About The Bunny Guy

The Bunny Guy is passionate about house rabbits and educating the public on bunny care, behavior, and health. Monthly original articles about diet, litter box training, indoor living arrangements, and much more!

What Are You Doing Here?

Virtually every week, someone posts on my blog in a last ditch effort to save a poor bunny’s life. The story goes the same every time.

Their daughter just got a bunny last week or a couple months ago and he is now sick and dying. He has not eaten or pooped in a couple days and is now breathing his last breaths in their arms.

Tears are streaming down my cheeks as I write this because this is an all too true story. I have played out this story hundreds of times in the past couple years since I have published my book. I hear these desperate pleas from folks who are just starting out with their first pet rabbit and he is so sick that he is dying.

What I want to say right now if you are reading this searching for what to do to help your sick bunny, you need to stop whatever you are doing, call a RABBIT vet specialist and get your rabbit to the vet ASAP. Minutes and hours make a difference. If it is the middle of the night, you need to get your bunny to the vet and be there at the front door when the first person comes in. THIS IS AN EMERGENCY.

By the time you realize or think your bunny is sick, he is very sick and possibly dying. Rabbits are prey animals and they hide the fact that they are sick from their owners. If you are not experienced with bunnies, you will not notice this until it is too late. If you rabbit is not eating and refusing his favorite treats, then he is sick and may be hours from dying.

You should have already found where the nearest rabbit specialist vet is located and have his phone number and address handy for these kind of emergencies. If you have not yet located your rabbit’s vet, you are wasting precious minutes doing something that you should have done before you ever brought a bunny home. I am not joking.

It amazes me that people will do everything that they can to avoid taking their bunny to the vet and then when they do, nine times out of ten, they go to the same vet that treats their cats and dogs. I am here to tell you from living this experience dozens of times, it is always going to end badly for the rabbit. Those precious hours that you delay avoiding that vet bill are what usually cost the rabbit his life.

The sooner an experienced vet starts the critical treatment for a sick rabbit, the more chance he has of surviving. An astoundingly large percentage of sick bunnies die at their dog and cat vets, because they simply do not have the experience or knowledge to treat a pet rabbit. You do not want to have your vet looking up treatments for your bunny on the internet as he lay there dying.

I hope you get the pervasive theme here. If you are not rushing your sick bunny to the rabbit specialist vet as soon as you learn that he is sick, there is a very good chance they he will die. You should know how to tell if you bunny is sick and check him every single day, if not a couple times a day for his health and welfare. One of the main reasons that indoor pet bunnies live so much longer than outdoor hutch bunnies is that their owners figure out that the indoor bunnies are sick so much sooner than the outdoor rabbits. The first time that most owners realize that an outdoor bunny is sick is when they find him dead in the cage.


Visit the nearest rabbit rescue website to you and contact them. They will know who the vets in the area are who are proficient at rabbit vet care. Ask them to rate the local vets if there are more than one.

Of course, this is a useless exercise if your rabbit is already sick and dying. You need to do this long before your bunny becomes sick.

Often, rescue websites will maintain an online list of local rabbit vets. The House Rabbit Society does this, so if you visit rabbit.org and then visit their local chapter website, you should find a list of rabbit vets for the area.


If your rabbit is not eating or pooping, then he is sick. It is that simple. Bunnies will not eat or drink if they are nervous or not feeling well. When they stop eating, they also stop pooping. This is why we clean their litter box every day. If you have not cleaned their box in three days, how will you know if the poop in there is from today or two days ago.

A good bunny owner checks his rabbit’s appetite and litter box once or twice a day.

If you suspect that your rabbit is sick, we will usually offer him his favorite treat. If he does not want it I do not panic, but it puts me on alert. I will usually try again in about ten or fifteen minutes to see if he will take it then. Rabbits live for their treats, so if they refuse them it is usually a very bad sign.

What I don’t understand is that at this point you need to be rushing your bunny to the vet. Instead, most people will start searching online for treatments or solutions to their bunny’s sickness. This is the worst possible thing that you can do because the longer a rabbit is sick, the more likely he will succumb to whatever it causing it.

It can be many different things that make a rabbit stop eating and pooping. It can be something as simple as nervousness to teeth to disease to improper diet to food allergy to respiratory issues to hundreds of possible reasons. This is why it takes a specialist to save your bunny. Rabbits are fragile exotic critters who need a special skill set to take proper care of them. The sooner the public learns this before getting one, the better it will be for the bunny and the family that brings them home, but mostly for the bunnies.

