We have had a few more challenges than expected this week. So blog writing is running behind. Here is a picture to preview our bunny goat and the full story will follow tomorrow.
Coming tomorrow, Shadow the bunny goat …
We have had a few more challenges than expected this week. So blog writing is running behind. Here is a picture to preview our bunny goat and the full story will follow tomorrow.
Coming tomorrow, Shadow the bunny goat …
Shadow was a very happy bouncy puppy bunny, always ready to have fun. He would steal your heart with his wonderful playfulness and sweet nature. He was always ready to hop up and introduce himself. Like a dog, he considered everyone to be his friend. He had that same doggie way of tipping his head to the side as if he was asking a question. It was just so much fun to watch him checking everything out. While Tigger was quite a serious rabbit, Shadow was all lightness and play.
He just loved to run around like crazy and play with things. Unlike most rabbits, Shadow liked to be chased. He would run up to you and then take off again looking back to get you to chase him. Shadow would just love it when Blaine would instigate the chase by pretending to charge at him.
Shadow loved to be petted, especially his head. If either of us started to pet Tigger and Shadow was nowhere in sight, within just a minute or two, he would be charging up and flopping down. If you weren’t petting his head, you would get the little head butt on your palm as a reminder to pet his head. He would also burrow under your hand to position his head just right for petting.
The little boy was decidedly a beggar too. He would get up on his hind legs and do the begging dance to get his bunny biscuits. Once he realized that the top of the cages was the closest to where the biscuits were kept, he would leap up there and dance around. He got so crazy one time he hopped himself off the side of the cage while he was up on two legs begging. After that, we would position ourselves right at the side of the cage so he couldn’t hop off in his excitement. Instead, we would have a bunny batting his front paws against us if we took too long getting those bunny treats out of the container.
Also like a dog, he loved to dig. We had uncovered litter boxes until Shadow came along. Then Shadow showed us he saw the litter boxes as multi purpose. He would use them quite nicely to do his business and then he would dig them all out. His skills at excavation were quite remarkable. He could empty a whole litter box of pellets and have it spread out over a six-foot area. We had to invest in a number of litter boxes with tops which both rabbits actually loved since the tops provided another hang out spot for them. We had to get more small throw rugs so that the plastic tops weren’t quite so slippery. We used Acco binder clips to fold and shape the corners of the rugs to be a close fit to the tops.
We read at one point that use a spray bottle filled with water and squirting a misbehaving bunny could deter bad behavior. Tigger did not like being squirted with water and would stop, but we gave up on using that to deter Shadow. We could give him several squirts and he would just shake himself off like a little dog and keep on going with whatever he was doing which was usually chewing something.
Coming Wednesday, Shadow the bunny goat …
We had a little bit of time to get to know Shadow before we went in to the vet for a once over check up. We weren’t expecting any surprises. We believed we had a boy / girl pairing and were keeping the two rabbits apart until they could be fixed. Granted, Shadow was quite a tiny bunny, so we weren’t basing our feeling that we had a boy on anything we saw. Rather, we thought Shadow was a boy due to basic bunny functions. Shadow was still in the process of learning to use a litter box. While learning, if Shadow was sitting by a wall and the urge hit, the little squirt would spray the wall behind, not the floor underneath. Also, Shadow just seemed so very boyish in actions and play which was a real contrast to the dainty femininity that Tigger displayed. They seemed to be opposites.
So on visiting the vet, we were quite surprised when the vet told us we had another girl. We strongly questioned that opinion based on the spraying activity we had seen and Shadow was taken out of the room for an exam by another vet. The second opinion was the same that we had another girl. We were told we should go ahead and schedule both spays for the end of August.
We did set up the appointments, but didn’t say much until we hit the car when Blaine exclaimed he knew a male spray when he saw one. I agreed and said I didn’t think the vets had this one right and we would proceed as we had been assuming that we had a boy / girl pair. It did make for a weird couple of months wondering about Shadow’s he /she status. Although we really felt we had a boy, just in case we were wrong, we weren’t quite sure whether to refer to him / her or say he / she. Mostly, we just stuck to saying Shadow and trying not to wrap our brains around the confusion.
