A Picture Instead of 1000 Words

Tigger Kicked BackThroughout the month of September we were dealing with on and off stomach issues with Tigger. She would be on and off her diet and need gas meds, pain meds, and force feedings of Oxbow Critical Care at times and syringed water. On the 24th, we wrote that she seemed to have turned the corner. Since then she has continued to improve and the picture shows that improvement.

With bunnies, we have learned that subtle behavior changes can signal their health issues more clearly if you watch them closely. When Shadow spends a lot of time cleaning his ears or has one ear up, one ear down, we know it is time to have the vet take a look at his ears for an inner or outer ear problem.

With Tigger, a clear signal that her tummy is fine can be seen in this photo. She is kicked back with her back legs stretched out and is lying full-out on her stomach out in the open. When she starts pulling her legs underneath her and looking like a bunny hen all the time, she is starting to have some issues and doesn’t want to lay on her stomach.  Especially if she does that in places where it isn’t easy to reach her, we know she needs some help.

Our key to keeping our bunnies going throughout their ten and half years is keeping a close eye on their behavior, knowing quite well what is and is not normal for them.  We have learned to recognize the small changes in their daily activity that can be signals of changes in their health.  Since both bunnies are elderly now, we keep a closer watch on them now than we did when they were younger and act more quickly if it seems something isn’t right. 

Being able to have more pictures like this makes life so sweet.

Head Pet Radar

Awaiting head pets

Waiting ...

Shadow bunny has the finest tuned rabbit radar when it comes to head pets.  It’s a given that if you start to pet Tigger, no matter where he might be in the house, Shadow will show up in less than a minute.

He is so down with the idea of being petted, he is literally down and in position and waiting with that me too look in his eyes.  Who can resist?  Unlike Tigger once Shadow is down for the head petting, he is down and you had better be prepared for a session.
That is okay, petting a rabbit is just so wonderful.  The fur has such a wonderful feel, the tooth purring is such a nice thankful feedback.  It is a good time to just mellow out and enjoy each others company.  We usually lay down on the floor beside him and just chill with the bunny.
Mr. Shadow loves to be stroked up his nose, around his cheeks.  There is a spot in front of his ears that you can tell is an ahhh spot.  If you stray off his head back towards his shoulders, you will get a little head bumping up into your hand as a reminder to focus.  This is a head petting session!
Shadow is up for having his little head petted multiple times a day.  So we can repeat the process whenever we want the stress of the day to flow away.  Who says the head pets benefit only the bunny!

Commence Thumping …

Tigger is a very pawsitive bunny.  She punctuates with her paws.  She arrives in a room, thump.  She arrives on a floor of the house, thump.  She is about to hop underneath the dust ruffle on the guest bed, thump.  She isn’t happy to be picked up. So, when you put her down, thump.  You scared her with that noise / movement / whatever … thump.

The pathway of her life echoes with all the little thumps along the way.  You can tell where Tigger is on and off throughout the day as she announces herself on her journeys around the house with thumps.

Tigger is a very bossy bunny.  I had always read that bunnies use thumps as danger signals to other bunnies.  That has always made me wonder if her little thumps really are a danger signal to the other bunnies in the house, Shadow and for a while Portia.  Is it her way of playing tough bunny and saying, “You better stay out of my way!”  Or is it the way of HRH Princess bunny to announce herself as she enters, “You better pay attention HRH Tigger is in the room!” or “How dare you pick up HRH Tigger.”

There was one really bad thumping occasion.  We have a lot of storms here that cause power surges and everything electrical surges off and then on again.  One of those times, the security system for the house was set off by the surge which then fried the electronics in the on position.  There was an awesome thunderstorm with lightning going on outside, the security alarm was going off inside and Tigger took off under the guest bed and was thumping off the bunny alarm.  For a full half hour the storm raged, the alarm blared and Tigger thumped while I was trying over the phone to hear enough of what the security company was saying to be able to find out how to shut the system down until it could be fixed.

This evening, all is quiet.  The bunnies have been running around all day and are now settled in and bedded down for the night.  So will it be a quiet night?  It depends.  If something in her cage isn’t to her liking, Tigger has another way of thumping at night for emphasis.  She picks up a corner of her litter box with her teeth and drops it, repeatedly.

So at night if she isn’t happy, her thumps become whumps.  You can hear them up a flight of stairs through closed doors.   So just for you Tigger baby, how about a variation of the Hokey-Pokey called the Thumpy-Bunny …

You put your right paw in,  
You put your right paw out;
You put your right paw in,
And you thump it all about.
You do the Thumpy-Bunny,
And you hop yourself around.
That’s what it’s all about!

