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View Full Version : New to bunnies - how am I doing?



lucyeleanor
30-05-2015, 04:31 PM
Hi all! I am a big believer in forums like these, I joined a similar one a few years ago when I was a novice to hamsters and I found it so useful. By the end I had 6 rescue hamsters who have all now sadly passed, but I am sure that I gave them the best possible little lives.

I am also a fundraiser and the Welfare Officer for my local branch of Cats Protection. Me and my OH share two rescue cats Bee and Elektra. Bee is nearly 2 years old and Elektra is just short of 1 years old. They are best friends.

I have been thinking about having a rabbit for about 2 years now but lacked the space. Now that me and my OH have our own home, with a pets-approved landlord, we thoroughly talked it over and decided it was time. We wanted to find the right match for us, we were thinking of adopting one from a rescue or unwanted from gumtree, neutering them and finding them a partner. But we didn't have any luck finding the right match. Last Saturday we were browsing in P@H and spotted these two rather large bunnies in the Pets for Adoption section. This is where we met Jack and Jill, now known as Max and Daphne. They had been abandoned in the store infested with mites. They spent a few months in the vet area of the store before being placed in the adoption section. They are now approximately 18 months old, mite-treated, both neutered, both wormed, microchipped and to be vaccinated for free once I book them in. I wanted to wait a while before taking them to the vets to make sure that they were as stress-free as possible.

We were talked in to buying a Bluebell Hideaway Hutch (http://www.petsathome.com/shop/en/pets/bluebell-hideaway-%28in-store%29). We had them in there for 2 days but found that they didn't seem very happy. I also had concerns as it was quite soft wood, the floors were very thin, it didn't seem to fit together very well and the cover to help preserve it would be another 75. I was also worried about them getting damp and cold. I returned it two days later for a full refund. That day the bunnies lived free range in our bathroom (very messy!) whilst I got hold of a 48" dog crate for 20 from eBay which they moved into that night. They have been living inside for five days now, seem much happier, braver, they don't seem at all fussed about the cats and, if anything, seem to be following them around.

They have a small litter tray which we fill with wood-based cat litter. They seem to be fairly well pee-trained and seem to poo anywhere in their cage, but go back in during playtime to poo so that's one small mercy! We did have a bit of an accident yesterday as I replaced their fleece blanket with a clean one and they peed on it, despite having not peed at all on the other blanket since Monday. I suspect that is probably a scent marking thing. I have taken it out to see if they pee anywhere else in the cage and will put it back in once I am sure they are re-trained. We haven't given any greens yet as Max did have some squishy poos during his first few days, I believe from the stress, but they have both dried up now.

They have a wooden comfy-cave hideaway, a wooden hay rack, two wooden chews attached to the bars and three plastic play balls which they bounce around. I have also bought nail clippers and a brush ready for grooming once they are more settled.

We feed them a weighed amount of rabbit pellets and hay every day. I did buy some treats, but this almost caused a fight between them as Daphne was very keen to steal Max's treat. I think we will wait a while to treat them again as they may still be a bit stressed out. I was advised against feeding many greens due to their breed - I'd like to see what other people seem to think on that one.

I'm going to buy some Xeno-450 (I found Xeno-50 effective in mite-treatment for hamsters) which I hear will also treat internal parasites. I will do this quarterly at the same time as the cat's quarterly flea and worm treatment.

Behaviour wise, they groom each other and snuggle most of the day. Max is more confident exploring but Daphne is definitely the boss and a little stroppy. Daphne will chew at the bars briefly if you are in the room, but I think she is just trying to open the door. They explore confidently around our laminated (thank goodness) dining room during their daily exercise. We haven't handled them much in this time as we wanted them to settle well. We had a small cuddle yesterday evening but that has been it. They have been very keen to nibble at shoes, jeans and my OH's hand though! My OH did notice what we think was a mating ritual two nights ago. Daphne was honking a lot, circling Max and then grooming him. My OH certainly felt like he was interrupting something! I hope this means that they are feeling settled.

