Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Hunt for New Vegetables

I can be really, really lazy. This sometimes affects my decision on the food I give Walter. Like, maybe I don’t feel like chopping up a pepper into portion-appropriate sizes (I know, I said I’m really lazy). So what ends up happening is I buy a big bag of some sort of leafy green and give that to Walter until the bag has run out.

This is bad for a few reasons. First – it means that, aside from getting pellets, Walter is not getting any sort of nutritional variety. Second – I usually choose to buy bags of kale or spinach. I was browsing the House Rabbit Society website the other day to determine if rabbits could eat baby bok choy (they can) and I noticed this:
(!)=Use sparingly. High in either oxalates or goitrogens and may be toxic in accumulated quantities over a period of time
Now, I don't know what oxalates or goitrogens are, but it seems like they're a terrible thing.  Guess which were the only two greens on the list with an exclamation point after them? Yep – spinach and kale. Whoops!

So, it’s time to try out some new veggies. Last night, I offered Walter mustard greens and baby bok choy. He sniffed the mustard greens for a while and attempted to eat them twice before either deciding he didn’t like them, wasn’t hungry yet, or couldn’t find a good spot to take a first bite. He gave the baby bok choy more of a chance, and actually nibbled at the leaves for a few seconds before hopping away to something more interesting.

Over the course of the evening, Walter revisited his food, but wouldn’t actually eat it until I hand-fed him. By the time bedtime came around, there were no signs of bok choy left in the food dish, and when I woke up this morning, Walter had eaten the rest of his mustard greens.

I need to be better about getting Walter his three vegetables eat day. We’re usually stuck at two. Last night, he had three, if you count his carrot dessert – which is his favorite part of the day.

What should we try next? We’re very familiar with basil, parsley, cilantro, collard greens, mint, and dark-leaf lettuces. What greens does your rabbit like best?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Sugar Addict

Walter and I have a new routine: dessert time. I didn’t used to give him treats that often. Mostly because I never remembered to buy things like blueberries or bananas, but the other day I bought a bag of baby carrots for myself and figured I would share them with Walter.

When Walt was younger, I would give him only teeny tiny tastes of treats. I didn’t want them to mess up his digestion and I didn’t want it to cause poor eating habits or unnecessary weight gain. Now that he’s passed his one-and-a-half year birthday, I’ve decided he can handle some more sweets. This has led to Walter becoming crazy about carrots.

Every evening, I notice Walter will sit and stare at my closed refrigerator. If I open it, he starts sniffing the vegetable drawer like a madman. By this point, he’s already been fed his kale or parsley or whatever veggies make up his dinner. Now he’s just searching for a snack. So, because it makes him happy and because it distracts him from chewing on my walls for maybe three minutes, I oblige.

As soon as Walter sinks his teeth into the baby carrot, he darts off with it like I might change my mind and take it back. If I hang onto the carrot to try and encourage Walter to eat it from my hand, we end up playing carrot tug-of-war, with Walter yanking the carrot with his teeth so hard that bits of the carrot go flying everywhere.

Sometimes I try to get Walter to chase the carrot. I’ll hold it and move it around a little bit, assuming he’ll hop after it, but he gets really easily confused about where the carrot has gone. I thought his eyesight or sense of smell or something would aid him in this game a little better, but he’s absolutely terrible at following the carrot as I wave it around.

After his carrot treat, he’s noticeably more pleasant. He’ll show off some of his funny jumps, run around the room, or patiently let me lift him on my lap for some snuggles. Or maybe he’s just experiencing a sugar crash and doesn’t have the energy to fight my attempts to hang out. At any rate, here’s a ten second video of Walter enjoying his carrot noms. I know all these videos have been really short, but it is really hard trying to capture a rabbit on camera – he moves too fast for me!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Bunny Bathroom Problems?

I read online somewhere that rabbit owners are obsessed with their rabbit’s droppings. I, of course, thought that was gross. Why would I want to investigate Walter’s litter box all day long? Ew.