Why Rabbits Crave Treats

Just about anyone who has a pet rabbit knows that rabbits go crazy for their favorite treat, whether that be small piece of banana or a crispy, crunchy bunny cookie. The higher the caloric content it seems, the more that they crave it.

It reminds me of a two year old human child once they discover sweets. The classic childhood raiding of the cookie jar may just be part of growing up, but for a rabbit it is a part of their genetic make-up.

When rabbits were still wild creatures living in nature, the bunny who ate the most calories the quickest was the one who was also back to safety inside the burrow the fastest. Over time, natural selection or evolution coded that trait directly into a rabbit’s genes.

While you may think that your bunny is the only bunny who is absolutely in need of a 12 step program for his banana habits, actually it is inherent to the species. The key thing to remember is that given a choice, virtually all bunnies will chose the highest calorie food available to them at the time.

To explain in detail, if given a choice between pellets and hay, most bunnies will chose pellets. If given the choice between fruit and pellets, most bunnies will select fruit, first. Bunnies are fairly predictable that way and it is what makes a rabbit a rabbit.

What you need to know is that, just like raising a child, you cannot allow them to make important choices for themselves such as about their diet. We know that if given a choice between a breakfast of oatmeal or ice cream that virtually all children will choose the sweet treat. Bunnies are hard-wired to be the same way.

This is why as a bunny-savvy owner, we must make the correct choices for them and it is better to never introduce some of the sweeter treats such as fruit or sugary treats. A treat CAN be as simple as a sprig of fresh parsley or dill or even basil. I try and find healthy treat alternatives for my bunnies such as willow wreathes with the leaves attached, fresh apple sticks with leaves when possible, timothy hay cubes, treats where the main ingredient is hay, not flour and anything fresh from my garden including roses, leaves, stems, thorns and all.

My bunnies used to get some fruit every day, but since I took it away from them years ago, they have not missed it. They did for a few months but now they beg for different treats that I don’t feel so guilty giving them.

Rabbits are expert beggars, so whatever you do, don’t fall into the “treat trap”. They will learn how to make you squeal with delight as they push your “buttons” to get another treat. All kinds of special postures and dances will be done for your benefit to get that next one and mine do this all day long. If you cave in every time they do a dance, soon they will be dancing all day long and slowly gaining weight. Pretty soon, they learn how to get those treats without the dance and just guilt us into giving them.

What most folks forget is that the life expectancy of an overweight rabbit is dramatically lower than a slim and trim one. They hefty bunny will end up in the vet office constantly for GI stasis issues and worse. It is so important to keep your bunny trim and healthy. If you truly love him or her, you will deeply consider what I am telling you. Less is more when it comes to loving your bunny.

Rabbits And Children

My rabbit grooming business has taken off and I have been visiting a lot of families in my area who have pet rabbits that need their toe nails trimmed. I love meeting lots of new bunnies who are deeply loved by their families and it gives me a chance to impart some education on them about their pet.

Over half the time I meet a new bun, he is the pet of some young girl and they often know next to nothing about rabbits. I am encouraged when I see mom or dad take an interest in the education I am trying to leave with them, but it is unsettling to say the least to know that a eight or nine year old child is responsible for most of the care for their rabbit.

I often see that their play area has not been bunny-proofed or that the rabbit is living on pine shavings or in a too small cage. I do my best to teach some basics and hope that they correct the most serious problems that I warn them about. Time will only tell as I return to some of these homes in a while for more nail trims.

It is awesome that in about half of the families, the parents take a very active role in raising and caring for their pet rabbits. Unfortunately, there is a very large percentage of them where it is completely up to the child what happens to that poor bun. Small cages and 100 percent pellet diets are the norm for these guys. I don’t get to see too many of these, because if they will not spend money on good food and a nice abode for their bunnies, they usually are not spending $50 for me to come groom and trim their bunny’s nails. I like to think that the folks who do pay me to come see them that do this are doing it out of ignorance, not meanness or being bad people.

Rabbits with their hollow bones and fragile backs are so easy for kids to injure, especially when they don’t realize this fact. If parents knew how many bunnies are injured every year by young children, they would think twice about handing one over to their kid (one would hope).

Even more important, rabbits are very sensitive to their environment and hide the fact that they are sick from us humans. A child is never going to be sensitive to these issues and will not associate changes in behavior to the bunny being sick or hurt. It takes an adult who is knowledgeable about bunnies to do these things.

