Leo Chows Down


Leo chows down on kaleLeo dictated a change in topic from what was planned for today. I got his dinner greens ready for him and he had absolutely no interest in them. Now having no interest in eating for a rabbit can be due to not feeling well or having a digestive problem going on. It could be they have been given something they don’t like to eat. It could be they have already eaten too much of something else and aren’t hungry.

In this case with Leo, I was suspicious it was in the not liking it category. We were reaching the end of a bag of kale. It was still within the Use By Date. The kale still looked green and not spoiled. However, it was a bit stronger smelling which I have noticed in the past can happen sometimes with kale as it ages just a bit in the refrigerator. I wasn’t sure Leo was going to like it. He didn’t. Fortunately, Blaine was already on the way home with new provisions. As soon as we put fresh kale in front of Leo, he began to eat right away.

I thought the smell might turn Leo off because of something that happened once with Tigger and Shadow. We opened a new bag of greens which looked very fresh and lovely to us.  There was nothing we could see or smell that would show any problems. When we put the plate down in front of them, they sniffed the greens and looked right back up at us. The looks on their faces would best translate to, “Really ???” It was obvious that they picked up on something that was wrong that we could not. We threw out the bag, opened another one and then they were happy to eat.

Getting the diet balance right for good digestive health in a rabbit is really important. They don’t always make it so easy though.  As we have learned with our rabbits, they all have very different tastes and preferences for what they like to eat. It is a bit of a trial sometimes to get the right combination of what is good for them that they like to eat and will eat in the right proportions for a healthy rabbit diet.

Tigger was our worst challenge and beyond finicky about eating in ways I don’t even want to remember now. I remember too many times in her life following her around with food trying to get her to eat.  Shadow ate everything and I do mean everything. If he could sink his teeth into it and chew it, he considered it food. The challenge with him was keeping him eating true rabbit edibles and not clogging up his digestive system with things that weren’t even remotely food. We had to watch him like a hawk when he was running free.  Thumper and Portia were our best bunnies with food, I don’t remember them being bad about eating or particularly fussy about anything unless they were ill.

Now there was one time we had a massive bunny food strike here.  We received a new batch of timothy pellets and hay from a company that we had ordered from for years. When we served up the new pellets and hay to the rabbits, all three rabbits refused to eat them. Now Tigger I could understand as she had always been on and off finicky, but Shadow and Portia had never been fussy about pellets or hay. I called the company who put me through to one of their nutrition departments. The previous season the weather had been significantly different in their area in regards to the amount of rain during the growing season. That meant the hay was not exactly the same taste as past seasons and they were getting reports some rabbits were noticing the difference and not happy about it. Fortunately, we had a friend who had a bag of pellets from a previous year’s batch that was still within use dates. We mixed old pellets with new. We made sure there were multiple hay choices besides timothy out for grazing. Within two days Shadow and Portia were back to eating their timothy hay and pellets in normal amounts. Tigger held out for two weeks before accepting the new hay and pellets. During the two weeks, we had to have her in to the vet to make sure there wasn’t something else going on. We offered her other hays and more greens to try to make up for the hay and pellets she wasn’t eating. Fortunately she was not ill or losing weight. She was just being incredibly picky and slow about accepting the new batch.

So little Leo is like Tigger in being a more of a bunny food critic than I would like. We are having to put lots of things in front of him repeatedly and throw lots of things out when he refuses to try them. If you have a picky bunny, you are probably going to have to try lots of varieties of things in hay, pellets, vegetables and fruits to be able to find out which ones the rabbit will eat. I remember a friend’s rabbit that she called the junk food bunny. She had a terrible time getting him to eat anything that was good for him. He only wanted the bunny junk foods: lots of pellets, sweets and treats. She had to really work to get him eating more of the good things, hay and healthy greens. So Leo will eat timothy pellets, but he won’t touch timothy hay. He will eat oat hay and orchard grass. Thank heavens there are a variety of different hays and grasses to try. Leo will eat kale but it is really hard to get him to eat any other greens.  We have managed to expand him to spring greens and leaf lettuce and are working to see if we can get him to accept a wider variety.