As a rabbit owner, I pay a decent amount of attention to what’s going in Walter’s litter box. At the vet’s office, Dr. Pilny asked if I noticed excessive urination or if the litter box felt heavier than usual when I went to clean it. I answered honestly that I had no idea; the box could feel heavy due to a greater amount of urine… or I could have just been a day or two behind schedule in cleaning the litter box.

But in the last twenty four hours, I’ve been paying really close attention to Walter’s droppings, and this is where I need some help. I’ve noticed the color has changed. Normally, it’s a dark brown. In the last day, it’s been gray. Aside from color, everything else is the same – same size, same consistency, same amount and frequency. What could be causing the color change?

I’ve also noticed that Walter is not eating his pellets. I gave him some mint on Saturday that he was only mildly interested in, but his pellet intake is much lower than usual. He’s done this before – in the past, it’s been his way of telling me he wants a new variety of greens, and that could very well be the case this time. I’ll pick up some fresh veggies on my way home tonight to test this out.

Aside from the color of his droppings and Walter’s disinterest in pellets, he seems to be normal. He’s been hopping around, snuggling, trying to dig his way into the bedroom (which is occasionally off-limits, though he’s been known to sneak his way in), and chewing on his honey-hay log.

So, any ideas what’s going on?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Walter’s First NYC Vet Experience

I took Walter to meet his new veterinarian on Saturday. Dr. Anthony Pilny was listed as a recommended veterinarian on the NYC House Rabbit Society’s website, and as he was the closest vet to my apartment, I decided to check him out. Fortunately for me, he’s available on some Saturdays for appointments, which works out well for my schedule. I thought Dr. Pilny was great – he’s very knowledgeable about rabbits, took time to truly listen to my concerns, and really communicated with me about Walter’s health, behavior, and steps going forward. With pets, patient care is about not only the animal but the owners, and I thought Dr. Pilny was really tuned in to this.

Dr. Pilny said that Walter looks really good, aside from gaining a little too much weight. So now we’re on a bit of a diet – reducing his pellet intake from being not measured (but approximately 1 cup a day) down to half a cup a day. Walter will still get a heap of veggies and hay, and hopefully now that he’s able to run around the apartment, he’ll lose some weight rather quickly. We only need him to lose about a pound, so it shouldn’t be that hard.

While waiting to see the veterinarian, I met with a woman who works with the NYC HRS. She came in with two of her buns, and I was envious of how well they dealt with being picked up, cuddled, and otherwise handled. She offered to give me some tips if I stopped by the Petco on the Upper East Side, where she organizes rabbit adoption events, which I might just take her up on. She also tried to talk me into adopting a second rabbit, which I’m still on the fence about. I’m not sure my landlord would like it, seeing as I had to talk my way into getting just Walter into the apartment.

Does anyone else know of people or places in NYC that help rabbit owners learn how to handle their bunnies? I would love to meet with someone in my home who can show me how to work with Walter so that I can pick him up, trim his nails, get him into his travel carrier without chasing him around the room, etc.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Live, from New York!

Well it took a few months longer than I anticipated, but Walter and I are finally moved into our new apartment in New York City.  So far, Walter seems to be enjoying our new home, taking time to explore, finding his new favorite nap spot (underneath a console table), and taking advantage of his newfound freedom.

For the past few months, Walter has been locked up in a small playpen in my brother’s basement, which meant that he rarely got a chance to stretch his legs and hardly ever had any visitors. I felt badly about this arrangement, but my brother was giving us a free place to live until we found a permanent home, and I wasn’t going to let my rabbit be my source of complaint.

As a result of living in a suburb of New York, carless for the last month, Walter has not been to the veterinarian for many months. His nails are extremely long (I found the nail scissors, but of course he won’t let me trim them myself!) and he’s started showing signs of e. cuniculi again.  Argh!

I’ve noticed he’s been drinking excessive amounts of water (this could be due to the summer heat, though) and shaking his head a lot (this could be due to two flies who also live in my home).  I am hoping to get him to the vet next week; there is one just a few blocks from my apartment.

In the meantime, here’s five seconds of Walter jumping in celebration of the new living room rug:

(This is for you, Olivia, since you don’t believe he ever plays!)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Life in New York, Part I

Hello, there! It’s been a few months since I took a blogging break, and I figured today was a good day to update.  Walter and I are officially New Yorkers, though right now we’re camped out in the ‘burbs at my brother’s house.  This means that, since the house is not exactly rabbit-proofed, Walter has been relegated to the basement.  Of course he hates this.

