Monday, December 20, 2010

Holiday Home Away from Home

Much to Walter’s chagrin, he’ll be in the kennel for the next week or so for the holidays.  I, of course, procrastinated in making Walter’s kennel reservation and by the time I got around to calling, our usual kennel was booked full.  Normally, Walter stays at a kennel closer to home, even though it’s not Walter’s usual doctor.  This time, I ended up making a reservation for him at our veterinarian’s office.

When I called to secure a spot for Walter for the week, I asked what I needed to bring with me, aside from the obvious (medication, the rabbit himself).  The receptionist indicated I should plan to bring food, bedding, everything.  This shocked me!  At our usual kennel, all of this is provided – and for roughly the same price. 

Am I expecting too much?  What is standard practice here?  What do you usually bring with you when putting your rabbit in the kennel?

[On a separate note, this will likely be my last post for 2010. I hope you all have a wonderful holiday and a very happy new year! See you in 2011!]

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Rabbit vs. Robot

As it turns out, Walter hates my computer.  I think he thinks it’s my new pet rabbit that I love more than him, or something.  Over the past few days, I’ve been spending much of my evenings on the computer (job hunting: a tedious, yet necessary task) and Walter has made it perfectly clear that he resents my time dedicated to this small, glowing machine.

He starts showing his discontent by hopping up on the ottoman and staring at me.  No, really.  Staring.  I can practically see a scowl on his rabbit face.  Sometimes I’ll ignore him, but sometimes I’ll put my laptop to the side and give him some forehead scratches.  Whenever I show him affection and attention, he melts into a puddle of bunny love on the ottoman.  The minute I turn my attention back to the internet, the scowling begins again.

It then progresses into a heavy display of “look at me!”  This ranges from Walter chewing on things he knows are off-limits to Walter putting on his best show of jumps and antics for my entertainment.  Both methods work: his bad behavior means I have to get off the couch to discipline him (fifteen seconds of attention!), and his binkying means I watch him and laugh at his silliness (fifteen more seconds of attention!).  These are only temporary measures, though, as I inevitably must return to my work on the computer.

Then comes the final plea for attention.  Walter hops on the couch and climbs into my lap into the small space between my body and the laptop. And he’ll just lie there for however long I let him. He gives me sweet little rabbit licks while I’m petting him, and begins nudging me and biting me when I stop, even for a second.  Sometimes he’ll bite the computer, just to show it who’s boss.

Do your rabbits ever go to great lengths to get your attention? What do they usually do?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Angry Rabbit

It has come to my attention that Walter hates when I sleep in on the weekends.  During the week, I wake up pretty early for work, and give the rabbit his breakfast by 7:30 AM.  On the weekends, Walter’s typical breakfast time isn’t until 10 AM or so.  Just like his mama, he gets grumpy when he’s hungry.

He also gets spiteful!  Despite hearing Walter jump back and forth in his cage all morning, I slept in on Saturday.  When I finally got out of bed, around 10:30 in the morning, I promptly let Walter out of the cage and fixed him his meal.  But the rabbit was already mad and punished me by acting absolutely crazy.

For starters, he began chewing on a doorframe that hasn’t interested him in weeks.  Then, he maniacally dug at the bathmats on the bathroom floor.  With great fury, he picked up an empty box and tossed it all over the bathroom.  I tolerated all this, simply picking up the bathmats and placing it out of his reach and turning him around when he started chewing the walls.  But then I hit my final straw: Walter started biting my foot.  Nonstop.

I was standing at the bathroom sink, drying my hair, and Walter crept slowly towards me.  At first, he tugged on my sweatpants.  I stopped what I was doing to give him a few forehead scratches and then returned to my task.  He started eating my sweatpants again.  I ignored him.  And then I felt the sharp pain of rabbit teeth on the top of my foot.  Ouch! I yelled at him to stop and moved him to the other side of the bathroom, but this just made him come back to bite me again.  Double ouch!

This went on for a few minutes, until I got so frustrated with him that I had to lock him back up in his cage.

Later in the day, he started huffing at me.  He’d already been fed.  I’d given him attention.  But still, he huffed.  So I finally huffed back.  He echoed my huff, and we went back and forth for a couple seconds until I got bored of acting like a bunny and went back to reading my book.

What does your rabbit do when he’s mad at you?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Next Best Thing to Noozles or Bonks

Usually Walter is perfectly content to be left alone for the majority of the night. He spends the evening running laps around the apartment, playing with his toys, and just relaxing.  But the past few nights, I've been more preoccupied than usual, and I think Walter has felt a little neglected. This has lead to a new lounging arrangement: Walter hops onto the couch, climbs the cushion behind me, and scoots as close to me as he can get. Then he stretches out his little rabbit face, and rests it on my shoulder, in the nook between my ear and my chin.  It's sweet, since it allows me to keep doing what I'm doing, but cuddle with my bunny and give him whatever attention he's craving.


What a snuggly bunny!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Testing Out My Vet's Suggestions

Over the weekend, I tested out my veterinarian’s suggestions for incorporating pineapple juice into Walter’s medication routine.  I started with the add-juice-into-the-syringe approach, but what I failed to realize ahead of time was that this would mean that there would be more liquid to squirt into Walter’s tiny rabbit mouth.  I have enough trouble getting him to take just one milliliter of medicine; adding four more was torturous!

Needless to say, this method failed for me.  Next, I tried to put out a small dish of plain pineapple juice, in the hopes that Walter would slurp it down, and the next time I could place out a small dish of pineapple juice laced with meds.  Walter snubbed the juice entirely.

So, back to the basics, which now entails using some serious brute strength to hold Walter in place and force the medicine down his throat. Walter repaid me by tearing his entire box fort to shreds on Saturday.

I’m about a third of the way through Walter’s medication period. Only two more months to go, and I can’t wait for this to be over!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Good Advice from the Veterinarian

Walter’s been in an interesting mood this week.  He’s found a new hangout spot: my leather ottoman.  He started using it as just one more piece in his self-created obstacle course around the living room, but yesterday, I noticed he’s taken to just laying on it.  I think he thinks it’s his own couch.  Speaking of couches, Walter has also taken to lying next to me on the couch.  He doesn’t try to run around or jump between the cushions; he just wants to snuggle.  It’s sweet, even if it’s abnormal for him.

I’ve been having a lot of difficulty getting Walter to take his medication.  On Monday night, my attempts left Walter completely shaking with terror; I could hear him making this weird teeth-grinding/chattering noise that I’ve never heard him make before.  It stopped as soon as I stopped trying to force the medicine on him, so I take it as a sign of fright.

