Tag Archives: rabbit

Keeping Rabbits Cool When It’s Hot Outside

saflora / stock.xchng

saflora / stock.xchng

Remember the Nelly song in the 90s? “It’s getting hot in here so I’m gonna take my clothes off!”

Well, sorry, Nelly, rabbits can’t take their clothes off. They’re stuck wearing a fur coat while temperatures soar.

I’ve been believing, hoping, that we would escape the worst of the heat since we’re living at about 8,000 ft. in elevation. Just this weekend we did a backyard campout and all of us ended up in a huddle in the wee hours of the morning because it got so chilly!

However, today’s temperatures moved into the high 90s and we lost the runt of our Silver Marten litter to heat stroke. I’m a believer in natural selection but I’m mad about the loss and we’re going to do our best to make sure we don’t lose this battle against summer time heat!

We’ll be trying a few different ideas to cool our rabbits down. This afternoon we filled Ziploc baggies with ice and distributed a bag to each rabbit. Tomorrow I have prepared bananas, cut in half and frozen solid. All of my friends are scrounging around for glass jars and bottles I’ll fill with water and freeze over night – I’m hoping by two days from now we’ll have enough to cycle them in and out of the freezer.

Though we have the ventilation of our rabbitry working in our favor – open air hutches are good for catching the breeze – we do still have to take precautions against heat stroke for our rabbits. The ideal temperature in a rabbit’s mind is in the low 50s – so anytime temperatures soar over 85° it makes sense to incorporate some cooling techniques into your animal husbandry tool bag.

Rabbits don’t have the ability to sweat, so their entire cooling system is coordinated by their ears. A cold rabbit will keep their ears close to their neck, a hot rabbit will have their ears high and wide open to cool their necks and catch any breeze that comes by. There is actually a phenomenon called “summer ears” – where a rabbit born in the summer will have longer ears than a rabbit born in the winter!

Rabbits suffering from a heat stroke will have glazed eyes, be relatively motionless, and may have spit coming out of their mouths. This is very bad stuff and can cause permanent brain damage or death.

In a quick, easy to read list, in order to cool your own rabbit(s), you might consider:

  • installing a mister system outside of your hutch.
  • wetting their ears with a washcloth to turn them into swamp coolers.
  • freezing water bottles they can lay next to.
  • giving them ceramic tiles to sit on (this can be a cause of hutch burn so watch and remove if they’re urinating on the tiles).
  • spraying the buns with water.
  • (in extremely hot weather) dunking a rabbit’s body in a bucket of cool water.
  • spraying down the roof of your hutches with a hose.
  • soaking cheesecloth or a burlap bag in water and draping it over the cage.
  • moving them to an air conditioned area.
  • moving them to a well-shaded area or installing a sunshade over their cages.
  • pulling the hair off of babies in the nestbox.

What other suggestions do you have for keeping your rabbits cool in the summer heat?


I am probably getting in way over my head here, but it looks like we may have a new pet project.

Astrex mini Rex, 19 days old

Astrex mini Rex, 19 days old

Astrex Mini Rex, 19 Days Old

Astrex Mini Rex, 19 Days Old

Our very first litter of mini Rex was born 19 days ago to a first-time mom, Inca and first-time dad, Bushy. They’re both broken, so the resulting litter is 100% broken coloring with many charlies as well. As they’ve developed they’ve caught my attention because their hair seemed to be… peculiar. But it’s our first purebred Rex litter so I wasn’t sure what I was seeing wasn’t… normal.

Astrex mini Rex litter, 10 days old

Astrex mini Rex litter, 10 days old

10 Days Old

Astrex Mini Rex litter, 19 Days Old

Astrex Mini Rex litter, 19 Days Old

19 Days Old

It appears this litter has gotten a full helping of the very rare Astrex gene. This fur type is not recognized by ARBA, so breeders of show rabbits who find it in their nest boxes typically cull. Also, the curl may not stick around through the baby fur and will molt out to normal… the parents of this litter are completely normal in their mini Rex fur, not a curl to be seen!