Although sweets / treats should be given in very small quantities, it can be very important to know which treats your rabbit likes best.  With all of our rabbits if we thought they were becoming ill, a good test was offering them one of their treats. If they refused a treat, something was really going on and we knew we needed to figure out what to be able to help them. Sometimes that meant a vet visit if we had no clue what might be wrong. Other times, we knew from experience what to try to see if we could bring them back to normal.  We have identified Leo likes fresh baby carrots and has his doctor prescribed limit of just 2-3 per day for his size. Tigger and Shadow went gaga over bananas and couldn’t stand fresh carrots. Leo has no interest in bananas and goes first for any carrots he is given. Leo also likes dried apples and papaya and some bunny biscuit treats we have. The dried fruits and biscuits bring on a bunny dance around the feet. So if we would ever offer those and aren’t getting the bunny dance, it would be a strong sign that Leo is sick.

If you need some good information about all the different things you can try when working on a good rabbit diet, here are two resources from House Rabbit Society:


The Rabbittude Plan for November

Rabbit with ribbon in front of computer

Today has been a day of following Leo around on the sly spying on him.  I am trying to figure out when and how he likes to eat his hay so that I can better plan how to increase his hay consumption. I knew he was a private eater, but I  have discovered another way that he is very different from the other rabbits. He likes to eat his hay while laying down in a resting position while Tigger and Shadow ate standing up and would hop into a hay bin to eat. So I’ve tried putting little handfuls down beside Leo when he is flopped and he is nibbling on them as he rests. The floor is going to get quite messy here with Leo. I will have to work on a good cleaning plan for this!

For November, I will continue to plan to post each weekday. So there will be many more bunny stories to come this next month as well as news of what is going on with Rabbittude. Since this is a big shopping season, we will be working more on our Pinterest account. Keep an eye on that if you are looking for gifts. You might find some ideas checking out our boards. We have lots of pins there of items available from shops on Etsy and Zibbet.

Monday we will have a special announcement about a contest for November. So stop by to check that out and find out how you can enter to win something from Rabbittude!

Learning About Lionheads

Leo the Lionhead's ManesSo before we had Leo, I had seen some pictures of Lionhead rabbits and knew they had manes. I also knew they could be single or double maned, but had no idea what that actually meant. Seeing Leo’s picture and then seeing him in person, I thought the mop of fur between his ears was super cute, but he didn’t have the thick ruff of mane around the head that I had seen with some Lionheads. You can see in the top picture what I mean. Except for the between the ears mop, his fur was pretty short.

In the time we have had Leo, I have learned that cute mop of fur between his ears is also called a “fringe” or “wool cap”. Whatever you call it, it just always reminds me of the hair on a troll doll. I loved playing with those troll doll mops of hair. Messing with Leo’s fringe of fur is just as much fun. He doesn’t mind because it means he is getting his head petted which he loves.

Leo was thought to be a year and a half old when we got him. We learned pretty quickly that could not have been true. First, the teenage hormones hit with a bang within days of bringing him home. Second over the first two months we had him, he was still growing. Leo didn’t have his adult fur coat until a few months later. You can see in the second picture that Leo in addition to that mop between the ears now has the around the face mane too. His isn’t as pronounced or thick as some I have seen in pictures of other Lionheads, but it is there now.

After he got his adult coat, I noticed what seemed to me like a strange fur growth pattern where the fur from his waist and around his behind on low on his sides had grown to where it was dragging on the floor. It looked weird to me since the fur along his backbone and to the sides of his backbone was much shorter. I was describing this on Etherbun and that is when I learned that Leo is double maned. I had assumed that a double mane must mean a thicker or second-growth of fur around the head. In reality, a double maned Lionhead has a mane around the head and a “skirt” of fur that runs around the lower sides and back of the body from waist to waist. Skirt is actually a very good description of that fur.  You can see in the last two pictures how the skirt can really hide his tail and feet.

