease, rent or give away baby chicks or ducklings or rabbits less than eight weeks old as pets or novelties.

Fortunately, San Antonio included the dyeing or staining of baby chicks, ducklings, or rabbits in their city ordinance, as is even possessing animals that have been colored in this way. They also restrict the sale of animals on any roadside, public right of way, commercial parking lot or at any flea market or festival.

Unfortunately, not all cities and towns adopt humane ordinances and continue to allow these practices. In sharp contrast to San Antonio, I read a story on KTVI in St. Louis recently.  This community has brightly colored chicks available in locations such as Home Stores and Dickey Bub Farm.

Even if the dyes used are non-toxic the colored chicks, ducklings and rabbits look like brightly colored toys instead of creatures that need veterinary visits, daily care and a safe environment. Adult animals are disposed of after the newness wears off with the color because they are no longer "cute." For instance, rabbits can become aggressive and spray urine when they hit puberty in 4 to 6 months if they are not neutered or spayed. Most people don't realize  rabbits can live to ten years old and those baby chicks can have a lifespan of 26 years.

More communities should consider what San Antonio has done and pass ordinances to make selling baby animals as holiday novelties illegal.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Rabbit Hopping Part of Easter Celebration in Prague

NBC News featured the photo below of people watching rabbit hopping at the traditional Easter market of the Old Town Square in Prague, Czech Republic, on Monday.

Comic Relief: Toy Bunny Poops Jelly Beans

After my last blog post about all the fancy chocolate rabbits available online, my sister sends me this -- "Funny Bunny: He walks and poops jelly beans" available on Amazon. Perhaps this is much needed comic relief. After all, Funny Bunny could be a teaching moment about rabbit digestive systems.  Obviously, this rabbit only eliminates the dry variety of fecal matter represented by the jelly beans.  If something representing cecotrophes were part of this toy, Funny Bunny would be a mess because he doesn't look bendable enough to eat them.

Make Mine Chocolate - A List of Chocolate Rabbits Online

It looks like Rescue Chocolate is sold out!  Rescue Chocolate partnered with the House Rabbit Society  to promote “Make Mine Chocolate,” a campaign that encourages the purchase of chocolate bunnies for Easter rather than live rabbits. It seems a lot of people did just that with a successful campaign. With only a few days left to fill an Easter Basket with a chocolate bunny instead of a live rabbit, there are still plenty of options. Chocolate rabbits are lined up in grocery stores right now and there are still a few online.  I have put together a list of some of the more interesting chocolate rabbits available online below:

Harry & David get the prize for the longest ears. 
Christopher Norman Chocolates has lively hand-painted truffles.

Conrads Candy 26 inch Tall Bunny & will set you back well over $150.

Burdick Chocolate - Truffles for White Chocolate fans
Harbor Sweets with Dark & Milk Chocolate Bunnies
Moonstruck Chocolates has truffle bunnies with heart shaped noses. 
Lake Champlain Chocolates and their Car Crazy Easter Rabbit
Godiva goes Traditional with a Milk Chocolate Rabbit & Lots of Baskets

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Noah Star Tweets About Her Bunny

I love it when celebrity actors show us their bunnies on twitter like Emma Watson this past week:  "Florence the bunny rabbit is helping me get ready today! - x "

200 Rabbits Being Rescued from Hoarding Case

So often it is someone who goes to purchase a bunny that discovers a bad hoarding situation with rabbits in bad health and terrible conditions.  This happened this week when apparently a rabbit breeder was reported to officials in West Viginia.  "Harrison County Humane Officer Lieutenant Greg Scolapio and animal control officers seized about half of nearly 200 rabbits from a residence in the Rock Camp area of Wallace on Friday.
"The rabbits were being kept in deplorable conditions, cages that hadn't been cleaned for months, with an accumulation of feces and urine in all the cages," said Scolapio."  Photo of Humane Officer Scolapio on right with one of the rabbits. See news article at WBoy.Channel 12 news. Thanks to Officer Scolapio and his team for taking on this challenging rabbit rescue operation.

Prevent Hare Loss this Easter!