Many people think that rabbits are good for children because they only live four or five years, when in reality they will live 10-15 years if properly cared for. If you want a pet who only lives two or three years, then you should be thinking about a hamster or gerbil, but rabbits are a decade long commitment.

If you take all of these things into consideration, on top of the fact that rabbit vet bills are about three times as much as those for dogs and cats, they may not be the right pet for a lot of families, especially those with younger children. Many families take on the commitment with the knowledge that their bunnies are a long term commitment. They understand that they are rather high maintenance and expensive due to their being exotic pets. I have no problem with that, but it is the people to impulsively get these pets for their kids without thinking all of this through.

A child cannot be solely responsible for an expensive high maintenance pet, simple as that. Any rational adult could understand this fact. Who is going to write the check for the huge vet bill when the bunny inevitably needs a vet visit. Who is going to purchase the variety of fresh greens for the bunny’s diet. Who is going to make sure that there is always a supply of fresh hay and water for him, too. Of course, this is the adults.

I like seeing families teach the value of the human animal bond to their children and the gentle exciting spirit of a rabbit is a great way to do that, but we need to make sure that we are truly teaching them the right lesson. Allowing them to hurt or be irresponsible so that a living creature suffers or cannot live to his full potential, is wrong and they are not getting the right lesson in life.

Rabbits Are A “Hands On” Pet

It is very common that people will have pet rabbits and rarely handle or hold them. I meet a lot of bunnies and their families through my rabbit grooming business and it has become painfully obvious that there are a lot of pet rabbits whom are never being socialized.

It is true that rabbits are born with an instinct to not like being picked up or handled, but through socialization, we can teach them to tolerate it and even look forward to it, in many cases. Still, I run into so many families who have interpreted their rabbit’s not wanting to be picked up as the correct way to befriend a bunny.

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Actually, in the long run you are doing your bunny and family a huge disservice by not teaching your rabbit to allow this kind of interaction. You can literally go years without ever picking up your bunny, but what happens when it becomes grooming time or a vet visit is in order? I am finding that many people who are in this category are hiring me to come groom their rabbit. When I arrive, I learn that they have not handled or picked up their rabbit and he is totally freaking out, just for a nail trim or combing. This is not good. Imagine how terrified a rabbit like this is going to be if he has to go for a car ride to the vet.

Something that is even more tragic, as far as I am concerned is that these folks are missing out on the true joys of having a pet rabbit. If you are not able to get close enough to your bunny to pet him or groom him, you are really not bonding with your pet. Rabbits show each other love through grooming and if you want to tell your rabbit that you love him in his own language, that involves petting and grooming him, just as you would any dog or cat.

The way to begin socializing your rabbit is to spend time with him EVERY day. Not once or twice a week. If you do that, then it means the other five or six days a week, he will be pining for your attention. Having a pet is a daily function, not a whenever you have time function. Basically, it is like having children I often tell people. For that matter, I call all my rabbits my kids.

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All pet rabbits need at least two or three hours out of their cage and pens each day to run and play. Rabbits were born to run and this is an important part of having a happy pet rabbit. If your rabbit is not getting this simple run time every day, then you probably should not have one.

In order to foster the human animal bond, you need to spend about an hour or so each day interacting with your rabbit. You do not have to do it all at once and it can happen throughout the day, but he needs that human touch to learn that being a friend with a big scary human is OK.

You should start off getting down on the floor to teach the rabbit that you are a friend. Watch TV, read a book, talk to your bunny, just do something on the floor for a period of time. Your rabbit will eventually start approaching you to visit. All but the most skittish bunnies will start coming up to get their heads and ears rubbed.

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Learn how to pet your bunny. Do not rub him on the butt or lower back. That is an insult in bunny language. Rabbits do not like having their chins or underneath their heads pet. In their language you are telling them that you are the boss of them and are threatening them when you do this. Not a way to make friends. Some rabbits will tolerate, but most will become quite annoyed by any continued attempts to get underneath them in any way.

You approach a rabbit from on top of his head. A rabbit tells another rabbit that he loves and respects him by kissing the top of his head and ears. Gently petting them their conveys your love and respect.