I emailed my veterinarian for some suggestions.  He replied with some interesting suggestions, which I’ll have to try tonight.  First, he let me know that the pharmacist was considering other flavors for the medication.  Right now, Walter’s medicine is banana-flavored, and I don’t think he’s enjoying it.  The veterinarian indicated that the pharmacist was working on a pineapple flavor, and also, interestingly, a hay-flavored medication.

His suggestions both include pineapple juice (using the 100% juice kind), since rabbits typically love pineapple juice and it’s good for them – especially for their digestive tract.  First, he suggested putting the proper amount of medication in the syringe and then filling up the remainder of the syringe with pineapple juice.  This would make for a sweeter, tastier experience for the rabbit.  His second suggestion was to set out a small dish of pineapple juice for the rabbit, and see if he lapped it up completely.  If so, then repeat this, but mix in the proper dose of medication.

He also told me what I already knew: wrapping the rabbit snuggly in a towel and covering his eyes will minimize his medication-related stress.  Since I only have two hands, it’s difficult to hold the rabbit in his towel, cover his eyes, and give him the medication all at the same time.  But I’ll figure something out.

The doctor ended his email with a good piece of advice:
“Sometimes TLC is Tender Loving Care and other times it is Tough Loving Care. Often times, if our pets know meds or treatments are coming, they prepare for it, which makes it difficult on both parties. Sometimes it is best to just give it when least suspecting.”
Remembering that tough love is okay sometimes is hard for me when it comes to the bunny.  He’s got those sweet “don’t hurt me!” eyes and that silly little wiggly nose.  But, the veterinarian is right.  If I don’t toughen up on Walter, the rabbit always wins the struggle, which means he won’t get his medication and he’ll stay sick.  Tough love it is!  And I’ve been consistently giving Walter his medication right before bedtime: procrastination of a difficult chore on my part.  Maybe I should switch it up and start giving Walter the meds right when I get home from work.  That way, it’s over with early on, and he has the rest of the evening to play and forgive.

In other news, Walter has discovered a new love for cilantro and Italian parsley, and nothing cracks me up more than seeing a giant clump of greens hanging from Walter’s greedy little mouth.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Adventures in Bunny-Proofing

I decided to jump-start my Thanksgiving break on Tuesday, and set aside the afternoon to completing some unfinished household projects.  The most important project was a major bunny-proofing effort in my living room.

I mentioned in an earlier post that my entertainment center is an open bookcase, meaning it has no backing and you can see through to the wall.  This was fine in my pre-rabbit life, but now means that Walter has easy access to all of the television cables, which he loves to chew.

(Side note: why is it that my rabbit seems to seek out these wires to chew?  I could understand the chewing if the cords happened to be in his way, but he goes through great lengths to get to them!)

In my head, I dreamt up a clear behind-the-bookcase blockade.  When I got to Home Depot, I had no idea where to begin.  After wandering aimlessly, while trying not to look like a stereotypically lost girl in the home improvement store, I finally asked for some help.  The salesperson directed me to the display of polycarbonate, acrylic, and glass sheets.  I chose acrylic, since it was lighter (and obviously less fragile) than glass, but cheaper than polycarbonate.  I picked out a sheet that measured 36” x 48” and bought a knife that claimed to easily cut through the material.

Because there is an extension cord behind the bookcase that took up some space, the bookcase sits about three inches out from the wall.  Three inches is enough space for Walter to squeeze himself into, so I decided that I would need to block this off, too.  Essentially, I was building three acrylic walls behind the bookcase: one to cover the back of the bookcase itself, serving as a clear backboard, and two to serve as clear walls to cover the three-inch space between the bookcase and the wall.  I chose Krazy Glue as my acrylic-on-acrylic adhesive.

My plan seemed simple.  I measured twice and planned to cut once.  But the knife I bought didn’t cut the acrylic as easily as I anticipated.  After scoring the material over two dozen times, my frustration set in and with force that came out of nowhere, I managed to break off a piece of the material.  It didn’t break off in a straight line as I intended it to, but it did break off just wide enough and long enough to suit its purpose.

After getting the two side pieces broken off, I glued everything together, organized all the wires and cables behind my entertainment center, and stared proudly at my workmanship as Walter unsuccessfully sought ways to outthink my contraption.

My clear Walter-proof wall works well and looks good, so I am pleased that my dreamt-up blockade has become a reality.  Additionally, I set out some clear doormats at each doorway, since Walter has recently taken to trying to chew his way through the carpet into rooms with closed doors.  I also found a jar of lemon oil and rubbed some of that on walls that Walter likes to chew.  So far, both items have been successful, though he only had a day to experience all the changes before I brought him to the kennel for Thanksgiving.

I bring Walter home tonight, so we’ll see how all my bunny-proofing measures hold up to his antics over the next few days.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Quick Update

Oh goodness, I’ve been neglectful of you lately, blogosphere.  It’s been a busy time at work, so I haven’t had as much time to devote to chronicling my rabbit’s neuroses.

The general update is that Walter has become very aware of my medicine-giving tactics and has since made it almost impossible to give him his daily dosage.  I’ve had to resort to hiding the medicine in a pile of alfalfa sprouts, which he quickly gobbles up.  I honestly don’t even know if this is a safe way to be medicating my bunny.

As a result of Walter hating medicine time, and ultimately, hating me for putting him through it, we’ve had a rough few days.  Instead of being the cuddly bunny he’s been of late, Walter spends a lot of time avoiding me and frankly, running away from me.  I bought him some new toys over the weekend as a peace offering.  It did not work.

Walter will be spending a handful of days at the kennel for Thanksgiving, which I am sure he will hate even further.  The only upside to his kennel stay is that I can trust the veterinarian and/or vet techs to be able to medicate Walter properly while he’s there.

I will try to blog before and during my Thanksgiving vacation, but in case I am unable to, I hope you all have a happy and safe Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Weevils!

It was a warm summer day and Paul and I had been running errands all afternoon.  One of those errands was to pick up a bag of pellets for the rabbit.  This was back when we were still feeding him the addictive Healthy Select Rabbit Diet.  Once we got home, I put the bag of food away and didn’t give it a second thought until dinnertime.

When it came time to feed Walter, I opened up his new bag of yummy goodness and started to pour out his mealtime serving.  The food looked a little different: all the pellets were sticking together in loosely formed clumps.  It looked like maybe the dried berries in the bag melted from being the warm car all day, and formed this strange cobwebbed food mixture when they dried back up.

I showed it to Paul and asked if he thought it was still okay to give to Walter.  “I’m sure it’s fine,” he said.  For several days, we fed Walter the pellets from this bag of food.  We were probably halfway through the bag when grossness struck.