So living with Leo has been a bit more challenging than we had expected. Since the shelter thought he was over a year old, we thought the fur coat we were getting in the first picture was the adult fur coat. We weren’t expecting all the fur in the lower pictures. The Lionhead coat has some decided challenges. First the shedding is awesome with little poofs of white fur floating around everywhere. I’m thankful I’m not allergic to rabbit fur.

That skirt mane is the second challenge.  The skirt drags everything around it comes in contact with. It is like having a living, breathing Swiffer broom in action. Everything on the floor he comes in contact with gets moved around all over the place and deposited where he stops. So little piles of fur, hay, paper or cardboard he has chewed off of boxes, all get swept up by the skirt and then redistributed all around the room. If my living Swiffer could learn how to deposit what he gathers up straight to a trash can, cleaning would be so much easier.

I’ve found that a weekly comb out of Leo is necessary.  His head mane and body fur on his back are usually in good shape, but the skirt mane is another story. The skirt tends to get tangled and sometimes holds on to bits of hay. If not attended to on a weekly basis, it would start to clump up and begin to form fur mats.  He begins to feel like he is attempting to grow multiple tails on his hind end.

Leo is not a happy camper about the grooming. He really hates it and no matter how gently I do it, he starts off with the heavy breathing, bugged out eye look the minute he is picked up for it. If he has some tangled areas, it can take a few minutes to gently work through them and he will sometimes start a pitiful crying sound which makes it really hard to keep grooming him. I am hoping he will grow more accustomed to handling over time. Tigger would do the same thing when very little, chattering her teeth when we had to do things for grooming or medications. As she got older, she finally seemed to realize that we weren’t seeking to harm her every time we picked her up. She still didn’t like it, but at least she stopped with the chattering teeth.

Leos Lionhead status is clear when looking at his two manes. My understanding is that a double mane Lionhead needs to have both parents be Lionheads. What confuses me though is that Leo’s adult size is above and beyond the size of most Lionheads. He was three and half pounds when we got him. Since Lionheads are not usually above four pounds that was one reason we at first thought the shelter might have his age set right. However, Leo was still growing and is now somewhere in the four to five pound range. So I am not sure if he had some recessive gene for a bigger size than normal.   We appear to have a giant Lionhead. It is kind of weird to be thinking that because Leo is a small rabbit.  He is just very very big for a Lionhead rabbit.

When Leo hens up to sleep, he has a bit of a fluffy marshmallow with chocolate sauce look which is so cute. I haven’t caught a picture of him like that yet and will have to try for one in the future. One thing is for certain and that is that his fur is the softest rabbit fur we have ever felt.  Previous rabbits Portia and Shadow were both fur breeds. Portia’s Chinchilla fur was soft due to its thickness. Shadow’s fur was Havana and it was the satin sheen of his fur that was notable. Tigger who was not a fur breed actually had the softest to the touch fur because it was such a baby fine fur. Leo beats out Tigger having even softer fur. It also amazes me the whiteness of his fur and in spite of dragging his skirt around everywhere just how clean the fur stays. I guess Leo and I together do a good job of keeping him well-groomed.

Later this week Leo is scheduled to have his yearly check up with a new vet. I’m going to see if she has any better suggestions for making his grooming routine more acceptable to him.

Sweet Bunny Faces

Sweet Leo's FaceThis is a close up of Leo’s face.  It is hard looking at his sweet little face to understand how someone gave him up to a city animal shelter and just walked away from him.

Right from the time I first saw Leo’s face on Petfinder.com, I wanted to meet him. His little face is a lot furrier now than when I first saw it. The shelter thought he was 1 1/2 years old, but that could not have been true, because he was still growing after we got him. He hadn’t reached his full size and didn’t have his adult fur coat until a few months after we brought him home. His fur was a great deal shorter when we first got him a year ago.  He has fluffed out and that sweet face is even cuter now.

Leo like Shadow absolutely loves to have his head petted which is a good thing because that cute face and troll doll mop of fur on his head are hard to resist.  It is so cute when I am petting him and my hand strays to his back or the side of his face and he will burrow his head back under my hand and bump up against my palm with his head, giving the clear message, “Pet my head, my head, my head!”. It is another shade of Shadow when he does that. Shadow too liked head pets best and did the same thing with burrowing his head under my hand and then giving my palm the bump up.