Once again it's time to Prevent Hare Loss at Easter.  I do this every year trying to help get the word out.  Anyone can go to the website and download photos, see the press release and find out about rabbits as companions at this LINK.

The Art of the Rabbit

Rabbits are not only wonderful companions, they also make personality filled subjects for art.  Occasionally I stumble upon an artist who captures the pure "bunnyness" of these animals.  This daily painter, Elizabeth Barrett, who had a few bunny paintings on her Ebay auction is one of those.  Check out the rest of her art at this LINK.


Monday, February 10, 2014

Netherland Dwarf Makes Rounds as Therapy Rabbit

Laura VanDerLind of Shell Beach, a speech pathologist who works with dementia patients, works with a more unusual therapy pet: her year-old rabbit, Chubby Bunny (photo on right).  Chubby is a 2 year old, 2 lb. Netherland Dwarf breed rabbit. 

I have often heard Netherlands are biters and some people even say they are "mean."  This is so far from the truth.  They are one of the smallest size breeds and a lot can seem threatening to them. My sister, Bonnie, had a Netherland Dwarf for many years she adopted from a humane society.  Her nickname for Miss Sage that first year was "raptor" because she bit every hand that got near.  Eventually with gentle care she became a calm, very non-aggressive bunny girl. Even when Sage required lots of handling for medical care later in life she never once bit or nipped a hand after her first year with Bonnie.  Chubby Bunny shows what good care and kindness can create for a Netherland Dwarf rabbit who now brings "smiles from end-stage dementia patients who otherwise sat mute in their wheelchairs."  Full article at Tribune News. (Photo credit: Courtesy Photo Tribune News)

Read more here: http://www.sanluisobispo.com/2014/02/06/2911375/cubby-bunny-is-an-unusual-therapy.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.sanluisobispo.com/2014/02/06/2911375/cubby-create smiles from end-stage dementia patients who otherwise sat mute in their wheelchairs.

Read more here: http://www.sanluisobispo.com/2014/02/06/2911375/cubby-bunny-is-an-unusual-therapy.html#storylink=cpy

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Firefighters Save 2 Rabbits in Oregon

A firefighter/paramedic with the Estacada Fire District, holds a rabbit crews rescued from a shop fire southeast of this small town in Oregon on the highway to Mt. Hood. (Photo Credit: Estacada Fire District).

In UK a Family of Rabbits Rewrites History Books

Land’s End one of the UK's most popular tourist attractions and even more so because of newly discovered archaeological finds from the Bronze Age. The irony is that it wasn't university trained archaeologists who brought the artifacts to light.  It was Oryctolagus cuniculus better known as the European Rabbit - the wild version of all our domesticated rabbits.

The bunnies were starting a new warren at the site last year and began digging up things that were similar to ancient human tools.  It turns out the objects dated back about 5,000 years and the dig revealed a grave, burial mounds, a hill fort and other treasures.  The human archaelogists called it a "goldmine" and "one of the most important archaeological finds ever uncovered in Cornwall."  (Photo: a domesticated rabbit, Bungee, doing what he does best - starting a backyard warren.)

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Ten New Year's Rabbit Resolutions

  1. Make that yearly vet appointment now and have your rabbit examined from ear to end.
  2. Resolve to provide more living space for your rabbit so it can take a few hops, stretch out completely and stand up in a cage or pen. Then be sure the rabbit has time outside the cage or pen to run, jump and simply be a rabbit. Rabbits need exercise.
  3. Record identifying information on your rabbit including a photo. If you have a hutch rabbit or a rabbit who spends time outside, make sure the bunny is micro-chipped by a veterinarian.
  4. Spay or neuter your rabbit. Every year that goes by for a female rabbit may mean she is closer to being in the 85% of female rabbits who develop uterine cancer. Neutered males will be calmer and less aggressive, too.
  5. Resolve to give your rabbit good nutrition including a constant supply of timothy or grass hay.
  6. Take time to learn how to check your rabbit for medical problems, and how to clip growing nails. Check for lumps and bumps, be sure ears and eyes are clear and the rabbit's bottom is dry and clean. Check once a month to see if your rabbit's nails need to be clipped.
  7. Promise to keep the treats to a minimum (despite the begging). Obesity is the number one cause of rabbit medical problems reported by veterinarians.
  8. Remember to change the litter box often and clean out the rabbit's living quarters, too. Rabbits are happier and healthier with good hygiene in their living space.
  9. Bunny proof your home so exercise time outside a pen or cage does not become an "electrifying" experience for the rabbit. Make sure all wires and other "chewables" are covered and out of the way of curious rabbits.
  10. Resolve to spend more time with your pet rabbit and if you have a single rabbit, perhaps this is the year to match him or her up with a (neutered or spayed) bunny friend.
Hopperhome Wishes You A Very Hoppy New Year!

