Expectations For Bringing Home a New Rabbit
When you first bring home a rabbit, one of the most useful tools for helping him to feel at ease is your imagination. How do you and your household look to him? Add a little common sense, a dash of patience, and a few basics of rabbit care and behavior, and you've got a recipe for a lifelong friendship.
While you are observing and learning about him, bear in mind that during these early days he may not "be himself." He may be too scared to show you how affectionate he's going to be once he recovers from the shock of relocation. He may have too much on his mind to be anything but perfectly box-trained; in a few weeks, when he's feeling more at home, he may need a course in Litterbox101. She may be feeling so insecure that territorial marking is almost an obsession (if he/she's not neutered/ spayed, do it now!). He may be too scared to let you hold or touch him; or he may be too scared to tell you he doesn't like to be held. He may seem extraordinarily loving and affectionate, leaving you stunned and confused when this hormone-driven behavior decreases in the weeks following spay/neuter. Or he may be one of those rare mellow, confident individuals whose new family needs none of the following suggestions.
During this volatile period, the two most important contributions you can make are: set up a friendly, safe environment; and let him set the pace for getting acquainted.
Set up a small area or roomy cage (or both). Use a laundry room, bathroom, hallway blocked off with baby gates, or part of a larger room sectioned off using furniture, boxes, or other objects he can't scale or knock over. Choose a spot that gets some regular, not-too-noisy traffic, where he can see and hear but not be trampled by your daily routines. Start housetraining by providing at least one or two litterboxes. A fresh layer of grass hay on top will both encourage and reward him for hopping in. If you know what brand of chow he was eating, keep him on it for a while to minimize risk of digestive upset (unless it was bunny junk-food that contained corn, seeds, and other unhealthy additions). Fresh water in a bowl or bottle, or both, should be available at all times. Give him at least one cardboard box with two bunny-size doors cut, and a towel draped across one area of his cage, as hiding places. Start him on the road to good chewing habits by removing forbidden and dangerous temptations such as house plants, electric cords, and books. Provide permitted alternatives such as untreated straw, wicker, or sea-grass baskets and mats (available at import stores such as Pier 1), cardboard tubes and boxes, plastic baby-toys for tossing, fruit-tree branches, and plenty of fresh hay.
Great Expectations, and what to do about them
As with good housetraining habits, building a friendship may take time and patience. If he's not ready to be petted yet, caress him with your voice. Talk to him, or to anyone while in his presence. Many rabbits seem to enjoy listening to their humans talk on the phone. Hang out with him in rabbit fashion, by sitting quietly on the floor. Show him that he can hop over to you, take a few get-acquainted sniffs and gentle nibbles, and then hop away again. This hands-off approach paves the way to a hands-on friendship, especially with shy or traumatized rabbits. As her fear diminishes, her curiosity increases. Place a small treat or two (a sprig of parsley or carrot-top, a sliver of apple) and a few toys on the floor next to you, to make his visit even more rewarding.
If no other humans are around, you might want to say your first few words in Rabbit. Tell your new friend how happy, content, calm, and delighted you feel in his company. You may not be able, as he is, to "comb" your long silky ears between your hands--but you can pretend to wash your face the way he does, using hands and tongue. When he responds by grooming himself, it means you're way cool, practically an Honorary Rabbit.
When adding a rabbit to our family, we may be ready right away to give and receive generous amounts of love and affection. Maybe that's because we're not the ones who have just arrived in a strange place, populated by foreigners who don't speak our language. Imagine how you would feel if the size difference between you were reversed: a giant hand reaches down and plucks you from your home. It sets you down on a planet of 2-ton, 30-feet-tall beings--a sort of giraffe/elephant hybrid. How long before you'd feel relaxed? What would be your instinctive reaction when one of these giants came lumbering over? Is that a smile on the enormous creature's face, or a grimace? Only time (plus the occasional raisin or banana slice) will tell your new companion that she's among friends.
INDOORS VS. OUTDOORS WHAT IS BEST FOR BUNNY?
As winter approaches in Wisconsin, I often think about animals that face life dealing with the elements on a daily basis. Wild animals know how to seek shelter and find warmth where they can, whether by digging burrows, holing up in hollowed out logs, or snoring away in caves during the long winter nights.
