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House Rabbit Network » Question and Answer forum

Welcome to the new House Rabbit Network Question and Answer Forum. Please email us with any questions about your rabbits or rabbit related issues. We are here to help. Please remember if it is an emergency to see your vet ASAP. Thank you!

January 27th, 2009
Question on Peeing Problem

    Question:

My bunny has a bad habit of leaving urine droplets on the carpet. I’ve tried just about every trick in the book:she’s been spayed, she has two litter boxes to choose from (and I clean them every night), and I spray the spots with Nature’s Miracle so she won’t go back to it. Is there ANYTHING else I can or should do to stop her from having these accidents? I don’t want to have to give her away, but if she continues to destroy my apartment I might have to.

She doesn’t release her entire bladder on my carpet - she just leaves small droplets if she’s relaxing in one place for a while. Of course, over time, these droplets create large, gross patches in the places she tends to hang out.

    Answer:

I’m very concerned about your bunny as this is not normal behavior. It is normal to leave a few poops around as a territorial tactic, but certainly not pee. I’m concerned also that is just a few drops she’s leaving. Is she drinking more water than normal? Do you see her strain when she pees? It sounds like she either has a chronic urinary tract infection or a urethra blockage such as a stone. You should bring her to the vet ASAP. The vet should take a urine sample and take xrays to check for a blockage. I hope she gets better soon!

January 9th, 2009
Question on Bonding Multiple Rabbits

    Question:

Hi. I will tell you the whole story of my rabbits so you have all the information needed to help me out. I have had rabbits before when i was a teenager so I’m somewhat experienced. About 6 months ago i bought two baby bunnies at a street fair, they were about 6-8 weeks old. The vendor said they were both netherland dwarfs, but one turned out to be a savanna rabbit. well after about a week i wanted to start feeding them vegetables and the next day the baby dwarf died. I had given them a small portion of spinach so I’m guessing that was it since i further researched that it causes gas. All of this is beside the point. My rabbit (named Sophie) was doing fine, she learned to litter train and i built her a huge cage out of “creative cubes” she also had the run of my house, until she started urinating everywhere(when she was about 4 months when she reached sexually maturity) so i started limiting her freedom until she started getting better, i also set an appointment to get her spayed. I started thinking about getting her a mate and decided checking the shelter and i found a male about 1 year old that seemed to get along with her at their introduction, so i brought him home. Upon introducing them at home she became very territorial and would lunge at him and Chase him, but after about a day of her displaying her dominance they got along, about a week after them living together i took her to get spayed and kept them separated in cages side by side for about 2 1/2 weeks, until she started acting normal and jumping again. Everything was going great they seemed to be bonded and in love :) About a month later i was at the local mall and saw some baby bunnies at the pet store an fell in love, i did a google search to see if it would be a good idea to get 2 babies and introduce them, i found a few results that said bunnies like living in groups. so i bought them. both males (as far as i know) and ones a mini Rex and the other is a netherland dwarf. The first night i brought them home i let the adults sniff them through the cage, they seemed fine so i let Sophie out and she sniffed them and seemed like she was getting excited but i was unsure and i kept them in separate cages next to each other. Sophie started putting droppings all over her cage and urinating everywhere, which is understandable since shes marking her territory. Brock the adult male seemed to like the babies and have no problem with them at all, he’s a very relaxed, easy going bunny.The problem is with Sophie. The second time i let them sniff eachother Sophie lunged at the baby right away and tried to scratch him, she missed and scratched my leg, which started bleeding. So i decided to try something else, i left them in cages side by side for about a week and then tried to introduce them in a bathroom which is neutral territory. I put both the babies in and then let Sophie in and she took off right away and started chasing the little netherland dwarf and bit him and he let out a loud scream, i could tell she just didn’t like them. About a week after that, i wanted to try something else just to see what would happen and i let all the bunnies out together in my large living room/dinning room and again as soon as Sophie spotted one of the babies she took off after him (the mini Rex this time) and bit him making him scream and taking a out a large hunk of hair. That was a few nights ago. Since then i let the adults out to play together during the day and then put just Sophie in her cage in the evening and leave Brock out and let the babies come out to play with him for a few hours and then put them all away at night. This is a possible solution, but Sophie seems so sad when she goes in her cage while all the others are playing, especially since she is bonded with Brock, its seems like it could be causing a bit of tension in their relationship. So that’s where i am right now and i need advice on what i should do. I would love if they could all four live together and get along.