Jumping ahead instead of leaving you hanging for the rest of the story, a couple of weeks before the date of the spays, I noticed the fur starting to change color in two oval shapes on Shadow’s underside. The placement looked just exactly right for what I remembered from our family bunny Thumper’s male rabbit anatomy. I told Blaine that I thought that Shadow had a surprise planned for the vet and was dropping down testicles. I remembered that had occurred with Thumper too between about three and four months of age.
When it came the day of the “spays”, we had intended to tell the vet right away that we thought Shadow had a surprise for him. However, as I wrote before, Tigger injured her teeth the morning of the surgeries and when we arrived at the vet, we were talking about the need to examine Tigger’s injury and forgot to mention Shadow’s new revelation. We got a call shortly after we left. It was the vet telling us that he couldn’t spay Shadow, he was going to have to neuter him. He told us Shadow was going to be a bit more peeved than the usual male rabbit after the surgery since the vet tech had done a belly shave before the vet had done his exam and realized the tummy shave wasn’t going to be needed. Fortunately for us, Shadow was a very good boy, a real little gentleman, and his early vet visits and surgery were no problem at all.
Coming next week, meet Shadow the puppy bunny …
Eleven years ago on July 4th, we met Shadow for the first time. Tigger was about four months old. We had just boarded her for a weekend a couple of weeks earlier. She had been so lonely, it had made us realize we needed to find her a bunny buddy. We hadn’t had any opportunity to make plans for that or explore our options. On the 4th, we were just back at the mall pet store to pick up some supplies for Tigger.
As we came in, we saw that there was a new batch of baby bunnies, more than a dozen in a front window enclosure. I went back to the aisles to get what we needed for Tigger while Blaine stopped to pet some little bunny heads. He reached his hand in to pet those closest to where he was standing. Four feet across the enclosure the tiniest of the babies, an all black bunny, saw Blaine’s hand and came running at top speed over to Blaine. The bunny rabbit sat up on hind legs and started nibbling at the hairs on Blaine’s hand.
I was told about the racing over introduction, I didn’t actually see it. What I did see as I walked back to the front of the store with things for Tigger was Blaine holding a really cute and very tiny black baby bunny in his hands. Looking at the two of them, even without hearing the story, I knew they had chosen each other just as Tigger and I had chosen each other two months before. It was clear we were going home with more than just food and supplies for Tigger. I hoped things would work out all right with them liking each other, but that was a problem for the future. Right now I was looking at one of the cutest baby bunnies I had ever seen. The rabbit was a ball of fluffy black fur all over. It looked like Blaine was holding a Tribble (old Star Trek reference) with big ears.
For the moment, we needed to make arrangements for our new little friend. We made sure we were bringing home enough supplies for two bunnies. The pet shop didn’t have a cage for a rabbit, so we were going to have to take our new friend home and then find one somewhere else. We knew enough to know that the two rabbits would need to be separate until we were sure what sex they both were and then likely until after being fixed if we had a boy / girl pair. We also needed to find out more about safely introducing rabbits to each other. Since Tigger was about four months old, she was nearing her full size while our new bunny was just a two month old baby. Tigger at four pounds was currently twice the size of the new bunny.
I was a bit concerned bringing our new bunny rabbit home without a cage. Everything I had read had indicated it was a good idea to let rabbits settle in to their cage and feel safe and then allow them to explore their new surroundings as they felt comfortable. Tigger had followed that pattern and had hung back in her cage the first few days before she really took off making every space she explored her own.
My fears of the new bunny feeling insecure or afraid were unfounded. After we got home, I let our new friend explore the new surroundings while Blaine headed out to find a cage. While Blaine was gone, our new little friend showed no sense of needing any place to hideout. The bunny hopped all over the room, excitedly checking everything out and then hopped up on a pile of papers we had on a shelf of a rolling file cart and took a nap. After the nap, our new little buddy continued on with the explorations. Our new friend had so much energy and interest in everything!