I’ve been scouring the internet for information and have discovered a few people who are breeding specifically for this trait. It can be found in several breeds besides Rex and mini Rex, also in Harlequin and New Zealand. I’m trying to learn more, so if you, or anyone you know, has found curly coated rabbits in their nestboxes, please let me know! I’ve also created a Facebook page to further discussion on this topic.




Links to the other pages I’ve discovered talking about Astrex:

Astrex, Curly Coated Rabbits on Facebook

Duman’s Ark (Great Photos!)

Astrex Rabbits Curly Wavy Bunnies

Astrex Rabbits

American Astrex Rabbit Breed Club

How to Make Your Rabbit A Smoothie


Simply oats help relieve gastrointestinal stress.

I just finished making a bunny smoothie and thought it might be interesting to share.


In theory, this could be an occasional treat for any rabbit, but for us I had a rabbit who had diarrhea. Yuck! The first step was to take him off of his regular pellets and give him some hay. Next step, oatmeal smoothie!


I had recently made some yogurt for the family, so I got about 1/2 cup of the plain, unflavored yogurt and mixed it with regular oats until the oats were coated. We’re on day three of the oatmeal smoothie for his food, along with hay, and the diarrhea… cleared up!


The active cultures from the yogurt give the natural, good bugs in the rabbit tummy a boost, while the oats add roughage into the diet, making stools more firm.


The oats are simple (I used Quaker) but here is the recipe for the home made Crock Pot yogurt. (Adapted from Money Saving Mom)


Homemade Yogurt in the Crock Pot Recipe

  • 1/2 gallon milk (Whole milk will make the yogurt thicker, but any milk will work.)
  • 1/2 cup plain unflavored yogurt (Any kind with live active cultures will work but I use Greek. Be sure to save a half cup of this batch of homemade yogurt to use as a starter next time!)
  1. Pour the half gallon of milk into your Crock Pot and turn it on low. Cook it for 2 hours and 45 minutes.
  2. After 2 hours and 45 minutes, turn the Crock Pot off and let it sit for 3 hours.
  3. Spoon a small amount of the milk into a small bowl and add the half cup of yogurt to it. Mix together thoroughly.
  4. Dump this mixture back into the milk in the Crock Pot and mix it around well.
  5. Put the lid back on your Crock Pot and wrap pot with a large beach towel or blanket (make sure it is unplugged and turned off!). This step helps keep the heat in the Crock Pot and allows it to cool more slowly.
  6. Let the beach-towel-wrapped Crock Pot sit for 8-12 hours (or overnight). After 8-12 hours, it should be thickened.

You can stop at this step, but I like my yogurt thicker, so I go a little farther!

  1. Get a piece of cheesecloth and create a “bowl” by tying the corners around a sink or bathtub spout. (I use a large baby cloth given to me as a shower gift made of muslin. It comes in packages of three at Target).
  2. Pour the yogurt into the cloth bowl and let it sit anywhere from 1 to 6 hours, depending on thickness desired. The cloth allows the whey to drain – a long hang will end up turning into cream cheese! (The whey can also be collected and used for other healthful purposes, if desired.)
  3. When yogurt is desired consistency, spoon it into jars or plastic containers and refrigerate a few hours before eating. (It’s normal for the yogurt directly touching the cloth to be thicker.)

This will keep for one to two weeks in the refrigerator. Be sure to save a half cup to use as a starter for your next batch of homemade yogurt.

When we eat it we add a spoonful of sugar and about 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract to eat bowl. Yummy – and cheap!


Here is another list of Medicinal Herbs for Rabbits compiled by Rise and Shine Rabbitry. If your bunny is sick but you don’t have to use medicine, don’t!

Baby Bunnies and Freezing Temperatures

Duchess’s first kit. Champagne d’Argent, hours old.

