Video Share: Thumper Doesn’t Want to Play

This for me is a wonderful video find.  My first rabbit experience was with Thumper, a black and white Dutch Miniature my father brought home for our family.  This video is of another black and white Dutch Miniature, also named Thumper.  If we had video when we had our Thumper, I could picture getting the same response if we had wanted him to play for the camera.

If the video isn’t working properly here, a link to it on YouTube: Thumper Doesn’t Want to Play

Cute Bunny Behaviors – A Video Share

To help you over the midweek hump, here is a cute bunny video.  In this video Billy’s humans have compiled and pulled together video of all his ways of just being a cute house rabbit. Just in case the video isn’t working properly here, a link to it on YouTube: Cute Bunny Behaviors

Rabbittude on Pinterest

Rabbittude Pinterest Boards

This past month while I have waited out the fall allergy season a bit, I have had some fun getting back to Pinterest. It is easy to pin things when dealing with allergy or antihistamine brain fog compared to projects or tasks requiring a higher level of thinking ability. I started pinning again to our Rabbittude Pinterest boards and now have hundreds of bunny rabbit images and hundreds more bunny rabbit inspired products. I’ve started another board that only has a few dozen items now.  I will work to grow it with products that we have used or would like to check for rabbit care / care homes with  house rabbits in residence.

Then there is a board of garden dreams and all the wonderful things that would be in an ideal garden retreat if time, space or money were no object. Since they are, these wonderful images are great to have a visual retreat to green spaces. I’ve heard that looking at images of green spaces are beneficial for stress relief. So I wanted to create a feast for myself there and for anyone else who wants to follow the board.

In addition to the bunny boards, there are ones for some favorite colors, styles, wonderful animals, animal inspired items, the seasons, nature photography, things for laughs, quotes to live by or laugh by and an ideas and tutorials board.  There are also three boards that are all items from a real handmade marketplace:

  • Have You Heard of Zibbet?
  • BROWN on Zibbet
  • Shop Local Georgia

We opened a couple of shops on Zibbet this past month: Rabbittude Buntique and Birdsong Supplies. is a growing marketplace of real handmade, vintage and supply items. One of the reasons we decided try out Zibbet is the plan to have a feature in a coming upgrade that will allow some integration of the shops with our website to bring some shopping ability right to the Rabbittude website. That is a very attractive option possibility, so we wanted to expand to Zibbet. We also have a shop on Etsy, Buntique and are looking at how we will divide inventory between the venues. We’ll talk more about what is in our shops at another time and what is coming from the studio.

The Brown on Zibbet and Shop Local Georgia boards are Zibbet Picks boards that I am helping out with volunteer pinning. Pinning items from Zibbet for the brown board makes me feel so hungry. Have you ever noticed just how many brown colors are food and beverage names? There is cappuccino, caramel, cashew, chocolate, cocoa, coffee, cognac, dark honey, espresso, fudge, gingerbread, hazelnut, java, latte, maple, mocha, molasses, toffee and whiskey.  I should be gaining weight just looking at the colors!

Seeing how the Zibbet Picks boards are set up inspired me to get back involved with our Pinterest account.  I really considered how to better set our boards up to have some great bunny rabbit boards to start building for people to enjoy. The opportunity to begin to volunteer on the Zibbet boards gave me something to do during a rough patch in the allergy season that helped me feel energized and active which was great towards feeling I was accomplishing something useful on a few days when doing much more than clicking seemed to need way too much thinking power. So it really helped me out and then was doubly sweet to receive a very special thank you this week from Zibbet. Each week they have a blog piece called the Fantastic Five and pick five items to showcase. This week they picked five items from shops of volunteers. It was so incredibly sweet to have the bookmark with the artwork piece I did of Shadow and Tigger be one of the five items chosen.

If you like Pinterest, check out the Rabbittude boards.  I will be looking to add lots more bunny rabbit things there and build more of a following and look for other boards and people to follow.