Blaine returned with a cage which we set up next to Tigger’s so that they could get used to seeing and being close to each other. We hadn’t decided on a name yet for our new friend. We were talking about Ebony or Ebunny. The next day, while letting our new friend run around, I kept losing him / her (who knew at that point?). That is when I realized for the first time that we had brought home a rabbit who understood the concept of camouflage. Our new bunny friend would find the darkest corner in the room or the darkest piece of furniture and would sit absolutely still blending in so well that it was a case of now you see the rabbit and now you don’t.
When Blaine returned home from work, I told him I thought we should call our new friend Shadow because of the bunny’s uncanny ability to find and blend into the shadows. Shadow came to be such an appropriate name, first for the ability to hide in plain sight and then later being overshadowed by Tigger at times, but also playing her willing shadow and accomplice at others.
Coming on Friday, Shadow visits the vet for the first time …
Since I hadn’t planned on bringing a bunny home, I wasn’t sure how easy it would be to find a good vet. It actually turned out that a rabbit savvy vet was close to where we lived. I set up an appointment. Then I had to find another larger pet store to get a proper carrier for Tigger to travel in. The original pet store had not had one and we had to bring her home in a cardboard pet box which was no way for a bunny to travel, dark and scary and easy to chew through if a rabbit got motivated enough.
I picked out a small kitty carrier where the top could be separated from the bottom allowing for easier storage and cleaning. The top and front had metal grille doors allowing for putting Tigger in through either opening and checking on her from the top to help prevent really easy escapes out an opened front door.
After making the appointment, we put the carrier in Tigger’s running space in the kitchen to get her used to it, so that it wasn’t completely unfamiliar when she had to go into it for the trip. Right away, as little as she was, she hopped up on top of it. That was an early sign of things to come with Tigger. First she sat up and looked at something and then she jumped on top of it.
On the day of the appointment, I put Tigger into the carrier and put it on the passenger seat next to me with the door facing me so that we could see each other on the trip. I used the seatbelt and shoulder harness to strap in the carrier to keep it in place should any sudden stops be needed which unfortunately occur a lot in busy metro Atlanta traffic. I drapped a small towel over the carrier top so that the sun wouldn’t shine in her eyes, but made sure the side vents were clear for enough air circulation. Then we were off.
There wasn’t a whole lot of Tigger for the vet to examine. I don’t remember her exact weight, but it was somewhere between 2 1/2 and 3 pounds. She was just a handful of bunny. The vet checked her over giving his opinion that it did indeed look like we had a little girl. The best news was that she was an otherwise healthy bunny who was malnourished due to a bad diet. He gave me a brochure for the Oxbow Company and suggested that I order some Alfalfa hay and pellets to fatten up our baby. Then we would add greens in upcoming months and switch to Timothy hay and pellets later on when she was full-grown. We discussed spaying her in about four months when she would be about six months old.
Tigger and I both left happy, she to be leaving the poking and prodding behind and I with fears of larger health problems relieved. I ordered her Alfalfa hay and pellets right away. When they arrived a few days later and I opened the package, it was like receiving a box full of meadow. The smell was wonderful. If I was a rabbit, I would have been all over that food. So, great new hay and pellets on board, bunny is about to be fattened up shortly.
That is when we started to get the drift that Tigger had a very stubborn little bunny mind and did not want to change from what she was used to which was the awful guinea pig pellets. I followed suggestions from rabbit sources online to mix the old pellets with the new. Tigger would pick out all the bad stuff and leave her good rabbit pellets behind. It took weeks and we were down to the very last spoonful of the guinea pig pellets before she decided that she liked her new Alfalfa pellets and switched over to eating them. Fortunately while she was arguing the pellets, she was liking the new Alfalfa hay. Slowly our bunny baby started losing some of her very bony feel.
Coming next, there’s a Tigger in the kitchen!
