International Rabbit Day 2014 Is Coming!

International Rabbit Day 2014

I first learned about International Rabbit Day a few years ago.  Someone sent me a link to the website Holiday Insights with information about how the day started and the intent to promote the well-being of rabbits.  It is usually set for the Fourth Saturday or Sunday in September. Holiday Insights has the date listed for Saturday this year which would be the 27th.

I see that House Rabbit Society is planning on Sunday the 28th for observing International Rabbit Day. I say why not make it an International Rabbit Weekend and focus some attention on our big eared friends for both days.

Here is one suggestion for observing the day/s:  “Celebrate this special day with your pet rabbit. Learn a little more about him and how to properly care for his needs. If you don’t have a pet, maybe today is the day to get a pet rabbit! ”  Visit the Holiday Insights page for more information on the meaning and origin of International Rabbit Day.


Throwback Thursday: Thumper My First Bunny Experience

Thumper bunny rabbitI met my first house rabbit back in 1980. A coworker of my father had two pet bunnies who had one litter of four bunnies and a month later another litter of eight. The woman brought the first litter in to where my father worked when the bunnies were six weeks old and offered them to anyone who would give them a good home. My father picked out the spunkiest one in the bunch and brought him home. We were very unoriginal and called him Thumper. That was the only bunny rabbit name we knew of besides Bugs Bunny and he didn’t look like a Bugs Bunny, so Thumper it was.

My family was clueless about taking care of a bunny rabbit, but we had some experience with hamsters and guinea pigs and started out at that point. Mom got Thumper a cage, water bottle, food crock and some small animal pellets. We had him in the kitchen which was the most interior room of the house, but even so, he caught cold during the first two weeks in the bitter northern Ohio weather (post on keeping rabbits warm). That is when we got lucky and found a small animal practice in our area who treated cats, dogs, guinea pigs, birds, and rabbits. They helped us to learn about feeding, clipping nails, rabbit health, and so much more over the ten years of Thumper’s life.

I was still living at home but had just started my first full-time job. It was a night job and I would stay up on my nights off. My first night off after Thumper caught cold, I listened to him sneezing like crazy. I got him out of his cage, wrapped him in a towel and sat down in a huge upholstered rocker we had. He snuggled his head under my chin, stopped sneezing and went to sleep. That began his reign as a snuggle bunny. Thumper liked being picked up and held and would paw at my ankles or moms when he wanted some cuddling. He would always squirm up until he had his head tucked in to my neck right under my chin. Then he would zone out while I petted him.

At the time Thumper arrived in our lives, there was no House Rabbit Society or internet to turn to for advice on rabbit care. Anything written was by breeders and geared towards raising rabbits as farm or show rabbits. Besides our vet, Thumper himself proved himself a good teacher on rabbit care and behavior. He picked out one place in the kitchen as a bathroom and mom wondered if we could put a litter box there and train him. As soon as she put the litter box in place, Thumper was trained. We checked out things geared for cats and bought a kitty harness and leash. As soon as Thumper realized the connection between being put in his harness and going outside, he would hold perfectly still so that we could get the harness just right. We would take him on short walks in the front and back yard and it was always funny to watch people do a double take when they realized we were walking a rabbit.

Thumper had some life long tummy issues. We realize with the information out now, they were probably due to his leaving his mother a few weeks too early. He was our first experience with a poopy bunny butt. With the vet’s assistance we learned about what to do with diet and medication when that would happen. We learned to mummy wrap him and syringe medicate him. We figured out a means on our own of giving him just a partial bath (more on poopy bunny butt baths) to get him cleaned up again. We had to medicate him many times over the years for his tummy problems and he learned a few tricks too. We would use a syringe for the medicine, but he learned how to not swallow and let it just drool back out of his mouth. When we would mummy him in a towel, he learned how to play turtle and get his face below the lip of the towel no matter how close we tried to get it under his head. The term rabbittude didn’t come to mind until later after other bunnies came in to my life, but Thumper was showing his rabbittude even though I didn’t recognize it as such at the time.