Shadow’s Allergies and Respiratory Issues

Elder Shadow with Allergy & Breathing ProblemsThe last year and a half of Shadow’s life, he had trouble with allergies. During the spring and fall seasons when humans would be sniffling, sneezing and having a post nasal drip, Shadow would be sneezing too. We could tell he was also experiencing a post nasal drip, because like many humans, he would put his nose up higher in the air, stretching out his neck and then we would see him swallowing.

Shadow started to lose weight during the allergy seasons.  Blaine and I both have allergies so we could sympathize with a rabbit who either was dealing with things not tasting right or having trouble chewing, swallowing and breathing at the same time.  He went in to the vet at least every six months and we learned  the dose of antihistamine to give him as needed.  We monitored his weight and watched his eating more closely.  On the vet’s recommendation, we added some alfalfa hay back in to his diet to help him keep from losing more weight and put some weight back on.  We also started to feed him some old-fashioned oats as a treat from time to time and he appreciated the taste change of that too. Tigger in old age was packing on the weight, so we would sneak tasty treats to Shadow when Tigger wasn’t around to help perk up his appetite while keeping her access to treats down.

The difficulty with allergies in humans and animals is that the excess fluids that sit around can lead to infection.  So we kept on the watch for any signs of a sinus or inner ear infection: teary eyes or mucous in the eyes, blocked tear ducts, swelling of the eyes or around the eyes, wet nose or mucous around the nose or on the paws from rubbing / blowing his nose on them, holding the ears close to the head, pawing at the ears or shaking his head a lot. We also kept on the watch for any signs of respiratory distress or infections: again wet nose or mucous around the nose or on the paws, trouble breathing, wheezing, not moving around as much or lack of appetite.

The last six months of Shadow’s life, we dealt with a round of on again off again respiratory infections and he was on and off antibiotics on a regular basis.  The vet was very honest with us that his care at that point was hospice care. Shadow was too old  for some tests or treatments to be done safely anymore. His care was focused on keeping him comfortable and happy. He would have some times when his breathing was more labored due to congestion.   Most of those times did tend to hit on evenings and weekends when the vet was not available.

At those times, we did for him what we do for ourselves to ease our own congestion. We would turn on the shower with water warm enough to create a warm mist in the air without it being a hot sauna like steam. Once we had the bathroom air nice and misty, we would turn off the shower and take Shadow in for 5 to 15 minutes depending on how well he tolerated it. The first time it scared him, but after a few minutes we could see him swallowing and knew it was helping to clear some of his congestion.

After that first time, he was more at ease being there and each time helped him breathe more easily again. We double checked this treatment with the vet and she suggested continuing with it as needed and also adding a humidifier or mister to his main living area. She said that if these treatments along with the antibiotics didn’t continue to help ease the congestion that we might need to add some inhalation treatments. Inhalation treatments weren’t needed for Shadow. The misty bathroom along with the added moisture of the humidifier helped to keep his congestion under control.

It might seem like this time period in hospice was a really sad time. It was in the sense we knew our time with Shadow was nearing an end. It was also a very happy time, because Shadow was a sweet and very happy rabbit who was still quite active, bouncy and playful when he was feeling like himself.  He was his happy self most of the time until just that final week when things finally started to really shut down for him. We had so many fun times with him in those final months, enjoying his play and caring for him when he needed our help.

Tomorrow a gallery of images of Shadow and next week begins the stories of Portia and the challenge of bonding Tigger and Shadow.

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 …

Attack of the Killer Parsley aka Parslay – Cartoon

This is the story of Shadow and parsley. Rabbits are sometimes really weird for no explainable reason that we humans can figure out.  Shadow had a bizarre reaction his whole life to parsley.

When we would wash parsley and first put it down for him and Tigger, Tigger would dig in and eat it with no problem.  Shadow would sniff it and run away and I do mean run away.  If we picked up a piece of the parsley and took it to where he was and put it down in front of him, he would run away again.  He acted as if it was something out to get him.  After awhile, I began to picture it as Attack of the Killer Parslay.

Eventually after the parsley had been down on the floor for a while, Shadow would eventually come and eat it.  It was so weird though that he reacted with the terrified run away reaction every time it was first put down.

Tigger and Portia did not have any parsley problems and Leo doesn’t now.  We have no idea why Shadow was so upset by parsley at first each and every time.