One evening, I took the bag out to prepare Walter’s dinner, and left the bag opened while I walked into the other room to grab something.  When I came back to finish the task of giving my rabbit his dinner, I noticed a few small, skinny, neon greenish yellow colored worm-looking things crawling out of the bag.  I shrieked.  Paul came running.  Before Paul even made it across our apartment to the kitchen, I noticed several more of these wormy creatures crawling all over the counters.

We set to squashing these unidentified mini-monsters.  I threw the bag of Walter’s food away.  We started finding them all over the apartment – in Walter’s food bowl, crawling on the walls, climbing windows, everywhere.  “What are these?!” I asked.

The answer?  Weevils.

Weevils are common household pests, and can actually be very often found in pet food.  They eat their way through the bag of grains, lay eggs within the grain itself (in our case, the grain was the pellet), and when the eggs hatch, the larvae eat their way out of the grain.  It’s pretty gross.  What’s even grosser is how quickly they reproduce.  A weevil infestation is a quick one.

After the evening of smushing green wormy-things that were weevil larvae, we started finding teeny tiny brown moths flying all over our apartment.  Fortunately for us, these bugs were stupid and easy to smash, since they never flew away in time.  Unfortunately for us, there were so many of them.

So, how do you get rid of a weevil infestation?  You start doing what Paul and I called “Weevil Huntin’.”

First, either throw out all your grainy food or freeze it for four days.  This includes cereal, rice, and pasta.  For better odds, get rid of (or freeze!) everything you have.  If you do freeze your food, make sure it stays in the freezer for at least four days. This is the amount of time it will take for any weevil eggs that have been laid to die.

Then, set to cleaning.  Paul and I found the weevils’ main hiding place in our hallway closet, so we attacked that the hardest.  Using a bleach-mixture, we sprayed and scrubbed every surface we could find.  This sounds like a grueling task, and it is, but it was worth it to be rid of the weevils.  Clean the insides of cabinets, clean tiny crevices where you think a weevil might lurk.  Clean like this for a few days in a row.  Again, tiresome.  Again, worth it.  We had to go through this process twice, since our first food-freezing and cleaning efforts weren’t quite enough.  But after the second time, we were completely weevil free, and glad of it.

As it turns out, that “cobwebby” look to Walter’s food was a sure sign of weevils.  After I saw that, I should’ve tossed the food out immediately.  When weevils eat through the grains, they leave a sticky residue behind, causing all the other food to sort of clump together and form a food “cobweb.”

So, lesson learned.  It’s important to store your pet’s food in well-sealed containers.  I like the Rubbermaid Flex & Seal Cereal Containers.  They’re air-tight, easy to grip, and easy to pour.  And they hold just a little more than one bag’s-worth of rabbit pellets.

It’s also important to check out the food you’re purchasing, preferably before you purchase it.  I check out Walter’s pellets thoroughly, at home at least.  Because weevils are brown, it’s hard to see them amidst all the pellets in the bag.  But, I’ll do a check when I pour Walter’s serving into his food dish, and I keep my eye out for any signs of cobwebbing.

And, I try not to think about how many weevils Walter might have consumed.  Ick.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

In Memory of Buster

I created this blog as a rabbits-only space, but today I’d like to take a break from talking about Walter and say farewell to my dog, Buster.

My family got Buster and his brother, Rocky, from a pet store in Connecticut.  We originally went there to bring home a hyperactive beagle puppy.  But, after having lived with a beagle for eight years previously, my parents were ready for a calmer dog.  We noticed two handsome Brittany Spaniel puppies were together in the same crate, just below the beagle.  My parents asked the store employee if we could see both dogs.  As soon as he was free, the tri-colored puppy, who we'd later name Rocky, started running around the store.  The orange-and-white pup, Buster, on the other hand, came right to us for some snuggles and bellyrubs.

We couldn’t choose between the two of them, and after learning that they were littermates, couldn’t bear to separate them.  So we brought them both home.  In the car, Buster sat calmly in my sister’s lap.  Rocky, however, tried to escape to the trunk of our Subaru station wagon.  It would be a recurring juxtaposition – Buster seeking affection and Rocky seeking freedom.


The two dogs were inseparable and became an important part of our family.  Around the age of three or four, Rocky developed epilepsy.  Our freedom-loving dog transformed into a lethargic, sad animal right in front of us. After spending five years suffering through weekly seizures and heavy doses of medication, my parents decided it was time to let him go.

Buster was never quite the same after Rocky died.  He became anxious.  He would follow us around the house, afraid to let us out of his sight.  While he was always a very affectionate dog, he became needy; he wanted to be touching you at all times.  As the years passed, Buster developed new fears of everything: puddles, small dogs, big dogs, other people, and more.  But, he was still our sweet Buster.

A few months ago, at the age of thirteen, Buster was hit by a car.  He survived, but was rather disfigured.  His jaw had disconnected from the rest of his skull, and the veterinarian had to put wires in his mouth to hold everything together.  His face was completely crooked.  After hearing the veterinarian make lofty promises about Buster’s recovery, my parents decided against euthanizing our hurt, miserable dog.  Buster, already arthritic and suffering from bowel problems, had a long way to go.  He couldn’t eat solid foods, he was incontinent, and he was in serious, constant pain.  The veterinarian never made good on any of his big promises for Buster’s future.

My mother called me last night to let me know that she and my father, along with a veterinarian, decided this past Thursday that it was time to let Buster go.  It’s for the best, and I’m happy to think that maybe he and Rocky are up in doggie heaven, chasing squirrels and eating pigs’ ears and stealing each other’s toys.

Buster, you were a wonderful dog and I will miss you dearly.  Say hi to Rocky for me!


Saturday, November 13, 2010

Lessons in Giving a Rabbit His Medicine

Paul and I attempted to give Walter his medicine last night, very unsuccessfully.  After watching the video provided by a commenter in my last post, I felt confident in my ability to use a blanket to wrap Walter in a “bunny burrito” long enough to squirt the medicine in his mouth.  But this proved easier said than done.  We just couldn’t get him to stay in the bunny burrito.  Just as I thought we’d wrapped him up securely enough, he’d wriggle out and dart to one of his hard-to-reach hiding spots.  I was able to give him maybe one-tenth of the required dose through the course of the night.  After spending about an hour chasing Walter around the apartment, probably scaring the bejeesus out of him, I gave up.  By bedtime, Walter was terrified of us; he wouldn’t even come over for a peace offering of basil.