Thumper was my first learning experience of how personable, playful and intelligent a rabbit can be. Mom had a coconut sitting on a newspaper on the kitchen floor waiting to break it open. When Thumper saw it, he pounced on it, batted it into submission with his front paws, and then claimed it as his by chinning it to death. After that we tried more toys for him to play with. Our other pet at the time was a large retriever mix dog that we were careful to let out in the yard when Thumper was running free in the house. Someone let the dog in by accident during Thumper’s run time and the retriever started to chase him. We were terrified and so scared for Thumper, because both he and the dog were moving too fast for us to get to them quickly enough. Thumper was running at top speed when suddenly he doubled back straight through the dog’s legs. The dog was immediately thrown off-balance and while the dog was trying not to fall, Thumper hopped back in his cage and we closed the door protecting him again. We made certain they were never accidentally loose together again after that.

Thumper had his own personal rock star rabbit routine that he developed when he didn’t feel pampered enough that is a whole story all on its own. More about that next Thursday …

Throwback Thursday: Stunt Bunny Tigger & Leo’s New Version

What bunny parents have to do to keep a Tigger safe ...So this throwback picture shows what we had to do to keep Tigger safe from her crazy daredevil stunt bunny desire.  She managed to do a bunny bump and get in to a closet. You can read the full story by clicking here to find out just how crazy dangerous to her well-being this bunny stunt was. When it came to getting in to things Tigger was pure stubborn determination.

Leo has his own version of this which is fortunately not as dangerous as Tigger’s stunt. Leo’s just gets him in to a forbidden bedroom. The bedroom doorway latch doesn’t do the job it is supposed to do. If you push on the door it will open. Well little Leo discovered that if he gave the door a bunny side bump, he could get in to that bedroom anytime he wanted to.

So I’m a bit slow sometimes with Leo to catch on to things I should bunnyproof. Leo has been a kinder gentler bunny in regards to being bad. So when he decides to go for it, I’m usually a few steps behind trying to catch up to what needs to be done. Leo managed a good number of bunny bumps to the door and unauthorized romps around the bedroom and hiding sessions under the bed before I realized that I needed to block the door. I would be busy doing something and would hear a funny bump noise and sure enough when I looked, the bedroom door would be open and Leo would be either nowhere in sight or just a fluffy white bunny behind quickly on the way to disappearing inside.

Leo on top of the bedroom doorway barricadeIt took some refining to get the barricade of the doorway it so it worked right. You can see Leo here sitting on top of his first version of the doorway barricade. We placed a cardboard box on the left where the door opens and his carrier blocking the right side of the doorway. Then Leo realized that he could pull the box out of the way, bump the door and he would be in again. After that, we put his carrier on the left side and the box on the right. Leo can’t pull his carrier out of the way to get to the opening side of the door.

Now if Leo wanted to let himself in, he would have to jump on top of his carrier and bump the door at the same time. Fortunately for us, he hasn’t figured that out.

An Adorable Rabbit Video

Google translator is telling me the title might be In Amefaji baby care?  In case the video doesn’t work here is the link to it:

I apologize for not posting last week, allergies got the best of me.  The fall season has always been a rough one for me. Between congestion, dizziness, sleep issues and antihistamine brain fog, sometimes it is hard to keep on track.  I spent a lot of time walking into rooms last week only to realize when I got there that I had already forgotten why I was going there.  I’ve made note on my calendar for next year to write some September blogging posts in August, just in case.

To get back on schedule, coming Wednesday … living with multiple rabbit encampments …


Plan Ahead for International Rabbit Day 2012

International Rabbit Day 2012

Until last year, I didn’t know that anyone had designated a day to think about rabbits other than the obvious, Easter, which can be a very bad day for live rabbits who go to homes unprepared for their daily longterm care.  Then someone sent me a link to the website Holiday Insights with information about how the day started and the intent to promote the well-being of rabbits.  It is usually set for the Fourth Saturday in September which would be the 22nd this year.

Here is one suggestion for the day:  “Celebrate this special day with your pet rabbit. Learn a little more about him and how to properly care for his needs. If you don’t have a pet, maybe today is the day to get a pet rabbit! ”  Visit the Holiday Insights page for more information on the meaning and origin of International Rabbit Day.

The Etsy Rabbits team is planning to get the word out that the day exists by creating treasuries (Etsy member curated showcases) during September showcasing rabbit themes, items and the shops of Etsy Rabbits team members.  There are currently over 300 members of the team from countries around the world.  Most have shops on Etsy, but those who have buyer accounts on Etsy are welcome to join too. If you love to buy or create bunny rabbit themed items or items for rabbits, check out the team.  Members of the team love living rabbits and many members have one or more big eared friends at home.  Some members are actively involved with assisting rabbit rescue groups.  I will post some links to treasuries soon as more get going creating them and will be creating some treasuries myself.

