Helpful Tips for you and your bunnies!
Tips for Breeders
- Regularly health check each individual
rabbit, especially making sure they receive a thorough examination before selling or showing them.
- Make time available to demonstrate handling and advise about husbandry methods. It is enormously helpful to clip
toenails and let new owners see and learn the procedure.
- Offer ongoing support and advice,
I know this is time consuming but your assistance is important and beneficial to the rabbit's well being.
- Provide informational handout sheets with your care package – if it's any help there's
a selection of ones all ready and available in Download Articles page — or dare I say recommend or promote My Book!
- Provide a week or more supply of pellets (if the bunny
is likely to change brands) and recommend to introduce the new brand gradually. Be sure to also caution against feeding pellets
ad lib and suggest a guideline on the daily portions that suit the breed.
- Distribute your
rabbit club's information sheets and membership forms. Your club ought to be able to provide these and will surely appreciate
your assistance in promoting them.
- Don't deliberately sell pet rabbits (with disqualifying
or major faults) as 'show quality' for it will inevitably tarnish your reputation. Of course when assessing kittens
this can be easier said than done sometimes it is questionable whether they are likely to turn out as good as you've evaluated
or not. Take for example some grow oversized (often due to owner's overfeeding) and this of course is quite beyond your
Tips for Buyers
- After making an appointment please arrive on time. If unable to make it on
time or changed your mind please notify the breeder. Breeders are like anyone else – they do have a life with busy schedules
and time wasters can spoil one's day!
- Don't buy a pet rabbit and then decide
you think 'Snugglepot' is so special he deserves to win best in show. Sometimes you can accidentally acquire a 'show
quality' pet but it's recommended to request a show rabbit at the time of enquiry/purchase. Be prepared that if you
decide on a show rabbit you might have to patiently wait for one. In some cases you'll have to be placed on the breeder's
- It's a good idea to health check a bunny at the
time of purchase, if you don't know how or what to look for ask the breeder for a demonstration. Some of the main things
to tick off the checklist are: eyes, ears, nose and bottoms are clean and dry, the coat is also healthy and clean - free from
sores, fleas or dandruff. So too should the bunny be active, curious and alert plus well fed with a hearty appetite - not
bony or pot bellied.
- Learn as much as you can about proper handling, feeding and housing
so your pet's needs are well catered for. As well as finding out about their behaviour and you will certainly be rewarded
with a healthier, happier pet.
Eureka – I found a perfect feeding bottle!
One major problem when hand rearing or supplementary feeding tiny, little baby bunnies
is the implements you use. Some try a cotton bud (otherwise known as a Q-tip in the US), an eye dropper or a syringe. The
former two being quite hazardous when kits receive too much milk and consequently fluid enters their lungs and they literally
drown. Plus also the tips of cotton buds and larger sized nozzles are generally not accepted by the baby rabbit. Even after
buying the smallest sized rubber teat (i.e. for marsupials), it is virtually impossible to make the holes of these just right
to prevent the same 'drowning' problem.
My helpful tip is this little plastic bottle, which I happened
to find amongst the contents of a 'do it yourself' ink refill kit for my printer.
It works a treat!
You only need to squeeze
a tiny drop so the kitten will get the taste and then start sucking on it. If you don't need or want the refill kit (it's
not cheap, costing around $20) but you can give away the contents and then again, think of the number of lives you can save.
So where can you get it? Your best bet would be to enter the product name in search engines online or
stores that stock stationary. The product is called i * PRiNT and the package containing the handy feeding
bottle is only be found in the black refill kit. I have tried emailing the company to source their bottle supplier but have
yet to receive a reply.
A Shavings Bag Tip
This one is for people who use large blocks of compressed wood shavings. If you remove the shavings directly from the plastic
bags it is a messy job and you end up with spillage and wastage. Preferably the shavings should also be fluffed up but this
is not so easy either. You could transfer the shavings into a container such as a large bin or cardboard box but such receptacles
are cumbersome when moving them from hutch to hutch. My handy tip is to: Cut all
around the block's plastic wrap, which has been roughly measured into a third or a quarter. Just cut the plastic —
it's not necessary to cut deep into it. Carefully lift the separated piece (keeping the shavings confined by holding the plastic) and place it in a large storage/carry
bag. Then remove the plastic. Zip up the carry bag, tip it upside down and shove it backwards and forwards to aerate and fluff
up the shavings. If you're confident the bag can handle it, you could even kick it around a bit! Your neighbours seeing
you in action will probably think you're a bit barmy – but who cares – you might have that reputation already!