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:

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 …

The Wonderful Pitty Pat of Bunny Paws Again

Little Leo hiding out in his sheet tunnel areaThere is light at the end of the tunnel as hormones are finally starting to fade a bit for my little bunny rabbit stalker. Leo the Lionhead has been sitting by or under my chair for a month now focused on my feet, just waiting for me to put one down on the floor so that he could pounce. Yesterday and today, the feel of his stare is finally being replaced by the sound of his paws as he is starting to hop around the room and find other things that interest him. Thank goodness! My feet and legs were really getting cramped trying to keep them up on the chair all the time while he was out.

Blaine and I are now looking forward to a time soon to see what Little Leo is like without hormones ruling him. It was really cute yesterday morning and this morning when he started and finished a couple speedy Bunny 500s around the office.  He began and ended them at my chair and seemed to be showing off for me. It has been so sweet to be able to get down on the floor a bit and interact with him without having to worry quite so much about getting love bites from those razor-sharp little teeth of his.

I am not sure what Leo did earlier today in his exercise pen area while I was working. I heard a splash and turned around to see a flood of water on the floor beside his water bowl.  Blaine thought he tried to take a swim, but I am quite puzzled because he seemed to be dry to the touch.  There wasn’t anything near the bowl that looked like he threw it in and the bowl is attached to the pen wall. I wonder if Leo tried to lift the pen and bounced the water out of the bowl?

Leo checking things outIt is going to be interesting to see what kind of Rabbittude Little Leo the Lion will be showing us now. Tigger & Shadow really kept us hopping enough that we didn’t have the opportunity to experiment much to capture them on video.  We will have to see if we can learn some bunny cam techniques with Leo.

Ah well … we aren’t completely out of the hormonal woods yet.  Gotta go, I had a leg down and Leo is trying for a close encounter.

On Thursday, the story of Shadow and parsley …

How We Learned to Medicate Shadow

Shadow responded best for treatments to a firm but open hold

Just relaxing in a football hold here

When Shadow became so ill with the ear infection and needed months of antibiotic treatment, it was a learning experience not only in the diagnosis, but also in how to handle giving him the needed medicine. At first when he was really ill the first couple days and needing shots, we used the means of holding a rabbit down that I had first learned with my family’s first rabbit, Thumper. The vet had taught us to hold him flat to a table with pressure along the spine and shoulders to keep him from flipping and injuring his spine. It is a good idea to make sure to have your vet show you how to immobilize your rabbit for treatments at home if it is ever needed.

However, as I had written before after a couple of days of shots Shadow was well enough that he could flex his muscles and bend the needle even though he couldn’t move to get away. We switched over to a by mouth antibiotic that was given by syringe into the side of his mouth. Since I had more previous experience holding squirmy little bodies, nursing both rabbit and human babies, we started out at first with me holding Shadow immobile on a table so that Blaine could syringe the meds into him. Unlike Thumper and human babies, Shadow was extremely athletic and his hind legs were incredibly strong. As he started to regain a bit of his strength on the meds, he was able to kick back with his back legs. Let me tell you even with a small sick rabbit, those back legs are incredibly strong and when he kicked me in the stomach, I thought I was going to lose breakfast.

So, we tried the other method suggested for rabbits of using a towel to mummy / burrito wrap the rabbit so that only the head is free. That is when we discovered that Shadow was like many humans and clearly had a serious claustrophobic streak. He went completely berserk, thrashing, biting, and scratching. It was nearly impossible to safely get him back to the floor while we regrouped. It was clear if we tried to stick with the mummy / burrito idea, someone was going to get hurt, possibly all of us. It occurred to me that maybe just as many humans tolerate getting MRI’s with a more open style of machine, that maybe Shadow could be treated with a firm but more open style of holding.