Continue on for more verses switching out right paw with left paw, right side, left side, backside, and whole self. 

Good night sweet thumpy bunny, a quiet night pretty please …

Follow Friday – Disapproving Rabbits

Click on image to go to blog.

Okay, so if you are familiar with rabbits at all, you know those cute little faces wear a perpetual frown.  The blog, Disapproving Rabbits has capitalized on that characteristic in a really cute and very funny way. 

On the current home page, I particularly like Chubby, Miss Willis, Logan and Tokki.  Going back a page to older posts, Toby, CC  and Diesel have me chuckling, but Buddy and Charlotte really tickled my funny bone.

Now, if I don’t get back to the kitchen and feed my two again, there just may be a couple more disapproving rabbit faces and stories to tell.

Does My Bunny Love Me … How Will I Know?

Tigger Hug

Me & Tigger, in the shot my Mom wanted to take of her. Tigger sweetly held still even for a non digital camera 🙂

So how do you know with rabbits?  Since bunnies are prey animals, they aren’t used to letting anyone who isn’t a bunny in on how they feel about things.  They are hiders.  Over the years, we have learned sometimes it isn’t so much what they do, but what they don’t do anymore.

They will stay out in the open and not hide as much.  When they feel like it, ours will come when we call.  Some might actually hop up to greet you when you come home.  My first bunny Thumper and Portia, the one we lost a few years back, would both come up and pull at pants legs or paw at ankles to get attention. 

You will see a difference in their attitude and behavior if you have been away from them for a while.  I know someone who took a day trip and could tell her bunny missed the family, he was so excited on their return.  Another person I know has moved and isn’t at home with the bunnies as much right now and one is acting out a bit.

Shadow will bounce up, flop down and stick his head under our hand.  In return for head pets, he will lick whatever part of us he can reach, hands, arms, legs, faces.  Shadow also gives invitations to play.  He will zoom up, zoom a little away and look back over his shoulder.  He wants to play chase.

Tigger is a very kitty style bunny, a standoffish Princess.  It has always been harder to read her.  However, she started to show just how much she cared and trusted us at vet visits and when ill.  She hates to be picked up and held, but at vet visits I started to notice when I would try to put her down on the table, she was clinging to my shirt.  One time while there, when the vet let her lose to hop back into her carrier, instead she jumped up into my arms.  I truly believe she is telling me she wants me to protect her and recognizes me as a protector for her.

Recently while very ill, Tigger had Blaine very misty eyed.  We had to pick her up a lot to medicate, feed and clean her up.  After putting her down, each time we expected her to want nothing to do with us.  However, one time she hopped up beside Blaine, flopped down and clearly wanted to be petted and comforted.  They stayed together enjoying each others company for a good while.

One of the most obvious ways that bunnies show loving approval is by tooth purring.  We don’t always hear it, sometimes we feel it as they gently click their jaws and we feel their jaw movement as we pet them. 

One vet said one of the best guides to knowing we had bunny love and approval was that we were being shown their true personalities and that only happens when a rabbit feels completely comfortable in their environment.

Talking to a Tigger

Tired Out Tigger

I'm still listening

I wrote a couple posts about how very high energy our Shadow is. Although she was quite high energy herself when younger, Tigger has always had a side of her personality that has a still watching quality, call it her inner kitty. She will hen up and seem distant, remote and untouchable. Tigger is also very sensitive, sometimes easily freaked out.  At those times, she doesn’t want anyone to come close or touch her.

This weekend with her illness, it has been very difficult because we have had to handle her way more than she is comfortable with. Fortunately, we discovered something by accident years ago that is also helping make her to feel more comfortable with us again in between needing  to be medicated or cleaned up.  Tigger likes to be stroked with words.

Tigger can have the same purring reaction to words that many animals have while being hand petted. Since she is so sensitive and easily panics, while she was quite young, we started talking to her from a safe distance of at least a few feet so that she knew we could not pick her up. Depending on the circumstances, we would tell her she was all right, things were okay, that she was a beautiful girl, a good bunny, a good Tigger. We started to notice that Tigger would begin to relax and noticeably tooth purr, just the same as if we were physically touching her and stroking her. She loves to be told she is a good bunny.  Soft tones of voice, quiet words and those words “good bunny” help her find a mellow safe and happy place.