I have done a lot of research online and there is not much information on bonding multiple rabbits. I have read, however that that bonding an adult to a baby is possible if the adult is relaxed and accepting, which Sophie is not and she is already bonded to another rabbit. I also read that all rabbits should be spayed or neutered before bonding them, but in my case the baby boys are about 3 months and not old enough to spay yet, but i definitely plan on getting it done within the next few months. Please give any advice on what i should do to make this situation better and get them all bonded to each other.

    Answer:


Yes, they should be spayed and neutered before bonding. That is a must. Plus they should have healed and had hormones dissipate (I think that is about a month, post-procedure). Additionally - at 3 months - they are at maturity. Are you positive they are both boys?

Bonding 2 boys is very difficult sometimes (just to warn you). Make sure the adult male is also neutered. Hormones make things more difficult.

December 15th, 2008
Question on Rescuing a Stray Rabbit

    Question:

I am hoping that someone can help me out. I live in ***, WA and come across your blog about rescuing and catching Rabbits. I am currently trying to do just that, and I’m in need of some help as to how best to do it. I am especially concerned with this female rabbit since around ***, we are in a deep freeze and we aren’t supposed to be getting above freezing temperatures in the next week and I am concerned about this rabbits well-being. My plan is to catch her and keep her for myself–I have everything she needs and have a neighbor going to give me other items she will need once we can catch her. She is a pet rabbit that someone dumped.

The story behind the rabbit is that one of our neighbors decided to let their 3 rabbits go around 6 months (or so) ago. We didn’t know that these rabbits were let loose back then or else we would’ve done something about them, but my mom remembered a neighbor that said she had rabbits and contacted them to find out that they were in fact their rabbits. By the time we noticed that the rabbit was sticking around our yard, just a few weeks ago, we decided that we would try to catch her and take her in–which is when we talked to the neighbor as well, but in the beginning you couldn’t even walk out of the house without her taking off, and as you can imagine–disappearing (I believe her to be a dwarf mix). So far, in the past couple weeks, it’s gotten to the point where she trusts me enough not to take off while I’m out there and I can feed her carrots and some dry bread to munch on, but she isn’t around a lot and I don’t know where she is sleeping at night and I’m concerned for her since it’s been so cold. We contacted the neighbors last night and they told us that her age is up there–don’t know exactly–and that if we could catch her, they wouldn’t mind us having her, but I don’t think they fully understand the problem with her running loose. We wanted make sure that they were aware of it. Personally it upsets me quite a lot since I don’t believe you should ever dump a pet out in the wild and this little girl ‘Midnight’ seems to still be pretty sweet. I was concerned about her biting if I got too close since she’s been out on her own for so long, but other than surviving this long, she actually seems to still be pretty sweet–at least to me.

What I need help with is the best method to catch her. She seems to be the smartest rabbit in the world! Even if I think of grabbing her, she seems to hop far enough away so I couldn’t do it. She was with me last night–I was outside in the freezing cold because I didn’t care if I got sick, I wanted make sure she was safe. It was close, but I still couldn’t get her and it upsets me that she’s outside in this cold weather. Even though she’s survived for so long, I figure that it can’t last forever since the other two have since died. I believe one was thought to have got into rat poison that a neighbor put out. I’m surprised that Midnight has made it this long since people walk their dogs without leashes around here; we have cats, raccoons and opossums running around, and of course she runs from children like the plague so I think she’s been harassed by some neighborhood children as well. One day I thought she had something wrong with her ear–like a disease–and I found out once I got close that it seems like some animal got ahold of her and bit off a chunk of her ear. She seems perfectly healthy right now (luckily) but I could use any help and information on catching her. I’ve heard of Havahart traps, fish nets, etc. I’m just really in need of help to catch her. I’m crossing my fingers that I can catch her within this week so she doesn’t freeze to death. I do plan on giving her the home and life she deserves–as I’ve told her :)

    Answer:

