Thursday, July 29, 2010

Happy Birthday Beatrix Potter

In honor of Beatrix Potter’s birthday, July 28th here is a rare watercolor of one of her original drawings for A Rabbit’s Christmas Party. This was a preliminary drawing. She often put rabbits in clothes like little blue coats, but here she shows them off more naturally. She seemed to love animals and had two rabbits. Benjamin bunny was her first rabbit. She said he was a "an impudent, cheeky little thing.” Then there was Peter rabbit who she trained to a leash and took with her on outings. Even though she was a renown children’s author, conservationist, and respected expert mycologist and fungi expert, to me she was a woman who loved nature. She left her 4,000 acres of property to the National Trust and it remains unspoiled. I am sure there are plenty of European rabbits still making their homes among the working farms and doing their bunny dances. For more information: See The Beatrix Potter Society or go to The World of Beatrix Potter

Monday, July 26, 2010

It's Not Fair

It’s that time of year again, when state and county fairs bring in all type of animals including rabbits to show. It seems a very stressful place for the rabbits. My sister and I go with Hopperhome cards in hand to talk to people about rabbits as pets and it is usually the hottest time of year in most parts of the country. I recently read about a fair in Indiana with triple digit temperatures and big fans blowing in their “bunny barn.” Last year when it was hot at my local county fair I saw one little girl misting water on her rabbit’s ears as the temperatures soared. With the rabbits starting to pant, I wondered why fair officials didn’t close it down.
My other gripe about rabbit accommodations at many fairs is that rabbits are not allowed any type of resting board. I asked a Rabbit Barn official last year why they didn’t allow them. “It’s messy – it’s only two days” she said. That was it – no more explanation. It’s simple, cheap and humane to put a resting board in a cage. Rabbits do have pads on the bottom of their feet. What pads they do have are very thin and much different from the thick pads of cats or dogs. The fur on the bottom of their feet is normally the only protection they have to cushion their weight. Many breeds do not have heavily furred feet. After all, a rabbit’s original environment was a soft forest floor or field of grasses. Fair barn cages with wire floors are not healthy or comfortable, and what’s “fair” about that?
Above, those bunnies who look like little tattooed jailbirds are beautiful Himalayans at the fair last year.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Rabbit Phobia

Charges were dropped against a German student who had terrified a teacher with a chalkboard drawing of a rabbit. The 60 year old female teacher has a case of “leporiphobia,” i.e., rabbit phobia. I have a few phobias myself, but rabbits no way. However, I am very respectful when I handle them and I have experienced my share of bites from new rescues.
Bites or not, I love rabbits, and animal phobias are not rare. Most Americans (almost 80%) have a fear of some animals and it usually becomes apparent around age 11 years old. Many of these fears are associated with a traumatic or emotionally disturbing event which is sometimes long forgotten by adulthood. Even a picture of the animal can send the phobic into a panic. The most effective way to overcome a phobia is by facing it gradually until a desensitizing effect takes place. Most animal phobias can be overcome in a short session in less than a day. For instance, confine a cute little Holland Lop several feet away and the leporiphobic comes closer in small steps while talking through the fear with a therapist. It seems pretty silly until I replace the little bunny with a big old snake in my mind’s eye. I cannot fault this poor teacher for her fears. She deserves our sympathy. Afterall, she will never experience a nudge from a bunny nose or bunny kisses. Now that’s a scary thought.

And speaking of rabbit hoarding . . .

The folks from the Tranquility Trail Animal Sanctuary in Phoenix were called to a home earlier this month to gather up what they thought would be 40 rabbits, it turned into more than 100. At the time the news article was written more baby bunnies were still being found in the backyard burrows. The rescue group plans to neuter and spay all the rabbits and have already made good progress. The many injured rabbits are receiving medical treatment. Read the article here. If you can help with any donation, visit the Tranquility Trail Animal Sanctuary link above. They are updating this story weekly.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Animal Hoarding TV Program on Animal Planet

Tomorrow night Animal Planet starts a TV Series on Animal Hoarding The show does not profile a rabbit hoarder, but the dog, cat, bird and other exotic pet animal hoarders all share the same serious psychological condition. Over the years I have read about many, many cases of rabbit hoarding. If the person doesn't receive mental health treatment, they have a 100% relapse rate. Tufts University has done a lot of work in this field and is listed as a resource on the Animal Planet website above. The really sad aspect of animal hoarding is the harm the hoarder does to themselves and the ultimate abuse to the animals involved. Most hoarders start out with good intentions, but somewhere along the line those intentions veer out of control. It's easy to do with rabbits especially if they are not neutered or spayed since they can multiply so fast. It can result even in thousands of rabbits. The Great Reno Rabbit Rescue comes to mind where well over 1,000 rabbits were found in a backyard.