When I first set up shop in my temporary home, Walter had a prime second floor location. But, as it’s summertime and the house has no air conditioning, the upstairs got way too warm for a rabbit.  So, down to the basement he went.  It’s much cooler, but it’s also darker and Walter hates that no one ever comes by to visit him.

He’s escaped the confines of his cage four times so far.  The first time, he was still upstairs.  I came home and found him hip-hopping around his bedroom, and figured I would just sit with him while he enjoyed a little bit of freedom.  This bedroom, however, has a set of stairs that leads directly to the attic.  I didn’t think much of it because I’ve never seen Walter try to climb stairs, but within a matter of minutes, Walter had hopped up the entire flight and started roaming around the finished attic.  Getting him back downstairs was a definite struggle, but not nearly as much of a challenge as getting him to accept his home within the rabbit jail.

The second time he escaped his jail, I was still in bed upstairs and heard some rustling down in the living room.  Assuming it was my sister-in-law walking around the house, I ignored it and continued sleeping in. (Unemployed people have no reason not to sleep until noon, right?) When I finally dragged myself out of bed and made it downstairs, I found Walter poking his silly rabbit nose out from behind the couch.  When I went to bed the night before, he was secured in the basement!  How did he get up there, and for how long had he been hopping around?!  I let him explore for a little bit and then took him back to the basement.

This was short-lived, however.  When my brother came home from work, I heard him shout up from the basement: “Uh, your rabbit is missing!”  Crap.  Walter had wedged himself under a large and unmovable cabinet.  Double crap.  I had to use a skinny flagpole to thwack him out of his hiding spot.  Neither of us were pleased.

The final time, I was not home, but my brother found him lurking around the basement, and I’m not entirely sure how he was able to get Walter back into his playpen/cage set-up.  After this time, I found some shoelaces and tied the playpen a lot more securely to the cage, and Walter hasn’t been able to escape since.

After these escape attempts and after having been kept in this rabbit jail for three weeks, I decided Walter needed some serious time to stretch his legs. I brought him out to the patio, which is enclosed save for a small entrance, which I blocked off with the playpen.  Walter loved it! He spent the next few hours running, jumping, eating leaves, and relaxing in the big concrete space.  At some point, I decided he should go out onto the lawn. This was a mistake.

After being startled by the neighbor’s dog, Walter darted from one end of the playpen to the other, breaking through the enclosure seam and out onto the open lawn.  Realizing that he now was a free rabbit, he froze.  I think he knew he didn’t want to run away anymore than I wanted to try to chase down a renegade rabbit.  In an unusual moment, Walter let me pick him up and place him back onto the patio, as I promised never to make him go out and enjoy nature ever again.

I guess I do have an urban bunny!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Bunny Blogger Break?

Hello bunny bloggers! As you can tell, the frequency of my blogging has really tapered off lately.  I will definitely be posting much less often now for a few reasons.  First, I just started grad school and as you can imagine, it's totally overwhelming on its own. Add a full-time job and an active social life, and it turns out that I just don't have enough hours in the week to blog!

Second, it seems like Walter and I have really hit our stride.  We've got our routine down pat, and aside from the occasional rabbit revenge for my lack of attention, Walter and I are getting along just fine.  He seems happy and comfortable in our digs here, though I've been trying to prepare him for another move this summer.  

That's right.  Another move.  My bunny and I are moving to the Big Apple! (Sidenote: I hate when people call it the Big Apple.)  More details to follow, but let's just hope I don't have too much trouble finding a nice studio apartment on the Upper East Side that is rabbit-friendly.

Walter has his annual check-up with the veterinarian this weekend and we'll get an update on his e. cuniculi, so I'm looking forward to that. He'll also get a long overdue nail trim, which my scratched-up skin will appreciate.  I can't seem to trim his nail myself! This rabbit has a mind of his own; he's definitely not going to stay still long enough for me to clip his nails.