Hoppy New Year

Artist Will Bullas has some "hare"larious prints that seem to fit New Year's Eve and you can see these and the other punny animals at his website www.willbullas.com
Even My Hare Hurts

Hare of the Dog
The Party Animal

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Rabbit "Super Models" During the Holidays

  Tips to Snap a Holiday Photo
of Your Bunny
You may want to have your rabbit in a Holiday card photo or take a pets/people portrait for the holidays yourself. Here are a few pointers:
  • Go to an experienced Pet Photographer
  • Make sure the photographer has the shot all set-up with all the props, etc. before the rabbit goes into the picture
  • Be sure your rabbit has several minutes to get used to the area
  • No tight clothing props attached to your bunny
  • Make sure the floor isn't slick so the rabbit has some footing if the he/she won't be posed in your lap
  • No hot lights until it is necessary (if at all)
  • Better yet take the photo at home with a timer yourself
  • Try taking the photo in natural light near a window instead of using flash, and if you do use flash, use the red-eye reduction feature on your camera
  • Check your background and make sure it isn't too busy and detracts from your subject
  • Get down at the rabbit's level to get the shot and that may mean sitting or laying on the floor
  • Have a bunny "wrangler" to help who is familiar with your rabbit and can distract the bunny with toys or a treat
  • If you have a digital camera, take as many photos as you want.  You will find one that captures your rabbit's personality!
  • Make sure you have plenty of time or have your camera on hand other times of the year to get a spontaneous photo 
  • Have a treat on hand for afterwards.
  • To read more: Bunny was Supermodel for a Day by Mallory Mohring at the House Rabbit Network.

Keep the Holiday Hoppy for Your Bunnies - Safety Tips

Safety Tips
Keep light cords, garland & tinsel away from chewing rabbits
Keep toxic plants out of reach like mistletoe, holly & poinsettia
Set candles where they can't be tipped over
Set fragile tree ornaments higher on the tree
Children (and adults) guests need to know the rules
of getting to know your rabbit!

A Rabbit Christmas Carol

Several years ago I had an inspired moment in the middle of the night around Christmas and wrote new lyrics for "Let it Snow" based on a true story about my rabbits. Here is the result:
Bunnies Let It Snow
  Oh, the weather outside is frightful,
        But the carrots are so delightful,
        And, since bunnies have no where to go,
        Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.
      It doesn't show signs of stopping,
        The Rabbits keep on hopping;
        Eyeing the Christmas tree so low,
        Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.
When everyone says goodnight,
        Rabbits chew up everything in sight,
        Shredding packages, ribbons and bows,
        Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.
        The Christmas tree is falling,
        Busy bunnies keep on gnawing;
        It's good their human loves them so,
        Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

Cartoon Shows Why Neuter/Spay of Rabbits is Important!

I have always had photos of my rabbits (and cats) on my desk, but when I saw this cartoon not only did I laugh outloud, it was also paws for thought. It really hits home why everyone who has rabbits should have them neutered or spayed.  The math of rabbit reproduction isn't just addition, it is multiplication!


