INTERNATIONAL RABBIT DAY
Get your carrots ready - September 25 is International Rabbit Day! Rabbit societies and animal welfare organizations around the world will be celebrating by giving advice on Bunny Basics. Bunny Basics is everything from exercise, handling, emotional well-being, diet and veterinary care. There is a great need to educate people about rabbits basic needs, explains Carolina James, Director of The Rabbit Charity. Many caregivers are not even aware that their bunny needs companionship, toys, supervision, health checks, neutering, and so on. These people are usually well-meaning but end up neglecting or even harming their rabbits through lack of information. We hope that as a result of our campaign, bunny lovers worldwide will have a better understanding of what makes their pet tick. Every day should be a celebration with your pet bunny, if you understand him!
Rabbit Charity volunteers will be in Harrods on September 25th giving out leaflets and answering questions about rabbits. Like last year, we are hoping rabbit lovers will take part in International Rabbit Day by organizing rabbit awareness and fundraising events. Simply sending our press release to your local paper is a good way to help bunnies in your area. For a Bunny Basics leaflet and ideas for International Rabbit Day, contact The Rabbit Charity, P.O. Box 23698, London N8 OWS enclosing a SAE, or visit our website at www.therabbitcharity.freeserve.co.uk. (Rabbit-Clubbers, see below for your copy of Bunny Basics! And stay tuned for The Rabbit Club Worldwides International Rabbit Day happenings! Announcements coming soon!)
Rabbits make wonderful companions -- they are bright, affectionate, inquisitive, gentle, and playful. Being social creatures, they enjoy the company of people, rabbits, and other animals. Traditionally, rabbits have been kept in a hutch in the garden, where they tend to be neglected during cold weather or when the novelty wears off. Nowadays, more and more people keep their rabbits in the house to protect them from predators and because it is easier to meet their physical and social needs in this way. With a little training, rabbits can learn to use a litter tray and become a delightful addition to your household. If you cannot bring your rabbit indoors, we recommend you keep the cage in a shed, disused garage or other outdoor building to keep your rabbit safe, especially during the night.
Living with a companion bunny
Caring for a rabbit is a big responsibility and extends to the whole of her live (7-10 years and up to 14 in some cases). You may be surprised to learn that rabbits are not inexpensive, low-maintenance pets and require almost as much time devoted to them as a dog. So before your acquire a rabbit, it is important to educate yourself about her needs and the work/expense involved.
Adopt a bunny and save a life!
The best place to get a rabbit is your local animal shelter. Even better, why not adopt two rescued bunnies so they can keep each other company. Shelters usually have bonded pairs available for adoption. For details, contact the House Rabbit Society in the U.S.A. at their website www.rabbit.org, or in the U.K., contact the Rabbit Charity by calling their Adoption Helpline at 020-8888 0001 or 0117-986 6806.
Older is better
Adult rabbits over a year old make better companions because they are easier to litter-train and less destructive, especially if they are neutered. Rabbits of any age will become tame and affectionate if they are treated gently and are petted on their own terms (i.e. at floor level).
All shapes and sizes
Rescue centers have bunnies of all shapes and sizes waiting for a home. Like people, each rabbit is an individual with her own personality. Large rabbits tend to be more placid and easy-going than smaller breeds. They are also a better choice if you have children as they will be less likely to be picked up and dropped. Angora and other long-haired breeds need regular grooming and should only be taken on by dedicated people.
One of the family
Being timid and sensitive animals, rabbits do not necessarily make good companions for very small children. Children want something they can hold and cuddle, while rabbits are ground-loving creatures who prefer to be on the floor. Rabbits make excellent family pets provided adults are the primary caregivers and are willing to supervise their children when they are with the rabbit.
SHARING YOUR HOME WITH A BUNNY
Rabbits tend to urinate in just one or a few places and make ideal candidates for litter-training. Start with one tray in the rabbits cage or living area and at least one other in his exercise area. Fill it with newspaper covered with hay and straw or other organic/paper-based litter. Do NOT use softwood or clumping cat litters, as they can harm you rabbit. To encourage your bunny to use the tray, leave his food bowl or a treat in one corner -- rabbits like to nibble on something when they go to the bathroom. If your rabbit urinates on the floor, simply add another tray where it is needed. Later, you will be able to remove the trays he uses less often. If this is your first rabbit, you may be surprised to see him eating his soft (caecal) pellets. These are rich in valuable nutrients your bunny needs to stay healthy.
Chewing and digging are normal and very pleasant activities for a bunny. Rabbits teeth and toenails grow continuously, so your bunny needs to chew and dig to keep them trim. To prevent excessive damage to your home, cover wallpaper with perspex panels and offer your bunnies other items to shred (e.g. old Yellow Pages). Protect your carpet with rugs and seagrass mats held firmly in place under furniture. Offer a digging box as well (see below). Beds and sofas can be covered with throws and blankets and you can wrap telephone and electric cables in plastic piping from your local hardware shop. Most evergreens are toxic, so take care to remove all houseplants from your bunnys chewing range. Neutering your rabbit and providing interesting activities will help to reduce destructive behavior.
Playtimes - Rabbit toys
Toys are important to keep your bunny occupied and prevent damage
to your home. The most popular are:
* Closed cardboard box with at least two doors for hopping in and out
* Clay/cardboard tube
* Football to nudge and roll
* Chew toys: apple tree branch, pinewood block, pine cones, anything make of untreated straw or seagrass (coasters, mats, baskets, etc.)