Welp, that's about all the time I can spend blogging today - I have a rabbit staring me down:

Give me cheek rubs!

Why did you stop paying attention to me?!


Gotta go!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Playtime and a New Friend

Walter made a new friend yesterday, in the form of a stuffed giraffe that I have. In lieu of getting a second rabbit, I’m determined for Walter to become BFF with a stuffed toy.  He’s already rejected Little Blue Bunny, he shows very little interest in Eeyore, and he only occasionally grooms Moley Lamb (a stuffed lamb that also looks like a mole).  So last night, I tried the giraffe, whose name is Woodrow.  It seemed successful! Within a few minutes, Walter was giving Woodrow a good sniffing and, subsequently, a good cleaning.  He didn’t freak out when I positioned Woodrow so that he was snuggling up next to him.  And when I “hopped” Woodrow around the room, Walter got pretty excited and showed off some hops of his own.


To be fair, the excitement could have been more from Walter’s enjoyment of having me pay him a lot of attention.  This morning, he wanted my attention so badly that he cuddled with my shoe while I was trying to put it on my foot.  And then he followed me to the front door and tried to hop out into the hallway of my apartment building and come with me to work!

I don’t know what it is. It’s not like I’m never home or never trying to play with him.  Last night, I lured him out of hiding and we sat together for a long time, watching TV.  But, on a typical night, by the time he’s done hanging out by himself in his box fort, it’s time for me to go to bed!

Do you have a playtime schedule for your rabbit?  Do you ever find that your schedules are out of sync?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Scritch Scratch

Walter's been scratching at his face and ears a lot lately.  I've gotten much better about not projecting my hypochondriac neuroses onto my rabbit, but this has really grabbed my attention. Every few minutes, he stops running laps around the apartment to scratch at his cheeks and ears.  On top of that, he's been shaking his head a lot more than what's normal for him.  So, I think it's about time we go back to the vet. It's been a while and he needs to be retested for e. cuniculi anyway.

Other than that, Walter's been in a phenomenal mood lately!  I've never seen him run, jump, binky, or flop over for naptime so much before.  He's gotten much better about interacting with strangers, too. I had a friend over for dinner last night and Walter was very interested in her, even flopping on his side right next to her and letting her roll him around on the ground a bit.  Friendly rabbit!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Bunny Flop

The cutest thing my rabbit (any rabbit!) does is the “bunny flop.” Walter rarely does it, so I doubt I’ll ever catch it on camera, but it’s adorable. Basically, the rabbit starts sitting upright and then suddenly flops down on his side, curls into a small semi-circle, and then stretches back out in total relax-mode.

It always catches me by surprise, because one minute, Walter is sitting there looking at me, and the next minute, he’s nestled into a perfect napping position. It’s a sign of true rabbit comfort, I’ve read, since it puts the rabbit in a position in which he can’t be on high-alert for danger. His stomach is exposed, which is rare, and unless something is going on around him, his eyes are small slits while he sleeps.

Walter did the bunny flop twice this weekend. Once on Saturday evening after my mom and I got home from our adventures in DC. I was lying on the living room floor, petting Walter, when out of nowhere – FLOP! – right onto me. The next instance was on Sunday, when Walter was locked in his cage for a time out. He was sitting awkwardly halfway in his wooden cave when he suddenly flopped onto his side, ready for a good nap.

Hands down, it is my favorite rabbit movement (closely followed by the process of Walter washing his face and ears). I found a couple videos on You Tube of someone else’s rabbit doing the Bunny Flop, in case you aren’t sure what I’m talking about:

Now, in this video, picture me as that cat, because this is basically what happened with me and Walter on Saturday night:


Monday, February 28, 2011

Weekend Update

Walter had quite a weekend! There were guests at my apartment all weekend long, and I’m not sure Walter knew what to make of it. On Friday evening, my friend Stephanie was in town. I didn’t get home from work until just before Stephanie arrived, so I had barely two minutes to spend paying attention to the rabbit.  Steph and I went out for the night, leaving Walter to run free around the apartment. By the time we got home in the early hours of Saturday, my stubborn rabbit was not pleased to be sent straight into his cage without so much as a forehead scratch.

