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Tag Archives: pets

Using Essential Oils on Your Bunny

So… we’re slowly becoming an “oily” family. We’ve been doing research on Essential Oils, the different companies, and how they work. We haven’t committed to any particular brand or theme as we go about our lives, but every night the kids get their “mellow mix” essential oil on their wrists and we use a mix of tea tree, lavender and chamomile on rabbit scratches all the time. Takes the sting out right away!

 

Because we’re so interested in this right now, I was super excited to see these infographics released! I have heard they need to be read carefully (for example, frankincense is allegedly poisonous to rabbits!). Here’s the upshot, this is not an endorsement of any particular essential oils company. Double check with an expert before you use any essential oils on your animals.

 

And… here they are! The infographics!

 

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Bad Timing

Rabbits! There are so many rabbits!

Rabbits! There are so many rabbits!

It’s been a busy weekend for us – three does from three different breeds gave birth! Our Champagne d’Argent, Silver Bell, Silver Fox, Ceres, and Silver Marten, Bonfire, all had large, healthy litters and we’re still waiting on one more mama to pop any time.

 

That’s a wonderful place to be because getting stock that produces and raises what they bear is quite nice and all of these does are proven and have our trust. They don’t typically lose any babies. Having all of this happen at once is also a bit scary because the size of our rabbitry doubled in a day! Whew! We’ll have babies for sale soon!

 

Silver Bell threw us a curve ball this time, however, and I thought it would be worth writing about as our friend Primrose the Holland Lop did something similar a few weeks ago.

 

While I was feeding and watering the rabbits yesterday morning I noticed Silver Bell looked… distressed. We had given her a hard time because she had taken all of the hay out of her nest box and put it in the corner of her cage on the wire. We called her crazy and put the hay back in the nest box, and she began to gather it in her mouth and start to move it out again. We decided to let her be and went on with our chores.

 

When I came back by in a few minutes I saw the hair around her eye brows was different and I just knew she was in labor. I put my water bottles down and sat still. Within a few minutes I watched Silver Bell deliver a kit, right in front of my eyes! She popped that baby out on the wire in the spot she had tried to make a nest before we took her hay away.

 

I didn’t want to disturb her, so we left for a bit. When we came back the kit was still alive but she had not pulled any hair. She was still rearranging her hay and didn’t give the impression she was finished delivering. My husband pulled her out and palpated her – her stomach was still hard as a rock and it seemed there were babies still to be had. We spread hay all over the wire of the cage and let her be.

 

We took her little kit, which was starting to get cold, and tucked it into a warm place for a few hours. When we checked her again mid-afternoon and there was still no hair pulled and no babies we identified the newborn singleton with sharpie marker and put it in with the silver fox litter that was born that morning.

 

Bed time came and we checked Silver Bell – this is a doe with a proven track record as a mom! She’s a great girl! She was pulling hair frantically and putting it in her hay nest on the wire. The nest box was right there, unused and full of hay. Very strange.

 

To make a long story short, when we came out this morning Silver Bell had a nice little nest of hay and hair set up in the corner of her cage and nine little babies tucked inside! She delivered the first kit and the other nine at least 14 hours apart from one another!

 

We got the original kit out of its foster nest and tucked it in with its siblings. Covered in marker but none the worse for the wear.

 

I mention this because I always expected a rabbit to deliver their babies on Day 31 within about 10 – 15 minutes. That’s what all the experts and books say… yet yesterday’s experience proved this isn’t always the case. Duchess, a Champagne d’Argent, always delivers on Day 33 or 34 (once even on Day 36!).

 

As another story of non-traditional rabbit birthing, our friend who has Holland lops noticed her first-time mom doe go into labor (displaying spots of blood and amniotic fluid) on Day 30, deliver one kit on Day 32 and another on Day 34. Sadly, both of those kits were born dead. But it was shocking to both of us that there could be a span of five days between the beginning of labor and the end. (And she did consult a veterinarian to ensure the best care for her rabbit… and was told to wait it out.)