On Friday, the first story of how we first met Portia bunny rabbit …

Senior Tigger

This is going to be a bit long, because I am going to share the hardest illness of Tigger’s life to deal with which actually wasn’t the very end. At the very end, it was a gradual slowing down, stiffening up, eyesight fading away, hunger coming and going over a period of months until it was quite clear the end had arrived.

Is Tigger resting or in pain?

Tough call position: Tigger would hen up to nap, but would also hen up if she was in pain. The difference in judging was often the length of time she stayed in this position. More than a few hours with an unwillingness to move when nudged, meant she was in pain.

The vet started talking about Tigger as an elder bunny after turning eight years old. At that point there really wasn’t much other than a slight slowing down and gassy tummy issues occurring more often to show that she was getting up in years.  Most of the time, Tigger was Tigger, sassy and getting into everything and hassling Shadow if he wasn’t paying her enough of what she deemed the right attention.

When she was nine and a half years old, we had a crisis hit the neighborhood, literally when a bolt of lightning zapped all the way down into the ground.  I heard the thunder, saw the bolt of white light, felt the ground shake and everything in the house went off, all at the same time.  Frazzled doesn’t cover the feeling, everything needed checking on all at once … First I made sure the house hadn’t been hit and the bunnies were all right.  Then began the rounds of everything else.  Electricity was off for several hours, when it came back on, I began to realize that we had problems with a lot of systems and equipment.  The phone line was coming and going making calling for assistance hard.  This one taught me to always make sure my cell phone was charged.

Over the next week we had a whole series of repairmen trooping in to fix things.  It was August and extremely hot, so we had to rent a portable air conditioner for a day for the rabbits room until we could get the A/C rigged to just run until a part of the switching system could be replaced.  After an exhausting week, we thought we had things back to normal again.  That is when we noticed that Tigger wasn’t eating and drinking enough.  We tried the usual tummy routine we had for her when she would seem gassy.  We would give her Simethicone, extra water and tummy rubs.  Usually that would have her responding back to normal within 12 hours at the most, but it wasn’t working this time.  We took her in to the vet and didn’t find out anything more than we knew before we went in.  We were told to keep up with the Simethicone and feed her with Oxbow Critical Care as needed.  We also tried wilted greens as suggested.

Over the next week, there was no real change, no improvement.  We went in again and the doctor did another exam and suggested putting Tigger under anesthesia to do a good exam of the teeth.  We knew the anesthesia at her age was risky, but didn’t feel we had a choice.  She had begun grinding her teeth on a regular basis.  It was obvious she was in pain somewhere.  The vet brought her back in fairly quickly, really groggy from the anesthesia and said she had found one tooth that was a little pointy but didn’t know if that was the problem.  We were somewhat surprised she hadn’t just taken care of that while Tigger was under the anesthesia, but had been seeing the vet for years and really trusted her judgment and care, so didn’t push for asking why she hadn’t acted on that.

We were sent home again without much more than the bill for the trip, still told to do Simethicone, Critical Care and had a little bit of pain medicine for her. After another week with no improvement, we were reaching exhaustion trying to care for Tigger ourselves at home making sure she had enough feedings each day, enough water, pain meds and then still care for Shadow too and try to eat, sleep and work ourselves.  Tigger was still not wanting to eat much on her own, was still grinding her teeth in pain and was seeming as tired and unhappy as we were.

We weren’t getting much help when we would check in with the vets office by phone.  I would call and go through everything that was going on and be told someone would call me back.  Hours would pass and when I would call back, I would be greeted with surprise that I was expecting a call, because the chart had been noted Tigger was doing well ??? We went online seeking help from Etherbun.  It was suggested that we really needed to discuss the situation quite openly with the vet about what Tigger’s options and prognosis really were at this point.  Should motility drugs be tried?  Was she at a point where she might not recover?  Was it possible that euthanasia was the compassionate choice if she was in constant unrelieved pain?