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Halloween Can Spook Rabbits

Tips to keep Halloween Less Frightening for Your Rabbit:
Photo Credit: Kimberly's bunnies Ginger & Cooper from California
Noise Rabbits can get spooked by strange noises anytime of the year. Just look at those ears.  They can hear what is going on outside the house.  Halloween night the door bell may ring more than usual and visiting goblins may create lots of sound effects.  Keep your rabbit away from the front door and in a quiet area.
Costumes (for people) Did you know your rabbit sees your shape first.  So if you are wearing anything that changes your basic shape, or scent and you put on an accent from Dracula's hometown, your rabbit may not even recognize you.  Speak to your rabbit normally and put on your costume after you have settled the rabbit in for the night.
Candy Those sugary treats especially chocolate should be kept away from rabbits during and after Halloween night. Give your bunny a bit of apple for a Halloween treat.
Decorations The stringy cobwebs and other filmy decorations should be kept away from rabbits. They maybe tempted to chew on them and they can cause serious digestive problems.
Candles Burning candles in jack-o-lanterns can be dangerous especially if a rabbit is hopping around in the house.  Rabbits are as curious as cats and may investigate. They can knock them over creating a fire hazard.
Pet Costumes  Not recommended, but I am guilty of placing a witch hat over those long ears.  If you want to dress up your rabbit, don't use rubber bands, ties or  too tight elastic that can constrict breathing or movement. Some rabbits will try to remove the costume especially around the neck/upper body and can become entangled.  Other rabbits may become too stressed or too warm especially if the costume is tight. After all, they are already wearing a fur coat. Take a picture and then get the bunny out of costume.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Unwanted Hare

Will Bullas, master of watercolors and puns has painted more lagomorphs. It is something all rabbit rescuers can relate to . . . "Unwanted Hares."  Of course, hares are not rabbits unless they are a Jackrabbit and rabbits are not hares unless they are a Belgian Hare - which always makes correctly identifying them confusing. Nonetheless, even though I know the difference between rabbits and hares, I appreciate this white rabbit.  But it is bittersweet because I think of all the big white bunnies waiting for forever homes. 

Bunnies & Chicks Dyeing in New Hampshire Again?

According to CBS Boston, "lawmakers in New Hampshire could lift a ban on coloring chicks, ducklings, goslings or rabbits to enhance their sale. State Rep. Joel Winters, a Nashua Democrat, has proposed repealing a 1985 law that makes it illegal to dye the birds and bunnies to promote their sale, raffle or if they are to be given as a prize. Rep. Winters said Monday that he doesn’t think the law serves a purpose."

Fortunately, the former Agriculture Commissioner Steve Taylor who understands the importance of the law disagrees. According to the newspaper article, he fought for the law’s passage 28 years ago because the process stresses the birds and many die as a result. Taylor said too many people bought the cute colored chicks at Easter without knowing how to care for them.” This certainly is the same situation for rabbits at Easter when many rabbits are purchased on impulse to end up abandoned within six months.

Even feed store owners are not in favor of repeal according to the Telegraph Newspaper online. "Arthur Evans, co-owner of Derry Feed and Supply, said the history of dyeing farm animals goes back to the 1940s and 1950s, when they were routinely spray painted and sold as Easter gifts for children. When the novelty wears off, the baby chicks are either destroyed, sent to a farm or left in the wild."

I would hope that Mr. Winters’ bill doesn’t get support,” Evans said. “That’s crazy. That’s putting the evolution of all the chicken legislation back 50 years or 60 years, because this is why all that legislation came into effect – the abuse.”

Curt Jacques, owner of West Lebanon Feed and Supply, also opposes coloring chicks for the same reason. He won’t sell them around Easter because too many buyers don’t know how to care for them “New Hampshire would be wise to continue its progressive stance on protecting these innocent baby animals from stressful and profit-motivated artificial treatments.”

Another New Hampshire newspaper noted Florida repealed their ban on the practice a couple of years ago. The reason was dyeing show dogs.  Back then it was reported in the Sun Sentinel that "at the request of an Oakland Park groomer who wants to dye show dogs, State Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Ft. Lauderdale, came up with an amendment that would repeal the 1967 law and tacked it on to an agriculture bill." However, since Floridians do not condone inhumane treatment of animals, the ban was brought back in 2013 and it is now once again illegal in Florida to dye bunnies.