I went to bed frustrated, but woke up with a new plan.  The video showed the rabbit handler sitting on a stool – a place that is out of the rabbit’s element.  I needed to recreate the same situation for Walter.  Trying to pin Walter down on the carpet was fruitless; he would always have an escape route.  So, what could I use that would block off all his exits?  My answer: the dining room table.

I had seen Walter hop up onto the table from the dining chairs enough to know that it was a scary jump down from the table for him.  Too scary for him to attempt it, in fact.  I asked Paul to lay a towel on the tabletop and lift Walter on the table. (To Paul’s credit, he is a much firmer rabbit handler; picking the bunny up still scares me, and I’m sure Walter can pick up on this.)  Once on the table, I wrapped Walter into his bunny burrito and gave him a few forehead scratches while Paul got the medicine ready.  To my surprise, Walter calmly let me insert the syringe into his mouth, behind his teeth, and squirt a little bit of the liquid towards the inside of his cheek.  This was a huge improvement from the night before, when Walter would shake his head and violently run away at the first touch of the syringe on his mouth.

After the first squirt, I let Walter take a short break to lick his lips.  I placed the syringe back in his mouth and repeated the process.  Two more small squirts later and Walter had taken his entire dose of medicine! Paul and I praised the bunny for his good behavior and then gave him a small bit of carrot as a reward.

I’m still nervous that we’ll encounter another medicine-taking struggle for tomorrow’s dose, but I’m confident in the tabletop bunny burrito, and proud of both myself and Walter (and Paul!) for figuring out how to get through the first round.

A big thank you to those who have left comments or tweeted at me with tips and tricks to make giving my rabbit his medicine a lot easier.  I appreciate all your help!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Rabbit Rx

Well, Walter’s mad at me.  After our dog-sitting experience and after five days of not being able to run around, Walter was definitely relieved to be home.  I let him have as much out-of-cage time as I possibly could on Wednesday night and then again on Thursday.  But, as with every night, eventually he had to be locked up for bedtime.  This morning, I woke up for work and wandered over to Walter’s cage with his breakfast, as usual.  Walter did not greet me with his usual nose noozle.  Instead, he proceeded to try to chew his way out of the cage – something I find hilarious to watch, but simultaneously makes me feel bad for my little bunny.

He’ll be glad when the weekend comes, though.  I promised to give him extensive out-of-cage time, though I purposefully made no mention of the medication he has to start tonight.  It’s his E. Cuniculi treatment.  Off the top of my head, I can’t remember what the medicine is called, but I do know that I have to use a syringe to squirt it into Walter’s mouth.  This is going to be a really difficult task.  I can barely get my rabbit to hold still for me to inspect his ears! How am I going to get him to let me squirt a few milligrams of liquid down his throat? (Side note: I was actually told to squirt it towards his cheek, so as not to choke the bunny.)

Fellow bunny-lovers, do you have any tips for me?  What’s the most painless way to get my rabbit to take his medicine?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Rabbit Health Mysteries, Part 3

A few weeks ago, my rabbit tested “mildly positive” for E. Cuniculi, which indicated that he was either just getting over an infection or about to launch into one.  We waited a few weeks and re-tested, and Walter’s veterinarian finally called yesterday with the results from this follow-up blood work.  Unfortunately for Walter, his “mild positive” has escalated into a “full positive,” which means he does in fact have a parasitic infection.  My poor bunny!

It seems that standard treatment is to give the rabbit an oral medication for three months.  When telling me about the medication, my veterinarian asked if Walter had any favorite food flavors.  Apparently, the pharmacist alters the rabbit medication so that it tastes like a rabbit’s favorite food, making it easier to give the rabbit his daily dose.  I’m not much of a sweet-treat-giver for Walter, so I wasn’t able to give him any suggestions.  The veterinarian said he’d try for grape or banana, and if Walter didn’t like it, we could try another flavor.

So I guess I should go out and buy a couple grapes and a banana for my bunny, to get him used to the flavors.  I’m really nervous about getting Walter to take his medication every day, but I’m hopeful that after these next three months, but rabbit will be back to his normal, healthy self.

What is your experience with treating a bunny that has E. Cuniculi?  What flavor did you choose for his medication?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Rabbit Meets Dog: An Update

So Walter and I have been dog-sitting for a few days now, and I wish it was going better.  Friday morning, I arrived at my friend’s house to set the rabbit up in his temporary home.  I chose their guest bedroom, since it was close to where I’d be sleeping, and therefore easier for me to check in on him or spend time with him.  When I returned in the evening, my friend was still home and we decided to introduce Roxy and Walter.  This was a mistake.

Roxy, anxious about another animal in her home, had been crying and pacing in front of the door to the guest bedroom all day.  We opened the door slowly, holding onto Roxy’s collar in anticipation of an attack.  At first she just stared the rabbit down.  But then suddenly, she darted out of our grasp and towards Walter’s playpen, effectively nose-bumping with him rather hard.  We got a better grip on her, and after two more nose-bump incidents, decided that the introduction needed to be over.  I expected Walter to be startled – and maybe he was hiding his fear – but he just went about his business, hopping in the playpen.

But having to listen to the dog whine and sniff outside his door all day must’ve been terrifying to Walter.  Add to that the anger of having been caged up all day, and Walter turned into a menace.  Much later that evening, I found Walter’s playpen area a complete disaster – his travel crate had been completely overturned, his hay had been knocked everywhere, and the blanket covering the floor had been torn through in his attempts to dig his way out.

After a sleepless night of listening to Roxy cry nonstop (no exaggeration – she cried from midnight until 8 in the morning), it was time to move Walter somewhere less available to the dog.  I didn’t want to have to do this, but Walter had been banished to the unfinished basement.  I felt terribly about this.  But, with Paul’s help, Walter got situated in his second room for the weekend.  Again, he was angry, but at least Roxy couldn’t get to him this time.

Walter spent about twenty-four hours in the unfinished basement until I came to check on him yesterday afternoon and found that he had somehow escaped his playpen! I have no idea how he did it.  He didn’t break through the seam of the enclosure, he didn’t somehow sneak underneath the gate.  He must’ve hopped the fence! That’s a big jump for a little bunny.  I have no idea how long he was free for before I found him.  There are any number of ways for him to get hurt in that part of the basement.  It was time to move him again.

The only other option at this point was the finished part of the basement.  I didn’t want to do this – the basement is brand new, and between the potential for Walter to dig, chew, or urinate on the carpet, I didn’t want to risk ruining my friend’s brand new basement.  So I put him in the bathroom.  I think this is the most ideal place for Walter.  The floors and baseboards are all tile, and using the playpen, I blocked the wood vanity and the wood door frames, so there is nothing for him to chew.  He gets almost free range of the whole bathroom, so he has a little bit of room to run around.  And I know he loves the coolness of bathroom floor tiles.