I'd like to see if anyone has any advice for me, anything I might have forgotten about or I am doing wrong, please do shout! I'm attaching a few photos to show their set-up and hopefully someone can advise on the breed? I think Max looks like a lop, but Daphne is missing the characteristic ears.

Thank you!

http://s29.postimg.org/j5imn4hbb/11325203_10206809544339954_469491570_n.jpg

http://s29.postimg.org/jm3u9k52f/11330483_10206787193861206_1253983207_n.jpg

http://s29.postimg.org/o6q0ohorr/11358730_10206809569660587_118600620_n.jpg

http://s29.postimg.org/exnuedfvr/11328801_10206809552620161_901522899_n.jpg

Shrinkie
30-05-2015, 04:45 PM
Hello, welcome to the forums. And good. We love photos, dont be shy with them. What a gorgeous pair they are.

Im fairly new to rabbit owning myself (jan) and this forum is a goldmine for information and tips.

It is possible they were marking the blanket their good at peeing on their stuff! Its good to know they are settling though and nibbling is often a wee grooming behaviour they have so obviously fairly comfy. But yea it does sound like courtship, thr honking and circling :)

With the veggies, just as youve likely read, introduce it slowly let them get used to it one veg at a time. I dont pretend to know (as in im not saying otherwise) but ive never actually heard of being restrictive to veg - some tyoes of veg ive heafd but not to limit per day so i find that interesting information.

But everything sounds fab, obviously done a lot of thought and research before getting max and daphne and they seem to be happy where they are. Not a tip but just something ive found, my windowsills are teaming with pots full of grass, dandelidandeliions very cheap and easy to grow and it all counts as nutritious and trimming teeth. Its One thing ive found out also some very clever people on here do foraging for wild plants :) i think its made a wee dofference to mumy girlie :)

tigerangel
30-05-2015, 06:09 PM
Hello! Welcome to rabbit ownership :wave: you seem to want to do everything correct and thorough which is a very good thing to see in new owners.

I am browsing on a mobile device so this post will be short, however I could not see any hay in your photos and your post (I think) only mentions pellets and greens. Rabbits need a constant supply of good quality hay, it's very important and should be their main source of food.

ETA: I just spotted you mentioned hay, that's a good thing! Try putting some hay in their litter tray, it will encourage them to use it and hopefully keep future accidents down :wave:

Pets mum
30-05-2015, 06:18 PM
Hi and welcome :wave: Cats protection-yay ! I am secretary for our small branch up here :thumb:
Your bunnies look lovely, you will find so much helpful information on here, I know I did when I joined last year ! :D

orangediva
30-05-2015, 06:19 PM
Hi and welcome from me :wave:
Your bunnies are gorgeous, really cute - how anyone could abandon them I do not know. I'm sure they realise they've fallen on their feet with you.
You aren't the only one to get talked into a too small cage/hutch. I bought a 120 cm indoor cage when I first got mine and was horrified to realise how unsuitable it is - didn't take it back though, it's the home base for hay and littler trays for my two innies who now free range 24/7.

Springfield24
30-05-2015, 07:47 PM
Yes I also got talked into a tiny cage. We all make mistakes! Couple of things I'd mention. Firstly is your wood pellet non-clumping? If not it needs to be in case they ingest any. Also I believe your girly is an English spot breed but could be wrong! Welcome to the forum!

lucyeleanor
30-05-2015, 09:31 PM
Hi all, thank you for your responses :wave:

They do get plenty of hay everyday, and then pull it out of the hayrack on to the floor. I'd just cleaned up in the pen, which is why the floor is mysteriously poop-free. As for the wood based litter it is non-clumping, the clumping stuff is such a pain for even cats.

She does look a lot like an English spot breed from googling! Do we have any idea for Max?

