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.)

Who is the Frankenstein? Not the Rabbit

In the last couple of days many have seen the disturbing Youtube.com video from two Minnesota brothers of the so called "Frankenstein Rabbit."  The name is, of course, referring to the fictional story of scientist Victor Frankenstein, who creates a grotesque creature.  It looks like the malady the little cottontail is suffering from is a medical condition that could be cancerous.
In all my years in rescue and living with house rabbits, I have seen plenty of rabbits meet their end by some cruel and yes, often grotesque disease. My rabbit, Sweetie, passed away recently at 9 years of age after suffering from Pseudomonas aeruginosa, i.e., Green Fur Syndrome. Sweetie's immune system was apparently already compromised.  I took him to three different veterinarians including a specialist. I gave him around the clock care and feedings (he had stopped eating). The infection won  at the end and my little lop had many large bald spots on his face, chest, neck and forepaws. He was quite the opposite physically of a "cute" rabbit and I loved the little guy just the same. I never thought once of making a video of Sweetie as an ugly anomaly of nature.
Even though the rabbit the young men video taped in Minnesota is grotesque, there is no doubt he is suffering. Because the rabbit is wild it is unlikely anyone will intervene and the end result will be more suffering. In my opinion, the most disturbing thing about this is the response of one of the brothers when he stated:
"It's turning into a thing on animal rights ... it was just supposed to be something fun between me and my brother."
It is about common decency and compassion for animals. Certainly there is a vast amount of cruel social media involving animals and this video joins the legions of shame. The young man's statement framing the video as a "fun" activity as a way to dismiss the cruelty is disgusting. Unfortunately, it appears he has not learned anything about compassion for animals from the controversy over his video. 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Easter Bunny Dump has Begun

Easter Bunny on the Loose - The inevitable post-Easter bunny dump probably began a month ago, but in the next couple of months I have no doubt more "Easter rabbits" of all shapes and sizes will be released into the wild, taken to shelters or abandoned in some other way.  This is the first one I have seen in the news.  99% of the time it isn't reported. From my experience all these years most of the people who abandon pet rabbits did not receive sufficient information from the pet or feed store (and even some breeders) who sold them the rabbit.  A majority of unsuspecting bunny buyers do not understand what happens when a cute baby bunny hits puberty and suddenly becomes aggressive, no longer willing to be picked up or cuddled, and starts to spray. Chances are neutering and spaying was never mentioned when the bunny was purchased. 
Unfortunately, domesticated rabbits don't survive well outdoors and many only last a couple of weeks. It is simply a death sentence for the rabbit. I found my first big white bunny on his own in a field.  See his story here.   I also have a flyer explaining at least a Dozen Wild Reasons to Never Abandon a Rabbit Outdoors free to download on my website. 
This was reported in the Washington Post (local) Loudoun County Animal Watch yesterday, May 1, 2013 by the Loudoun County Department of Animal Services:
"Lesson about a rabbit at a school: Sugarland Run Dr., Sterling, April 22. An all-white domestic rabbit was reported to be hopping around a field at a school. An animal control officer could not find the rabbit. Domestic rabbits need people to care for them and cannot survive in the wild."

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Most Macho Animal I know: Domesticated Rabbits

Recently, I mentioned I have rabbits as house pets in conversation.  Once again comments started being thrown around along the lines of "bunny stew," "dumb bunnies" and then a big guy squeaked out, "little woman with her cute widdle, wabbits." I decided to educate them. "Rabbits are the most macho animal I know.” I said. “European rabbits have been bred to be so docile and cute they will sit quietly in cages all day only to become an entree, a fur collar, or a throwaway Easter gift. Take them out of those hideous small cages, but first make sure they are neutered or spayed. Everyone has heard of their prowess in mating and reproduction.  If another rabbit isn't available they will go after your cat or dog. Male or female - it doesn't matter.  When they are neutered and spayed they will continue to mount each other to show dominance and establish order."
I just kept going and no one walked away. "Rabbits are a prey species, but they are far from wimps.  If anything invades their space (a cage), makes them feel threatened or backs them into a corner, a cute sweet bunny will turn to face the predator going on the attack grunting, boxing and biting. Their bite feels like deep razor cuts. I have the scars to prove it. I wear leather gloves when handling rescued rabbits who don't know me. Their trust must be earned after they reach puberty and especially if they haven’t been altered."
"Anyone who knows domesticated rabbits well has stories of bunny bravado." I wasn't ready to stop yet and one guy asked me to give an example so I continued.  "At Easter every year I hear at least one story of a small child with the tip of a finger bitten off when they are posed for portraits with rabbits. I have seen a 4 lb. lop eared rabbit run across a room at full speed to body slam a misbehaving cat three times their size. I have witnessed a 2 ½ lb. nine year old neutered male rabbit herd his female partner to a far corner away from a perceived threat.  The male rabbit returned to meet the danger alone – a large 12 lb. one year old rabbit. Fortunately, they were separated from a bunny brawl by a puppy pen fence because rabbits can do significant damage to each other.  Did you know as a survival mechanism all rabbits can stomach eating their own feces every night. They have 17,000 taste buds and we humans only have 10,000.  That's macho." I had stayed calm during my little lecture. I realized I had been waiting a long time to say this to the bunny bashers.
(Photo: Dorian Grey aka Destructo Bunny)