Eleven years ago we were shopping in the local mall just before Easter. As we passed the pet store, I saw they had baby bunnies. I have always been dubious of the health of pet shop animals and whether they had enough human interaction to be good pets, but I couldn’t ever resist petting little bunny heads if I saw they had some.
Our family had one house rabbit as a pet and Thumper had been my favorite pet. Blaine and I wanted to get a pet or two now that we were living somewhere that we could. Blaine had suggested a rabbit since he knew that would be my first choice. I knew Thumper was going to be a tough act to follow though. He was a rare snuggle bunny. Another rabbit was going to lose in the comparison unless they really wanted to get to know me and interact with me. I wasn’t sure how to go about finding a rabbit that would choose me.
Anyway, back to the baby bunnies close at hand that day in the mall. The store had a good-sized pen and rabbits of all different colors and breeds. Some were flopped, some eating, some were bouncing around. None of them wanted to do anything with us except get away. We petted a few heads and as we turned to leave, a store employee walked up. He was carrying the most beautiful and unusually colored rabbit we had ever seen. He told us the tiger-striped bunny was his favorite. We talked with him for a few minutes and then left and headed home.
A couple of weeks later in early May, I was back in the mall on my own. As I walked towards the pet store, I saw they had a pedestal with a glass enclosure on top that they had pushed about a dozen feet outside the store’s doorway. From a distance I could see one bunny. I felt bad because I didn’t think the rabbit had good chances now of finding a home after Easter. As I walked closer, I was surprised to see the tiger-striped bunny. Being a staff favorite and having such beautiful coloring, I had expected this bunny to easily find a home.
As I stopped in front of the pedestal, I put my hand on the outside of the glass. The rabbit raced over, sat up on hind legs and placed both front paws exactly where my hand was. I was toast, the bunny rabbit wanted to interact with me. I picked the bunny up and got a real shock. I had expected to feel a chubby baby bunny body, instead the rabbit was skin and sharp bones.
The rabbit had a lot of energy, clear eyes and did not appear ill, but something was clearly wrong since the bunny was so thin. I realized I could put the bunny back down and walk away. I didn’t really want to buy a pet shop animal. However, I knew in my heart if I walked away, the rabbit would likely die soon. There was so much life and energy in this bunny who was wiggling all over and looking me in the eyes as I was checking all systems out head to tail. I knew I had to take a chance and give this beautiful rabbit a chance to live.
I called up Blaine who worked nearby and asked if he could take his lunch break and help me take our new bunny home. He said sure. While I waited for him to arrive, I began making arrangements for our new bunny. That is when I started to get some idea why the rabbit might be so thin. The store didn’t have anymore rabbit food and had been using guinea pig pellets. They had also been putting some vitamins in the water bowl which turned it neon yellow. I could only imagine what it might taste like. I picked out the cage and accessories, got a couple of litter boxes and pellet litter. They had some hay, so I got that too and some chew toys. The store gave me a bag of the guinea pig pellets to maintain the current diet. A vet visit and finding someone who had good rabbit food was on my short list for the immediate future.
Blaine arrived and asked about a name for our new little friend. He suggested Tiger. The name was right for the coloring but in our brief acquaintance, there was something very delicate about my new friend. I knew that it could take 3 or 4 months to really ID a boy bunny as male. This bunny looked like a girl, but I knew not to trust that yet. However, I really felt we had a little girl on our hands and wanted a softer name than Tiger. I had always loved Tigger in Winnie the Pooh. Tigger talked about all the other Tiggers, so there were obviously male and female Tiggers. Pooh’s Tigger was also quite bouncy. I thought whether boy or girl, Tigger would be a name that would fit a bouncy bunny rabbit. So I suggested Tigger, we agreed and took our new little Tigger bunny rabbit home.
Coming next, a little Tigger gets her first visit with the vet.
The one thing that really shows the stages of a bunny’s life are the changes in litter boxes that we have had over 10 years with our rabbits.
With two month old two-pound baby bunnies, we started with high-backed triangle or square pans made for small animals. Those were just the right size to encourage litter box training, yet still gave them a roomy place to flop or eat some hay.
