Helpful tips for you and your bunnies!
Tips when buying a pet bunny
After making an appointment please arrive on time. If unable to make it on time or changed your mind please notify the breeder. Breeders are like anyone else – they do have a life with busy schedules and time wasters can spoil one's day!
If buying a kit it's a good idea to see the parents as then you can have a fair idea about the size of the breed when it reaches maturity. This could also help expose breeders trying to offload so called 'pure' breeds (such as Mini Lop or Netherland Dwarf) that are either crossed or grow to great big bunnies! You may also request patting mum and dad to make sure they're easy going - rather than highly strung, timid or vicious. Do however be considerate by approaching slowly so as not to frighten the daylights out of them.
Health check bunny at the time of purchase, if you don't know how or what to look for ask the breeder for a demonstration.
Some of the main things to tick off the checklist are:
* Eyes, ears, nose and bottoms are clean and dry.
* Check the coat if healthy and clean - free from sores, fleas or dandruff.
* So too should the bunny be active, curious and alert plus well fed with a hearty appetite - not bony or pot bellied.
Learn as much as you can about proper handling, feeding and housing so your pet's needs are well catered for. As well as finding out about their behaviour and you will certainly be rewarded with a healthier, happier pet.
Tips for Breeders
> Regularly health check each individual rabbit, especially making sure they receive a thorough examination before selling or showing them.
> Make time available to demonstrate handling and advise about husbandry methods. It is enormously helpful to clip toenails and let new owners see and learn the procedure.
> Offer ongoing support and advice, I know this is time consuming but your assistance is important and beneficial to the rabbit's well being.
> Provide a week or more supply of pellets (if the bunny is likely to change brands) and advise introducing the new brand gradually. Be sure to also caution against feeding pellets
ad lib and suggest a guideline on the daily portions that suit the breed.
> Don't deliberately sell pet rabbits (with disqualifying or major faults) as 'show quality' for it will inevitably tarnish your reputation. Of course when assessing kittens this can be easier said than done as sometimes it can be tricky whether they turn out as good as you've evaluated especially during various stages. Take for example some grow oversized (often due to owner's overfeeding) and this of course is quite beyond your control.
Grass is a natural, nutritious food source for bunnies. Did you know that grass has tiny blades of silica crystals, which during the chewing process helps wear down the teeth of herbivores?
Given that some bunnies do not receive enough vegetation/fibre in their diet, it's no wonder some end up with teeth problems! If worried about picking wild grass or garden space is limited you can always grow it in containers such as photo on the right.
All you need to get started is a large pot and good quality, organic potting soil and some oat or wheat seeds. Fill the pot 3/4 with soil, evenly scatter a handful or two of seeds, cover with some more soil and water whenever necessary. From thereon-just watch the lovely grass grow to be picked whenever needed! Some may need more than one pot so as to have continuous grass in production especially catering for multiple bunnies.
Other problems with bottle systems:
> provide the right conditions for growing unhealthy algae and bacteria - unless like baby bottles are regularly sterilised.
> some bottles tend to continuously drip and bunny's bedding ends up a wet mess, which is not a comfortable or a healthy living environment to be in!
> sometimes ball bearings jam and unless detected a bunny could unknowingly be suffering thirst and dehydration.
I find bowls are much more convenient than bottles, especially since they are easier to clean and fill. They don't freeze over in winter and if need be during summer you can pop some ice cubes in to keep water palatably cooler. Not only is the iced water refreshing to drink they also help to keep bunnies cooler. They can lie next to the bowl, pop their front feet in or if a floppy eared lop can dip their ears in the bowl.
Bowls stay relatively debris free when placed in a corner near the front door. Extra tip: elevate a bowl on a paving or house brick to foil the grots that insist on making every effort to dirty their water supply. From the act of contaminating their essential source of water you could assume rabbits are a bit dumb. Then again perhaps they're clever little blighters, deliberately doing it just to get extra care and attention from their personal servants!
Bowl instead of bottle!