So, I put on and buttoned up a denim jean jacket with the collar turned up for some protection if Shadow tried to scratch or bite and picked him up and held him up on my shoulder baby style with his head facing back over my shoulder. I had one hand firmly on the back of his head and shoulders with my forearm along his spine and the other hand firmly holding his bottom. If I felt him start to move, I pressed my forearm and hand more firmly along his spine and shoulders to hold him steady. Now this position isn’t something that would work at all well for lots of rabbits, some might try to go over the shoulder, but for Shadow it worked. The more open hold clearly made him feel less threatened. He would gnaw on the jacket in protest between getting his meds syringed in a bit at a time, but he didn’t go nuts like he did with the towel wrapping. Over the months he needed to be medicated, we were able to control the situation and safely get him the meds he needed without hurting him or creating the terror reaction the towel wrapping tries had brought on.

Next week the story of Shadow and parsley …



Shades of Shadow – A Little Leo Gallery

We don’t know a lot about Leo’s personality yet, but what we have seen is reminding us so strongly of Shadow that we keep starting to call him Shadow and then have to stop and correct ourselves.  Leo is very active, playful, boyish and interactive.  That is when his remaining post-neuter hormones aren’t ruling him.  We don’t have lots of stories to tell about him yet as we are just in the early stages of getting to know him.  Like Shadow, Leo likes to lurk at times, just peaking around the edges of furniture.  He also loves to play with toys and like Shadow has a habit of landing his toys in his water bowl.  Unlike Shadow, we have been able to give Leo a blanket.  Shadow would have eaten the blanket and put his digestive system at great risk.  Leo is playing with his blanket and the blanket follows him around his exercise pen.  It too has landed in the water bowl once so far.  Also like Shadow, when I start taking pictures of Leo, he bounces up to find out what I am up to making it hard to get lots of pictures of him in action.

On Thursday some of the things we learned from Shadow when he was ill …

Shadow Becomes Very Ill – The Diagnosis and Recovery

Watch out for one ear up one ear down

Watch for ear positions that regularly stay like this!

This is part two of the story of Shadow’s early illness that I wrote about on Thursday. After nursing Shadow through a rough Sunday, we loaded him up first thing Monday morning to head off to meet the new vet who had so kindly returned our call Sunday afternoon to provide assistance by phone even though we weren’t current patients.

One of the first questions the vet had asked us on the phone the day before about Shadow was whether he was an outdoor or indoor pet rabbit. She told us later on in our first visit that was a key question for her in deciding what / how much help to offer us. Her experience was that owners who kept their rabbits outdoors usually did not want to pay for or follow through with treatment if the rabbits became ill, while owners who kept their rabbits indoors were more likely to accept and follow her treatment suggestions.

When the vet started to look Shadow over, she noticed something right away that we had missed. He was holding his ears funny, one was partially up with the other flat down against his head. I was used to the “rabbit ears” of a rabbit sometimes having one ear up and one down as they rested, but at the same time sometimes tuned in to things around them. I hadn’t really paid any attention to watching Shadow’s ear positions on a regular basis as a guide signalling that something more sinister might be going on. Even before taking a look inside his ears, the vet believed we were dealing with an ear infection.

Looking inside Shadow’s ears, the vet saw that both eardrums were extremely red and one was bulging. It was clear he had an inner ear infection. She didn’t stop there though and gave him a thorough head to toe exam making sure that seemed to be the only problem point on a physical exam. Not finding anything else that seemed wrong, she wanted to put him under anesthesia to poke a hole in the bulging eardrum allowing it to drain and to get an x-ray of Shadow’s head to try to determine if the infection was confined to his ears or perhaps had spread beyond the ears into the brain which would be much more serious. Knowing that anesthesia can be tricky for rabbits and that Shadow was very weak, we agreed knowing that he might not wake up. We recognized he needed a good diagnosis for the best treatment and hopefully a recovery.

Fortunately all was good news with the anesthesia and x-ray. There didn’t appear to be any spread of infection beyond the ears and the vet was also able to relieve the pressure on the bulging eardrum. When the vet learned I had trained and worked as a pediatric nurse in the past, she suggested that we start out his treatment with daily antibiotic injections at home to give him the strongest early treatment possible. I was terrified. It had been years since I had worked as a nurse and given any shots. The smallest patients I had given shots to were twice Shadow’s size and baby human anatomy isn’t disguised in layers of thick fur. I did want to give him the best chance, so the vet showed us how Blaine needed to hold Shadow and where I needed to give the shot. We went home with a plan for daily shots for a week with a follow-up visit.