It is so great that youíre trying to help these poor rabbits. First of all, it is illegal to dump domesticated animals, so you could have a case against your neighbors. The best thing to do is contact your Animal Control Officer regarding that. You could have them help you too, but weíve found most ACOís call on us to help. Also, if they bun does have a bite, then they will quarantine the bun for 30 days. So, ACO can be a good or bad way to go. But you can still complain to them that your neighbor is dumping buns.
As for catching the rabbit on your ownÖ rabbits are smart as youíve found out. The best way is to recruit as many people as possible to help. The way we do it is usually with xpens (metal exercise pens for dogs or other animals). When we spot the bun we keep away at a good distance and slowly surround the bun on all sides with the xpens. Then make the circle closer until the bun is trapped. Itís definitely easier said than done because if your pen is too low, the bun can jump right over.


Itís really tough to do it on your own. Iíve done it a few times, but
once the bun was just about to give birth so she didnít care about
anything, lol. What you want to do by yourself is sort of the same method with an xpen. You can entice the rabbit into an open area with raisins or carrots or greens. When the rabbit is feeding, slowly close in on her with your pen. You can set it up on one side and sort of chase her into it and try throwing a blanket over her. Make sure you have a carrier to swiftly put her into because rabbits are tough to hold onto.


As for helping her until you can catch her. Put out greens or pellets or
even hay outside in one place. She may just get very accustomed to you and you can get close enough to nab her. Really the secret is to lure her into a place thatís best for you to corner her.


Once you do catch her, make sure you take her to the vet and definitely spay or neuter. Especially spay because you donít want baby bunnies on your hands. You can safely spay a bun in her first couple weeks of pregnancy.


Please email us if you have any other questions or just need support.
Youíre doing a wonderful thing!

December 15th, 2008
Question on Chewing on Trim

    Question:

We have had our rabbit for one year. We rescued him so we are not sure how old he is, but we are guessing between 2-3 years old. He is very sweet and we keep him outside of his cage whenever we are home; however, he loves to chew on our trim. Do you have any suggestions for how to rid him of this habit? Thanks!

    Answer:

Chewing on trim is such a common problem that I wish I knew the cure.
Different things work for different buns. Here are some suggestions:

1. Make sure the bun has lots of chew toys (although for some reason, my buns think trim is still tastier).

2. Use diluted hot pepper sauce and rub it on the trim. Just make sure you dilute it enough that it won’t stain your trim. This usually deters the bun after one bite. Don’t use sour apple spray or any of the stuff pet stores sell. It doesn’t work one bit.

3. Cover your trim with tin foil. People actually do this, but I think
it’s pretty ugly.

4. Train your rabbit with a water spray bottle. This is what I do and it
works for most buns. When you see your rabbit going for the trim or even anything you don’t want him to chew spray him. Spray your rabbit right when he is doing the bad behavior. Don’t delay and don’t soak your bun. When you do it, say “NO!” really loud. It’s gotten to the point with my buns that I just say “NO!” with no spray when I see them looking to chew my trim and they stop. And then usually binky away because they know they’re doing something naughty :-)

Hope one of these help!

December 7th, 2008
Question on Possible Kidney Problems

    Question:

I recently adopted two bunnies from the Animal Care and Control in San Francisco. I noticed that the little one (a girl) was drinking twice as much water as the other one. I took a urine sample to the vet, and the results show that there is some material that raises concern about her kidneys - a full blood panel was recommended, which costs about $150. The ACC will not pay for the test, but said I can return the bunny and they will then run the tests, and depending on the results they will give the bunny to a rescue place, or she may have to be put to sleep.
Currently, she has stopped drinking so much water, and of course I’d rather not return her, but I’d like to know what you suggest.


    Answer:


Thank you for contacting us about your bunny.

I do have several questions for you- how much does your
rabbit weigh, and exactly how much is she drinking? There
is a very large range of much much rabbits will drink
in a day, and one bun can easily drink double another
rabbit and still be within the normal range. Also, is
this a bonded pair? If so, how are you so sure the girl
is drinking twice as much? Are you just going on
visual? (Meaning you see you at the bottle more often?)
Also, if your boy eats more greens than your girl, he
is getting more water that way so she would need to
drink more to get the same amount. Last, what exactly
did your vet see in the urine?