 

I’ve read raspberry leaves can help when a doe is in labor. We don’t have a supply of those handy, so I’ve made Raspberry Zinger tea for our does. I can’t guarantee it’s helped them, but I do know it hasn’t hurt them at all! We also typically follow up the birth with a yummy treat like carrot, apple, banana, or celery and a couple of calcium-enriched antacid tablets.

 

Good luck with your litters – I’d love to hear your stories of non-traditional rabbit births!

 

 

 

Games Bunnies Play

Richard Dawson hosts - Games Rabbits Play!

Richard Dawson hosts – Games Bunnies Play!

Thanks to M. Marshall for sharing this via the ARBA Facebook page!

 

We’re talking mind games here, folks, not binkies.

Here are a few that my bunnies like to play:

Are there Buns in my Oven? A simple guessing game that does like to play. She shows no signs of pregnancy up until the very last moment… and then when you figure she’s not pregnant after all, she presents you with a fine litter and a bunny smirk of satisfaction.

The Dead Buck Game. You go into the rabbitry and your favourite buck is flat out on his side, seemingly not breathing. No amount of calling his name or prodding seems to get a response. Just when you’re ready to go dig a hole out back, he stirs slightly, gives himself a shake and asks what’s for supper.

Nya-nya! You Can’t Make Me! A game enjoyed by all rabbits of all ages. The object is simple: drive the bunny caregiver crazy by refusing to do the simplest things. Can be applied to eating, drinking, breeding, caring for kits or any other aspect of daily bunny life.

Cold Butt aka The Great Bunny Snit. You do some small thing that offends one of your rabbits. The rabbit immediately turns his back on you and shuns you for hours or days, depending on the degree of offendedness. Half the time, you don’t even know what you did wrong.

What Sex Am I This Week? A fun little game played by youngsters. They really enjoy this one when you have a waiting list of buyers.

Escape Hatch Hurry up! “If we get all of this food eaten, we can squirrel our way out through the J-feeder! That crazy woman LOVES to play chase!!!”

Are there Buns in my Oven? Version Two. The object is to drive the bunny caregiver mad with frustration. Bunny lifts for the buck, acts pregnant for the next month getting away with all kinds of crankiness, builds a lovely nest, pulls fur… and then nothing.

How’d They Do That? To keep you guessing, they accomplish impossible things that have no explanation. A good example of this was when we found one of our youngsters roaming around the flower pots one morning. The hutch door that closes with barrel bolts was open, and all the other youngsters were leaning out of the doorway. At least in “Escape Hatch,” there is an explanation!

What Color Am I Going To Be When I Grow Up? In this game,  a black bunny decides that it needs to turn into a rabbit with tipping, or an agouti, or who knows what?!
“I am the Guru Bunny.” One of the kits sits all by itself, eyes closed, usually in a corner, while all the rest of the kits come running up to see ya when you arrive, all bouncing and acting like…well..bunnies… ..ya can almost hear the “Ohm…Ohm….”coming from that back corner.
How Many Ways Can We Waste Feed? This includes digging in the feeder, throwing hay out of the rack, pooping in the feeder….tipping bowls of treats, etc. (My response is to cut back on the amounts. If they aren’t hungry, they can afford to play with food!)

 

Big thank you to M. Marshall for sharing the creativity!

Funny Things Rabbit People Say

zettmedia / stock.xchng

zettmedia / stock.xchng

One of the very best things we’ve done as people who will be taking rabbit breeding seriously is join the American Rabbit Breeders Association, Inc., or ARBA. One of the supports offered by this organization is a Facebook group where breeders gather to compare stories, share remedies, and communicate best practices.

 

I’ve learned an amazing amount from reading through past posts… but one thread tickled me more than any other! For the rabbit newcomer, there are many aspects about the care and nurture of our four-legged friends that might be confusing. Other breeders shared some of the funny questions and statements they’ve gotten from rabbit innocents:

“My female rabbit keeps pulling fur and putting in the corner of our sofa.”