It is so nice to have another sweet little bunny boy around the house.

A Plan for Leo – Part III

Leo and the hideawayOn Friday I wrote that Leo’s new deluxe cardboard hideaway had arrived from BusyBunny.com. Given his strong reaction of fear, I wasn’t sure how long it might be before we could say whether the new hideaway was a hit or a miss. We tried draping one of his blankies over the door in one end to see if that would make the road to acceptance a bit smoother. So the blankie is serving as a tent flap entryway on one end of the hideaway.

As you can see in this image, Leo has understood and accepted the concept of the hideaway now.  My thought and plan had been for the hideaway to be tucked under the back side of the desk where it had measured as a perfect fit. You can see that Leo had other ideas. Once he started to realize the possibilities of this hideaway, he decided he didn’t like the location of it and pushed it out.  I tried pushing it back in a bit so that it wouldn’t stick out so far into the walking space of the room and Leo pushed it out again. His moving efforts actually flipped the whole hideaway over a couple times.

Leo has made it clear that he wants hideaway space inside the hideaway and behind it. I will just have to adjust to having a little less walking space behind the desk. He has already staked out this one corner area as a place he likes to hang out and chill. It is amazing sometimes how quickly rabbits can claim new spaces as theirs. I realized this morning that Leo had fully accepted it. When I let him out of his cage in the morning, usually he likes to be petted for a few minutes before taking off for his free roaming bunny pursuits. However, this morning, he wanted no part of hanging around to be petted. When I opened the door to his cage, he dived out and headed straight for the hideaway.

Tomorrow a post on how Leo has shades of Shadow …

A Plan for Leo – Part II

Leo the Lionhead and his boxEarlier this month I wrote about how we had ordered the  Deluxe Hopper Hideaway from Busy Bunny. They were on vacation when we ordered, with orders to ship again beginning this week. Well, Leo’s new hideaway arrived today.

All has not gone exactly according to how we had hoped, but is kind of going according to what we expected. Leo is really good for channeling a freak out personality similar to Tigger. The whole time the hideaway was being put together, Leo was hiding in a corner of the room and starting at every noise.

It is now in place where his little box stood, but I don’t dare try to take any pictures yet. He has hopped in, checked it out, chinned it and nibbled at it a bit.  However, when he hops away from it to another part of the room, it is like he forgets he was just there and it was okay and he is scared that his space is different. We are dealing with lots of hiding out, thumping and scrambling runs for cover if anybody moves too suddenly or makes unexpected noises.

Hopefully there will be a happy ending Part III in the near future where we can share an image of Leo enjoying his new hideaway …

A Plan for Leo

Leo the Lionhead and his boxOn Saturday, I shared a gallery of images of Leo with his blankie in his pen. This is Leo in his little cardboard box that is on the back side of one of the office desks. Now that is a cozy hiding spot for him and we make it even cozier at times by draping one of his blankies over it to serve as a doorway similar to a tent flap doorway.

However, Leo has some expansion coming to that space.  I was surfing around the internet looking at bunny products and saw that the Busy Bunny is on vacation. They have a notice that all orders placed now while they are on vacation will get a 10% discount and then the orders will ship after they return from vacation. So orders placed now will start shipping the week of October 14th. Any discount is helpful and that decided me to look and see what they might have that Leo might like.

The Deluxe Hopper Hideaway is now on order for Leo and will be here in just a couple of weeks for him to have greatly expanded cardboard hideaway housing:

The two cardboard houses are joined by a tunnel in between – the houses have openings on all four sides in which additional tunnels can be inserted. The tunnels notch securely into the houses, and have a swinging door in the middle for more run-through fun.