Honestly, if she has stopped drinking more water I
seriously doubt she has a problem at all. There is also
a chance she was nervous, or even dehydrated at the
shelter. (Some buns won’t drink from a bottle and
other buns won’t drink from a crock, if the shelter
didn’t pick up on it…)

I’ve dealt with kidney disease several times, and this
is what I look for- drinking large amounts of water,
generally more than 4 times normal. Lots and lots of
pee, which is clearer in color, and no litter box habits.
I do rely on a urinalysis where I look for signs that
the bun isn’t concentrating their urine. (hence the
clearer pee). Personally, I wouldn’t waste my time on
a blood test. A blood test will tell you yes, that
a bun definitely has kidney disease. However, it doesn’t
show up in the blood work until the kidneys are functioning
at less than 25%. That means your bun can have kidney
disease and still have normal blood values. So what
I do is evaluate the symptoms. To give you an example
of water consumptom- I have a 5 pound rabbit that drinks
32 oz/water a day. I think he has kidney disease because
his urine looks almost like water and he has no litter
box habits.

There are also other reasons for drinking more water.
If the rabbit has a urinary tract infection, they drink
too much too. Here the symptoms are slightly different
in that the urine still looks like urine, and even though
the tend to lose their litter box habits, they pee many
smaller puddles (in kidney disease the pee less frequently
and larger puddles). When you do a urinalysis you can see bacteria in the urine. Sometimes there is a off smell to the litter box too.

As for treatment- if the kidney disease is caused by
e.c. then you can try fenbendazole to see if you can
reverse some of the damage. If it is a UTI, simple
antibiotics should clear it up.

November 26th, 2008
Question on Early Morning Activity

    Question:

Hi, I am a first time rabbit owner and I have had my rabbit, Moose, for about 2 months now and everything was going great. He is fully litter box trained except for these two random times he peed on the bed but we just monitor him and make sure he doessn’t do on there. My problem or question is that he has all of a sudden taken to biting and having the zoomies at 6 in the morning and some times as early as 3 AM, he will bit his cage and then fling himself against the cage causing a loud ruckus and he will continue until either I give in and let him out or we ignore him for a LONG time. What should I do to prevent this behavior? I have given him tons of chewies and baskets and all kinds of things all over the cage to stimulate him but he just ignores them and bites the cage right by his water bottle. I am looking into getting a bigger and more spacious cage for him but at this time I just don’t have the funds and he is out of his cage all day long except for bed time…what can I do? Thank you for any help!

    Answer:

We actually hear this complaint quite often with new bunny owners. They donít realize that rabbits are crespecular, which means rabbits are most active at dusk and dawn. Your rabbit is exhibiting total natural behavior, even the pulling on the cage. Thatís why we discourage adopters to not have rabbits in their bedroom. Giving him toys or chewies wonít help. Your rabbit is going to play at that time because itís innate.

If youíre rabbit isnít neutered yet, that may help to curb any severe spazzy behavior. Itís always a good idea to neuter your rabbit anyways. Good luck!

November 12th, 2008
Question on Licking Behavior

    Question:

I adopted a 1 year old chestnut lop about two months ago (we named her Bree). She seems to be adjusting to us well, but lately she has started licking me and other objects around her play area. It seems to happen first thing in the morning when I let her out, and when she wants to be pet. Is this normal behavior? (Can you tell this is my first rabbit? :-) ) Thanks for whatever help you can give, and thank you so much for your website - it’s been a God-send!

    Answer:


Thank you for the compliment! Licking is a normal rabbit behavior as long as she is eating and pooping as usual. If she is licking one specific area or also pulling out hair, bring her to a rabbit saavy vet as soon as possible.

Licking in rabbit language is a sign of affection. You say that she does this when she wants to be pet. Often rabbits will lick an object near their owner as an alternative to grooming their owner directly. This is the highest compliment you can get from your rabbit. Another reason rabbits lick/groom objects is because the bun is trying to tell you ďHey, I want a mate!Ē.

If you decide to get a mate for your bun, I would suggest a male. Male/female bonds are usually the easiest. It is also best to take Bree on dates and let her pick out her mate. Youíll be surprised how opinionated buns are when it comes to choosing a mate. And of course, make sure she is spayed (which she should be anyways) before you try bonding.