I can always tell a person who has no rabbit experience at all, because they will try and approach a rabbit like a dog, by letting them smell or sniff their hand. This is the absolute wrong way to approach a rabbit. First, directly in front of their noses is a blind spot and if you put your hand under their nose, you are basically saying, “I am the boss of you! Kiss me!” Again, this is not the way to make friends with a rabbit.

The top of the head is where you want to first pet your bunny. This is universal amongst all bunnies. You can socialize your bunny to tolerate being pet and rubbed on his backside, but that usually comes after you are closely bonded with him. Do not expect him to like that kind of touching, right away.

I HIGHLY suggest that you pick your rabbit up at least once EVERY DAY. Not once a week or month, but every day. This is important. Through repetition, you teach your bunny that nothing bad is every going to happen when you pick him up.

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Therefore, the only time you pick him up it should not be to be stuffed into a pet carrier and thrown into the car for a scary car ride. It should also not be to have some big strange grooming person picking them up and hacking off their toe nails. If the only time a rabbit is ever picked up, these terrifying events are occurring you are actually reinforcing his fears.

The number of times that a rabbit gets picked up and something scary happens should be vastly outnumbered by the hundreds of time that they get picked up and nothing scary happens. Do you get that important point? It is critical that there are many many more good things happening when they are picked up and handled than scary things.\

I have a bunny who has always been freaked out about being handled. It was as self fulfilling prophecy that she feared she would be dropped because when you picked her up she would squirm frantically, causing you to drop her. It took me five years of working with her to get her 90% cured. She still runs from me sometimes when I want to pick her up but she is so much better.

I did this by picking her up and hugging her every day. I would just pick her up and set her on my lap or hold her and give her a kiss. I would be very careful to not let her squirming make me drop her. Then I would gently set her down.

At first, she would scamper off, thumping all the way. Then she would take a step to run away and seeing that I was not chasing her, she would turn around to re-approach me for another pet or ear rub. Eventually, I have gotten her to be so much better that I can even just walk up and just pick her up, but that took about five years of constant work. Still, I believe it is worth it. Most rabbits are not cuddle bunnies, but through daily working with them you can get pretty close.

Listen To Their Tummies

Did you know that you should almost always be able to hear the gentle gurgling sounds going on inside your rabbit’s tummy? This is an important way to know what is going on inside your rabbit’s gut. I recommend that you learn the good from the bad sounds.

Put your ear on the side of your bunny’s tummy and listen closely. You should hear the gentle gurgling of the food and the gas being produced in his gut slowly passing through his system. I believe that you should do this often and familiarize yourself with this healthy sound.

The sounds you do not want to hear are no gurgling at all (stasis) or big popping noises (gas). I recommend that a rabbit lover learn to distinguish these sounds. It can be an invaluable tool to quickly tell what is ailing your bunny, if he suddenly stops eating.

Of course, there are many other reasons that they can stop eating, such at illness or teeth problems, etc., but if you have a rabbit who is prone to digestive issues, this is a great way to help figure out if a vet visit is in order, right away.

Rabbits produce gas all the time, since they are fermenters. Any of you who have ever made homebrew beer know that the process creates a huge amount of gas. The same is true for the rabbits’ digestive system when they process their food.

Normally, this is not a problem and it all simply passes on through. The problem is when it does not pass right out and causes a painful balloon like condition. We humans know the pain that a small amount of gas can cause in our stomachs. Rabbits can experience discomfort if there is any kind of slowdown in the movement of this gas from inside their bodies.

Some foods and situations, such as being stressed cause extra gas that they can have difficulty getting out. It will often cause them to immediately stop eating, which is usually our first indication that they are experiencing the pain or discomfort.

All good bunny parents always have baby gas drops (liquid simethicone) on hand at all times. If you hear a lot of loud popping sounds, instead of the usual gentle gurgling sounds then maybe it is time for a few doses of the baby gas drops. This is usually the first treatment I will give a bunny with an upset stomach.

They make it slightly sweet so it is palatable for babies, so most bunnies will not hate the taste, still it is somewhat of a challenge to give to most rabbits. You should learn how to give medications to your bunny, since no rabbit likes it and there will most likely come a time when it will become necessary. Liquid medication should be given with a syringe or dropper by angling the syringe at a 45 degree angle to his nose. You enter right behind his large from teeth and in front of his rear molars in the space where there is no teeth.

Be careful to not drown your rabbit by injecting it all at once down his throat and go slowly to give him a chance to swallow it drop by drop. Once mine get the taste, they will sometimes lap it up if they are not too sick. Really sick bunnies will not want to eat anything at all and must be forced to take their medicines. Still, proceed with caution.