Rabbit Crochetdermy

This interesting craft piece by crochet artist, Shauna Richardson, caught my eye. I’m not big on the other kind of “dermy” utilizing deceased animals. In fact, I think it is downright creepy and then some. But this is okay. In fact, it is amazing since I have tried my hand at crochet resulting in misshapen hats and potholders. The nice thing about the rabbit is that it celebrates the bunny as a work of art. A hopping rabbit crochetdermy graces Shauna’s website front page.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Rabbits - the Original Spanish Soccer Players

¡Enhorabuena España en su victoria del equipo de fútbol! I have known a couple of rabbits who were great "futbol" players. Afterall, Oryctolagus cuniculus is thought to have originated in southern Spain. With those powerful hind legs for kicking and their dizzying zigzag pattern of moving away from predators, they are certainly suited to soccer. In Spanish rabbits are called "Conejos." I admit I watched my own fuzzy futbol players more this past week than the World Cup.
The word "Hispana" means "land of rabbits." Apparently, the European rabbit declined in it's native Spain because of myxomatosis and rabbit calicivirus disease, hunting and habitat loss. It is considered a keystone species in it's natural habitat. Losses of predators like the Iberian Lynx and Spanish Eagle are directly related to the lack of a healthy rabbit population. Wild rabbits are not pests in Spain and are listed as "near threatened" or "vulnerable" by authorities. I think the Spanish Soccer team should have a rabbit as a mascot.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Advanced Rabbit Speake Seminar

What a line up for this seminar . . . Nancy LaRoche from Colorado HRS, Kit Jagoda from Rivers's Wish Animal Sanctuary, Karen Courtmanche from Harvest Home and Margo DeMello0, Ph.D. author and Executive Director of the House Rabbit Society. The bunnies definitely approve of this seminar!!! Find more information here The range of subjects is bunerific, too - from bonding to how to set-up temporary predator proof enclosures outside to behaviors inherited from European rabbits and much, much more. The collective knowledge about rabbits from these speakers is well worth the trip. The HRS does the best job of education and this is just one part of it. Visit their website at House Rabbit Society. There is always something new to learn.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Smuggled Rabbit turns 8 Rabbits into 25

A lop-eared albino rabbit dumped in a children’s zoo romanced the resident females resulting in 25 rabbits where there were originally eight. The Battersea Park Children’s Zoo in London got a lesson in rabbit math when an intact male rabbit was abandoned for about an hour with three of their female rabbits according to the Mail Online. It all added up to more bunnies than anyone counted on from the brief time the smuggled male was loose in the rabbit exhibit. The three unaltered females all gave birth to Archie’s offspring on the same day and the keepers don’t know which of the kits belongs to which doe. Archie has been neutered in the meantime. The zoo warned visitors not to abandon their pets with them. The new bunnies will be shared with two of their other facilities. Obviously, Archie is a handsome rabbit (see pic above from Mail Online) and the previous owners could have easily found a new home for him.

Pictured (Mail online) right are Archie's large family and they are cute. However, the new arrivals have put an added burden on the zoo. For rabbit rescue groups, humane societies and anyone who needs to convince someone to fix their rabbit Hopperhome has a free download of a flyer on why rabbits should be neutered or spayed.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Woman Chases Bear To Save her Pet Bunny

Just in from the Anchorage Daily News - a woman chased a bear who grabbed her paralyzed pet bunny from an enclosure in her yard Thursday morning. Read the article here. I feel bad for the woman who thought her rabbit was safe until the bear jumped a fence to get at her bunny. She then managed to chase a bear in her stocking feet and couldn't get her beloved rabbit back from the bear. The bunny is gone and the bear is in really big trouble. The woman who the article didn't name risked her life to save her rabbit to no avail. Even in tamer places than Alaska, pets need constant supervision outdoors to be safe from wild predators that wander into cities and towns. I have heard of bears breaking into rabbit hutches, but this is a first.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

If Rabbits Dig Your Garden Too Much . . .