On Saturday morning, Stephanie left and I frantically ran around the apartment, cleaning up as much as I possibly could before my mother arrived. (To my mother, who is likely to be reading this: I’m sorry it was not very clean.) Walter, as I mentioned in an earlier post, usually loves chore day.  But this day, he was still holding a grudge from being snubbed the night before.  He spent most of the day sulking in his box fort until my mom arrived.

Now, Walter is not usually quick to approach strangers.  He keeps an eye on them from his box fort (or, formerly, under the couch) until much time has passed and feels like it’s safe to show himself.  For some reason, this was not the case with my mom.  As soon as she got there, he greeted her with curiosity and pleas for pets.  He started following her around the house. He even showed off some of his funnier hops and running moves!

Still, sadly for the bunny, we had places to go and people to see, so we didn’t have much time to spend on playtime.  Leaving Walter to his own devices, we set out for dinner and some local theater, and didn’t come back for several hours.  When we got home, it was clear that Walter needed some attention.  While my mom set to inflating the air mattress, I spent a handful of minutes scratching Walter’s forehead and rubbing his cheeks.  He seemed pretty content.  Even more so, he seemed really curious about the air mattress.

And that’s when I got the brilliant idea to let Walter stay out of the cage all night long.  I figured I would sleep on the air mattress, and if Walter still needed some cuddle time, he could hang out with me while I was sleeping.  But, as usual, with a rabbit, nothing is ever as easy as it seems.

Walter began our sleepover by running laps all over the apartment.  Then, under cover of darkness, sneaking through his box fort, hopping on and off the air mattress, making tunnels out of my sheets and blankets, until finally settling in for the night and catching some Zzz’s.

He then woke me up in the same manner, only this time he never stopped for a restful nap.  Instead, he turned my body into part of his obstacle course.  Talk about a wake-up call!

Over the course of the morning, it became clear to me and my mother that Walter had been given too much freedom in the past 24 hours.  After a few frustrating hours of deterring Walter from chewing or digging at everything in sight, I finally decided it was time for him to have a time-out in his cage. We locked him up and then once again left the house for food and theater.  Walter had calmed down dramatically by the time we got back, and he was allowed apartment freedom again.  Once out of his cage, Walter set to running laps and spending a lot of time hopping all over the air mattress.  I’m not sure if he loved the bounciness of the mattress, the fact that it afforded him a better view of the apartment, or just the newness of the mattress’s existence, but he had a grand ol’ time hopping on, off, and on top of it.

Seeing that the rabbit was behaving well outside the cage, my mom and I left for dinner and to run some errands.  We were on a mission to get me a new vacuum cleaner. Being a person with allergies who now lives in an apartment with wall-to-wall carpeting, I needed something to help get rid of all the rabbit hair and hay particles all over my apartment.  Lucky for me, my mom picked out the Dyson DC28 Animal Vacuum Cleaner.  It’s beautiful! If it does what it claims, I should be able to vacuum my apartment so well that no one will even know that I own a pet rabbit.  (Thanks, Mom!)

After all of our outings, my mom and I were pretty beat on Sunday night.  But Walter was just getting started.  He hadn’t really seen me in days, and he looked pretty lonely.  So, my mom and I sat on the ground to play with the rabbit, and he immediately came over to me, nudging for some pets.  Two seconds later, he melted onto the ground, eyes closed, and teeth grinding.  I suggested that he get up and get some pets from my mother (a rare treat – ask any of our dogs!), and she replied, “I think he’s got exactly what he wants already.”

And she was right, for two minutes, until Walter got bored and started running laps all over the apartment again.

Monday, February 21, 2011


Usually Walter gets his food in a small ceramic dish, but tonight he's been following me around the apartment nonstop, so I gave him his greens in a spot where he could keep his eye on me while I cooked my meal. Nothing like a good family dinner together.



I wish I loved any herb as much as Walter loves parsley. Nom nom nom.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Caught on Camera!