He’s still not super happy, but as long as we can get through the next few days, I promise I’ll make it up to him with lots of out-of-cage time in our bunny-proofed home.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Rabbit Meets Dog

Walter and I are dog-sitting for a friend for the next few days.  My rabbit’s exposure to dogs is limited to Buster, my family dog, who is thirteen years old, arthritic, and scared of everything.  They’ve only met twice.  The first time, Buster shook with fear while Walter hopped around him, sniffing and trying to make friends.  This ended badly – Buster got sick and threw up out of anxiety.

Buster (left) and Rocky, our family dogs (RIP Rocky)

Buster wasn’t always scared of small animals.  He used to chase squirrels, rabbits, and even attempted to chase deer in our yard.  I guess with old age, he began to fear the critters that could outrun him.  While I do feel badly that my dog was terrified of a little Walter rabbit, I was grateful that Walter’s first meeting with a dog was such a gentle, unaggressive one.

Not to say that Roxy, my friend’s dog, is aggressive or anything.  She’s a really sweet, affectionate puppy.  But she’s also incredibly curious and still has that keen hunter’s instinct.  I fear that her curiosity will lead to an injured bunny, even if it was just an accident.

Roxy, in a quiet moment

So, Walter will be kept in a separate room from the dog and me for most of the weekend.  I feel terrible about locking him away for so much time, but I don’t trust that he’ll be able to safely roam free with the dog around.  They had their first meeting today.  After setting up Walter’s temporary playpen/cage, Roxy snuck into the room and whimpered while staring the rabbit down, checking him out.  Walter, to my surprise, didn’t hide from the dog but instead ignored her completely.  He went about his routine, investigating the playpen, chomping on some hay, and looking for ways to escape the confines.

I am dog-sitting until Wednesday.  I have a feeling it will be a long five days…  Wish me (and Walter!) luck.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Choosing the Right Rabbit Food

Despite all the reading I had done prior to bringing Walter home, I still could not figure out what kind of pellets to start him on.  His breeder informed me that she fed all her bunnies Manna Pro, and would give me a baggie full of the pellets to mix into his new food for an easier transition.  At first, I figured the easiest thing to do would be to just continue feeding my rabbit the Manna Pro brand.  Unfortunately, the only stores that carry this brand were really geared towards the farm owner or multi-rabbit family.  I couldn’t find a bag of food that was under fifteen pounds! That was way too much food for one little rabbit; the food would go bad well before Walter was able to eat it all.

So, I just went to Petco and surveyed their selection.  After much debate and overwhelming frustration at my inability to decide or recall suggested brands from my rabbit books, I chose Healthy Select Rabbit Diet.  It was a timothy hay-based food, and contained flowers, herbs, and vegetables in the mix.  In my mind, this sounded delicious!  I purchased a five pound bag and brought it home to Walter.

I mixed it in very gradually with the Manna Pro pellets.  Over the course of two weeks, I put in more of the Healthy Select and less of the Manna Pro.  One day, I noticed that Walter had begun tossing out the Manna Pro pellets and only eating the Healthy Select.  I took this as a sign that he was ready to transition over completely.

And that’s when I started to learn that Healthy Select was like crack cocaine for my bunny.  He would only eat the tastiest portions of the pellet mix – the dried corn kernels, the oats, the dried flowers and vegetables – and he couldn’t get enough of them.  After every meal, I found the timothy hay pellets tossed on the floor of his cage, where they would remain until I cleaned them up.  I started noticing that Walter’s stool was softer than it should have been and knew immediately that his eating habits were to blame.

I went back to Petco.  This time, I picked up a bag of Oxbow Bunny Basics/T.  Again, I slowly started mixing the new food in with the rabbit’s meals.  Again, I’d find all the healthy pellets on the floor.

I had had enough.  As confirmed in my book, rabbits will eat based on taste.  Clearly, Walter was eating the dessert portion of his meal without eating his entrĂ©e.  He was gaining some considerable weight and his stool was still not looking good.  It was time for a total diet overhaul.  So, out with the old food completely – and in with the new.

Walter would not eat his new pellets.  He would let his bowl of food sit for hours in his cage, untouched.  I did not relent.  Eventually, he learned that it was this or nothing, and began to eat the pellets.  It’s been several months since then, and I’m happy to say that Walter will scarf down his apportioned pellet serving without complaints.

This taught me an important lesson.  Not all pellets are created equal.  I think it’s a misconception that all pet food producers truly have the animal’s nutrition in mind.  For rabbits, foods such as corn, seeds, and oats should be avoided at all costs.  These foods really are like a drug to the bunnies and quickly lead to bad eating habits, which of course can lead to bigger health problems.

What do you feed your bunnies? 

Monday, November 1, 2010

Ready, Aim, Fire!

My rabbit peed on my friend on Saturday night.

A friend from high school was in town for the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear.  She came over on Saturday evening to catch up and just hang out.  Walter had been, for the most part, on pretty good behavior almost the entire day.

But something about my friend set off a series of bad bunny behaviors.  First, Walter started leaving droppings around the house on the carpet.  We’ve been living in the apartment for three weeks now, and this is the first time he’s done that.

Then, after telling my friend how well-behaved Walter had been lately, I decided to let him up on the couch for a few minutes.  This was a terrible decision.  I knew from the very moment Walter hopped up that something was not quite right.  He stood in the center of the couch, between my friend and me, and hopped in a few small circles.  Then he stopped, facing me.  The next thing I know, my friend shouts, “Oh no, WALTER!” And that’s when I see the urine stain spreading quickly on the side of her jeans and all over my couch cushion.

What was that all about?!  He hasn’t done that since he was a bitty baby bunny, and even then it was just one time.

I locked Walter up in his cage and he was grounded for the rest of the night.  The next day, he was right back to normal.  No attempts to hop on the couch, no accidents, nothing.  What is going on with my Walter boy?

Friday, October 29, 2010

Rabbit Separation Anxiety?

It’s been a recurring observation in my last few posts – Walter’s been more snuggly lately.  And while I’m loving this side of my rabbit, I’m wondering if maybe he’s going a bit too far.  Last night, I got home from work at a reasonable time and let Walter out of the cage.  From that point on, Walter was beside me for almost the entire night.  If I went into the kitchen, he followed.  If I sat on the couch, he sat by my feet.

I sat on the floor with him for a little while, since I am trying to discourage him from hopping onto the couch.  Walter used this opportunity to squeeze himself between my back and the couch that I was leaning on.  If I moved, Walter gave me a disgruntled look.  Finally, he moved next to me instead of lying behind me and I gave him some forehead scratches while I read my book.  If I stopped for even a split second, the rabbit let me know he was mad.

