Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Bastardette's Quick Guide to Bunnies

Bunnies are cute right? With their wiggly little noses.

Their woolly tummies

Their impeccable style

Their beautiful singing voices

And of course, those luxurious tresses.

So majestic.

The truth though? Bunnies REALLY aren't for everyone. They're about as high maintenance as they are cute. Bunnies are a commitment wrapped up in a furry little package. I've had my bun for about 8 years.

Her name is Delicious, because she noms.

 Now, I am by no means an expert or a medical professional, just an enthusiast, but there are some things I'd like to tell you if you're considering bunny companionship. Think of me as that friend you sometimes drink with. You probably didn't ask for my advice, but I'm giving it to you anyway, because that's what "sometimes friends" do.

Most sources will tell you that rabbits live between 5-10 years. According to our bunny doc (let's call him Dr. Fluff n' Stuff) they can live up to 16 years with proper medical treatment. However, proper vet care for bunnies can be hard to come by because they're typically considered "exotic pets", so your average cat and dog vet might not be experienced with rabbits. I got lucky. Dr. Fluff n' Stuff is the goddamn bunny whisperer. Definitely make sure someone in your area practices bunny medicine.

Let's start with the obvious.

No joke. They really do, and the older they get, the more they poop. Luckily, it's alot cleaner than most poops, and you get used to it pretty quickly. Clean their living space regularly, and it it will stay manageable and relatively funk free. Bunnies can be also be litter trained, and they're excellent self groomers. They're smarter than you think! I'm told bunny droppings are good for your garden too!

Point number two: bunnies need mental stimulation. You read that right. Bored bunnies do bad things. You remember that kid you grew up with who had that rabbit that just glared at you and bit you when you tried to pet it? (Everyone knew that kid, right?) Yeah that's what happens when bunnies don't have enough stuff to do. Imagine being stuck in an airplane your entire life without so much as a crossword puzzle. You'd be pretty grumpy by the end of it. You'd be the guy who drinks all the mini vodka bottles. Don't let your bunny be that guy. Let them hop about when you can. Keep an eye on them, and keep your space free of nommables like electrical cords and houseplants. Trust me, the first time you see a "binky" (a sort of happy bunny twisty dance) everything will be worth it. It's the BEST. Unfortunately alot of people think of a pet rabbit as cage animal that you can just feed, and then walk away from.  

Bunny brains have needs, so give them things to play with! When Delicious was a baby, she loved wooden blocks. I'd stack em up, and she'd knock them over. (Side note: If giant bunnies invade our cities and enslave humanity, the destruction will be devastating, but so ADORABLE.) I personally will never waste another dime on commercial bunny toys, because Delicious turns her wiggly nose up at them. She prefers crumpled up paper, cardboard boxes, and toilet paper tubes. My bun is a cheap date. Some bunnies like rattle toys they can toss about.  Most importantly, INTERACT WITH YOUR BUNNY! That's why you want one, right? Ok, so maybe they're not always up for a snuggle, but they sure do love head scratches! They're social creatures! 


Let's talk food. Rabbits eat carrots like humans eat ice cream. Sure we love it, but until someone invents a pill that keeps it from becoming tummy flub, we shouldn't eat it all day every day. (Get ON it, SCIENCE!) Healthy adult bunnies eat lots of fresh hay (timothy hay is popular) plenty of dark leafy greens, and pellets in moderation. The amount depends on the bunny's age, weight and eating habits. Delicious will graze all day like a little lady, while my sister's bun Captain Cosmo will wolf down everything you give him in one sitting. It's cute as hell, but mind the bunny pudge . Carrots and fruits are treats, and are great for training. Obviously, make sure they have clean water. Bunny diets can be pretty complicated, so I STRONGLY recommend following House Rabbit Society for more in depth information. There's no way I can fit every single bit of research on bunny care in this post, so study up! 

Get your rabbit fixed. I'm serious. Get. Them. Fixed. Commitment, remember? I bought Delicious from a pet store when I was a dumb teenager. DON'T DO WHAT I DID. Buy your rabbit from a reputable breeder (especially for special breeds like Angoras- see Why You Should Let Knitting Ruin Your Life), or ADOPT. Then snip 'em or spay 'em. Girl bunnies are at high risk for ovarian cancer, and if they have babies, her and her female decedents can produce up to 1300 BABIES IN A YEAR. Intact boy bunnies spray (ew) and WILL...HUMP...EVERYTHING.  

 I'm about to get serious for a second. If you EVER start to see your rabbit's head tilting, even if it's just at a quirky little angle, TAKE THEM TO A VET ASAP. 

Not good.

Head tilt can be a sign of something very serious. It could be an inner ear infection, which might not seem like a big deal, but for rabbits can be devastating. It could be a nasty brain parasite called EncephalitozoonosisIt could be trauma, stroke, or cancer. It could be a number of things, and they are all bad news. If your bunny develops head tilt, you may see them start to "roll". Head tilt messes up their equilibrium. It's hard to watch. Until your rabbit is diagnosed, stay away from  other rabbits. If it is a parasite, guess what? You could be carrying it around with you.  
Delicious developed a head tilt a few months ago. 

                                                       ^ See that? ^  That's bad news.

Luckily, we'd seen it before in our friend's rabbit, so we knew to look out for it. We got her to Dr. Fluff N' Stuff the very next day and he set us up with antibiotics. This is what a doped up rabbit looks like. 
I call this piece "Sick Bunny Cradled by Tattooed Hunk"

 Three months of weekly vet trips, syringe feedings, and one surgery later, I'm happy to say my bunny finally has a clean bill of health, all thanks to Dr. Fluff N' Stuff and his amazing staff. It was a tough and expensive emotional roller coaster. Her head tilt is now barely noticeable, but her personality has changed a bit. She's no longer fastidious about her cage arrangements, (interior decorating used to be her favorite thing) and she's a much pickier eater. She won't touch pellets, and she'll nibble at hay, but she spends most of her days luxuriating in a bed of leafy greens, looking down at us like the peasants we are. 

                                                        I call this piece "Spoiled Brat." 

Someone once asked me, in regards to my lagomorph friend, "what's the appeal?" I shrugged. To me, the appeal is pretty darn obvious. Just look at this picture of a bunny in a mug!


So how about a recap?
1)Bunnies poop. Alot. All the time. 
2)Bunnies need mental stimulation.
3) Bunnies need timothy hay and fresh veggies. Carrots are a sometimes food. 
4)Adopt if you can, and get your bunny snipped or spayed
5)Head tilt is scary and should be treated immediately. Take it from someone who knows. 
6)Bunnies make great friends if you treat them well, but make sure you know what you're getting into. 

So I hope I didn't scare you away from Bunny adopting, but if I did, then maybe consider a nice goldfish? 


Share. Comment. Enjoy. 

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