I give one full dropper full (which is about a full .cc or .ml) to the bunny every half hour until he/she has had three or four doses. Then I proceed with another dose every four to six hours. I very very rarely get to the point where I am giving those doses four to six hours later. It works pretty fast, if that is the true problem.

If your rabbit is still needing medication four to six hours later, you really should not be delaying getting him to the rabbit specialist vet any longer. You are wasting precious time by trying to treat a sick bunny on your own. A lot of people do this because they do all they can to avoid those expensive vet bills, but often delaying going to the vet just makes things a lot worse.

I truly do not recommend trying self treatment for more than an hour or two because unless you are almost certain that you are simply dealing with a mild intestinal issue, you could be wasting precious time for your bunny. Most rabbit lovers do not have the experience to deal with intestinal issues in their rabbit.

Most of the time these gas drops are just buying you precious time until you can get your bunny to the vet for some real treatment. They are by no means a substitute for vet care during GI stasis or bloat conditions. Those conditions require a much more serious medical regimen or your rabbit will most certainly die. Please do not underestimate the necessity for taking your rabbit right away to his vet specialist when he stops eating or pooping.

Can I Help You?

It is a good morning that I don’t wake up to one or two panicked emails from bunny owners who have rabbits who are dying and they are seeking advice from me. Don’t get me wrong, I want to help people all I can, especially rabbits in dire need. It is just very hard to not think about some poor defenseless bunny at the mercy of someone thousands of miles away who may or may not take my advice.

Most often, I have to tell them to simply find and take their bunny to a rabbit specialist vet. Almost always, they have never visited a vet before and most certainly not a rabbit specialist. I know that many areas are not blessed with a plethora of vets who are trained to work with rabbits, but part of having a pet bunny is at least knowing where the nearest vet is located, should you ever need to see him in an emergency. When minutes count, do you want to spend a few hours trying to found out where it is you will have to go with your bunny.

The harsh reality is that every day a pet bunny somewhere gets in trouble and needs help from his human. Often, whether or not the little guy survives depends on how long before the owner notices that something is wrong and how he reacts. Our reaction will usually depend on the knowledge that we have about bunnies and the resources available at the time. Many rabbit vets do not work on weekends and so what do you do if your bunny is in distress late Saturday night? I have had this happen several times, myself.

If you are reading this blog, then you obviously have the internet available and that can be a wonderful thing. There is a wealth of information on tap there, but beware of some advice you may find. Finding a factoid posted more than once does not mean that much, since often the same misinformation has been copied and pasted from one website to another. Still, most of the time you will be getting good information, which in an emergency can be better than nothing.

Understanding that being desperate for some answers about what to do in an emergency leads to me receiving dozens of letters each week from distressed bunny lovers about their pets. Often, I can respond that most likely there is nothing to worry about, such as the myriad of emails I get from people the first time their bunny does some bright red or orange pee (I probably get that one once a week… haha). Other times I lose sleep worrying about the fate of some bunny whom I am sure was barely hanging on when their owner wrote me. With the popularity of Facebook amongst bunny lovers these days, I get even more amazing communications.

It is a good thing, since it means that we are slowly getting our message of rabbit education out there to the public, but it is also a double edged sword. When you put yourself out there like I do, you get lots of the horrible “dead bunny” stories, too. It is hard not to think about some of them and usually after my reply, I rarely hear back from the person about what happened. When I do, it is never good news, so it is one of those “damned if you do and damned if you don’t” situations.

Really, the only way that hundreds of rabbits are not going to continue to die every day from the “stupid owner syndrome” (don’t worry, we have all had it) is to educate the masses. When it becomes common knowledge how to properly keep a pet rabbit, most of these saddening emails will stop. Stories like my neighbor’s dog just ate my rabbit to my rabbit stopped eating two days ago are virtually all from lack of common knowledge. With rabbits, a little prevention goes a long way to avoiding these kind of sad stories.

So go ahead and please do write me or post in my blog. I will do what I can to help you and possibly even help you save your bunny, but please don’t wait until it is too late and your bunny is on death’s doorstep to do so. I am here to help you.

The Bunny Guy

Red Eyes, Eye Scanning & Rabbit Vision

Many aspects of how rabbits are put together are a mystery to the people who have them. This article is to help unravel one of those mysteries for you, a rabbit’s vision.