What happened to my independent bunny?

I didn’t really think anything of it until later.  I got up to use the restroom and shut the door behind me.  Walter, suddenly aware that I was no longer with him in the living room, darted to the bathroom door.  I could see the shadow of his floppy ears underneath the doorway and then heard his frantic scratches to be let into the room with me. I’ve been keeping Walter out of the bathroom because he keeps chewing the door frames and my bathmats, so I thought his scratches were simply because he wanted to play in the bathroom.  When I went to exit the bathroom, I left the door open long enough to allow the rabbit to sneak inside the room, but he didn’t take the opportunity given.  Instead, he followed me right back to our spot on the floor in the living room.

It reminded me of a parent who brings her child to daycare or school: the child kicks and cries for his mommy, not able to bear the thought of being apart.  So, is this rabbit-style separation anxiety?  Or is this a one-time rabbit behavior?  Walter’s gone through some changes recently; we moved to a new apartment and he's now down by one "parent."  I’m not trying to go all psychology on my rabbit relationship, but I know rabbits are sensitive animals.  Is it a stretch to think that Walter’s snuggliness and over-attentiveness is related to making sure there aren’t any more changes coming soon?

Okay, even as I typed that last sentence, I realized it sounded silly.  That seems a bit intense for a little bunny.  Maybe he’s just grown out of his crazy baby phase and is settling into an adult personality of being a calm, affectionate pet.

In other news, Walter’s racing and jumping around the apartment has hit new levels of hilarity.  I will try to take some videos this weekend and post them here.  Happy Halloweekend, everyone!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Walter Learns Couch Boundaries

Two weeks ago, I posted about Walter’s love for playing on the couch.  I complained that he kept leaving droppings behind, and a commenter noted that the rabbit was being territorial and should be kept off the couch until he learned it was a place that belonged to me, not him.

Ever since, I’ve been working hard to keep the bunny off the sofa.  It hasn’t been easy! I’ve had evenings when Walter would do nothing but jump on, get pushed off, and then just jump right back on the couch again, and the cycle would repeat.

Fortunately, Walter’s been a quick learner.  Last night, I spent a few hours reading on the couch.  Normally, the rabbit would have taken this opportunity to join me on the sofa, and I would have had to interrupt my reading to clean up whatever droppings he’d left behind.  Instead, Walter would approach the couch, look up at me or nudge my foot to get my attention, and I would join him on the floor.  He didn’t attempt to jump onto the couch at all! 

Okay, that’s a lie. He did once after I patted the sofa and repeated, “C’mon up, it’s okay!” to him a few times.  I guess I’m sending him mixed signals.

But, when he did hop up upon request, it wasn’t to leave droppings or run around like a crazy bunny.  He climbed into my lap and nestled his face into the crook of my arm for a bunny snuggle session.  We sat together like that for a while – me, reading my book and Walter, grinding his teeth in joy.

This brings me to my next point: Walter has been such an affectionate rabbit lately. It’s wonderful; I lie on the floor, and Walter curls up next to me.  It’s the first time I've felt rabbit ownership was just as comforting as dog ownership.  I wonder what’s gotten into him!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Rabbit and Blood Work: Round II

I dropped Walter off at the vet this morning for his follow up blood work.  In an earlier post, I mentioned that my rabbit had tested “mildly positive” for E. cuniculi, which indicated that he was either just getting over an illness or about to launch into one.  Let’s hope it’s the former.

Walter spent Saturday and Sunday nights at the kennel this weekend, so I knew he wouldn’t be too keen on getting back into his travel carrier and taken to the veterinarian’s office.  In order to butter the bunny up, I fed him a hearty dose of alfalfa sprouts and one large Brussels sprout early this morning.  After he scarfed everything down, I opened his cage door and watched his face light up as he (mistakenly) realized he could hop to freedom.  One hop, a quick squirm, and one firm push on his tush, and he was locked inside the carrier and not pleased.

Upon arrival at the animal clinic, I set Walter and his travel carrier down next to me on a bench and tried to give him a couple of forehead scratches through the wire door.  The rabbit immediately turned around and shoved his backside against the door; he couldn’t have made it any clearer that he was mad at me!

I should be able to pick Walter up later this afternoon, though I suppose we won’t receive the results from the blood tests for a few days.  I’ll post updates here, but in the meantime, will hope that the days of Walter’s parasite are behind us.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Is Walter Over Peppers?

I can’t believe it could be true, but I think Walter is tired of green peppers.  When I first started introducing vegetables into Walter’s diet, I had a couple successes and a few failed foods.  Basil, mint, green peppers, Brussels sprouts, and alfalfa sprouts are consistently incorporated into the rabbit’s meals.  Cilantro and arugula? Not so much.

Because basil and mint can quickly go bad, depending on where I’ve purchased it from, and because it can be hard to find alfalfa sprouts at the grocery store, the standard offerings are Brussels sprouts and green peppers.  I was glad of it, too.  Brussels require no extra preparation, aside from washing.  Green peppers can easily be pre-washed and pre-sliced so that it’s a quick and easy dinnertime option. The selection never seemed to be a problem; the bunny never minded these staple meal ingredients.

Until this past week, that is.  Three evenings in a row, I offered Walter a hearty chunk of green pepper as part of his dinner.  And three evenings in a row, Walter has given the pepper a half-hearted sniff and hopped away from it.  It befuddles me, because less than a week ago, Walter was carrying a piece of pepper with him everywhere he went!

I suppose that, like humans, rabbits get bored of the same food all the time.  I can’t say that I blame him.  So, it looks like it’s time to start changing up his meals.  What are your rabbit’s favorite vegetables?  What’s your veggie rotation?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

What are You Doing Here?

I get very suspicious when the rabbit is freely roaming the apartment if I can’t hear him.  Most of the time, this means he’s found a fun place to nap.  But sometimes, it means he’s getting into trouble.  When he’s in this quiet mode, I have to go on a pretty intense hunt around the apartment, and I usually end up finding him in the last place I would expect.  Here is a list of all the weird places that I’ve found him spending time being unusually quiet:

  • Lying behind a large, decorative mirror
  • Trapped inside an empty moving box (he tried to jump on it, but it was open on the top)
  • Sitting in a decorative bowl in the bedroom
  • Underneath various tables, probably chewing the wooden legs
  • Romping through a folded up mattress pad
  • Sitting in a puddle of water from a cup he knocked over
  • Sniffing behind the refrigerator
  • Squished underneath the lower kitchen cabinets, between a large moving box and the wall, taking a nap
  • Sitting on top of a pile of towels in an unpacked moving box
  • On top of the dining room table
  • Inside the closet where I keep his food, bedding, and litter
  • Stuck between the couch back and the couch cushions
  • Burrowing between both couch cushions

 It’s only been ten days! I can’t imagine where else I’ll find this wacky rabbit in the apartment.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Protecting TV Wires from Rabbit Teeth (and Vice-Versa!)