I prefer heavy-duty ceramic bowls for food and water. Many years ago I tried suspended water bottles but was disillusioned with them freezing in winter or alternatively contained warm water in summer. Bunnies could go thirsty and actually dehydrate, as they do not like to drink warm water!
Cute Little Cubby
Bunnies love to go through tunnels, climb, jump over or sit on top of things such the stick cubby house depicted below.
The metal frame inserts are flexible and so can also be bent and shaped into sort of a ramp or ladder. Would suit other critters such as guinea pigs, rats or ferrets.
The wood is supposedly fruit flavoured and safe to chew, however my bunnies haven't been interested in chewing them.
For this reason mine have lasted for years though I’ve repainted a few (just a plain colour) due to bucks spraying.
‘Tropical Fiddle Sticks’ are generally found online or pet stores.
Woven Grass Baskets - a chewable toy?
I thought I came up with a great idea – a woven basket as attractive, non-slippery, sitting boxes for my bunnies. Subsequently, I purchased a number of them from a discount store for about $10 each.
Well my bunnies had 'other' ideas and within a few days happily made holes in them. See photo examples below! Luckily I kept one aside for photo shoots while the others became a chewable toy until they were finally destroyed to smithereens.
A Shavings Bag Tip
This one’s for those that use large blocks of compressed wood shavings as absorbent rabbit bedding. (Wood shaving don’t tend to be dust though I still prefer to add a layer of straw on top) It’s a messy job to remove shavings directly from the plastic bag and more often than not end up having spillage and wastage. The shavings should preferably be fluffed up but this is not so easily done either. You could transfer the shavings into a container such as a large bin or cardboard box but such receptacles are cumbersome whenever needed to be moved.
My handy tip is to: cut all around the block's plastic wrap, which has been roughly measured into a third or a quarter. Just cut the plastic with a small saw or these days I prefer using a Stanley knife, as there’s no need to cut in deeply. Carefully lift the separated piece (keeping the shavings confined by holding the plastic) and place it in a large storage/carry bag. Then go ahead and remove the plastic.
Zip up the carry bag, tip it upside down and shove it backwards and forwards to aerate and fluff up the shavings. If you're confident the bag can handle it, you could even kick it around a bit! Neighbours seeing you in action would probably think you're a bit barmy – but who cares! The shavings are now light and portable, easily scooped out and convenient to use. The next time you need more shavings just cut around the circumference of the next section.
And a few other handy containers . . .
I use this nifty garden bin when distributing hay and straw. It's also a handy receptacle whenever pruning and gathering edible autumn leaves.
I can assure you this handy receptacle is a good buy, especially since it is durable, waterproof and lightweight. It also folds down flat for storage, though when you need to use it, quick as a flash, it pops up ready to go again.
Shouldn’t have any trouble finding ‘pop up bins’ online or at garden centres and hardware stores. Measurements are 58cm high by 45cm wide though also available in different sizes.
Next one is my one handed garden trolley, which for a number of years has stood the test of time and usefulness!
I load one end with fresh pickings and on the other end hard feed and sometimes an extra bucket for chaff, kitchen offcuts or bits of dry bread etc. Since there's a bit of depth in the trolley and to save myself a bit bending over the feed buckets are placed on top of an overturned plastic box. As you can see, I practice what I preach in regard to providing buns with grass and weeds.
Finding fresh vegetation during drought conditions or certain seasons of the year can be tricky but if you know where to look and or willing to go to the trouble, yummy bunny food can be sourced from all kinds of places. For example I gathered the photo’s barrow load from some neglected community gardens in the middle of winter.
Other possible sources of fresh greens are to grow your own supply, such as plant oat or wheat seeds (very easy and rewarding) or offering to weed your families, friends and neighbour's yards.
And last but not least a great container that's waterproof, rodent proof and perfectly fits a whole bale of hay or straw.
The handy bin is marketed as a 'multi use 350L storage chest' Measurements are 118 x 53 x 51 cms.
Autumn time provides colourful high in fibre leaves, which our bunnies thoroughly enjoy snacking on.