We made another appointment with the vet with the intention of discussing and being open to knowing where things stood, however that might be.  It was an awful visit right from the start.  Tigger was in pain and completely freaked out.  After being weighed, she took a flying leap off the scale straight up into the air and landed teetering on my shoulder.  I had a split second vision of what a fall from five feet would do to her.  Fortunately for Tigger, I had early in life emergency training on how to help someone who is in danger of falling to the floor, by putting myself between them and the floor while doing a controlled fall myself.  I immediately fell forward onto my stomach across the exam table.  That shifted Tigger onto my back, surprised her and in the moment of surprise the vet tech was able to safely grab her.

The exam by the vet showed nothing any different from previous weeks and when we tried to discuss all our options, medications or whether this might be the end, the vet completely shut down the discussion and said she would never consider euthanasia for any animal she felt still had life in them.  Then she left the room.  I have never felt more tired or frustrated.  We didn’t want to lose Tigger, but we didn’t want to have her grinding her teeth in pain hour after hour, day after day either.  That was simply no way to live.  We left the office with basically the same thing we had from the previous two visits, another bill and instructions to keep doing what we were doing.

We reached out again on Etherbun and were put in touch with a rabbit rescuer who had a great deal of experience dealing with rabbits in stasis.  He was wonderful.  He told us to get to another vet ASAP, to get as much water into Tigger as we could and what pain and motility medicines to call up and insist the current vet provide us with until we could get a second opinion.  The increased water and pain medicine helped Tigger be a bit more comfortable.  The motility drug, we had to stop after two doses, Tigger developed seizure like head movements which was one of the serious side effects noted to watch out for.  We had an appointment set for a new vet in a just a couple of days.

With the new vet, we were dismayed that the record transfer we had requested from the other vet had not taken place as we had been assured it had by the other vet’s office staff.  We went over the whole history and everything that had been tried and everything Tigger had gone through.  The vet was very patient and took her time with a thorough exam.  We told the vet we didn’t know what to do, it was obvious Tigger was in constant pain and although we didn’t want to lose her, we could not continue to put her through nothing but pain either.  The vet gave us the option to try having an exam done under anesthesia to see if there was a tooth issue that needed to be addressed.  She warned us that since Tigger was elderly and had been under anesthesia just a little over a week before, there was a much greater risk that she would not wake up.  We did not see any choice but to try.

Thankfully, the vet filed down the sharp tooth the previous vet had noted and Tigger did awake easily from the anesthesia.  She started to recover after that and was back to herself again soon.  I have never written about this before, because it was just such a painful experience to go through for all of us.  I am not sure if the stress of the lightning strike played a part in Tigger’s illness or if all the lengthy repairs after the strike just kept us from noticing a problem sooner.  I have no idea why after years with the one vet, the communication took so many seemingly wrong turns.  I am writing about the experience now so that hopefully others won’t have to go through the same thing.  Even if you have a vet you have loved who has been great in the past, if it suddenly seems that you aren’t being heard or helped, seek a second opinion. Your reward for acting to find another option might then be the same as ours, more time to enjoy with your rabbit.  We were blessed with another year and half with Tigger after she recovered.

This weekend, a gallery of Tigger photos and next week Shadow’s stories begin …

Spay Time for Tigger

Tigger restingWhen Tigger got to be six months of age and Shadow was turning four months, it was time to take them in to be fixed.  There will be a tale to tell with Shadow about that, but with Tigger, we thought it was going to be a straight forward spay.  We should have known better.  The day the surgery was scheduled, we were gathering everything together when something spooked Tigger.  She was still in her cage, but she had developed a habit of gnawing on her cage bars.  She had been doing that when she took fright and must have jumped backward while her teeth were still around the bars.  It was pretty clear immediately that something was really wrong.  She was grinding her teeth in obvious pain.

When we got to the vet, we explained that she needed to be examined for the mouth injury before anything was decided or done with the spay.  They told us they would call us, so we left to await what they would find.  That was a mistake.  We should have stayed and made sure the injury was examined and we were consulted.  Instead, we got the phone call that she had cut the inside of her mouth on the top and her teeth were loose and the spay was completed, so they would call us when she was ready for pick up.