* Toss toys: cardboard roll from toilet paper, wire ball with a bell inside, empty yogurt pot, old bunch of keys, large Lego bricks, etc.
* Old telephone books and cardboard boxes to shred
* Box full of hay, straw, shredded paper, spare bit of carpeting or anything else your bunny likes to dig in.
* Litter tray full of sand or soil to dig and roll in
When it comes to cages and living areas, bigger is better. The minimum recommended cage size is 4X2X2 for one small to medium rabbit, and 5X2X2 for two small to medium bunnies, or one large rabbit. The size of the run will depend on that of the rabbit and whether the bunny also has access to a larger exercise area, e.g. an escape-proof garden (in the daytime and with supervision) or one or more rooms in the house. Hutches and runs should be made with welded mesh and strong plywood/tongue and groove boards. The run should have a roof and floor and a sheltered area. Many house bunnies are completely free-running and sleep in a dog basket rather than a cage. If you need to confine your rabbit, you can simply put him in one room and close the door as you would do with a cat or dog.
Rabbits in the garden are at risk from predatory attacks, which happen mainly at night. Make sure the garden is well fenced and do not leave your rabbit outdoors unsupervised or after dark. Even in a sturdy hutch or run, a rabbit can become very stressed and die of a heart attack if frightened by a fox, dog, or other animal. Never use slug pellets, insecticides, and other chemicals on your plants and grass, and remove all poisonous plants (for a complete list, visit the House Rabbit Societys website at www.rabbit.org).
Rabbit Pals and Getting Friendly with Bunny
Rabbits are social animals and need the company of human or animal friends. If you are away from home during the day or keep your rabbit outdoors, it is essential to provide her with a companion or she will get very lonely. Before your introduce two bunnies, you must have them both neutered to reduce aggressive behavior. If possible, let the rabbits smell one another through a partition (e.g. a baby gate) for a few days so they get used to each others scent. Do your introductions on neutral territory where neither rabbit has been before, e.g. a childs playpen or a friends room. Some scuffles and chasing are normal in the beginning, but be prepared to separate the bunnies if necessary (by making a loud noise, spraying them with water, etc.). Introducing rabbits can take several weeks, but is worth the effort because in the end, your bunny will have a companion for life. The easiest introductions are between a mixed pair (neutered and spayed, of course), and two spayed females. Rabbits can also become good friends with guinea pigs and well behaved dogs and cats. Again, neutering will help minimize fighting. Supervise introductions carefully and do not leave your animals alone together until your are certain it is safe to do so.
Shopping List for Bunny
* Large cage / puppy pen or plastic dog bed
* Synthetic sheepskin / cotton rug or large towel to lie on
* Sturdy shed for outdoor bunnies
* Large solid run for exercise in the garden
* Rabbit mix / pellets and food dish
* Fresh vegetables and fruit
* Water bowl / bottle
* Litter tray and rabbit-safe litter
* Hay / straw
* Chew / toss toys and at least one cardboard box
* Cable covers
* White vinegar to clean litter trays (undiluted) and urine stains on carpets and upholstery (in diluted form)
* Metal flea comb to remove the dead hair during moulting
* Toenail clippers and Kwik-Stop powder to stop bleeding if cut too short.
RABBIT HEALTH CARE
Neutering is one of the best things you can do to help your bunny live a long, happy, and healthy life. It prevents unwanted litters and enables two rabbits to live together as a pair. Neutering also improves litter-training, prevents spraying, reduces destructive and aggressive behavior, and generally makes your rabbit calmer and easier to manage. Spaying females is particularly important as 8 out of 10 female bunnies develop reproductive cancers by the time they are 4 or 5 years old if they are not spayed. Male rabbits can be neutered from 3 to 4 months and females from 5 to 6 months, depending on the breed. Neutering is no longer a risky operation, provided it is done by an experienced rabbit veterinarian.
It is important to examine your bunny every week for possible
health problems. Put your rabbit on a non-slippery surface, e.g. a table
top with a towel underneath and have somebody to help you if necessary.
Look out for:
* red or scaly patches inside the ears
* a discharge from the eyes or nose
* wet chin
* overgrown teeth
* wet front paws
* loss of fur and sores under the rabbits feet
* overgrown nails
* bald patches, swellings and sores of any kind / wounds, swellings and signs of parasites
* dirty bottom area
* anything unusual in his appearance or behavior (e.g. loss of appetite, unwillingness to move, glazed look, loud grinding of the teeth, smaller or no droppings).
If you are worried that your bunny may be ill, take him to the veterinarian right away!
Visit our United Kingdom Co-collaborator and Sponsor!
If you liked this issue of The Rabbit Club Worldwides Newsletter,
be sure to tell our sponsor and collaborator in the United Kingdom! The
Rabbit Charity (UK) and Director Carolina James, has kindly put together
this very informational leaflet on Bunny Basics and Press Release on
International Rabbit Day for rabbit-lovers and for Rabbit-Clubbers in The
Rabbit Club Worldwide!
Get into The Rabbit Habit! Become a member of The Rabbit Charity
and receive a one-year subscription to The Rabbit Habit, a magazine for
bunny caregivers. The Rabbit Habit has lots of articles on rabbit care,
health, behavior, and house rabbits, and a useful helpline for members.
For more information, visit The Rabbit Charitys website at
www.therabbitcharity.freeserve.co.uk. All profits go toward helping needy
Click here to visit the Rabbit Charity web site (UK)
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