We had our first binkys tonight from both of them! Max even came and sat on my lap. :D

Shrinkie
30-05-2015, 09:36 PM
Its brilliant to hear them settling in so well! Bunkies are something i love watching.

I find litter trays funny people sometimes disagree what to use fof health but i found Rosie simply stuck her nose up at pellets so switches to carefresh bedding nice and cheap too. :lol:

Its funny you say that about hay because ive the same feeder but Rosie isnt interested in it at all. She drags hay off or ignores it!

Azucena
30-05-2015, 09:37 PM
I'd say cross breed for both, most likely (def. uppy earred one I'd say).
For Max, it depends on his weight. There's mini and dwarf lop (dwarf is bigger, confusingly), but there's a lot of variation I think so kind of 'pet' and 'show' types are different and 'pet' don't really fit the weight category as much. From what I understand at least!

lucyeleanor
30-05-2015, 09:47 PM
Oh definitely not thinking they are any kind of pure breeds. I'll have to have a pop on the scales with him one day.

Azucena
30-05-2015, 11:06 PM
Oh definitely not thinking they are any kind of pure breeds. I'll have to have a pop on the scales with him one day.

I have a lop who I presume has uppy earred parents as if she squeezes through a small space her ears go up and stay up for a bit. :lol:
Then uppy earred with mane so must be part lionhead.
Apart from that rabbits are very hard to guess ancestory!

Bellatrix15
30-05-2015, 11:14 PM
I have a lop who I presume has uppy earred parents as if she squeezes through a small space her ears go up and stay up for a bit. :lol:
Then uppy earred with mane so must be part lionhead.
Apart from that rabbits are very hard to guess ancestory!

I doubt that as the upright ear is the dominant gene so if either parent has upright ears then the offspring would have upright ears. It is likely that the crown of your bunny is perhaps quite tight so the ears don't always lay flat to the head. It's super cute though! One of my French lop's ears has a bit of a mind of its own and I love it :)

Azucena
30-05-2015, 11:43 PM
I doubt that as the upright ear is the dominant gene so if either parent has upright ears then the offspring would have upright ears. It is likely that the crown of your bunny is perhaps quite tight so the ears don't always lay flat to the head. It's super cute though! One of my French lop's ears has a bit of a mind of its own and I love it :)

There's no lop/not lop gene but rather due to crown shape so a sliding scale which means it is possible to get lop babies from up/down parents. :wave:

J&R
31-05-2015, 09:20 AM
Lovely bunnies and it's great to hear you're after advice.
I'm afraid the cage is too small for them to be shut in though, as they need a minimum of 6ft by 4ft space. Is there a way you can bunny proof the room so they can be permanently free range in that room? There's some great examples in the housing thread.

Mischief and Tinker's Mum
31-05-2015, 10:31 AM
Sounds to me like you're doing amazing and it's brilliant to hear you researched beforehand as many people (including myself! :oops:) don't/didn't do this. You're doing bunny ownership right from the start and I admire you for that. :)

tonibun
31-05-2015, 10:34 AM
Hi there and Welcome! You have 2 very beautiful bunnies. A lot of us buy those underbed storage boxes topped up with hay which rabbits love as they like to chew while they pooh! This can also encourage good toilet habits but this does depend on what they have been used to doing, so to be completely clean could take some time!

Also puppy pens make good enclosures so the rabbits have space without being able to cause damage, and they are safer from other pets. Then, as you trust them more and more, they can become free range.

Now they are being well cared for you should find they don't need to be treated for mites as rabiits keep themselves very clean

Bellatrix15
31-05-2015, 10:50 AM
There's no lop/not lop gene but rather due to crown shape so a sliding scale which means it is possible to get lop babies from up/down parents. :wave:

Yeah, I realise there isn't a specific gene for upright/lop ears it's more of a combination of polygenic that 'creates' the ear trait, I was just trying to simplify things :) In my experience if one of the parents is puppy eared all babies will be but I am sure there are some exceptions! I find genetics very interesting :)

lucyeleanor
31-05-2015, 08:24 PM
Thanks for all the advice guys! They definitely don't get shut in the cage all day, we let them out at least twice a day right now. I'm sure as time goes on that will increase as they get better with litter training - we're still having a few accidents here and there, inside and outside of the cage.