So, this video is perhaps not the most riveting depiction of Walter's antics around the house, but I managed to catch the rabbit on camera (a difficult feat, trust me!) long enough to show off some of his racing speed.  This was taken one morning last weekend after Walter woke me up by prancing back and forth in his cage. Clearly, he wanted to get out and stretch his legs:

With enough camera-stalking practice, I'll be able to catch some of Walter's more entertaining jumps and binkies around the house.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Birthday Bunny

Today’s a very important day: it’s Walter’s birthday! My little bunny turns a year old today; he’s definitely a grown up rabbit now.  We’re celebrating with an extra-large helping of greens and a few nibbles of carrots.  I’m not sure if he’s being an attention-hog because he knows it’s his birthday today, or if that’s just his general narcissistic nature.

It’s been an adventure with Walter.  I haven’t had him for quite a full year yet, but it certainly feels like it.  We’ve gone through a lot together: I had to learn how to care for and train a stubborn bunny, and he had to learn how to trust his new human companion.  I’m amazed at how much Walter has changed, especially in the last few months.

He’s gone from a wall-eating, floor-scratching, couch-pooping maniac to a snuggle-loving, binky-jumping, fort-napping house rabbit, who only occasionally eats the walls or scratches the floor.  He went from being allowed only highly-supervised out-of-cage time to being given complete apartment freedom while I’m away at work all day.  It seems like yesterday when I relished a two-second forehead scratch before Walter would run away. Now I’m begging Walter to get off my lap long enough for me to make dinner.

I’m proud of my little wascally wabbit, and look forward to what this next year brings our way! (Maybe another wascally wabbit?  We’ll see... that decision is on hold for now).

Happy birthday, Walter!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Bunny Barber

Walter is shedding like crazy. He is a fairly chronic shedder as it is, but over the past few days, he's produced a blizzard of rabbit hair all over my apartment. Every time I pet him, piles of fur get stuck to my hand. It's pretty gross; I can't wait for this round of shedding to be over. In an effort to speed up the process, I've taken to gently tugging on tufts of fur that look like they're already loose. I usually get five or six giant clumps of fur out, then quickly vacuum them up with my Dustbuster. It saves me the trouble of finding fur all over my sofa.

I thought Walter would hate this. I mean, I'm pulling his hair out. But he loves it! I think he feels like I'm grooming him, which technically, I guess I am. He sits still while I pet his forehead with one hand and collect piles of fur with the the other. And then he gives me a few bunny kisses before going over to the pile of fur and inspecting the damage.

(I will not deny that I tried to cut out the middleman and apply the Dustbuster directly to Walter's fur. This obviously didn't work, and Walter was not a fan of this method.)

Friday, January 28, 2011

Getting a Second Rabbit

Over the past few days, I've been debating getting a second rabbit. I feel like I haven't been at home as much lately, and so I've been feeling badly that I'm not spending as much time with Walter as he's used to. When I come home at the end of the day, it's pretty clear that Walter's been lonely. I feel guilty about leaving him alone all day long, especially now that's he's calmed down so much and has become more of a snuggle bun.

I easily see the benefits to having a second bun: someone for Walter to play with and keep company. (Not to mention the fact that I found a heart-meltingly cute rabbit up for adoption online.) But what are the downsides?

Money, for one. The cost of food, veterinarian services, toys, etc would obviously double. Training a second rabbit to not chew my walls or dig my carpeting could be another nightmare. Cleaning up after two rabbits instead of just one would be more of a headache. And then there's the space factor: right now I have one large cage that wouldn't be big enough for two bunnies. Where would I house them?

Then I worry about whether or not Walter would do well with another rabbit in the house. Does he want to be Top Bun, or would he love having a new friend around? I don't know anything about bonding rabbits. If I got a second rabbit, he'd need to be around a year old. I don't think I could deal with the attitude and training issues of a bunny.

Do you have multiple rabbits? What are the benefits and drawbacks to owning more than one? Do the pros really outweigh the cons? And what's the hardest part about introducing a new bunny into the house?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Freedom!, Part 2

Well, it finally happened. Walter’s teeth chomped their way through my laptop charger cord. The other day, I turned on my computer and noticed that it wasn’t charging. I assumed the plug had wriggled out of the socket, so I gave it a little shove back in. Still, not charging. I double-checked to make sure it was plugged into the computer properly, and sure enough, it was. That’s when I noticed the skinny stream of smoke rising out of the cord. And that’s when I freaked out.