The shavings are now light and portable, easily scooped out and convenient to use. The next time you need
more shavings just cut around the circumference of another section.
And a few more other handy
containers . . .
this nifty garden bin when distributing hay and straw from hutch to hutch. It's also handy for leafy branches I've
pruned from shrubs or trees or whenever I'm gathering edible autumn leaves – see below photo.
It’s made by a company named ‘Medalist’ and is simply named ‘POP-UP BIN’. You should be able
to purchase it at garden centres or in the gardening section of most hardware stores – I found it at Bunnings. Measurements
are 580 mm high by 450 mm wide and if I remember rightly, cost around $10.
I can assure you this handy receptacle is a good buy, especially since it is durable, waterproof and lightweight.
It also folds down flat for storage, though when you need to use it, quick as a flash, it pops up ready to go again. My only
criticism about the bin is that it comes with the extra bonus (supposedly!) of a couple of large plastic scoops. Call me ungrateful
or whatever, but now that I’ve bought five bins, I have had the extra hassle of fobbing off these superfluous scoops
to unsuspecting victims!
Next one is my one handed garden trolley,
which for a number of years has stood the test of time and usefulness! I load one end with fresh pickings and on the other end hard
feed and sometimes an extra bucket for chaff, kitchen offcuts or bits of dry bread etc. Since there's a bit of depth in
the trolley and to save myself a bit bending over the feed buckets are placed on top of an overturned plastic box. Obviously,
I practice what I preach in regard to providing buns with grass and weeds etc.
Although you may have heard how
difficult it is to find fresh vegetation during our drought conditions or certain seasons of the year, on the other hand am
usually able to come up with the goods. If you know where to look and or willing to go to the trouble, yummy bunny food can
be sourced from all kinds of places. For instance the particular load above was gathered during mid winter from some neglected
community garden plots.
Other possible sources of fresh greens are to grow your own supply, such as plant oat or wheat seeds (very easy and
rewarding) or offering to weed your families, friends and neighbour's yards.
Autumn time provides colourful high in fibre leaves, which our bunnies thoroughly enjoy snacking on.
Here's a great, waterproof storage bin
that's perfect for keeping a regular sized, whole bale of hay or straw. The measurements are 118 x
53 x 51 centimetres and comes packaged in peices, so you'll have to put it together. I bought mine from
Bunnings priced at $79 each but have since seen them for sale at the Reject Shop for $60 - though both of these
stores may not have them anymore. Alternatively, there's a similar bin available (green & beige Palm Springs outdoor
storage box) online at oo.com.au
This handy bin is marketed as a 'multi use 350L storage chest' and no doubt could be used for a number
of other useful purposes! Btw 'Miley' our lovely tri-colour rough collie
was keen to have her picture taken too!
Diarrhoea Home Remedy
I believe I have found a recipe to effectively treat the dreaded scours in rabbits. It all started when some of my
bunnies unexpectedly had diarrhoea symptoms and a few of them died. Eventually I found the cause was a brand of pellet and
have since kept well away from purchasing it again. I also found out others had the same problem and losses were great particularly
for commercial rabbit breeders. I assume they were more affected because they are reliant upon pellets as a complete diet.
Of course there are no guarantees that my home remedy treatment will work on every
Diarrhoea has many different causes and whether treatable or not can also depend on the stage it is when
detected. As a case story example I'll relay the process of saving a young twelve week old that would have died if I didn't
take drastic measures. As with most cases of diarrhoea you can usually smell the foul condition before verifying it by looking
underneath to see the tell tale sign.
When I found 'Hannibal' he sat hunched
up as if miserable and in pain. The diarrhoea was liquid and of course he had no interest in food or drink. When I palpated
his abdomen I could feel air bubbles and what could be described as squelchiness. There was little hope that he would last
very long in such a severe and debilitating condition. But I don't give in so easily or have an attitude that a sickly
rabbit is expendable.
My home remedy consists of a combination of products and methods as follows . . .
First of all I carefully syringed 4 ml of Kaomagma (anti diarrhoea liquid purchased
from chemist) and repeated another dose later in the day. Kaomagma contains kaolin and pectin. Kaolin binds and traps bacteria
and bacteria toxins in the gut (often the cause of diarrhoea) and pectin has congealing properties. If unable to source this
product 'Donnagel' is another comparable alternative available from the pharmacy.
Hi, I've been perusing
your very interesting web site and came across you article ‘Diarrhoea Home Remedy’. Unfortunately Kaomagma and alternatives are no longer available
as the govt health authorities decided that they needed to ban kaolin!!!!!!!!!!!