I have booked them in for a neutering check at the vets next week. I was starting to feel a little paranoid about their status as 'neutered' after Max tried to mount Daphne, mainly because she is definitely the dominant of the two. This is following Daphne's displays of affection the other night. I hope it is just a behavioural thing. But, I don't have much faith in the medical diagnoses of P@H having had not great experiences in the past.

P@H were relatively useless reassuring us, stating that "if you were told they were neutered they probably are, but we can't find any record in their notes to prove it". Not a particularly helpful thing to say. In theory the vets would have a record of their mite treatment and neutering, but no luck there either as they are all just listed as 'P@H animals'. P@H did give us a couple of neutering vouchers so we can get this sorted officially by the vet. The vet should be able to tell with Max from just an examination and they will have to clip the fur of Daphne to check for a scar. If they are not neutered they will go in for the op straight away.

I've had a go at sexing them myself and I'm pretty sure I have a boy without balls and a girl, but of course you can't tell if a girl is neutered. We also had a fairly gross experience with her scent glands, but she's all cleaned up now and hopefully she'll keep herself clean from now on. My fear is that their previous owners neutered Max to prevent unwanted litters but might not have bothered with Daphne - I can't see why they would go to the trouble of neutering both if they were going to let them get infested with mites and abandon them a year later.

All of this has re-affirmed my dislike for P@H for selling animals. I am particularly against their normal "stock" selling. Their Support for Adoption scheme is a great idea, all the money goes to local charities, rabbits come vaccinated, microchipped, neutered, health checked - but they need to sort their records out. I'm feel like they probably did neuter/check the rabbits, but why can't they keep a proper record of this to prevent the rabbits experiencing undue stress?

Sorry for the rant!

dasiychain
31-05-2015, 08:38 PM
We use mega Zorb for our rabbits it's really good and cheap from farm stores? try putting their poos in the litter tray that they've left around the cage, also their food to begin with as they tend to poo where they eat :) ours are free range 24/7 and we have no problems. Even when we move the litter tray when cleaning they search for the tray and if they can't find it they go where it should be lol


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mini lop1
31-05-2015, 08:44 PM
they have landed on their feet finding you lucky bunnies :love:

Shrinkie
31-05-2015, 08:54 PM
No, no, rant way - I think I'd have a rant or two myself if that's what I'm given. I mean if I go in to buy a cage for a rat, I don't expect them to be all "maybe, kinda, sorta - you can try it" and so definitely with an animal I'd be looking for them to know who they were and their medical history not "maybe, kinda, sorta".

Ahh the fun of litter training :lol: definitely not the highlight of rabbit-keeping =]

Babsie
31-05-2015, 09:46 PM
They are lovely!

Unfortunately, their cage doesn't give them enough space. I know you said you let them out - but they need constant access to a much larger area. If you think about it, the RWAF recommends a hutch of at least 6ft x 2ft with permanent access to an attached run of about 8ft x 6ft (you can check exact details on their website) so indoor rabbits need the same, even if they do have free-range time.

There are some excellent examples of indoor housing in the Housing section which may give you some ideas.

lucyeleanor
02-06-2015, 05:12 PM
Thanks all, please be assured that they will be free-range once we get a handle on the litter training. Today we came home to a huuuge puddle of pee next to the litter tray. Definitely not there yet.

Babsie
02-06-2015, 06:19 PM
Thanks all, please be assured that they will be free-range once we get a handle on the litter training. Today we came home to a huuuge puddle of pee next to the litter tray. Definitely not there yet.

The may, of course, be peeing inappropriately because they don't like being confined. Unless you are going to completely rabbit-proof your room, free ranging when you aren't there may not be viable.