But what about domestic rabbits? Are they better housed indoors or out? As the word "domestic" implies, these are not wild rabbits or hares who are in tune with their more basic instincts of seeking proper shelter at the right time. Some argue that a pet rabbit has the ability to grow a heavy winter coat and will spend the winter quite happily when housed outdoors in a cage or hutch. There is truth in the notion that rabbits do prefer colder weather over hot, but does that mean a rabbit can be safely housed outdoors any time of year because it will just adapt? It takes months for that heavy winter coat to grow in, so timing is a serious consideration. Those in favor of indoor housing will point to protection from the elements and predators as chief reasons to keep pet rabbits in the home.
If you look at a list of the pros and cons of both sides of the indoor/outdoor debate, it might look something like this:
We work with Hoping With Hope Rabbit Rescue and we have seen rabbits treated worse than we could ever image. Typically someone who does not care, will treat this rabbits as such, and we have seen this: No shelter, no burrow, no box or bedding for warmth. Rabbits are fed when someone remembers to do it, seldom given fresh water, and never hay. Rabbits plagued by flies in the summer because no one cleans the poop away from under the cages. Rabbits living in filth, have bald patches from parasite infestation and sore hocks. No affection ( and no, we don't care even meat/wool rabbits don't deserve to be treated in such a way) received no love or attention.
Would you want to see a rabbit treated like this? Neither would we. We do understand that some people need to house their rabbits in a barn or shed and they take wonderful care of their barn-housed bunnies. While housing in a shed or barn is definitely preferable to an unsheltered cage, we are always going to prefer having bunnies housed indoors where they can interact with their families. Indoor bunnies almost always live longer, healthier, happier lives, and that is what we want for our bunnies and their families.
DO BUCKS OR DOES MAKE BETTER PETS?
Both can make good pets. When they are spayed or neutered, there are not too many differences. If they are left intact, then there can be some issues and the sex can be a problem for some people. I would not suggest keeping intact rabbits together past about 3 months old.
Males tend to spray, hump, might not be good with the litter box and some can be aggressive. Intact males can be more aggressive with other rabbits, especially males, so should not be housed with other rabbits.
Females can also spray and hump but are usually not too bad about it. They can be more aggressive and territorial. Some will get along with other rabbits, but some will not.
Generally speaking, MOST PEOPLE WILL SAY that bucks tend to be friendlier, and does can tend to be a bit grumpy. But that is just a generalization as it also can depend on a rabbits individual personality. We also have does that were extremely lovable and friendly. Your choice of gender will also depend on your future plans as they mature. If you plan on them bonding and staying together, male/female tends to be the best bonding combo, but m/m, f/f can work as well, they just tend to have more problems, and it really all just depends on the individual rabbits personalities, and also if you plan on getting them both fixed. M/F would have to be altered for obvious reasons, and you may be able to get away with m/m f/f without getting them fixed but in most cases it wouldn't work out as they become hormonal, especially the m/m combo, as they often will fight when they become mature and hormonal, and fights can sometimes be vicious.
Getting them both fixed is the best thing to do with bonded rabbits, but if you don't plan on doing it, f/f may work and would be your best option in that case. Hormones can totally change rabbits relationships as they mature, so the best thing would be to get an already fixed and bonded pair. It will save you a ton of stress(trust me). Next best would be to get an adult altered rabbit, and find another one that is compatible and seems to get along with the first one. If you get baby buns, just be prepared for the possibility that they may decide they don't like each other when they fully mature, then you will have to keep them in separate cages/pens.
You do need to consider long term housing if you are getting 2. Chances are that they will not get along as they mature unless they get spayed or neutered. They may need to be separated before that can happen and bonded later on. Some never get along as adults even if they are siblings or raised together from a young age. If you cannot commit to having 2 separate rabbits, then I would suggest only getting one. You may consider trying bonding later on once your rabbit is spayed or neutered.
Can Rabbits Live Together?
There are a number of things which make it far easier for two rabbits to live together. The most important thing is:Make Sure Rabbits Living Together Are Neutered/Spayed
Playing a radio in your Rabbitry will benefit your rabbits by making them more accustomed to unusual sounds and less likely to panic and hurt themselves by running around the cage .
Rabbits being prey animals, are generally timid and easy to startle. A sudden kick with its hind legs or excited run around the cage is all it takes to snap the rabbit’s backbone and render it paralyzed. Because the rabbits will be used to other noises they will be less excitable and less stressed thus giving you more relaxed, happy, healthy rabbits.