We see a broad color spectrum with lots of depth perception to help us navigate the world around us. Rabbits being prey animals, have evolved with eyes on both sides of their head in order to see 360 degrees. This is so they can always be on the lookout for approaching predators. Ironically, a rabbit has a blind spot directly in front of their nose. Their whiskers and smell are normally used to detect things in that area (and sometimes their teeth).

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REW Bunnies (red eye white) tend to eye scan the most

Bunnies are far sighted and do not see very well up close. They also tend to see in greens and blues because most of their food is green stuff.

Rabbits see things in two dimensions. They do not easily tell distance and have virtually no depth perception. They can see a cat, but cannot visually tell if it is ten feet or fifty feet away. Their vision can identify a cat, but they tend to use their other senses such as smell and hearing to determine how far away it is.

When a rabbit sees things with both eyes, he sees a flat picture that is similar to page in a coloring book. Imagine taking one of those extra wide panoramic pictures and wrapping it completely around your head and then being able to see the whole picture at once. This is hard for most people to imagine and conceptualize. This is why we don’t easily understand a rabbit’s vision. It is absolutely nothing like our own.

Then add to that the lack of a full color spectrum and the inability to see things up close and now you are beginning to understand a rabbit’s vision. This is why they tend to rely more on their hearing and sense of smell to alert them to danger around them. Their vision is important, but for up close work (like eating) they use their nose more than their eyes.

I often have people ask me about a common rabbit phenomenon called, eye scanning. It is a bit disturbing the first time you see it and it consists of a rabbit kind of weaving and bobbing like a drunk person in order to look at something. The first time I saw it, I thought the bunny was developing some kind of neurological problem or MS.

It turns out that it is more common in red eye bunnies, but I have seen a couple of non-red eye bunnies do it, as well. Usually the bunny will be sitting upright and his head will kind of weave from side to side. If you look closely, you will see that he is eying or looking closely as something, switching from one eye to the other in his gazing at it.

What he is actually doing is trying to get a better look at something, by using both eyes to view it. I think that for some rabbits, it helps them better gauge their surroundings. I think that they do it more when they are unsure of a location or curious about what is happening nearby.

My big New Zealand bunny does not care for cats and will thump whenever she sees or hears them. Often, she will start thumping and I cannot figure out what she is alerted to. Then I will see a cat way way off in the distance that she is seeing. To her she just sees a cat. She does not know if it is ten feet away or over one hundred feet away, like it really is.

Another common mystery is, why rabbits have red or pink eyes. This is actually the result of albinism. It was intentionally bred into bunnies in order to have a blood line that would produce all white bunnies all the time. Albinos of all species have pink or red eyes because it is due to the complete lack of pigmentation within their bodies. Normally it is a mutation, but this mutation has been bred to exclude all other varieties, in rabbits.

This is usually a recessive trait in most species and so when any genes are present to give color, the color is dominant and will be present. However, it is possible for a non-albino to give birth to an albino (all white with pink eye) offspring due to both parents have the recessive gene hidden in their DNA.

Albinos are sensitive to sunlight, due to their lack of pigmentation and red eye white rabbits are no exception. They can find glaring bright sunlight a bit annoying and will often seek shade to comfort their sensitive eyes. Keep this in mind when taking your red eye bunny out and about. Their sensitive eyes and skin do not like hot direct sunlight.

Affording Medical Care For My Bunny

I am going to be brutally blunt here, right off the bat. If you cannot afford or are unwilling to pay for emergency medical care for your rabbit(s), then you probably should not have one.

Rabbit vet care can be very expensive. It is just as pricey or even more so than vet care for a dog or cat. People routinely are faced with $1000+ bills when a bunny gets sick and needs medical care. It is not a matter of “if” you will get one of these bills when owning a rabbit, but simply “when”.

As with all creatures, the older you get, the more you will need to see a medical professional.  Because rabbits are exotic pets, they will need to see a specialist. Dog and cat vets simply do not have the expertise or knowledge to treat your sick rabbit.

Do you want your doctor looking up how to treat a serious illness on the internet before he treats you. It does not instill confidence or give you much hope when you know that your doctor is treating or seeing a medical problem for the very first time.

A rabbit specialist is critical for your pet’s survival, when he is seriously ill. If you care about your pet, you want to give him the best chance at making it and so it means you must use a more expensive rabbit specialist vet to provide the best care possible.