We are terribly excited to announce that Duchess gave birth yesterday, on Day 33!

Typically a Champagne d’Argent will have 6-8 kits per litter, so we are a bit surprised that she only produced one. However, it’s her first litter so we’ll give her a few more tries to get things figured out before we make any judgements about her production ability.

Having only one baby did give us a different kind of problem, however. Usually between mom’s fur covering and the sibling’s body heat a baby is fine well into freezing temperatures – but our little one has no one to snuggle with and share warmth while our temperatures bottom out around 17* at night.

Some breeders put a warming plate or heating light in their nestboxes, but the use of these is questionable because they can very easily roast your fur-less rabbits. (Remember, temperatures over 80* or so can be deadly to your rabbit.)

What to do?

We are using a wire nestbox and the hutch is about three feet off the ground. We placed a few cinderblock on end under the nestbox and a normal electric heating pad on top of the cinder blocks (There’s a gaps of about eight inches between the heating pad and the floor of the cage.) Then we dropped the tarp covering down on the hutch and said a prayer.

This morning we have one healthy kit still alive and squirming! Mom’s water dish still had some ice in it but wasn’t frozen solid, so we feel we’ve hit the right combination of warmth.

There’s no perfect way to raise a rabbit, so it’s good to learn how others do it and use your own ingenuity. Here’s to a great little kit growing up strong!

Rabbit Watch, Day 3

Rabbit Pregnancy

We’re on rabbit watch, day 3.

I don’t mean to get so involved in Duchess’s birthing process, but it’s her first litter and, well, I get excited when there are baby bunnies floating around!

Duchess is not cooperating. I put more alfalfa hay on the floor of her cage in hopes she’d gather it up and put it in her nestbox… she didn’t.But she did enjoy her tasty snack!

I’ve spent the last two days searching the internet for information on how you can tell your rabbit is about to give birth. Here’s what I’ve learned:

1. Every rabbit has a different gestation length. The average length of a rabbit pregnancy is 31 days, although the range is 28-35 days. Let me tell you, the difference between 28 and 35 days is a l o n g time when you’re checking your rabbit every few hours!

2. Pulling hair is spontaneous. Some rabbits will pull their hair and prepare their nestbox several days in advance. This is a well-prepared, type-A rabbit. Then there are the free-wheeling, fun loving rabbits who pull their dewlap fur an hour before birth. Ellen of Sky Island Livestock told me she has does who will pull their hair as they are giving birth. Talk about procrastination!

3. I’ve got a bad attitude. Duchess is a sweet, shy rabbit. In the last week she’s been ridiculously jumpy and grumpy. When we put her next to a buck she began to growl and try to fight him through the cage wire (we quickly moved the buck to different quarters!). Today when I tried to give her our daily scratching she frantically hopping through her 4’x2.5′ cage like I was a demon after her soul. She is not herself. (Frankly, I’m not myself during the last bit of pregnancy, either!!)

4. Test mating might get you more than expected. We bred Duchess, then did a test breeding on day 12 to see if she was pregnant. Turns out the mating activity will stimulate one side of ovaries at a time – and the “test mating” recommended by so many people might actually trigger a second fertilization. Let me put it this way: a rabbit is capable of carrying two pregnancies, simultaneously! So there’s a chance Duchess is about to deliver a litter… and in two weeks she’ll deliver another! I’ll let you know how it goes.

5. When in doubt, send up a prayer and wait. The reality? I can do absolutely nothing to help Duchess right now. Once she births there’s a chance I can save the kits if she has them on the cage floor instead of the nestbox. Still, it’s a waiting game. Those babies will come when they want to come and I’m along for the ride. Patience, patience, patience. I’m developing this virtue!

Do you have any stories of first time rabbit deliveries?

Meet Duchess

Duchess is a beautiful Champagne d’Argent doe. She comes from championship lines on both father and mother. She’s a little shy and quite the observer.