For those of us who love rabbits including the wild ones, it is hard to imagine people don't want them in their yards. But it is true. I receive several emails every year once gardening season starts requesting information on how to rid yards of these "pests." Rather than let rabbits be exterminated, I decided it might be good to offer up some tips on how to do this in a non-lethal way. All of it is advice I have received over the years. I have compiled a list of old wives tales, tried and true methods, and anecdotal information on how to keep rabbits out of gardens. Contrary to the myth about "dumb bunnies," rabbits are very smart especially when food is involved. See picture above - I know this rabbit personally and he is very intelligent plus well fed. I don't offer any lethal means of thwarting hungry rabbits. It just isn't my style.
Find Tip Sheet to Print at bottom of my Wild Bunnies web page

Making Sure Your Rabbit Keeps It's Cool

It's over 100 degrees on both coasts this week. I am sure there are a lot of domesticated rabbits who would like to dig a deep hole in a warren to get out of the heat. This is exactly what their wild counterparts in Europe would do. My place doesn't have an air conditioner so right now the lop, Speedy, is sitting next to his "cold buddy" and enjoying cool tile flooring. Miss Pansy is as close as she can get to the fan. She is keeping her ears up and open toward the breeze. She seems quite comfortable. Mr. Basil is over ten years old and he's enjoying the heat wave. However, for most rabbits high temperatures can be serious if they have no way to cool down. Visit my web page with several tips on keeping your rabbit cool.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Too Many Feral Rabbits in Headlines

There seems to be a lot of nasty headlines lately about feral rabbits. The one thing that strikes me is that the rabbits are being blamed. Terms such as “nuisance,” “public health issue,” to more dramatic like “hatred” and “war” are being thrown around. Hold your horses (or rabbits), the problem is people. It is people who dump their rabbits outdoors when they no longer want them as pets. I think the phrase “irresponsible pet owners” misses the point. “Ignorant pet owners” is a better description and it doesn’t mean anyone is stupid. People just don’t know abandoning domesticated rabbits is inhumane on many levels.
Persistent education of all potential and current pet rabbit owners could make a big difference. Some municipalities are considering requiring neutering and spaying of all pet rabbits sold. Also, in some places halting sales of rabbits altogether is being discussed as a solution. I am sure education is the preferred choice of everyone involved with rabbit sales before other measures are taken. For many years Hopperhome included a web page on the perils to rabbits when they are released into the wild. Recently, I revamped the web page and made it into a color flyer (or black and white) that anyone can download to give to someone considering getting a rabbit. I encourage it wholeheartedly. I would like to see feral rabbit news become old news.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Animated Rabbit Video Worth Watching

A year ago I found this video and it has stayed with me. First of all, I have had rabbits in apartments (9 at one time) and I know about hiding rabbits in places where they aren't allowed. Plus, there are a lot of levels to this video - it is about loneliness, too. But I love the ending - it is 8 minutes long and worth every second.

Red Rabbit from Egmont Mayer on Vimeo.

New Rabbit Grooming Web Page

I added a new page to the website on Grooming Rabbits Some of the information was on another page, but I thought rabbit grooming deserved it's own page. The web page is also available for a free download in color or in black and white. The links to printable PDFs are on the web page. The grey rabbit featured on the website was a bunny I photographed about 2 years ago. He was the most beautiful, calm rabbit and in need of daily brushing!