Right now the law in New Hampshire does not allow inhumane dyeing of bunnies and chicks.  If feed store owners aren't in favor of repeal, then who is lobbying State Rep. Joel Winters to repeal this law?"  Or has he just gone hopping mad?

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Vancouver Rabbity Agility Club is Hopping!

The Vancouver Courier recently published an article on the newly formed Vancouver Rabbit Agility Club (British Columbia) with Olga Betts. Olga is the President of the  Vancouver Rabbit Rescue and Advocacy, a chapter of the House Rabbit Society
I have noticed in the past couple of years several rabbit rescue organizations are now formally or informally organizing rabbit agility or hopping events.  The events showcase rabbits as the active, intelligent and very independent creatures they are.  As Olga notes in the video below, rabbits are not like dogs performing for treats. They are more like horses in that they learn what to do and then make their own decisions whether or not they will perform.  If you have ever been to a rabbit hopping or rabbit agility event, it's obvious rabbits decide whether or not they will take a jump or go through part of an agility course.  As long as the training and events are positive for the rabbit (no negative reinforcement), then it is a fun indoor or outdoor experience plus incredibly adorable. 
Even though rabbits approach Rabbit Agility like little horses it still looks a lot like Dog Agility with rabbits maneuvering the agility equipment by going over, under, around and through. The rabbits are generally off leash in a timed event. Rabbit Hopping or Rabbit Jumping is similar, but there are big differences. First of all, Rabbit Hopping is all about jumping.  The competition features the rabbits running a course of jumps normally on a harness/leash. 
These activities go a long way toward getting rabbits out of cages, demonstrates another enjoyable aspect of bunnies as a companions, and creates a lot of interaction with humans and rabbits.  

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Hip Hop Dance Drama Workshop Teaches Kids (& Adults) about Rabbit Care

In the UK Woodgreen Animals Charity has created a dance and drama workshop for kids - Hip Hop bunnies! Seven to eleven year olds will learn about rabbit care in the workshop through the play script by learning lines, rehearsing dance moves, preparing costumes and props. At the end of the workshop the kids will put on a performance for the adults. The youngsters may have a thing or two to teach their parents about rabbits. The best part is that everyone will learn about rabbits in a fun and memorable way.  Email handson@woodgreen.org.uk for more information.

Pink Rabbits Popping Up in Queensland

First there was a giant pink rabbit that appeared in the Italian Alps in 2005 and now in Perth Australia a street artist, Stormie Mills, has created several bubble gum pink, large bunny sculptures for the Brisbane Festival public art installation.  The number of pink rabbits and their locations are secret for now – at least until they are installed.  People in Brisbane won’t be able to miss them.  Ironically, Mills recently discovered keeping rabbits as pets in Queensland is illegal. According to one article I read, Mills said, "But that's the thing with art and projects like this – they allow you to think about things differently," he says. "So maybe through this process people might think of bunnies as less horrific – maybe they'll just go back to being cute, fluffy animals."  In photo: Brisbane Festival artistic director Noel Staunton and artist Stormie Mills with first bunny to be installed. Photo Credit: Vicki Winter

Monday, August 5, 2013

Japanese Artist Illustrates Rabbits Beautifully

Recently, a friend sent me a link to Akiko Shirato in Japan.  The entire website is posted in Japanese language, however, her artwork depicting rabbits can be understood in any language. (I tried some translators, but the results were comic.) Take a look at her galleries online. Below is a preview of her art.  She captures the rabbits' expressions perfectly.

Photo Credit: Akiko Shirato

Friday, August 2, 2013

Tunnel Vision - House Rabbits & Warrens

I'd love to provide my rabbits with a mound of dirt they can dig in as much as they want, but it isn't always possible.  Their wild cousins (Oryctolagus cuniculus) in the UK and elsewhere dig large warrens. These warrens provide the rabbits with underground passages that are deep enough to provide shelter and protection from predators.  The warren passage openings are used for daily comings and goings and some are mainly "bolt-holes" if there is danger nearby.  The tunnels themselves average 9 inches wide and there are main runs which lead to areas above ground to graze.