Meet Bucky

Bucky is our Champagne d’Argent buck. He’s quiet and laid back.

Meet Peppermint

Peppermint is a beautiful black Silver Marten doe. Her coloring is lovely and she has a sweet, gentle personality.

Meet Joey

Joey, Silver Marten doe


This Joey, one of our Silver Marten does. She’s a little grubby n this photo from playing in her playpen! She’s curious and funny.

Silver Marten Rabbits

Silver Martens are recognized by their silver-tipped fur.

Known for his cute expressions, unique coloring and charming personality, the Silver Marten breed of rabbit has been a favorite for nearly a century!
The Silver Marten HistoryThe Silver Marten breed of rabbit was originally a naturally-occurring mutation in the coats of Chinchilla-colored rabbits. Some say these strangely-marked little black rabbits occurred early on, while others say it was the cross-breeding of Black and Tan bloodlines that created the Silver Marten. According to the Silver Marten Club, these mismarked Chinchillas occurred on their own, but that the Black and Tan was later introduced, in an attempt to improve the clarity of color and markings on these bunnies. This seems a logical explanation, particularly when one sees the similarity between the Silver Marten and Black and Tan markings.It was in 1924 that the Silver Marten rabbit was finally given his name and, by 1927, they had developed a working standard for the black and chocolate Silver Marten. These were accepted by ARBA (American Rabbit Breeders Association) and the first breed club came into being. A third variety, the blue, was accepted in 1933 and sixty years later, in 1993, the sable silver was approved. Silver Marten rabbits can also be found in lilac – a light dove gray – but the color is not registerable at this point in time.

The Silver Marten Breed Description

A compact breed, the Silver Marten rabbit usually weighs in between 6.5 and 8.5 pounds as a senior (a mature adult, 6 mos. or older). Their ears are held upright and are of a medium thickness with good length. The Silver Marten’s eyes are alert and bright, and should compliment their variety – the darker shades having dark brown eyes and the diluted shades having blue-gray eyes.

The body of the Silver Marten is firm without being bulky and should be well rounded from the shoulders and up over the hips, having an almost half-moon appearance when properly posed. Their hips are well-developed and should not pinch in at the table. They often have a muscular look that makes them seem larger than what they actually are.

The Silver Marten comes in 4 recognized varieties: the black, the blue, chocolate and sable. All possess the same characteristic white around the eyes and nose, inside the ears, the underside of the rabbit and the light silvering along the sides. The lilac, a dilution of the chocolate Marten genes, often occurs in the breed. This color is not accepted in the breed standard, however, though these bunnies do make fantastic pets.

The Silver Marten Personality

The Silver Marten is known for being a charming little clown and terribly curious. They can, however, be a bit on the skittish side and startle easily – for this reason, one may look for a calmer breed if they are looking for a first bunny for a younger child. They are a delightful companion for older children and adults though, and their markings give them a cute appearance that few can deny.

Silver Marten rabbits, like most other breeds, are notorious chewers. If you are intending to have a bunny as a house pet, be forewarned that you will definitely have to “bunny-proof” your house. This means getting down on the floor and looking at anything and everything that could possibly chewed. Some examples of tasty treats, that bunnies love (and that will have you pulling your hair out about) include wood furniture legs, electrical cords, stereo/DVD/computer wiring, or important papers. Don’t ask me how they know what papers are the important ones, but they do…and they will chew them (or leave bunny tracks on them), if you leave them within reach. Fortunately, products like Bitter Apple are available to help discourage chewing, but the best discouragement is keeping things out of reach.

Silver Martens can be litter trained, like most other breeds, though they will usually leave a few bunny tracks around the house. These are NOT to be mistaken for Coco Puffs cereal and just require a little sweep or vacuuming to clean them up.


Personal experience breeding and showing rabbits

http://www.silvermarten.com/ – The Silver Marten Rabbit Club

American Rabbit Breeders Association


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