Leo will be tripling his space on the back side of the desk. His new little hideaway will fill that space. Once we have it in place, we will try to share a picture of him hopefully enjoying it. Sometimes things we buy for Leo are complete misses. He is a very different rabbit in some of his likes and dislikes compared to Tigger, Shadow and Portia.  Anyway, since The Busy Bunny has that sale in place now, it is a good time to check out if they have any products that your bunny might like. They have hideaways and tunnels in cardboard and willow. Their willow rings are a chew toy that Tigger and Shadow absolutely loved, Shadow in particular. Portia was more fond of willow balls and not the rings.  Leo also prefers the willow balls to the chew rings.

More bunny stories to come this week as well as info on what is going on in the Rabbittude studio …


Leo Linus

Ah a bunny and his blankie. Leo has now become Leo Linus the Lionhead bunny. Like the character Linus in the comic strip Peanuts, when Leo heads for the comfort of his pen, he takes his blankie with him all around the pen. With Tigger and Shadow, it was hard to give them things made of fabrics, because Shadow tried to consume everything he could sink his teeth into. With them for the sake of Shadow’s digestive health, we had to stick with lots of things made of straw or jute that would be digestible.

When we first saw Leo at the shelter, they had him in a pen that was about 4 feet square with his necessaries: food, water, litter box. The only extras were a cardboard box to hide in and a piece of sweatshirt fabric to play with or also hide under.When we brought him home a year ago, we sought to recreate as much of the environment he was used to as we could.

We created a 6 x 4 foot pen for him with wire cube sets and cable ties and installed his food, water and a corner litter box. We got him some willow accessories and toys that the other buns had liked. We didn’t have an old sweatshirt to sacrifice for him. So we headed off to the fabric store to see what we could find. The sweatshirt fabric piece that the shelter had for him was the type without the fuzzy back, just a smooth weave. That was good because he wouldn’t have consumed lots of fuzz from it if he chewed it. The fabric store only had the fuzzy back type of sweatshirt material, so we started looking at other things. They had blanket fleece on sale and had the really cute paw print pattern you see in the gallery images. We bought a yard and then I cut that down into four pieces, so Leo has four blankies.

As you can see the blankie is a huge hit with Leo. He pulls it all around his pen, snuggling with it, playing with it and using it for warmth too. The last image with him in the tunnel he has actually pulled the blanket up to cover the back part of himself that is extending beyond the tunnel. Everyone once in a while, I have to rescue the blankie from his water bowl when an edge of it falls in and starts to soak up all his water. With four blankies, he always has one that will be clean and dry should he mess up his current one.

Enjoy the gallery and your weekend! More to come next week …

Story Time

Once Upon a Time … Under a Full Bunny Moon …

Full Bunny Moon

Courtesy of Leo the Lionhead

There is always something to learn with each new rabbit. With Leo it was experiencing this full bunny moon. I did not realize until this shot that there was an angle for him that was nothing but solid white fur. Then the next realization was that a solid white bunny butt was giving me the very first feeling of truly and memorably being mooned by a rabbit.

Oh and that image on the home page with the snowy white cloud look is actually up close and personal with Leo’s tail.

LOL … more fun to come …

Where’s Leo?

Where is little Leo?Okay, so this isn’t the planned topic.  Blame it on Leo who threw my game plan off today by displaying some of his personal flavor of rabbittude.  You can see in the picture we have created a really roomy exercise pen for him with some wire cube kits and cable ties.

The pen is just under 4 feet by 5 feet in size.  There is plenty of room for a willow tunnel, food and water bowls, straw mats, toys, his favorite blanky, his corner litter box in the far corner of this picture and he still has lots of run around room.  So where is Leo?  Leo was running around the office, in and out of his exercise pen and burrowing under the sheet that we have draped along the one side that is between his exercise pen and a file cabinet.  We have a piece of cardboard on the floor under that drapped sheet for him to chew on and dig at.  I heard him for quite some time digging at things inside and outside of his exercise pen.

Then the sound changed somewhat and I knew I needed to find out what Leo was up to.  No Leo in his pen, no Leo under the sheet.  I am hearing him in the area of the pen, but no Leo anywhere in sight.  Now sometimes Leo disappears by burrowing underneath his blanky, but not this time.  I am hearing him digging and chewing at something right in the area of his pen and cannot see him anywhere at all.