Then Shadow began to develop some serious digging tendencies and he would use the litter box and excavate it out afterwards. We switched them to larger litter boxes with tops. Since they were still pretty little, we had to give them kiddie footstools to help them get in with ease. The footstools also allowed little bunnies another place to crawl under. They both loved to take advantage of that. Tigger and Shadow both liked the flat-topped box as it gave them another place to hop up and hang out. We put a small rug up there to make it a more comfy, less slippery spot.
The bunnies moved into their adult size and we were able to do away with the footstools. Then Shadow showed less interest in digging as he aged and we removed the litter box covers and just left them with the round or rectangle bottoms of the litter boxes.
After they turned six years old, we noticed that they were less inclined to hop over the sides of their pans. They had a few accidents beside their litter boxes. We realized they were probably beginning to experience some of the aches, pains, and loss of flexibility that comes with aging.
We went back to the store and found some dog training pans with lower sides and one side with a low entry. They liked these litter boxes. However, with these pans, Shadow developed a renewed interest in digging them out. So I went back to the stores to look for a fix. I found a long tray used for drying boots that was exactly the right size. Placed at the front and sides, Shadow can do his dig out, and I can easily dump the litter back into the pans. It becomes a game with him to see how fast he can dig it out again after I dump it back in. If I don’t do my cleanup fast enough, some bunny will decide that the boot trays are fair game for litter box use.
We have definitely learned that one litter box is not equal to another and have adapted as needed due to bunny age and size. So who is training who here?
It has been 10 years since Tigger first came home with us. I have always loved rabbits and can’t resist checking out baby bunnies when I see them. I dragged Blaine into a mall pet shop when I saw the big brood they had in the front window.
There were more than a dozen really cute baby rabbits in the shop since Easter was just days away. We petted little heads and were about to leave when an employee walked up carrying a cute tiger-striped bunny that he said was his favorite. We talked with him for a few minutes and then left. We had been thinking about getting a pet, but didn’t have intentions of bringing a pet shop bunny rabbit home since we don’t quite trust where shops get animals.
A few weeks after Easter, early in May, I was walking through the mall and noticed the pet shop had pushed a glass display case outside their entrance. I could see a lone bunny in the case. That pulled at my heart because it was after Easter now. I knew the bunny didn’t have a great chance at getting a home. As I walked closer, I was surprised to see the tiger-striped bunny. Since the rabbit was so beautiful and favored by an employee, I would have expected this rabbit would have been one of the first to find a home.
I reached out, put my hand on the glass and the bunny raced over and sat up on hind legs, putting front paws against the glass right where my hand was. I was toast. I picked the rabbit up and instead of a chubby baby body, I felt nothing but sharp bones under that beautiful fur. I knew right then that if I put the bunny back down and walked away, it would die. I could not do that with an animal that was not only beautiful, but obviously intelligent and wanting to interact with a human friend. I wasn’t sure why the rabbit was so thin. I knew it was possible that something was really wrong and perhaps death was inevitable, but wanted to give the rabbit a chance.
Since it was near noon, I called Blaine to see if he could take his lunch break and help me bring home our new bunny. He is a great guy and home we went with our new bunny, rabbit cage and accessories. My first answer as to what might be wrong with the rabbit came when we were purchasing food before leaving the store. They only had food for guinea pigs. We took a small bag to not upset the status quo and planned to find a vet right away to discuss the best diet to help a starving baby bunny.
Blaine suggested Tiger as a name, but even then not being sure of the sex of the bunny, there was something quite delicate and feminine about our new friend. I thought Tigger was a softer cuter version of Tiger. Tigger has always been a favorite of mine in the Winnie the Pooh stories. Since Tigger talks about all the other tiggers, a female tigger is obviously out there. I figured boy or girl, Tigger was going to be a good name. Little did I realize how good, since our Tigger has proved to be just as bouncy as her namesake and just as prone to causing trouble and then getting out of it by being cute and innocently unaware.
Later today, more about feeding a Tigger.