Initially, Shadow was still very weak, so the first two days of giving the shots weren’t too hard. Then he started to feel a little better and even with Blaine holding him flat on the table, Shadow was able to flex his muscles hard enough to bend the needle when I gave him the shot. I called the vet and said I thought we were risking having a needle break in him if we continued on with the shots. So she had us switch to oral doses for the remainder of the week. Shadow continued to gain strength and by the end of the week seemed normal again and his checkup went well. So far so good, but not for long. Within a week, his bad balance was back and he was staggering around and weaving looking like a drunk bunny.

We headed back to the vet for Plan B. It was clear that the first antibiotic had not fully knocked out the infection. So the vet switched to another and said the plan this time would be to keep Shadow on antibiotics for two weeks past the time symptoms disappeared. That turned out to be a very long time. It took two months of watching Shadow staggering around looking drunk. We wondered all the time whether we were doing the right thing, whether this was as good as he would ever be again, or whether he would develop resistance to the antibiotic or a stronger infection from being on the antibiotics so long.

It was hard to watch Shadow struggle to stay balanced. He had been such an active athletic rabbit. Watching his difficulty and not knowing if that struggle would now perhaps be permanent for the remainder of his life was tough. Then at the two months into the second set of antibiotics, the symptoms cleared up and Shadow was able to stand and move without any loss of balance or staggering in his movements. We began the plan to keep him on the antibiotics for another two weeks to try to be more certain that the infection had been fully cleared this time.

It was looking really good for Shadow to come off the antibiotics and be fully returned to normal and then we noticed that Tigger was holding her ears funny like Shadow had been when he was first diagnosed. It was off to the vet with both rabbits. Sure enough, just as Shadow was ready to come off antibiotics, Tigger had developed an inner ear infection. We had kept Shadow and Tigger in separate side by side cages to allow them to see each other, but had kept separate run times. Shadow’s illness had rendered him really irritable and the one and only time we had tried to allow them to play together, he had growled at Tigger and chased her away.

So now the vet proposed Plan C. This was the really hard one. The vet wanted Tigger and Shadow to be housed in completely separate areas of the house with no contact until Tigger was clear of infection. She wanted Shadow to stay in the area he was used to since he was the weakest and that area had the most run area to allow him the best exercise ability to try to fully regain his strength. Shadow would come off the antibiotics as planned and Tigger would be on them until her infection cleared. The vet told us if we didn’t do this, it was likely we would be facing an endless round of the rabbits passing the infection back and forth. Even doing this, repeat ear infections were still a possibility since rabbits like some humans can have a genetic tendency to that type of infection.

We have a tri-level home. Shadow got the second level living room, while Tigger got the office and hallway on the third floor. Over the next month, Shadow regained his strength and once again became the strong athletic rabbit he had been in the past. Tigger was miserable and it was clear it wasn’t just the infection. She was in a completely unfamiliar place and all alone. When her infection cleared after a month, we moved both rabbits back to side by side cages in the living room with separate run times. Working on bonding them again would be for a future time once we were more sure of their health.

We were very fortunate and Shadow never had an ear infection again. Tigger did have some repeat ear infections, but only about once a year for a few years which cleared up easily with antibiotics. Fortunately for us, none of the worst case scenarios ever came to be. The one thing we learned was to really pay attention to a rabbit’s ear positions. They do move their ears around a lot, but the key to spotting a problem early is if they are keeping their ears partially or fully back much longer than their normal or pawing or scratching at their ears much more than normal. The illness of Shadow and then Tigger taught us just how subtle the clues can be between normal behavior and the beginning of a serious illness. So, the best thing to maintaining good rabbit health is human caregivers who really know what their normal behavior is to recognize early when things seem off. We missed it early on because we weren’t aware to look for this problem and we had just moved into our house and were still busy getting things settled and not as observant as at other times.

I’ll write more in September about all the bonding woes we had with Tigger and Shadow, partly due to this illness.  Next week more Shadow and probably Leo stories …