We were really upset that the surgery had proceeded with such a serious mouth injury and questioned why that had been done without consulting us first.  Tigger was not a good eater and we were terrified what it was going to be like trying to help her recover from both the spay surgery and a serious mouth injury at the same time.  We were really scared and thought this just might be too much and might cost Tigger her life.  The vet just said he felt it was in her long-term best interest and wanted to get it out-of-the-way.  When I looked at the spay incision with the very obvious stitches, I asked what was to prevent her from trying to chew them out.  The vet said that rabbits didn’t do that, only rats did.  I doubted he was right about that, but didn’t know what else to say at that time.

We were told to take her home and keep her in her cage for ten days, then the stitches would come out.  The removal day was set for the eleventh day since the tenth fell on a Sunday.  So we took Tigger home knowing we had a nursing challenge ahead.  Fortunately I was working at home at the time and could keep a close eye on her.  I broke up her pellets really tiny and put a few in a bowl and moistened them just a bit.  She was not interested in her food that night and had the most awful dragging hop to pull herself from the front of the cage to the back.  She wanted to be as far from us as possible.

A few hours later, I looked in and saw her lapping something off the floor and realized she was drinking her own urine.  That is when I realized that the mouth injury was probably not allowing her to drink from her bottle.  I immediately got a small bowl we had that could attach to the side of the cage and filled it with water.  She was so thirsty.  I felt terrible not realizing sooner that maybe Tigger would not be able to drink from the water bottle.

The next morning, I was relieved to see that Tigger was munching on some hay.  That gave me hope that she would pull through.  Still, it was really rough, I was having to check on her every few hours around the clock to make sure she was eating and drinking enough.  We had put pellets in a couple small bowls around the cage as well as water bowls front and back since she was so obviously in pain trying to hop around.  The vet hadn’t given us anything for pain.  Looking back with what we know now, we should have insisted on being given something for pain for her since she was dealing with two recoveries at the same time.

Tigger was obviously experiencing strong hormonal changes too.  She would get really grumpy, then angry and in spite of the mouth injury would try to throw things. Other times, I would come in and find her hunched up as small as she could get. When I would put my hand on her head, her ears would be so cold.  I would get a towel and wrap it around her and just stay with her petting her head until she warmed up again.

About day six, she was getting really anxious about being in her cage all the time. I called the vet and asked if it would be okay to let her out if we did it in a hallway that had nothing in it.  We got the okay and let Tigger in the blocked off hallway.  We had all the room doors closed and a huge piece of cardboard four feet tall blocking the opening, so she couldn’t even see the other room.  We should have known not to trust Tigger.  She hopped up to the cardboard and leaped straight up in the air about three feet as if she was trying to see over the top.  Fortunately, the stitches and incision appeared fine and Miss Tigger was put back in her cage with no reprieves for the rest of the ten days.

Or so we thought, day nine was a Saturday morning.  Tigger was scheduled to have her stitches out on Monday, but she decided that was too long.  We woke up Saturday morning to find her chewing them out herself.  So much for the vet thinking that only rats did that.  It would probably have happened sooner if she hadn’t injured her mouth. Off we headed to the vet.  Fortunately, the stitches were ready to come out and Tigger had only scratched her skin a bit with biting at them.  We were given an antibiotic ointment to put on the incision and scratches to aid the healing.

After that everything did finally proceed without more trouble with the spay incision.  Tigger did need to have her teeth trimmed by the vet for a few months, but was fortunate that when they fully healed, there was no malocclusion and she was able to keep them worn down herself with normal chewing.  She no longer needed the tooth trims.  However, Tigger never forgot the spay.  She absolutely hated to have anyone come anywhere near touching her tummy.  If you put your hand anywhere near her tummy, she would be across the room in the blink of an eye.

Tomorrow senior Tigger …

Boarding a Tigger

Food bag for a TiggerEarly on during the second month we had Tigger, we had to board her for a weekend. We had an out-of-town committment and started looking into options of caring for her while we were gone.  We didn’t know anyone else who knew how to care for rabbits and when we checked with the vet, although they knew people who did rabbit sitting, they said they couldn’t recommend them.  So we checked into having her boarded by the vet.

It was really hard planning to leave her, she was a little less than four months old and still baby tiny at about three to three and half pounds.  We packed up a bag for her with her pellets and hay.  We brought along one of her small litter boxes with her litter and brought some toys she liked.  We also brought along a small cardboard box with a hole cut in the side.  I had written out a paper that started out, “Hi, my name is Tigger … with what she liked, didn’t like and what really freaked her out.   Never let it be said that Princess Tigger traveled lightly.  We probably had about five to ten pounds of stuff that came along with her.  I even had all her food packed in a cute Tigger bag.