I have found that a paste of cornflour can help. Also people think that Metamucil is a laxative, but it also forms bulk in the bowels. Believe it or not,
adding ½ teaspoon of Metamucil to the rabbit's food for each meal should help clear up the diarrhoea.
Cheers, Lois (animal lover supreme)
Then I went
to search for caecal pellets (produced by a well fed rabbit) and luckily found a fresh bunch left uneaten on some bedding.
I popped the caecal pellets in a small container, added a little cool boiled water and squashed and stirred until I made a
watery soup. This was force fed in the same process as the Kaomagma.
Unfortunately I cannot provide exact amounts
since bunnies tend to lap (swallow) some while an unknown quantity goes to waste out the side of the mouth. The reason I used
caecal pellets is because they are highly nutritious and contain rabbit's natural gut flora/bacteria. I let the caecal
soup settle to digest in his stomach for an hour or so before feeding the third ingredient.
To prevent and treat dehydration (which is symptomatic of diarrhoea) you need to replenish the loss of salt and minerals.
Pedialyte (also purchased from chemists) is a glucose and electrolyte powder, which comes in different flavouring. The raspberry
flavour I bought proved to be a good choice since rabbits are partial to it rather than other flavours like citrus. I mixed
half a teaspoon of powder to a third cup of cool boiled water and fed it at least three times a day. I kept offering one full
syringe after another as long as he was willing to lap them – usually three to four at a time. I made a fresh batch
between dosages though provided the leftovers in a separate bowl beside his bowl of water. By the end of the second day he
would drink from the Pedialyte bowl and in preference to drinking water.
After each fluid intake to help break up air bubbles and stimulate intestinal movement
I applied a few minutes of abdominal massage. There's nothing to the massage technique – I just gently squeezed
and released in various appropriate areas.
discarded the pellets and sanitized the hutch, replenishing with fresh clean bedding of shavings and straw. Although I provided
a good selection of food these were left untouched until he got to the stage of drinking on his own. There's no point
in relaying the long list of food he had on offer, as the important issue is what tempted him to eat at the time. I observed
he chose to nibble the leaves of a corn plant, some grass and then in the following sequence: meadow hay (good quality), jacaranda
needles and a blackberry leaf.
Once the diarrhoea disappeared
and he started drinking and eating I stopped the Kaomagma, gave one more dose of caecal soup and refilled the Pedialyte drink
bowl whenever necessary. I have no doubt that Hannibal would have surely died. To see him now (a month later in this photo)
you would never guess how close he came to deaths door.
you for your advice. I am sure our doe would certainly not have survived this long had we not been so pro-active with your
instead of Bottle!
I use heavy-duty ceramic
bowls for food and water. Many years ago I used suspended water bottles but became fed up with them freezing in winter or
alternatively having unpalatable warm water in summer.
Other problems with bottle systems are:
the right conditions for growing unhealthy algae and or bacteria.
> sometimes the ball bearings jam and unless detected
the bunny could suffer from dehydration.
> another fault with some of them is that they tend to continuously drip
and bunny's bedding ends up a wet mess, which is not a comfortable or a healthy situation to be in!
I find bowls are much more convenient than bottles, especially since they
are easier to clean and fill. They don't freeze over in winter and if need be during summer you can pop some ice cubes
in them. Not only is the iced water refreshing to drink they also help to keep bunnies cooler. They can lie next to the bowl,
pop their front feet in or if a floppy eared lop can dip their ears in the bowl. Bowls stay relatively debris free when placed
in a corner near the front door.
Extra tip: elevate a bowl on a paving or house brick to foil
the grots that insist on making every effort to dirty their water supply. From the act of contaminating their essential source
of water you could assume rabbits are a bit dumb. Then again perhaps they're clever little blighters, deliberately doing
it just to get extra attention from their personal slaves – I pretty much doubt it though!
If garden space is limited you can always grow grass in containers such as this one depicted in the
All you need to get started is a large pot, good quality, organic
potting soil and some oat or wheat seeds. Fill the pot 3/4 with soil, evenly scatter a handful or two of seeds, cover with
more soil and water when necessary. Then watch it grow and pick it whenever you want!
is a natural, nutritious food source for bunnies. Did you know that grass has tiny blades of silica crystals, which during
the chewing process helps wear down teeth of herbivores?
Given that some bunnies do not receive enough vegetation/fibre
in their diet, it is no wonder some end up with teeth problems!
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