Friend’s reply, “Are there any other rabbits in the house?”

“Yes.”

Friend’s reply, “IS the other rabbit a male?”

“Yes.”

Friend’s reply, “Then your female is making a nest to have babies.”

“But they’re brother and sister. They wouldn’t do that!.” (courtesy of N. Anderson) (Rabbits have no regard for anything except gender!)

“How far can my rabbit swim?” (courtesy of S.H. Brown) (Rabbits don’t do well with water at all)

“I judge 4H rabbit kids & sometimes you get some very funny answers. My favorite: I asked a young man senior showman (very experienced) What is smut? He lowered is head, face blushing & answered very quietly, “My momma won’t let me look at that stuff.” It was hard not to laugh but I continued with the judging. Later that day the young man came up to me and asked about the question. I showed him in the book & explained it to him. We had a good laugh together. Gotta love those 4H kids!” (courtesy of B. McCall) (Smut is a reference to poor coloring)

“I once had a FFA mom call me in a panic because she was bunny-sitting her daughters rabbit and while playing with it noticed a large tumor on its end. I asked her to go get the rabbit and bring it back with her to the phone. She did and I asked her to turn it over which she did and started screaming! She was so freaked out because now there were two growths on the rabbit! After I stopped laughing I told her, “Congratulations you have a boy!” (courtesy of B. Rowan)

“Can I breed this 3 lbs. mini Rex doe with that 11 lbs. Satin buck?” they asked me. To which I replied, “All things may be possible but common sense says that’s not prudent.” (courtesy of J. Veale)

“I was on one group and and one woman told everyone else that rabbits store MILK in their dewlap…I was like, “Really now???” (courtesy of K. Southall) (The dewlap is an extra amount of hair used by mama rabbits to pull and line their nests)

“At our local fair last year people kept asking us “What’s wrong with all the rabbits that they are broken?” (courtesy of K. Krejci-Giminiani) (“Broken” is a coloring description. It means the color is broken instead of solid)

“I have to admit I was confused with the “legs” a rabbit has when we were new. I told L. there was no way I’d pay for a three-legged rabbit that she couldn’t even show! But we figured it out!”(courtesy of M.S. Guidry) (When a rabbit wins at a show it is awarded a “leg.” After earning three legs, it is eligible to be given the honor of Grand Champion, which is quite desirable.)

 

I hope this has given you a bit of a chuckle, as I got a chuckle while reading! Thank you to all the people who posted on the FB page… and I’d love to hear of any funny questions you’ve gotten in the comments!

Rabbit Legends

Rabbit Legends!

Rabbit Legends!

Raising these rabbits has gotten me thinking about “Rabbit Legends” – as opposed to Urban Legends. Stories of circumstances that seem completely impossible and yet… are true!

There’s a wealth of bunny misinformation around the internet and a simple Google search is as likely to lead you astray in rabbit husbandry as award you a prize! Where do you go to find out the real scoop?!

I’ve found talking to other breeders to be the best way to figure out if what you’re witnessing is normal, possible, or just plain strange! Even among breeders there are some urban legends – “rabbit legends” if you will – things that some say are impossible… and yet others have experienced firsthand.

Just for giggles I thought I’d list a few of the rabbit legends that others have had to see to believe!

Here are some “Rabbit Legends” for the ladies:

1. Concurrent pregnancies. Perhaps the most hotly debated rabbit legend is the ability for rabbits to be pregnant with two separate litters at the same time. Here’s how it happens. Flopsy is bred on Day 1. One Day 14 the breeder palpates the doe and feels nothing, so, not wanting to waste time, rebreeds her. On the original Day 31, the doe drops some babies… and has more on Day 45!