My rabbits live in a safe environment inside my home so they basically live in my human warren. (sometimes I wonder if it isn't the reverse).  Even though they have a big area to run in and live, they still enjoy a nice narrow tunnel to run through for play and sit in part of the day.  Over the years I have provided my rabbits with amazing habitats, but when it comes down to it, they like a long dark tunnel.  Go figure. I started out years ago with cardboard cement forms in tube shapes from hardware stores. They were coated with something on the outside and fortunately the bunnies never chewed it. Now there are plenty of nice cardboard tunnels available (see all the online outlets below) and even habitats with short passages. I bought a fabric tunnel for the cats from Ikea recently and even though my rabbit Pansy has plenty of places she could relax, she has claimed it as her own (pictured). I'm lucky she is not a fabric chewer. The cats are stuck with their cat trees and I'm sure Pansy would agree that's where they belong.
Binky Bunny
Bird Kabob
The Blissful Bunny
Best Little Rabbit, Rodent & Ferret House
Bunny Bunch
Bunny Bazaar (UK)
Busy Bunny
Cats and Rabbits and More
Leith Petwerks
Pet Care Depot
Pet Treasures
Pluesch Nasen (Plush Noses) A German website
Rabbit Houses
Wabbit Works

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

10,000 Meditating Bunnies Hit the Streets

An artist, Ji Lee, who used to be with both Facebook and Google Creative Labs, has a new project involving some very tiny bunny figurines.  He is placing the bunnies in public spaces for anyone passing by to find and keep.  The point is to snap people out of their mundane lives and slow down.  Real companion rabbits do this, too.  It happens every time I pet my rabbits and studies show it lowers blood pressure. 

I don't know if the 10,000 adorable rabbit sculptures Ji Lee has created will lower blood pressure, but I'm glad he chose the image of a rabbit for his project. He has also made it possible for others to participate in his project. Anyone can download the object print for the figurines and 3D-print as many meditating bunnies as you want for the streets of your city.  In fact, I wish they had small messages about adopting rabbits printed on them. More about Mysterabbit project here.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Happy Birthday Bugs Bunny!

Back in 1940 on this date Bugs Bunny made his debut in an animated film called A Wild Hare.  The plot was the same as most of the cartoons involving Bugs Bunny - Elmer Fudd hunting rabbits, only to have Bugs escape every time. The first thing Bugs Bunny said to Elmer Fudd was this - "What's up, doc?" That phrase became Bug's catchphrase.

Bugs Bunny starred in more than 160 classic Warner Brothers cartoons.  He could dance, he could sing and he was "hare"larious.  His carrot chewing persona probably didn't do much to dispel the myth about rabbits eating carrots.  However, he became the second cartoon character, after Mickey Mouse, to receive his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Happy Birthday Bugs Bunny!

Monday, July 22, 2013

A "Mean" Rabbit is an Illusion

In the last week several newspapers carried a story about a magician who had to pull a USDA mandated disaster plan for his rabbit out of his hat.  But, this isn’t what got my attention in the article.

What struck me was a quote by the magician about troubles he has had in the past including "A rabbit so mean it growled."  This comment tells me he doesn't understand rabbit behavior.  I have heard it before. Occasionally, I get an email asking “what do I do with my ‘mean’ rabbit?”  The short version of my reply is: "Is your rabbit already neutered or spayed? If not, make a vet appointment. If already altered, it may be as simple as changing your behavior and the rabbit will change his/hers. What precedes the aggressive behavior? Sometimes it is territorial, new surroundings, loud noises or other animals in the home.  It will take patience." 
All domesticated rabbits can growl when frightened or threatened.  They will also box with their front paws and bite. When a rabbit starts growling the human should modify their behavior. Rabbits are prey animals and they feel threatened or frightened very easily.  Some rabbits more acclimated to being handled may not react the same way.  They are like any other companion animal - they react differently depending on their socialization and previous treatment. It also makes a difference whether or not the bunny is neutered or spayed.  Also, I have taken in rabbits who will attempt to bite consistently for the first year because of abuse they suffered in the past. It takes a lot of patience for those rabbits to trust people again. Seriously aggressive behavior does not diminish or disappear magically. 