We arranged everything in the kennel cage for her and put her in.  We tried to bring everything we could that would make her feel that she was surrounded with her own things and had all her usual foods.  It was easier that she wasn’t on fresh greens at that point yet.  Then we left for the weekend and it was really hard wondering how she was doing.  She was all alone back in an environment like the pet shop again with lots of other animal sounds nearby.

On Monday when we went to pick her up, as the kennel manager was leading us back to where she was being kept, he told us she had spent the whole weekend hiding in the cardboard box and had only come out briefly at times to eat, drink and use the litter box.  He said they had barely seen her.  As we approached the corner of the aisle her cage was in, we weren’t expecting to see Tigger after what we had been told.  Instead, we saw her right away.  She was in the corner of the cage closest to the aisle and was sitting up on her hind legs stretched out to her full height.  It was pretty clear she had heard and recognized our voices and was begging for us to take her home.

Blaine says it is okay to say that the sight completely melted his heart and turned him into a blubbering idiot.  I have to take his word on that.  All I know is that he bundled her into her carrier and took off with her while I was still gathering things up and then settling the bill.  One minute they were there and the next, I was on my own.  When I got out to the car, Blaine said we were never going to leave her all alone anywhere again and we didn’t.  It made us realize that Tigger was not going to be a good single bunny.  She was simply too unhappy and scared being left on her own.  We realized that we needed to find her a rabbit buddy.  Next week, I will start to tell the tales of how that came to be Shadow.

The spay story together with this ran too long, so I will share that tale on its own tomorrow …

Princess Lady Bunny

Little Lady bunny Tigger with paws just so.Tigger had a way of positioning herself that was just so very proper that we called her the little lady bunny.  She would always have her little paws lined up side by side completely even and balanced.  It always reminded me of old movies or TV shows with the ladies in hats and gloves who would have both hands side by side holding their purses so very properly.

We called her Princess because she decidedly had a sense of what was due to HRH Princess Tigger bunny rabbit.  When she would enter a room, she would pause and thump.  It became the Tigger has entered the room announcement, pay attention.  She also thumped when she was mad.  If you offended the royal rabbit by picking her up and messing with her for medicine or clean ups or feedings, as soon as you put her back down there was a thump or two or more of outrage depending on how big she deemed the offense. If she became really frightened, she would run into the sheet tunnel we had for the rabbits or under the guest bed and would become a serial thumper.  After she calmed down, she would have that over the shoulder little nose in the air, pouty look.  Or sometimes she would hop away while flicking the back feet showing herself to be offended.

Now Tigger was very catlike in being quite independent, but when Princess Tigger wanted attention, you were supposed to be ready, willing and able to pay her the attention she deemed fitting.  I made the mistake once of sitting on the floor while talking on the phone and forgetting all about her.  That is until she snuck up behind me and gave me a pinching nip on my behind and took off running away.  I had been warned I was behaving offensively.  I squealed into the phone as she nipped me and had to apologize and explain.  Then I stood up to finish the call and went to attempt to soothe Princess Tigger’s outraged feelings of being ignored.

Her sneak up and nip wasn’t limited to my one phone experience.  If she didn’t feel Shadow was paying her enough of the right attention, she would sneak up behind him and give him a nip and take off running.  It was a good thing she was quite a bit faster than he was.  They would run and tire themselves out and then forget why they had been running and go back to being as they were again.

HRH Princess Tigger just absolutely delighted in going right into the middle of the room in front of the fireplace to eat her soft serve cecal snack or give herself a head to toe bunny bath. Why wouldn’t everyone want to watch her every bunny move?  Ah, well, she knew she was cute and she knew she was special.  She worked it for all a bunny could to get the attention she wanted when she wanted it.  It wasn’t at all hard to mentally picture a sparkly tiara on that little bunny head.

Tomorrow boarding a Tigger & spay time …

Call This Tigger TMI

Tigger troubleThere are a couple of things I will write about that some may feel falls in the too much information category.  In case anyone else finds themselves dealing with similar things bunnies do that aren’t quite for polite society, just know you aren’t alone.