November 10th, 2008
Question on Bonding 3 Rabbits

    Question:


I have a male rabbit named Thumper. I had him neutered just over a month ago now. I just got two baby girl bunnies that were born Sept 21. I just tried bonding them for the first time after reading several books and internet sites about bonding. I did it in a neutral zone. He started mounting the one girl, after a few seconds I pushed him off but he bit on her neck and tried to hold on. He then did the same thing to the other female. I just stopped the bonding there worried that he was trying to hurt them. I’m now scared to try it again. He saw them threw a baby gate and started to jump at the gate and when I moved him away he growled. Do you have any suggestions on what I can do to make this work. Thanks so much.


    Answer:


There are several things going on that should be addressed here. Itís great that youíre trying to bond your rabbits. Rabbits love being with other rabbits. But as youíve experienced first hand, it can be quite an ardous process.

The first thing to discuss is the aspect of spaying and neutering. Itís wonderful that you neutered your boy. Keep in mind that it takes at least 3 weeks for the hormones to exit your bunís body. This may be why he is still acting aggressive.

With respect to your girls, you really should wait until they are spayed to bond them with the boy, Thumper. There are a few reasons for this. The boy can smell the hormones from the girls and act differently. Also, the girls can go through what is called a false pregnancy because they are not spayed. When an unspayed female is around a boy, whether neutered or not, their bodies can be tricked into thinking that they are pregnant. It is a stressful experience for the girl and for you. She will build a nest by pulling out her hair and could start lactating.

On a personal note, before I knew better about spaying and neutering, I bonded my unspayed female to a neutered male. She had a false pregnancy. It was very upseting and unhealthy. I spayed her right after that happened and became more educated about rabbit health/care. It is important to spay too because studies have shown that 80% of unspayed females develop uterine cancer after 3 years of age.


Another thing about your girls is that they are very young, being less that 8 weeks old. I really hope they were properly weened. Babies should be with their mothers until 6 weeks of age. The girls should still be getting alfalfa hay with their timothy hay and lots of greens and pellets. I have had a lot of experience with babies. It can be difficult to sex babies. I would really make sure that these two babies are girls. You donít want to end up with a litter of rabbits. You can check out this website to help sex them.
http://rabbitnetwork.org/articles/sexing.shtml
Itís a difficult thing to do and Iíve seen a lot of vets get it wrong. Make sure you go to a vet that specializes in rabbits.

These girlsí personalities are still developing. There may be a chance that these girls may not stay bonded to each other. Itís easy to have babies together, but once they reach about 3-4 months of age (entering adolescence) they could start fighting. You must keep this in mind. Also, even if you succeed in bonding the girls with Thumper, there is a chance they may debond when the girls reach adolescence or after they are spayed. The reason is because they will smell different and their personalities might change.

So, to sum things up, I urge you to do the following things: (1) make sure the girls are actually girls (2) spay the girls at 6 months of age (3) then have the girls live next to Thumper for several weeks before trying to bond in a neutral territory.

Definitely contact us when the girls are old enough to try bonding. There are a lot of great techniques out there.

November 2nd, 2008
Question on What Rabbits Can See

    Question:

So, my husband and I were wondering if bunnies can see 2-D and if they can see color? You often see birds have mirrrors in their cages that they play with actively. Would a bunny find that interesting, and could they even see the reflection of themselves?

    Answer:

Rabbits can actually see 3-D objects, just not as well as us humans. Their vision field is almost 360 degrees due to the fact their eyes are located high on the sides of their head and slightly bulge out. They do have a blind spot of 10 degrees directly in front of their nose. Also, rabbits are farsighted. This enables them to see hawks flying above. Not useful for our indoor rabbits, but their eyes evolved from their outdoor ancestors.

Rabbits don’t have very good depth perception and this is probably why you asked if they just saw 2-D. What allows us humans to concentrate on an object is an increase in cones in an area called the fovea in our eye. Rabbits have a similar area that spans 30% in front of their face, but has less cones than our eyes. However, remember, 10% of this space is a blind spot so rabbits only have depth perception in 20% of their field of vision. To make up for this lack of depth perception, rabbits use the technique called “parallax.” The bun bobs her head up and down. An object that moves more than other objects will be closer.