Rabbit Puts Out Lights for 3,000 Homes

The Tri-City Herald in Washington State reported that a rabbit is to blame for a Richland, WA power outage. Power was out for 3,000 homes. The bunny somehow got into an “electrical switch gear and basically short-circuited the equipment.” The article did not say what happened to the rabbit. I assume it was a wild Eastern Cottontail. And, this isn’t the first time because they said squirrels and snakes are the worst offenders. I think the utility needs to "bunny proof" their equipment.
After my first bunny wire chewer went through a couple of computer mouse cords, I purchased some corrugated hoses to cover wires. Find it in any hardware store. The photo above isn’t a cute photo of a bunny, but those unattractive hoses can save an adorable rabbit’s life.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Bunny Bunanza in Northern California

The Contra Costa Times reported that a member of Bunnies without Borders inadvertently discovered 120 rabbits in the backyard of a Pittsburg, California home. When a woman was selling rabbits for $10 a piece at a garage sale Michelle Miller inquired since rabbits sold at these prices often end up as snake food or used in dog fighting. It seems the woman thought she had two males originally and a few months later ended up with a whole lot more than one pair of rabbits. The House Rabbit Society has provided a grant to help with care, spaying and food. About a dozen of the Pittsburg rabbits will be offered at an adoption event Saturday (tomorrow) at the East Bay Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Tri-Valley branch in Dublin, CA, They are also looking for a sanctuary situation for some of the rabbits. For more information call: 707-330-990 They are really beautiful bunnies from their photos. (Photo credit: Sherry LaVars, Bay Area News Group)

Mixing It Up with Cats & Rabbits

In my household there are 4 tom cats and 3 rabbits right now. Everyone gets along purrfectly. See video at link below of my Dutch breed rabbit, Pansy, playing with one of the cats and annoying the other. Over all the years I have had both species in the house only one cat was too predatory in her behavior to safely mix with rabbits. She was an abandoned (and formerly starving) purebred Silver Persian cat who had spent too long outside hunting for prey. I found her a wonderful home where she could be spoiled and enjoy the companionship of another cat. So not all feline/lagomorph matches are going to work and some take lots of patience. However, on the opposite end of the spectrum there was my sister Bonnie's cat Luca and my bunny Groucho pictured above. Luca treated Groucho like her kitten. She both corrected him and lavished him with affection. So it all depends on the cat, the rabbit and your good judgement.

See Amy Shapiro's Article at House Rabbit Society Website. This article gives sound advice on making friends for rabbits outside their species especially with cats.

Yew Have Got to be Kidding

Get out your hedge trimmers. Somehow I think this has got to be more complicated than trimming rabbit nails. At least there isn't any stomping when the trimming is over.
Back in 2007 I read an article on why rabbits could be considered "greener" pets than cats or dogs. This isn't exactly what they had in mind here. Check out why rabbits are the greener pet here at Hopperhome.

Cottontail Rabbit Rescue

Cottontail Rabbit Rescue comes to the rescue of three surviving rabbits out of a dozen who were found dead in a park in Trumbull, Connecticut. The bunny featured in the story is "Baby Girl." According to Mandy Doyle of Cottontail Rabbit Rescue, the bunny “has sores on the bottoms of all her feet and urine scald on pretty much the whole bottom of her.” But Mandy also said Baby Girl seems happy despite her condition now that she is safe and receiving care. I appreciate the Animal Control Officers who are attempting to find the cruel people who did this.

BillBoy the Rabbit Dwarfs Family Dog

I loved this photo of "Billboy" the oversized rabbit featured in the Romford Recorder Newspaper (UK). He is a Continental Giant Breed and larger than the family’s bichon dog (who is also quite adorable). It seems the kids wanted a dog and the mom said “no." She had no idea the bunny would be get this large. Now they have a dog and one big bunny, too.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Fur Flying Over Victoria Campus Rabbits

I have been following this story on the University of Victoria Rabbits for a few years now. At this point they have about 1,500 feral rabbits on the campus and they have spread out into the nearby neighborhoods. Several Canadian newspapers reported on the newest plan for feral rabbit management. University officials plan to leave 200 rabbits in zone for rabbits in the campus core and then the rest won’t be so lucky. They will be trapped and “culled.” No one is happy with this plan. The article in the Victoria Times Colonist was right that “If others [the rabbit pet owners] had acted responsibly, the whole issue would have been avoided.” The climate on Vancouver Island is mild and there is plenty to eat with few predators. Many people feed the rabbits on a daily basis. My only question is: Will the 200 rabbits left to live on campus be neutered and spayed? Just a thought. I created a new flyer for Hopperhome available for download called “A Dozen Wild Reasons – to Never Abandon a Rabbit Outdoors.” Find it here. Photo Credit: Geoff Howe For The Globe and Mail