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.