So, teenage hormones in any species can be a train wreck for everyone trying to deal with the raging hormone levels and behavior that can go with them.  I had read about the territorial aggression and sexual frustration that can be seen in unaltered rabbits.  Although my early house rabbit experience was with an unaltered male, he had been a pretty mellow little guy.  I wasn’t quite sure what to expect with Tigger as she neared the age to be spayed, but had read that rabbits who aren’t spayed or neutered can be quite a destructive handful in addition to all the babies they can produce.  Tigger’s chewing behavior was decidedly starting to be a problem.

Now this part of female rabbit hormonal behavior I hadn’t seen written about before and would have questioned if I hadn’t experienced it with two little girl bunnies myself.  The first experience was with Tigger as she was turning about five months of age.  She was getting to be a tiny terror with her attitude going over the edge from sassy cute to just plain ugly.  Worse, there came times that she actually frightened me.  She was still only about four pounds of bunny, but I found myself one day sitting on the guest bed as she was stalking around me and giving me what I can only call nasty evil looks.  I was afraid to take my eyes off of her as she paced behind me, because I truly thought she just might charge me and bite me.  There was a look in her eyes I had not seen from her before.  It was clear she suddenly regarded me as the enemy for some reason.

So what had set her off?  Guys, I apologize, but the little stinker was obviously quite aware I was putting out my own female hormones quite strongly.   She was not liking it one little bit.  I didn’t really put it together until a few days later when she was suddenly calmer right in sync with me. I had a couple of months before she was old enough to be spayed and another afterwards before all her hormones left her system to see that she was not liking my hormonal times at all.  She was four pounds of female rabbit anger and outrage.  She did the best menacing stalking I have ever seen in an animal so tiny.  I was genuinely relieved a month after her spay when Tigger mellowed out again to just her original energetic sassy self and I didn’t have to keep watching my back at times.

This wasn’t just a fluke with Tigger.  The second time I experienced hormonal clashes with a female rabbit was when Blaine and I had agreed to help out by caring for and showing a rescue bunny that was being kept at a local pet store.  We went in on a Saturday to clean out the rabbit’s cage and set up a pen for her to run in to let people see her and get to know her.  She was just out of recovery from her spay and had been described as a really sweet interactive rabbit.  So, I wasn’t prepared at all for a rabbit that wanted to attach herself to my ankle and gnaw away like a rabid animal.  It was really hard to tell people what a wonderful pet she could be for them when they would look down at her and ask me, “Isn’t she biting your ankle?” I finally had to step out of the pen completely and let Blaine take over.  She didn’t seem to be having any problems with him. Like Tigger, she had recognized that another  active female had entered her territory.  She obviously still had enough hormones in her system to recognize and respond to what she regarded as a territorial threat.

The second less mentioned thing about our Tigger is that she truly was a little stinker.  Very early on, she was laying up on top of her cage with her back to me as I kneeled on the floor to pet her when I got a huge breath of noxious air.  I thought, oh wow rabbit, what did you just do?  When I moved her behind, there was nothing to see.  That is when it dawned on me that Tigger had just let out a silent but deadly (SBD) gaseous cloud large enough and stinky enough to make a skunk proud.

I wish that I could say the SBD was a one time event, but Tigger had a habit of being able to produce an unending supply of gas if she got freaky nervous.  She would run around the room spewing toxic gases and would quite literally clear the room, because it was unbearable to stay.  We would be gasping with our eyes running as we fled for clearer air.  There wasn’t anything the vet could find wrong with her on exams.  It was a heck of a defense mechanism against being picked up or chased by Shadow.  If she was wanting to be left alone, she knew how to accomplish it!

Tomorrow Princess Lady Bunny …

Ballerina in Jammies

Tigger groomingTigger showing off the bunny onesie jammie legs.When Tigger would sit up on her hind legs to clean herself or roll over on her side or back, it really showed off the white and black coloring of her underside. The way the fur was colored and separated by her hind legs always looked like she had on a bunny rabbit version of baby onesie jammies.

Tigger was so very particular and precise in her movements, it was like watching a ballerina moving from ballet pose to pose. So it was especially cute to always see what looked like an infant bodysuit on a little rabbit ballerina.  It was fun to watch her meticulously clean herself head to toe to tail and move from one ballet like pose to another with such grace and such cuteness.