Some studies have shown that rabbits can discriminate between blue and green. Rabbits eyes are like dogs eyes in this respect. However, how the rabbit’s brain interperts this difference may be different than how we humans discriminate between different colors.


To answer your question about whether or not your bun would like a mirror is probably up to your bun. I personally wouldn’t advise the mirror. The reason some bird owners use mirrors is to make a lonely bird feel like they have a companion. Birds are said to bond to their image, which some pet owners say is bad for your own bonding to the bird. I don’t think rabbits would really be interested in a mirror. Often a stuffed animal is a better toy for companionship, other than another rabbit, of course! A mirror might actually scare a bun too, because the bun sees the image but cannot smell it. Rabbits use their strong sense of smell to identify things. But that’s a whole other subject…

(references: http://www.wisconsinhrs.org/Articles/What%20Do%20Rabbits%20See.htm, http://www.bio.miami.edu/hare/vision.html)

October 31st, 2008
Question on new, shy bunny

    Question:

We adopted a bunny from HRN less than a week ago. We knew that she was a skiddish little girl but I was just wondering about how long it can take a bunny to adapt to new surroundings. She stays under the shelf in her cage all the time. She will be out in the morning when we wake up, and then go back. She seems to be eating, drinking, and using her litter box while we are at work or sleeping. We haven’t taken her out of her cage yet, and I’m wondering if that is bad for her. How long should we let her stay without trying to coax her out of the cage…should she come around in her own time.

    Answer:

Congratulations with your new bunny! I have one bunny who is very shy and her bonded mate is quite outgoing. However, during their first week home with me, even the bold one was super shy. Once she got her bearings, she came out of her shell.

First: bunnies are most active at night and morning. Mine have come to associate those times with food, so they are even more excited. I give pellets in the morning, and their salad at night. Both times, I refresh with tasty hay [that they go nuts for].

The best way to not overwhelm the new bunny, is to slowly increase their territory. Do start now. This is best done by surrounding their cage with an expanding pen (like a doggie exercise pen). Put fun things in the penned area. I use big boxes with holes cut in them. Almost all of us use cardboard tubes from Home Depot. They are next to the bags of cement. For most buns, the 8″ one is best.

Bunnies do best if you are not taking them in and out of their cage. Just let them hop in and out when they choose during play time.
The pen will really come in handy for the tips in our ’shy bunny article’
http://rabbitnetwork.org/articles/shy.shtml
I would start the stuff in the article - in the pen with the bun. I just ignore them completely while in the pen. I sit and watch tv - ignoring the bunny. (that is why it may be best to house the bunny in the living room — after rabbit-proofing, of course! http://www.rabbit.org/faq/sections/rabbit-proofing.html )

October 27th, 2008
Question on Rabbit’s Bathroom Habits

    Question:

Hi: I adopted from HRN this year. The bunny that I have is great! The only problem is his litter box habits. He uses his litterbox, but he also likes to go in his cage and when he is out, he will pee/poop on the couches. Those are the only 2 places that he goes? He has a huge pen, he gets out a lot, so Iím wondering if this is going to happen forever. Obviously I can keep him from the couch, but he loves to jump. Any thoughts on this topic would be helpful.

    Answer:

Rabbits are creatures of habit. You need to let him know that it is not OK to be peeing on the couch. In my experience, I’ve used a water spray bottle to let them know this is a bad habit. You can also say “No” and put him back in the cage when he does this. Limit the amount of freedom he has around the house until he can fully train his litterbox habits. Slowly introduce more space.

Sometimes a rabbit will have perfect litter box habits and then come to a new home and totally lose them. Give the bun some time, enforcing both bad and good habits. I find they are very responsive to your tone of voice.

Unfotunately, the poop habit is harder to break. Usually, the rabbit poops to mark his territory. I’ve noticed that my rabbits poop on the rug after I deodorize it because it doesn’t smell like them any more. Are you using any fabric freshener? Try using non-scented air fresheners. I like Pure Ayre. It’s ok for pets and is cruelty-free.

Another good idea when you let your bunny out for play time is to have a second litter box or two out. Maybe put one at the base of the couch. This shows your rabbit that they are supposed to be going in a litter box. Entice them by putting hay in the litter box. Also, when you clean it, leave a few poops in it so it still smells like him.

Good luck!