I am not in favor of “magic show rabbits” since they seem to be just show props.  Most are shown being picked up out of top hats by their ears and this is very painful for the rabbit.  However, I have never seen this magician’s act so I don’t know how he handles them during a show or how he cares for his rabbit at home.  I'd like to think all is well.  However, I disagree with the idea that any rabbit is a "mean" rabbit. That is an illusion.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Rabbit Adoption Flyers for Rescuers

I probably have too much time on my hands.  This morning I dreamed up a few flyers for rescue groups to promote rabbits as companion animals.  All are black and white and size is 8 1/2" by 11" - these are intended to be fun. 

There is plenty of room at the bottom of each piece to put a label with a rescue organization's name and contact information. Copy the flyers at these links: 1) "Good Intentions"  2) "Food Preferences" 3) "Sleep Habits"  Below are thumbnails of each as jpegs so you can see what they are first.
If you can't download or copy the PDF's from my website, just email me at connie@hopperhome.com.  I will send them to you in an email.  There is absolutely no need to ask my permission.  I put my copyright info on each flyer and that's enough.  I am not a business nor am I a nonprofit - I don't make money from my website Hopperhome.com. Never have - it's a labor of love.
I probably broke some cardinal rule comparing rabbits to cats and dogs.  But since I have two cats and have had dogs and intend to get another one, I know what I'm talking about.  I love all three species equally. I just happen to focus on rabbits since I saw the need 15 years ago.  These are large jpeg thumbnails below - click on them to see slide show and go to links above for PDFs to download.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Anyone with a House Rabbit Knows - Bunnies Communicate

I just read an article about a study in the UK to better understand the significance of people talking to their pets. They are developing a questionnaire for rabbit owners.  Although, the study may only be in the UK, I am sure the house rabbit fans in the USA and around the world would also have something to say about it.
Of course, rabbits communicate with their humans and vice versa.  The web page The Language of Lagomorphs has been online forever (at least 17 years) and Hopperhome has a web page devoted to  rabbit communication.  The House Rabbit Society, has many articles on their website about rabbit behavior and communication between the rabbits themselves and also with people. Domesticated rabbits are descendants of European rabbits who live in warrens and they are good communicators even if they don't bark or meow. The social structure in a rabbit warren would be chaos if it were not for some fairly sophisticated communication between the rabbits.

When rabbits started to be brought into the house as companions like cats and dogs,  the concept of a "dumb" bunny was on its way out. People talk to their rabbits. I have received many emails about how rabbits are "bilingual" if two languages are spoken in the home. All of my house rabbits over the years have learned at least 7 human words and Mr. Hops knew ten or so.  It is also interesting to see my rabbits seem to have a fairly good understanding of "cat" and "dog," too. I have learned rabbit body language and know when they are stressed, ill, happy, bored, disgusted, etc. I try not to give rabbits human traits (anthropomorphize), but rabbits respond to different words or perhaps it may be my tone of voice. I talk to them all the time if for no other reason than to let them know I am paying attention and to help them feel less stress if something new is going on in the home.
A few years ago, my rabbit, Rosemary, warned me about a very large raccoon about to enter an open window.  I have no doubt she understood when I thanked her.  She received a treat and I talked to her quite a bit afterwards.  For the first time, she came over and stretched out next to me on the floor while I watched a movie on TV that evening. We understood each other and words were not necessary.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Bunnies & Beach Balls plus Adoption Day in Sacramento July 13th

An entire page of bunnies expertly photographed with beach balls caught my eye today.  And, check out those ears.  I'm pretty sure these beauties will grow into those ears and I love big bunnies. You should, too.  They are good house rabbits with sweet, calm personalities. See whole page of pics.
The great rabbit rescuers at the Sacramento House Rabbit Society will be featuring their Front Street Bunnies at their next Adoption Day (tomorrow) on July 13th.  These are rabbits who were rescued on June 9th from horrible conditions. Twenty-eight of these rabbits are at the Sacramento City Shelter and PetSmart on Arden & Watt. Many of them will be at the Fair Oaks Petco on July 13th for all of you in the Sacramento area. (See second link above for more info.)