I wouldn’t have believed this was possible except it’s happened to our friend. It’s not a good thing – in fact, she lost all the babies from both litters – but it is possible. Apparently this has to do with having two uterine horns, and one side can fertilize at one point while the other fertilizes at another. Some dangers are the physically taxing effect of dual pregnancies, delivering both litters at once (one set would be to term while the other obviously underdeveloped), or the doe terminating the pregnancy on her own.

2. Absorbing the feti. (I’m not sure the plural of fetus, but it’s from Latin so, in the theme of an educated guess, I’m going with the plural Latin ending “i.”) Here’s the situation: you breed your rabbit. You know for a fact the deed was accomplished. You watch your doe, she gets fatter and fatter, she even palpates pregnant! The appointed time comes and you wait. And wait. And wait. And nothing happens.

You aren’t crazy. That sweet little doe has reabsorbed the tissues of her babies back into her body. There are various reasons for this, most blame stress, sickness, or ill-formed embryos. Some rabbits have been known to do this if they seem to feel the timing isn’t right or they can’t find a safe place to build their nest. Who knows what’s going through a rabbit’s mind – after all, they aren’t genius or they wouldn’t be at the bottom of the food chain – so it may be the result of a special little bit of rabbit crazy. Regardless of the reason, it happens!

3. Multiple delivery dates. Another situation for the rabbit legend record books? Delivering the same litter over several days. It stands to reason if you bred the rabbit on one day the delivery would take place on one day, right?

Wrong. Many, many breeders report their does giving birth over the course of 2-to-4 days! After all, who needs to condense the child-bearing experience?! All a female of any species really wants is to be in labor for hours… no! days!

Depending on the rabbit this may result in the loss of all, some, or none of the babies. But there’s no doubt, the laboring process can take as little as 10 minutes, or it can extend for days.

Let’s talk about “Rabbit Legends” for those bucks:

1. Sympathy pregnancy symptoms. One breeder has a buck who gains weight and builds a nest, right along with his mate! She was so rattled by this behavior she checked him over thoroughly, convinced she had somehow gotten the buck and doe mixed up. But, no. It was the buck who was getting all maternal! That’s a prouder papa than most rabbits!

2. Breeding through the wire.  It’s never a good idea to keep a buck and a doe in cages right next to one another. Not only because your doe can get seriously aggressive, but also because two rabbits can be horny like… rabbits! When friskiness is in order, why let a sheet of wire stand in the way?! A pair of rabbits in the mood to do the deed will do the deed, right through galvanized steel if necessary.

Quite a surprise for the breeder who walks out to their “unbred” doe and sees her pulling hair for a nest!

3. Intentional castration. It’s an ugly facet of breeding rabbits – sometimes a doe isn’t too excited about a buck getting his north and south end confused. The truth is, a buck on a love-making mission is a hot, frenzied mess – and he’ll leap at anything he can manage to mount, without concern of whether his mounting is on the backside or in a doe’s face! One breeder tells the horribly story of a buck who was confused in this way and ejaculated up the doe’s nose! Ewwww!!!!

A doe, when inclined, can participate in a Lorena Bobbit-like manuever without hesitation! This is excellent motivation for not keeping litter-mates together for too long, as well. When it comes to romance there are some pairs that can be left without supervision for extended periods of time. But there are the other does who need constant observation or that poor buck may end up with only one (or no) testicle.

It’s a sad truth, don’t trust the ladies. And if you’re a buck, keep your tendermost parts away from a lady’s whose teeth never stop growing.

A few more, health-related “Rabbit Legends”:

1. Loss of pupil. One breeder took her rabbit to the fair – it was VERY hot in the rabbit barn and suffered a heat stroke. After cooling her rabbit off, she realized her rabbit was missing a pupil! The heat of the experience had caused her to blow her eye! She recovered her health, but was blind in that eye forever.

2. Rabbit c-section. One breeder had a doe that not only survived a c-section delivery, but went on to have four more litters as VBAC. Talk about talent!

 

Do you have any rabbit legends of your own to share? Please tell us in the comments!

 

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