After having lost a couple bunnies to dog and cat vets, I cannot stress enough how important it is to have a rabbit specialist vet available when your bunny needs one. This is definitely going to cost you something and bearing the expense is part of being a responsible pet owner.

Would you not take your children to a doctor or dentist if they were sick or in pain? Would you not find a way to get them care, even if you could not afford it? It is the same for pets.

You must find a way to get the proper care to a sick animal, regardless of the cost and whether you have the funds readily available. IF this means putting it on a credit card or finding a friend to let you put it on their credit card, it just needs to be done. You don’t hesitate and let someone die because it is not convenient or affordable for them to live.

What defines us as a society and as human beings is our reluctance to accept and allow others to suffer. To turn your back on an animal or other creature that needs your help, makes you less human. To be human is to empathize and feel the pain that others feel. It is part of what we are as a species.

So I get back to my point. You have a responsibility as a pet owner to provide good and proper care for your charges and do all in your power to prevent abuse and suffering.

This translates into a huge weight that must be shouldered when you have several pets and maybe even some human children, too. I have met many families who have several children and a house full of pets on top of that. Most of them are very responsible and provide very well for them. What worries me is when I hear people making excuses about avoiding expenses and vet care that they know are necessary.

The bottom line is if you cannot afford five or six kids, two dogs, three cats and two bunnies, then what in the heck are doing getting in over your head like that? I know it is with good intentions that we take on such huge responsibilities, but why burden you and your family with what you know eventually will become unbearable? It is only a matter of time before a menagerie like that will become very expensive.

Should you really be taking on that third dog, that sixth bunny, that tenth cat. Some of us try and rescue every critter that needs our help, but I can tell you from experience that rescue work can easily become a full time job. It takes a lot of dedication to have a full time rescue job, especially if you have a family, too. All the work and time are nothing compared to the expense that can be incurred, regularly. I have seen more than one family go broke trying to rescue animals. This is why rescue is best done in a group where the time, expense and responsibility can be shared. I know that there is a fine line between rescue and hoarding pets.

To me, when your “rescues” are being harmed by your inability to provide proper care, including medical care, then you have crossed the line.

I recently met a family who has spent an enormous sum of money to spay and neuter a large unexpected litter of bunnies. Even with discount services and HRS rebates, their expense for this stretched the family budget to the limit. They were trying their best to cope with ten bunnies that were now part of their family, but it was a disaster waiting to happen.

The number of times your bunnies will visit a vet seem to be directly related to the level of experience you have as a bunny lover. The less you know about bunnies, the more often you make mistakes and the more likely you will be making frequent vet visits. I always tell people that it is a long journey to learn about rabbits. It takes time and you will make mistakes.

Now multiply this inexperience factor by ten rabbits and it is almost guaranteed that there will be more vet bills to follow. This is where you must make a decision. How do you afford the inevitable vet bills for so many bunnies? If you are independently wealthy or make a lot of money, that is good, but what about the average person? How do you afford so many rabbits?

There are pet medical insurance policies but they can be impractical, since they charge by the animal. Five or six animals would end up getting expensive with just the monthly premiums, alone.

Anecdotally, the family with ten rabbits suddenly found that half of their buns were very sick. They were in dire need of a vet, but now they are seeing an impending vet bill TIMES FIVE! They were already strapped for money from spaying and neutering all of those rabbits. To save money, they wanted to take one bunny in to the vet and hope that they could get enough medications to treat all five. I am not saying that was not a well intentioned plan, but how do you decide which bunny gets to see a doctor and which ones will not? Do you see where I am going with this?

This is where you have to ask yourself, is ten rabbits too many for a family who cannot afford them? I cannot answer that for them, but I know that the answer for me is, yes.

The Bunny Guy

Are We Activists?

It has taken me a few days to gather my thoughts so that I could write this blog. I became aware of a big rabbit rescue case back east by reading some posts on my Facebook timeline.

There was a person who is very well known in the rabbit breeder and show world who was reported to the local Humane Society. This was purportedly done by member of the House Rabbit Society.

When the local authorities went to his property, they confiscated 375 rabbits. Rabbits were this man’s world. When you have that many rabbits, you must eat, breathe and sleep with bunnies.

Some say that the conditions that the buns were living in was not humane and so the man was charged with a crime. In my study on this case, I read the comments from many people who had seen the videos of the conditions from the news reports. They said that the operation was a typical rabbitry and no worse than any other.