Walter is not my favorite this week.  I don’t know what’s gotten into him, but he seems to be on a mission to chew every doorframe, wire, and electrical cord in my apartment.  On top of that, his cage is smellier than usual, and I can’t get rid of the stink no matter how many times I change his litter box. I can’t imagine he enjoys the smell either.  Maybe that’s why he’s misbehaving.

At any rate, unpacking the apartment while there is a curious rabbit hopping around is tiresome and impossible.  Just as I start making progress, I have to stop what I’m doing to bunny-proof a new section of the apartment.  Needless to say, I haven’t gotten very far in setting up the new house.

One of the biggest trouble spots in my apartment is the entertainment center.  I have this great IKEA bookcase that I use as a TV stand/knickknack display, but it’s completely open.  This means that Walter is able to climb through the shelving to all the cords and cables for the TV, where he finds a delicious and dangerous snack.

IKEA Expedit Bookcase

What can I use to block him from accessing the TV cables?  I’d like something clear, for aesthetic purposes, that fits behind the bookcase so that Walter can still hop on the shelving if he wants, but can’t get to the wires.  Ideas?

Friday, October 15, 2010

How I Met Walter

I did not set out hoping for a pet rabbit.  Originally I wanted a dog.  My boyfriend, who would be housing the dog, was completely against this idea.  In an attempt to find a compromise, I suggested the only other pet I could think of that I would enjoy: a bunny.  Paul relented and agreed.

After doing some light internet searching, I was bombarded with advice to adopt a rabbit from a shelter rather than purchase one from a breeder.  I had the best intentions of doing this.  I spent weeks scouring websites of local shelters, but never came across a rabbit that I fell for.  As the weeks passed, I began incorporating local breeders into my search.

I wasn’t sure what I was looking for.  I knew I wanted a Holland Lop, and I knew I wanted a male rabbit that I would name Walter (I give credit to Paul for the name suggestion). Then, while on Wikipedia, reading information about owning a house rabbit, I came across this picture:

Picture courtesy of Wikipedia (via Orlandkurtenbach)

“That’s the rabbit I want!” I said to Paul.  “You can’t have the Wikipedia bunny,” he replied.  I tried using my pouty face, but that didn’t make the Wikipedia rabbit appear.  So, with my dreams crushed, I continued my search.  I found lots of rabbits that looked friendly and sweet, and even some that made me stop and consider ownership.  I learned that I liked orange and white rabbits – mostly because my family has an orange and white dog.  I liked rabbits whose ears stuck out kind of funny, not just straight down towards the ground; I wanted a rabbit with some character.

And then I came across the website for KNT Trails.  I saw an announcement about a litter that had been born just a few weeks earlier, and clicked the link to view pictures of the bunnies.  And then I saw him: my real-life Wikipedia rabbit.

My very first introduction to Walter's cuteness.

I showed the picture to Paul and, in my sweetest voice, asked if we could go visit the bunny.  Paul obliged.

We drove out to Owings, MD sometime in March and Terry, the owner of the rabbitry, had arranged for all the bunnies to be set in a playpen outside where they were free to hop around in the grass. As we walked up to the corral of bunnies, I saw a familiar orange and gray face nibbling at the grass.  “That’s him!” I said to Paul.  “He’s definitely a Walter.”

Walter was so little! He was about the size of my palm.  He gave me a few licks with his scratchy tongue (I should have cherished those licks, because as he's gotten older, they've become few and far between).  At that point, I was hooked.  Paul, who wanted no part of the bunny corral, gave me a skeptical look.  “Pleeeeeeease?” I asked.  Paul shrugged and said okay.  I set Walter, officially named so, back on the ground and told him I’d see him in about a month.  When I came back a month later, he had grown so much!  After a quick squirm, he settled into his travel carrier and left the countryside for the big city.

How did you choose your perfect pet rabbit?  Did you adopt or purchase from a breeder?  What advice do you have for people looking to find their new house rabbit?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Walter Surveys the Apartment

It’s official: Walter loves the new apartment.  I let the rabbit explore for a few hours yesterday, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen him jump, binky, or run so much in one three-hour span as he did last night.

He helped me identify one particular trouble spot during his adventures, though.  The space between the refrigerator and the wall was just large enough for a rabbit to squeeze his way behind the appliance.  After a few frantic minutes of trying to first figure out where the bunny went, and then trying to lure him out from behind the fridge before he got hurt, I had to slightly move the fridge to prevent future sneak-ins.

Other than the refrigerator misstep, Walter behaved really well in the new apartment.  He spent some time darting from one end of the unit to the other, turning the path of unpacked boxes into an obstacle course.  He searched for a new hideout spot, since my couch sits lower to the ground than the couch at Paul’s apartment and Walter can no longer fit underneath.  He, of course, dug at the doors to both the bedroom and the bathroom, pleading to be allowed to enter.  And he sought out all miscellaneous wires and cords left around the apartment in an attempt to satisfy his urge to chew.

This brings me to a really exciting realization:  Walter learned the word “no.”  Whenever the rabbit hopped over to any exposed cord that hadn’t yet been bunny-proofed, I sternly told him no.  Walter would stop immediately and hop away.  I was one proud mama!

But, with any progress comes a few drawbacks.  Walter also learned that I can’t see what he’s doing when my back is turned.  As I was unpacking my kitchen, I saw that he hopped up onto my ottoman to reach the wires coming from my cable box.  I told him no and he hopped off with his best look of innocence.  The minute I turned back to my unpacking, the rabbit hopped back up onto the ottoman.  After four repeat instances of this, I finally had to lock the mischievous rabbit in his playpen.

I’m glad to see that Walter is handling this housing transition so well, but more than that, I’m glad to notice the changes in the rabbit’s behavior and maturity.  He’s one step closer to my ultimate goal of never needing to lock him in his cage at all.  But he’s still got a long way to go.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Don't Dig the Carpet!

Walter moved into our new apartment yesterday.  He was not pleased about the change.

We did most of the moving on Monday, but were too tired by the end of the day to finish the job, including Walter and his cage.  When I returned to Paul's apartment after work yesterday, I let the rabbit out of his cage so that he could hop around while I finished packing.  He loved hopping in, around, and on the empty moving boxes.  But, unfortunately, packing also meant taking down Walter’s cage and putting all his toys in boxes.  The rabbit went from happy to slightly confused to completely terrified in a matter of seconds.

