Bunny Tastes

Shadow Loving His HayYesterday I wrote about diet challenges with Tigger. Shadow has been a completely different bunny when it comes to eating. He hopped into our lives a couple of months after Tigger and has been such an easygoing little fellow.

We call him “Buddy” and “Bubba”, because he is such a personable little guy to hang out with.  For the most part, you put food in front of him and he will eat what he needs.  He doesn’t over or under do it.  He has always loved to race around, so has maintained a sleek athletic figure throughout his life.   

There is only one recurring diet challenge with Shadow.  The poor bunny has seasonal allergies.  During the spring and fall seasons, he will sneeze and swallow a lot.  So you know he has a post nasal drip going on.  During those seasons, he gets a bit skinny.  I know from personal experience, it is hard to eat when your nose is stuffed up.  So after allergy seasons, we make sure Shadow gets a bit more food than usual to gain back lost weight. 

Shadow appreciates and savours his food.  He also has some well developed tastes.  He loves bananas.  If I crack the peel on a banana and turn around, I will find him right behind me begging for a piece.  Tigger loves bananas too, but Shadow actually hears that first snap of the peel and comes running.  Tigger only comes after she smells the banana.

He also gets particular tastes for things in mind.  We have given the rabbits dried fruit pieces as treats. Sometimes Shadow will have a particular flavor he wants.  One time Blaine put a dried raspberry down in front of Shadow.  He sniffed it and looked back up at Blaine.  Then Blaine put down a piece of dried mango.  Shadow looked at it and then looked right back up at Blaine.  So Blaine put down a blueberry.  Shadow wolfed it down. Nothing but a blueberry would do that evening.

Shadow stays active, so he needs more food than Tigger.  That can make feeding time difficult.  We have to make sure the bunny who needs more gets more while keeping the dieting bunny from getting too much.  At meal times they will be in the kitchen pushing and shoving each other to get to the plate or treat first.  Tigger is literally throwing her weight around.  Sometimes we put two plates down on opposite sides of the room to keep them from fussing so much with each other over the salad greens.  Other times we have to station ourselves as guards to keep Tigger from hassling Shadow and taking more than her diet allows.

It is a balancing act when you have multiple rabbits who have different dietary needs.  We have done lots of reading over the years and had good veterinary input.  By following guidelines to the best of our ability, we have been rewarded with two rabbits who are now both 10 years old.

Diet is a Four Letter Word

Face to face with a TiggerTaking Tigger to the vet for the first time was a huge relief.  He felt the only problem was that our baby bunny was malnourished.  Alfalfa pellets and hay were recommended to get her  to a good weight.  Then as she reached adult size, her diet would switch to timothy pellets and hay. We thought we were good to go with a great diet plan for our Tigger.

Diet became a four letter word for us, because we didn’t allow for Tigger not wanting to participate in the plan.  We bought the alfalfa pellets, but she didn’t want anything to do with them.  We would mix the rabbit pellets with the guinea pig food she had been eating.  Since they were two different colors, we could tell Miss Finicky Bunny was eating the guinea pig food and ignoring the rabbit food.  A month later, we were down to our last handful of guinea pig food when Tigger decided to give us a break and try out her new rabbit food diet.

That did not mean smooth sailing from then out with Princess Tigger’s diet.  For the first five years, we were constantly following our anorexic model bunny around with food begging her to eat.  She would go on hunger strikes and turn up her nose at things for no reason we could determine.  She would be on her food, off her food and stayed very slim.  We called her “weasel” and “hipless wonder”, because of her snaky thin body. 

One time a shipment of pellets and hay was from a season where the weather had really changed the taste.  Our other bunnies Shadow and Portia resisted for a couple of days and then accepted the new batch.  Tigger reacted for two weeks as if we were offering her poison.  We had to get a batch of old pellets from a friend and mix them in with the new.  We upped her greens to make sure she was getting enough to eat.  Finally, she started eating the new batch too. 

Then at five years old, Tigger the anorexic model bunny retired.  She has steadily been gaining weight for the last five years and  seems to be trying to make up for five years of starving herself.  We started restricting treats and pellets.  We also started keeping a close eye on Shadow to be certain he gets his fair share of the fresh greens since Tigger plows through things while he likes to save some for later.

This year has been the highest and lowest.  Tigger had a bad bout with stasis last August and almost died.  It could have been stress related.  Our property was hit by lightning in early August.  We lost utilities and air conditioning for a time.  Shortly after that Tigger went completely off food, needed a lot of veterinary care and had to be force-fed for a time. 

On the rebound from near death, she has dived into food again with a passion and has become quite chubby.  We are trying to severely limit or remove anything fattening from her diet now, make sure she eats lots of lo-cal hays and encourage her to move around more.  She is giving us four letter looks with her eyes about the diet.  I am staying away from her teeth when I can tell she is hungry.

Welcome to yo-yo weight issues and diet hatred, rabbit style.