Prevent Hare Loss This Easter

Rabbit rescues are bracing for Easter bunny buying season this year.  It has been 14 years since I decided to do my part to get the message out. However, lots of people still don't know a toy bunny or a chocolate rabbit is a much more humane Easter gift.  The pet stores and feed stores who carry live baby bunnies at Easter aren't helping matters at all.  These rabbits often end up in shelters or worse.  The bunnies are usually only 4 weeks old and much too young to be weaned.  After all, the window of "cuteness" to market the rabbits will be gone within a month.  A couple of months after they are sold the rabbits will hit puberty and their raging "hare"mones will be on full display for unsuspecting buyers.  Children will not want to play with a pet that fights when picked up or cuddled.  Parents will be exasperated with the spraying and mess.  The feed or pet store never told them to have the rabbit neutered or spayed between 4 to 6 months.
There are a lot of good people out there working to educate the public about the perils of live rabbits as gifts at Easter.  See Make Mine Chocolate and visit the House Rabbit Society and countless other rabbit rescue groups on the web. 

Monday, January 7, 2013

When a Fur Coat Isn't Enough

In Japan they stage an event called "Rabbit Fashion Week."  Fortunately, it is not rabbit fur clothing for humans.  Rabbits are the stars in this event.  It includes, of course, an actual fashion show of lagomorph lovliness all dressed up for show. See one of the examples below (Photo credit Yoshikazo Tsuno)
Now a vet tech in Ohio has found her bunny dresses are very popular according to a recent article in the UK's Daily Mail. After she posted a photo on Reddit last week, "she was overwhelmed with people from all over the world asking her if she would make similar dresses for their rabbits." See example below:

What do these rabbits think of being dressed up?  I don't really want to thump on anyone's fun, but I'm not so sure about it.  Do I detect an annoyed or embarassed look on those rabbit faces above.  Domesticated rabbits have put up with all manner of behavior from humans over the centuries from completely nonsensical to unimaginable torture and cruelty.  Dressing up a bunny is certainly benign in light of their history in association with humans.  Also, I doubt it isn't overly stressful for them since "bunny dress up days" most likely happen only on special occasions. As prey animals most rabbits don't like anything resembling a grab from behind and even dominance behavior between themselves involves one rabbit over the other's back. (Most of these "clothes" fit over their backs.) On the other hand, the rabbits get a lot of attention dressed in their frocks and if the clothes aren't constricting movement, then probably no harm done.  My main issue with it is that it disregards the rabbitness of the rabbit. They are beautiful just as they are in their variety of natural fur coats.  However, there is no doubt I'd rather see people designing clothes for rabbits than making fashion accessories out of rabbits.  

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Owners Perish in Fire & 40 Rabbits Need Homes

As a result of a terrible tragedy, owners of 40 rabbits perished last week in a fire. The rabbits are located in Staunton, VA. The rabbits are being cared for by the Angels of Assisi and will be neuter/spayed if needed. The rabbits were found to be well cared for according to reports. If you'd like to adopt one of the rabbits or donate to Angels of Assisi call the rescue at 540-344-8707.

Manchester Bunnies Ready for Adoption

Kaitlin McNicholas,  with her mom, Robyn, holds New Jersey, a Lop Eared Rabbit at the Friends of the Manchester Animal Shelter on Friday. New Jersey was rescued with a group of 49 rabbits, temporarily named after states to keep track of them. Some of the rabbits are already available for adoption. (Photo Credit: Thomas Roy/Union Leader).

On the Wild Side: Amami Black Rabbit No Longer Endangered

An ebony color rabbit, the Amami Black rabbit in Japan has managed to survive and flourish.  The Amami Rabbit is indigenous and unique to Japan.  It lives on two islands Amami Oshima and Toku no Shima in southern Japan and has been removed from the endangered species list.  Most of it's natural habitat has been destroyed so the bunnies have been in decline. As you can see from the photo the Amami has shorter ears, but still has those big thumping hind legs like most lagomorphs.  The Amami rabbit is also known as the "Midnight Bunny." The behavior of the female Amami includes burying their kits to protect them from predators then returning at night to uncover and feed them. This behavior is shared by other female lagomorphs (including domesticated rabbits) who will normally cover their babies with at least their own fur (plus grasses/twigs if available) and feed once or twice at night. Unfortunately, the Amami rabbit it isn't as prolific as other rabbits and only breeds once or twice a year. However, it looks like its isolation on the Japanese islands has given this Midnight Bunny a chance to see brighter days.