He hid under the couch for as long as we would let him, and luring him into his travel carrier was more difficult than usual.  Paul and I had to resort to serious cornering tactics and then basically just shoved the rabbit into the crate: not my preferred method of getting Walter in there.

Once we got to the new place, though, Walter settled in pretty quickly.  I set up his cage and put the playpen around it so that the rabbit couldn’t discover any unpacked wires or wood items strewn about.  The apartment, as I mentioned in an earlier post, has one major downfall:  carpeting.

It took Walter maybe an hour to discover the joys of digging at the carpet, even within the confines of his playpen.  I am starting to worry that the combination of the rabbit and the carpet will become disastrous and expensive.  What recommendations do you have to deter a rabbit from chewing or digging at carpeting?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Walter and the Couch

I have mentioned in several earlier posts that Walter’s favorite hangout is underneath the couch.  What I haven’t talked about yet is Walter’s love for the couch itself.

It took a while before we decided to let Walter up on the couch.  At first, he wasn’t big enough to make the jump, so we would stack pillows as little rabbit stairs.  This confused him at first, but he eventually got the hang of it.  As he grew, we took away his steps pillow-by-pillow until he could make the full jump on his own.

Once he’s up on the couch, he refuses to acknowledge it as a place to relax.  He prefers to be the sole occupier of the sofa, and likes to dart back and forth like a maniac.  He’ll toss his head or throw in some funky jumps in the middle of his races, but mostly he just enjoys running from one end of the couch to the other as quickly as he can.

Recent attempts by the rabbit have been made, with some success, to hop from the couch cushions to the top of the couch back.  If he’s made the jump, he’s not really quite sure what to do while up there, and you can tell the jump back down onto the seat is a little scary for him.

If Paul or I are sitting on the couch, the rabbit doesn’t let it faze him too much.  We’re simply two extra obstacles in his race course, and he’ll have a fun time jumping over us, on us, around us, or nudging us to get the heck off the couch.

Letting the rabbit on the couch is only problematic in two cases: when his nails scratch the leather or when he's decided it’s his new litter box.  Unfortunately, both things happen about ninety percent of the time that Walter is up on the couch. Trimming his nails would be a good start to fixing the first problem, if I could get the rabbit to hold still and be patient while I did it.  But the second problem seems much harder to fix.  He never urinates on the couch (okay, he did it once when he was younger), but he leaves droppings all the time!  Sometimes it’s just a typical “I’m marking my territory” dropping here or there, but sometimes it’s a full potty break!

I don't want to ban Walter from another of his favorite play places.  I'd prefer to find a way to share the couch with him.  Do you have any tips or tricks on getting a rabbit to stop using the couch as his second bathroom?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Snuggle Bunny?

Either Walter feels like he’s been neglected by his mama lately, or he’s entered a new, cuddly phase of his life.  After running some post-work errands yesterday, I came home and let the rabbit out of his cage.  Walter’s usual routine is to clean himself before exiting his habitat, hop out and acknowledge my presence briefly, and then begin his circuit of sleeping under the couch and exploring the apartment.  But last night was different.

After his quick grooming session, he hopped out of the cage and stopped for a few forehead scratches.  He lowered his head to the ground and began grinding his teeth, so I knew he was happy to be receiving the rubs.  A few pets later and Walter’s entire body essentially melted onto the floor until he was completely transformed into a puddle of bunny affection, nudging for more rubs if I stopped for even a split second.

This makes me think of a tweet I received from a friend of mine on the day before I brought Walter home:
“Bunnies are like that when they're little. They just want to lick and love on you; then they develop an attitude lol”
Is this affectionate, loving version of Walter just a phase? Should I be enjoying it while it lasts?  Am I doomed to a life of rabbit grumpiness?  I certainly hope not.  I’m enjoying this sweet side of Walter, but I do feel bad when I can’t sit with him for hours on end, just giving him cheek rubs.

I suppose this is the part about rabbits that is more humanlike than doglike: the ability to change moods and attitudes.  One day he’s licking my sweatpants as his attempt at grooming me, and then next day he’s pretending I don’t even exist.  Rabbits can be so fickle!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Relocating with a Rabbit

Apartment hunting as a rabbit owner is a nightmare.  That is the lesson I’ve learned this week.

It is hard enough to find an affordable rental in the District in the first place.  Add to that the fact that you own a pet, and you’ve already eliminated at least half of your options.  I don’t know how many Craigslist ads I’ve read through and gotten excited about, only to reach the very end of the listing and read the following phrase: “NO PETS.”  Ugh!

My boyfriend pointed out that most landlords only consider dogs and cats when indicating the no-pet policy.  And he’s probably right, but when I think about the potential damage that rabbit teeth and claws can do to an apartment that already isn’t pet-friendly, I shy away from even bothering to ask a landlord for leniency.

I found a great, affordable apartment in my desired neighborhood.  The website said “pets welcome,” which furthered my excitement.  A few clicks through the website later, and I stumbled across the following:
"Pet Restrictions: Other animals prohibited, including, but not limited to, snakes, ferrets, iguanas, potbelly pigs, rabbits and insects.”
Bummer.  Onward with the search.

Having a rabbit caused me to consider things I never would have before when looking at an apartment.  I worried about wall-to-wall carpeting and the quality of hardwood flooring (and the cost of repairing either flooring option, due to chewing or digging).  I looked at the baseboards and crown molding to consider how easily fixable they would be after Walter noshed on them.  I checked where outlets were to consider furniture placement so that power cords to electronics and lighting would be out of the rabbit’s reach.  I made sure there was an appropriate place in the living area for Walter’s cage.  I thought through the floor plan to ensure that there was room for my belongings, and still space for the rabbit to safely roam.

I finally found a great place that I think both Walter and I will love.  It’s carpeted, so I’ll have to watch his digging claws and his chomping teeth, but I think he’ll love the ability to run around the apartment without slipping on the hardwood floors.  I am also grateful that Walter was housebroken in my boyfriend’s apartment (sorry, Paul!) so that his urge to chew the baseboards at our new home will be kept to a minimum.

I don’t think Walter will be very excited about moving.  Sure, he’ll have a new place to explore, but rabbits are creatures of habit.  Changing up his routine in a major way will surely upset him.  Let’s hope his grumpiness and payback are short-lived.

Did I miss any other key rabbit comforts and safety precautions when considering our new home?  What has your experience been with transitioning rabbits from one home to another?