Then it slowly dawned on me that in spite of what we had tried to do to block of his access to wiggle behind the pen that is exactly where he had managed to go.  Leo was now in the far corner behind his pen, behind his corner little box.  So I could hear him, but not see him.  He is small enough that he hadn’t even really pushed the pen that much out from the wall with his wiggling in.  We had a bit of a disagreement about his coming back out.  I got that rabbit look more than once as he would start towards me and then back up again.  I guess he realized I was serious about coming after him, so he grudgingly came back out on his own.  Once I got him out, he was trying to wiggle back into the space he had created the whole time I was trying to find a way to truly block it off this time.

So I am trying to rig a fix and while I am doing it, I am pulling Leo out, trying again, pulling Leo out again.  I was working to fix another little wall with cable ties that would extend from the pen and insert behind the file cabinet so he would not have a way to be able to wiggle behind the pen again.  I think I had to pull him back out and shoo him away at least six times before I was successful in hooking up that new wall.  At least I think I was successful.  It is amazing what a rabbit can do and where they can go if they are motivated enough.

Sometimes I think Leo is a quieter less active rabbit than Tigger and Shadow.   It still may be way too soon to know that for sure though.  We don’t know what he was used to or able to do in his previous home.  We don’t know how he was treated.  So we don’t know how comfortable or confident he felt in the past to really show his true bunny personality.  It is quite possible that little Leo might be getting ready to provide some real challenges if he is now beginning to feel comfy and secure enough here to let loose with some rabbittude Leo style.

I promise no Leo delays will prevent more of the story Friday on living with multiple rabbit encampments …

Leo’s Latest Thing

Leo's latest trick - role over and play deadThis is as close a picture as I will probably get right now of Leo’s newest trick.  He has done it a few times now and scared me into exclaiming in fear each time which then causes him to bounce up looking at me with that rabbit what the ??? look of surprise.

Anyway, back to the story of this newest trick which is best titled, Role Over and Play Dead.  I will look over at his exercise pen during his afternoon rest time and there he is flat-out on his side, head down, ears down, with one open eye staring straight up at the ceiling and I can’t see any movement or breathing. So I guess alternate titles could be Beached Bunny, or Freak Out Your New Bunny Mommy.

So little Leo clearly sleeps like the dead and looks like it too. If this is going to be a regular Rabbittude gig of his, I am going to have to work on maintaining my composure when I glance over and see it. Tigger had a similar sleeping pose, but she did it with a slightly curled up closed eyed version that looked adorable.  Leo’s take on this pose is coming out looking like flopped out fish on a plate. There is definitely something to be said in this for style variations creating vast differences in point of view.

Next week, finishing up stories of Shadow, on Monday a piece of art showing his sweet appeal …

Extra: Rabbits Always Ready to Surprise

After a combined 36 years in the lives of four rabbits, I am always learning there is much more to learn about bunnies. Leo appears to be susceptible to hiccups. I did not know that rabbits could have hiccups. I did some online research after his most recent attack and found a video of a rabbit experiencing hiccups and saw reports by many others of their rabbits experiencing hiccups:

Link to video if it isn’t working properly here: http://youtu.be/RSIkipInd28

I double checked with our vet today about when or if to be concerned. They said they would be want to see him if it starts happening everyday or if Leo seems distressed in some way or having breathing issues. So far it has occurred just twice with several weeks in between. Leo does not appear to be at all distressed, in fact he was laying down napping both times when he would just start making a funny noise and bouncing movement of his head. After no more than about a minute, it was gone again. It looked and sounded like hiccups, but took me completely by surprise because I had not seen or heard of hiccups before in a rabbit.

The vets staff recommended that if this happens again, we should try to capture it on video for the vet to take a look. That is a great suggestion for anyone with rabbits and weird symptoms since so often bringing them to the vet brings on such a fear response that even the sickest rabbit can often look quite healthy and normal when their systems kick into the fight or flight response of adrenaline flooding their systems. So Leo is giving us an extra added incentive to figure out how to have the video camera ready to catch him in action whatever that may be …

Tomorrow, the story of Shadow and parsley …