Stretch and hold that pose Tigger ...

Stretch and hold that pose Tigger ...

With Tigger, there were just so many sides to her with both her coloring and fur and her personality. I think that is what was so engaging about her.  Everyone who met Tigger just had to fuss over her.  It was a blessing and a curse for our little baby girl.  She just loved being fussed over verbally, but like many small children, she would have preferred not to get those hugs!

Next week will wrap up the stories that are all about Tigger.  Stories of Shadow begin July 1st.  For a full final celebration of Tigger, there will be a story each day Monday through Thursday.  On Friday I will post a gallery of images of Tigger.  Stories of Tigger as she was with Shadow will be coming in September.

Tigger the Mini Race Horse

Always ready to runWatching rabbits run is incredible.  Tigger ran like the wind.  She was just so fast and so light.  No one could catch her until she would tire out.  When she ran up the stairs, it looked like she was sailing over some steps, not touching them all as she flew up or down them.  Looking at a rabbit sitting still, it is hard to imagine them so fast.  The build of front legs to back legs looks so out of sync and balance.  It would seem that a funny hopping motion would be all you might expect.

But when I watched Tigger sitting as she is in this first picture, I noticed how very long and straight her front legs were.  They were so light and slim in comparison to the rest of her body.  It made me think of race horses with the very slender legs that look like they shouldn’t be able to support all the body weight and yet the horses are pure poetry in motion.  I realized watching Tigger that she would often have the same way of holding her head and front legs as I had seen in horses right before they would leap into a full run.  She also had the same way of straightening her head out level with her body that you see in horses when they race.

Tigger’s Bunny 500 racing was so regulated,  we would say that the Tigger Train was running.  We tried to make sure that there were always easy open running areas around the full perimeter of rooms, because she would run around and around just like a horse running a racetrack.

We also kept those running areas clear of things.  Tigger like a horse was also easily freaked.  A weird sound or movement and she would be off like a shot.  We often said her motto was, “Run first, look later”. Sometimes her freakazoid runs would start Shadow running and we would have an out of control bunny stampede with them banging into things and each other at high-speed.  Their cage at one point was six feet long with a door at each end.  They stampeded into opposite ends of the cage meeting head on in the middle.  They stunned each other a bit, but fortunately were not hurt.  As time went on though, when something would send Tigger into stampede mode, Shadow learned to be in sync with her.  You would see the two of them running full speed side by side as close together as two race horses running in tandem shoulder to shoulder to make that finish line first.

Tigger in ready, set mode ...There was one time that her mini horse racer speed saved her. We would always look at any sofa or chair before sitting down and look for where the rabbits were too as a safety measure.  One evening, Tigger wasn’t as far away as I had judged.  I started to sit down and Tigger decided to jump up and race across the sofa as I was coming down.  I had no ability to catch myself and literally felt her brush underneath across my lower back as she raced through.  I am not sure who was more scared with that one.

We had a couple open-ended boxes with a sheet draped over them as a tunnel for the bunnies.  Something set Tigger off once while she was in the tunnel and she took off top speed.  Somehow, she got wrapped up in the sheet, pulling the boxes down so that she couldn’t run through them.  She kept running pulling everything with her as she then barreled sideways into a hay bowl overturning that, before she ran free of everything and then sat there blinking all the hay dust out of her eyes.  We were sitting there within four feet and this took about 30 seconds.  We couldn’t even stand up to help her before it was all over.  Well, except for the call to the vet to find out what we should look for if the hay in the eyes had caused a problem. Fortunately, she was fine again within 24 hours.

Like a race horse that would become agitated, at the vet we often helped to calm Tigger a bit during exams by covering her eyes.  There was one time the vet told us that the rabbit digestive system was closest to that of a horse.  Watching Tigger, I thought there were many similarities and that we often had a high-spirited mini race horse in our home.

The one regret I have is that we didn’t have an opportunity to catch lots of Tigger and Shadow on video. With my first family bunny Thumper, I was just learning how to take photos with point and shoot cameras.  So there aren’t many photos of him.  With Tigger and Shadow, we were making the switch from film to digital cameras.  So we got a lot of images (lots of bad ones during the learning), but never had the chance to really start learning how to capture them on video.  Something to learn with bunnies of the future …

On Friday, Ballerina in Jammies …