I personally have not viewed the video, but I am convinced that this is probably true. I have worked in rabbit shelters for years and know that taking care of just 30-40 rabbits is a full time job. You can spend hours cleans and trying to care for them and as soon as you are done, it is dirty again. It is a never ending job.

Having witnessed a couple rabbit breeding operations, they are not usually kept as clean or nice as we do at a shelter. Rabbits are housed in wire bottom cages to simplify the job for the owner (farmer). The waste just falls through the bottom of the cages into some kind of collection system.

Since the rabbits are not spayed or neutered, there is a lot of spraying by the males going on. They squirt their pee all over the place, like most un-neutered males do, and so there are usually splash guards in place to minimize the effect. Still, it is a huge job to keep the urine spray under control. The caustic bunny pee really eats up and stains anything it touches.

This all creates a relatively dirty environment when you have over a hundred bunnies living in one area. Even if you were cleaning it up all the time it would never be spotless, because by the time you got it half done, the bunnies would have peed and pooped it up again. haha

I am not trying to justify any of the conditions these bunnies were living in. I am simply stating that in all probability, this operation was no better or worse than most other legal rabbit breeding businesses.

It was very enlightening to read and digest the messages by the supporters of this very popular person who was incarcerated in the story. Their take on the whole matter was that a bunch of “rabbit activists” had started all of this.

As the drama played out on Facebook, I realized that there were many more of the rabbit breeders and hobbyists who showed and bred rabbits, than House Rabbit advocates. They viewed our ideas as fringe and wacky, because rabbits are livestock.

I read comments like, “We don’t understand why all those west coast shelters are overloaded with bunnies. When we have too many rabbits we just put them in the freezer.”

Others said, “Sure, people have pet cows and pet pigs, but if you let them live in your house with you, then you deserve the destruction that you get from it. It’s their business if they want to let rabbits chew up and destroy everything in their houses.”

So what we have here is an animal who is caught between two completely different worlds. On one hand, we have the majority of people who think that rabbits are livestock and on the other we have the people who think bunnies are nice pets.

Most of the people who consider bunnies as pets, do not think that they should be treated as livestock. To people who associate them with agriculture and eat them, that position is extreme.

Should people be allowed to farm or breed rabbits at all? I don’t think that anyone who eats beef, pork or any other farmed meat can honestly say no. This is why many rabbit lovers are vegetarian or vegan.

My opinion is that we already have it both ways, so we need laws recognizing the duality. There are millions of rabbits who live in farm conditions and thousands more who live as beloved pets. In California, they are solely livestock in the eyes of the law. This validates the position of the masses that rabbits are meant to live outdoors in miserable conditions destined for a horrible death at the whim of his owners.

Yet millions of people are slowly learning the joys of having a companion rabbit. As their popularity grows as pets, so does the glaring conflict for rabbits: pets vs livestock.

You cannot have a rabbit and call him a pet, then treat him as if he were livestock. The biggest problem I run into trying to educate people is teaching them this difference. A rabbit who lives in a cage in the back yard just eating pellets is not a pet. Pets live with you and you share the enjoyment of the human/animal bond. Otherwise, what is the point?

Will the “activism” or advocating for rabbits stop people from farming animals? I truly doubt it. I believe that vegetarians will always be a minority and that there will always be farms. Still I see a march towards more humane treatment for all animals, because public awareness has demanded it.

We have recently seen Europe ban all animal testing and California enact laws to require some livestock be kept in more acceptable conditions. I think the idea is that suffering is not meant to be part of the equation, regardless of whether you plan on eating the critter or not.

The USA recently shamed itself in the eyes of the world by allowing Congress to pass a law to make it a federal crime to secretly video the conditions at factory farms and processing centers. This means that regardless of the laws, there will be no whistle blowers or anyone to enforce them. This is our powerful agricultural lobby flexing it’s muscle against this new demand by the public for less suffering of the animals caught up in the food chain.

For a rabbit, his lot in life is solely dependent on whether he was born by a breeder at a farm or a breeder who sells to pet stores. One will live about six months and be killed and the other has a chance to live a happy long life of 10+ years with a family. I have always said that if you are a rabbit and live in my house that you have hit the lottery. haha

My bunnies are so spoiled. I love spoiling them. I volunteer at shelters and donate to rescues because I believe that there is a place for rabbits as pets in our lives. They are more than just livestock. If this makes me an activist, then I guess I am.

The Bunny Guy