We would like nothing more than to pick her up, hug her and stroke her, because that is what helps humans to feel secure and loved.  Tigger wants a lot of sweet talking instead.  Physical touching is prefered by invitation only.  She will hop up to where we are sitting and peek over the edge of the seat and then lay down on the floor.  That is one cue that an invitation to hands on petting is being extended.  Another is if we are on the floor and she hops up next to us and flops down.  The last invitation is when she will look at us from a distance and as we approach, she will put her head flat down on the floor.  She presents herself by assuming the “I am ready for grooming” position.  It is the same position she uses to signal to Shadow that she wants his attention.  We are being accepted as surrogate bunnies.

This weekend, we are helping her feel more comfortable and safe again with us by talking to her a lot and telling her that she is a very good bunny.  She has shown us she really appreciates our understanding of her needs.  Yesterday, she hopped beside Blaine and flopped down asking to be stroked.  Today as I was talking to her, she weakly hopped up to where she could see me clearly and put her head down presenting it to be petted.  We enjoyed some very sweet time together.

Throughout her life, talking to her and letting her issue the invitations for physical petting has rewarded us with lots of opportunities.  We have really gained her trust and even while she is quite ill now, that trust continues and is making it easier for us to care for her and keep her comfortable.

Rabbit Radar

Shadow has Rabbit RadarOnce again Shadow’s radar ability astonishes. I don’t know how he does it, whether it is sensing or hearing or a combination of both. He is so fine tuned to knowing where and when something is happening that needs his rabbit investigation:

  • Open a closet door, Shadow will be hopping in shortly
  • Start petting Tigger’s head, no matter where he is in the house, Shadow will  come running, me too!
  • Sit down to read a book or magazine, he will hop up
    wanting to chew the pages

Tigger has the same radar ability, but has less interests than Shadow does.  If you turn on the faucet in the kitchen or start to open a bag of greens, Tigger will be there, dancing on the edge of the dining room rug.  Sometimes she comes skating across the linoleum on the kitchen floor in her excitement to get to new food.

Both have one interest in common, treats!  Rattle anything that sounds like a container with treats and they are not only there, but dancing up and down on their back two legs like crazy rabbits.  Fresh bananas are a special treat and we need to sneak them out to the patio, garage or other areas if we want to eat them in peace.  I thought it was the smell that they were fine tuned to, until I realized that Shadow was repeatedly showing up before I even had the skin off the banana, usually when I first snapped it.  The boy recognizes the sound of a banana about to be opened!

It continues to amaze me just how much rabbits are able to recognize if you give them the chance to interact and roam around freely.

Shadow Shares A Secret

ShadowEarlier this month I wondered if their was some body language or very quiet secretive  rabbit to rabbit communication going on between Tigger and Shadow. It has always confused us over the past ten years how they will suddenly go from lovey dovey snuggling together to jumping up and outright fussing with each other or humping heads and chasing.  We are always left scratching our heads wondering what started that change in behavior.

This weekend, Shadow shared a secret with me. I was flat on my stomach on the floor petting Tigger when Shadow hopped up beside me and stuck his nose in my ear.  It was horrendously ticklish with all those whiskers, like having a Daddy Long Legs suddenly walk in.  I was about to jump away when I realized I was hearing an extremely soft squeaking type of sound.  It wasn’t excited or scared, just a very soft, very low vocalization.  I ignored the tickling and stilled myself to listen to Shadow just squeaking a little message to me.

Shadow was clearly talking to me and so softly that if he hadn’t had his nose right in my ear, I would not have heard it at all.  I was amazed and wondered if this is the type of communication that they regularly have with each other that would be way too quiet for our human ears to hear. 

In the past, I have read of rabbit squeaks and they were always associated with a scared or terrified rabbit.  Tigger has a mewing cry at times when she is ill or we are holding her to medicate her.  That clearly is a fear based sound.

This was an entirely different type of squeak, more musical, one I would describe as just Shadow trying to say something to me and making sure I heard it by putting his nose right up in my ear.  Tigger and Shadow often stick their noses in each other’s ears and usually grooming is involved.  I always assumed it was just grooming, now I wonder if they are also squeaking out little messages to each other too.

I feel like Shadow let me in on another piece of the rabbit puzzle.

Follow Friday – The Language of Lagomorphs

The Language of Lagomorphs Website

Click to go to website

Ever found yourself wondering what on earth your bunny was trying to tell you? The Language of Lagormorphs has in-depth information to help you learn rabbitspeak.