Rabbit manure is one of the best manures for your organic gardens! It will increase poor soil by improving soil structure and also improving the life cycle of the beneficial microorganisms in the soil. Rabbits are very good at producing an excellent source of manure. It is rich in many nutrients and very simple to use. One doe and her offspring will produce over one ton of manure in a year.
Rabbit manure is packed with nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and many minerals, lots of micro-nutrients, plus many other beneficial trace elements such as calcium, magnesium, boron, zinc, manganese, sulfur, copper, and cobalt just to name a few.
N – P – K VALUES – Rabbit= N- 2.4 P- 1.4 K- .60, Chicken=N- 1.1 P-.80 K- .50, Sheep=N- .70 P- .30 K-.60, Horse=N- .70 P-.30 K- .60, Steer=N- .70 P-.30 K-.40, Dairy Cow=N- .25 P-.15 K-.25 As you can see by the nutrient values of farm manures and how they measure up and rabbit manure really shines! Rabbit manure also doesn’t smell as strong as other manures making it easy to use.
Nitrogen(N)- Rabbit manure is higher in nitrogen than sheep, goat, pig, chicken, cow or horse manure. Plants need nitrogen to produce a lush green growth.
Nitrogen helps plants grow greener and stronger helping the plant reach its full potential. This is great for all those quick growing salad greens! Great for the early growth of tomatoes, corn, and many other vegetables.
Phosphorus(P)- Rabbit manure is also higher in phosphorus than the other manures. It helps with the transformation of solar energy to chemical energy. Which in turn helps with proper plant growth. Phosphorus also helps plants to withstand stress. Phosphorus in the soil encourages more and bigger blossoms helping with flowering and fruiting also great for root growth.
Potassium(K)- Potassium helps with fruit quality and reduction of disease plants will not grow without it. Plants use potassium as an enzyme to produce proteins and sugars.They also uses potassium to control water content.
More than just the NPK values of rabbit manure it is loaded with a host of micro-nutrients as well as organic matter that improves soil structure, drainage, and moisture retention. Vegetable gardens, pastures, and flower gardens all will benefit from using rabbit manure. It helps retain soil moisture and soil structure.
Rabbit manure is one of the few fertilizers that will not burn your plants when added directly to the garden and can be safely used on food plants.
Grab a handful from under the hutch and use it as is, or work it into the topsoil. Rabbit manure at first glance many seem to be less powerful than commercial fertilizers but in reality they are better and healthier for your garden providing food and nourishment for your plants as well as earthworms and other beneficial animals and microorganisms in your soil.
So why use chemical additives that are know to kill all soil life. Some manures have to be aged so they do not harm your garden, Bunny Berries can be used fresh as is. This is also a very organic way to add nutrients back to you soil.
HOW TO USE-Rabbit Manure
Use It As Is – “Bunny Berries” – Because rabbit manure is dry, odorless, and in pellet form makes it suitable for direct use in the garden. It can be applied any time of the year and helps give your plants a boost during the growing season or as a storehouse of nutrients when applied in the late fall and winter. Because it is considered a cold manure there is no threat of burning plants and roots. So use it as a top- dressing, mulch around plants, bury in the ground under transplants or just working it into the soil right from the rabbit. This is the easiest way to use your Super fertilizer! Grab a handful and add it to your garden today. The Berries are a time release capsule of goodness for your soil. This is the way i use it the most in my gardens, so the next time you find yourself knee deep in rabbit poop just add it to your garden!
Compost It – Composting rabbit manure is an easy process and the end result will be ideal fertilizer for gardens plants and crops. Simply add to your compost bin or pile and add in equal amounts of dry straw or shaving to the manure (Unless like me you only compost the shaving/poop mix-the shaving have all ready been added plus the urine starts the heat up fast!) you can also mix in your usually composted materials grass clippings, leaves ,kitchen scraps. Mix with a pitchfork and keep the pile moist not saturated you may have to cover it with a tarp. It will take any were from a few months to a year depending on how often you turn it. The poop/urine/shaving mix is the best, add it, turn it, and it will heat up! If you can get your hands on even a small bucket of this mix every now and then you and your compost pile will be in nitrogen heaven as far as composting rabbit manure goes rabbit manure is nitrogen on steroids it will get your pile hot and breaking down at accelerated rates .
Stars Hollow's William (broken black torte), Huckleberry (blue point-middle), & Winston (broken blue torte) off Klicko's Gr.Ch.Jesse x Klicko's Whitney