If you are new to rabbits, I would recommend the sections on Offendedness, Territoriality and Anger first. Misunderstanding rabbit language in these instances can lead to bunny bites, not fun.  Here is a full list of the behaviors and corresponding articles:

  • Introduction
  • Hierarchy – Prove That You Love Me
  • Grooming – Yeah Baby, I Like It Like That
  • Gazing – Ah, This is the Life
  • Nose Wiggling – Follow My Nose
  • Offendedness – R-E-S-P-E-C-T is What My Bun Demands of Me
  • Territoriality – Gimme Some Space, Man
  • Anger – Why, You Fiend!
  • Sadness & Fear – Alas, Woe is Me
  • Curiosity – Hmm, What Do We Have Here?
  • Begging – Pleeeease Oh Please Please Please!
  • Play – Yippie Skippie!
  • Racing – The Need for Speed
  • Shudders – Shiver Me Timbers!
  • Binkies – Did You Say Binky?
  • Signoff – In the Interest of Interspecies and Intraspecies Relations

I have a fun You Tube video, I will post later today!

Rabbit to Rabbit Communication

Tigger & Shadow sweetly napping togetherAfter ten years of having Tigger and Shadow, I have come to the conclusion that how they communicate with each other will remain a mystery.  You look at this picture and just think, “Awwww, such cute bunnies”.  I have a lot of pictures just like this and they are so adorable!   

Then you have the flip side, the one I don’t usually get on film.  occasionally, right after a moment like this, one or the other will suddenly get up, hump the others head, nip a behind, bat paws on the other, push or shove or chase the other off.

Blaine or I get them sorted out again and settled down, usually side by side or head to head for petting.  They go back to being sweethearts.  We are left shaking our heads wondering what on earth they said to the other to go from snuggles to arguing.

We often wonder if there is bunny body language we are missing or some sound they make too quiet for us to hear.  Maybe they can feel some change in the other’s body when they are that close.  I know rabbit’s noses are really sensitive, perhaps somebunny starts giving off a scent that is mood related.

We do know that Tigger keeps score on who grooms who more.   If we are watching them and see her doing most of the grooming, we will start to pay attention to petting both of them right away before she gets aggravated that she isn’t getting her fair share.

That doesn’t seem like the whole of it, though, because Shadow gets miffed with her too,  even though she does more grooming of him than he does of her.  This appears to be a secret that the rabbits intend to keep.  I don’t think they want us breaking that rabbit to rabbit code.

Now On Duty …

Tiggers' Stuff

This is MY stuff!

We have rabbit supervisors.  There are times when they are out roaming around that you won’t see a bunny at all, until you touch their stuff.  Then bunnies appear in the blink of an eye and are all over you wanting to know what you are doing.

The picture is classic to our supervisors.  We started to clean up their room that we had in our old apartment.  We were using a clean litter pan as a collection of things that needed to be thrown out or put away elsewhere.  Tigger was nowhere to be seen and then we turned around to find she had hopped into the collection pan to guard HER STUFF!  She is literally laying on some things hiding them.

We pull litter boxes out of cages to change them and have to continuously herd rabbits out of the dirty boxes so that we can actually get them out of the room.  The body language speaks volumes.  You know they are saying, “Hey wait just a minute there that is MINE!”

When a cage gets a clean out or things are switched out, a bunny rabbit is hopping in and out and supervising each exchange.  I’ve read about some rabbits being so cage protective that they bite when things are moved or changed.  I am thankful that our rabbit supervisors have never disagreed with us strongly enough to voice displeasure with teeth involved.

Snorty Porty

Miss Portia: I'm listening to you ...

To carry on today with the uniqueness of rabbit personalities, I wanted to share something on Portia.  Portia was a gorgeous gray Chinchilla rabbit we got from a rescue group.  She had an unknown heart defect and left us too soon a few years ago.  I miss the conversations we would have together.  Unlike any other bunny I have known, she was talkative.

We noticed right away that Portia snorted a lot. On her first check up, we asked the vet to examine her for any health problems that would create a snorty bunny. When the vet found no nasal obstructions or breathing problems, she said that it was her opinion this was one of Portia’s personality quirks, a means of communicating. Snorty became one of her nicknames.

For the three years that Portia was with us, we would regularly have conversations. In talking to Portia, when we would finish what we had to say, she would snort a response. We found we could have whole back and forth discussions with her little snorted responses inserted into our pauses in speech.

There were of course other huffy snorts followed by Portia turning her back or hopping away when we had offended her bunny sensibilities. There were also the muffled crying snorts we would get when we had to hold her to be cleaned up or medicated.

Portia was always a very vocal bunny. Only death quieted her sweet bunny voice.