I unplugged the charger immediately – both from the wall and from the computer. And then, with my laptop on its last legs of battery power, I ordered a new charger.

It’s probably for the best. Forty percent of the cord had been covered by duct tape (what I had to use before I owned any electrical tape). Another twenty percent of the cord had been covered by actual electrical tape. It was only a matter of time before it happened; I’m just glad I was there when it started smoking and unplugged it before matters could get any worse!

So it’s been a few days since I’ve been able to blog, now that my laptop is officially uncharged and my new charger is still somewhere in the mail. And, as much as I love my smartphone, it’s no easy task to type more than a small paragraph on the device.

I wanted to check in with those of you who responded to the poll in my last entry. I was really surprised that the majority of people indicated that their rabbit was free to roam the house unattended! This gives me some hope for Walter, who I dread locking up every night and all day while I’m at work. I want to believe that Walter can be trusted all day without my watchful eye. I would certainly feel less guilty about being gone all day if I knew he wasn’t confined to sixty square feet of space.

For those who responded positively to rabbit freedom, how old was your rabbit when you started letting him loose about the house? What kind of boundaries did you set up? And how did you know that your rabbit was ready to be trusted without supervision?

Thursday, January 13, 2011


Long ago, I dreamed of the day when I would be able to trust Walter enough to leave him out of his cage while I was at work. As I got to know my bunny better, I quickly realized this dream would probably never be realized. However, Walter's behavior over the past few weeks has been impressive, to say the least, so I have begun to test his out-of-cage freedoms.

It started off small - a half hour here and there while I ran to the store, maybe once a week. Then, last Sunday, I left him out of the cage while I went to a very long brunch. I came home to find Walter napping in his box fort. The apartment looked unchanged and undamaged. Hooray!

By no means am I ready to let Walter have the run of the apartment while I'm at work all day, but I will definitely start giving him some more out-of-cage-while-I'm-not-home time.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Little Blue Bunny

Several months ago, I found a small blue stuffed rabbit at CVS in the pet toy aisle.  It reminded me of several stuffed toys that my dogs used to love, and figured I'd pick it up for Walter.  He was never very interested in this rabbit friend, and I soon found that he was actually a little scared of the toy.  I used that to my advantage.

Little Blue Bunny (that's his official name) would stand guard in front of door frames that Walter liked to chew.  Suddenly, Walter would no longer even attempt to nibble that part of the wall.  I never understood this fear; Walter is significantly bigger than the toy.  The toy never moved.  Walter could have easily knocked the stuffed animal over and chewed the door frame to shreds.  And yet, he didn't even try.  Walter would take one look at Little Blue Bunny and hop in the opposite direction.

So, tonight, I tried to bridge the friendship gap between these two rabbits.  I offered Walter a very large collard green leaf.  Excitedly, he began chewing it from one end.  I moved Little Blue Bunny to the other end of the leaf, as if he was trying to share Walter's dinner.  Walter ran away, essentially giving up his meal to his fear of the Little Blue Bunny.

I felt bad, so I moved the stuffed toy back to his doorway guarding station, and gave the collard green back to Walt.  Walter picked up the entire leaf, tossed it around a few times in front of Little Blue Bunny's face, declaring his victory, and then ran away with his meal before the toy could snatch it back up.

Silly rabbits.

A rare moment together.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Rabbit Rosetta Stone

I can't believe it.  Walter has learned English.  The first few times it happened, I thought it was a fluke.  But last night, I realized he had actually learned one very, very important English phrase: "Get in your cage."

For a handful of nights now, just as bedtime approaches, I stand over Walter and cheerfully announce, "Get in your cage!"  Then I'd give the rabbit a little nudge on his rear, encouraging him towards his habitat.  He'd shake his head, run around the dining table, and then - with me following closely behind, giving him gentle nudges along the way - finally stand in front of his cage.  One more nudge, and in he went.

That alone is huge progress.  It used to be that I'd have to chase Walter all over the apartment to get him even close to his cage at bedtime.  I'd have to pick him up for as long as he'd allow and then redirect his course so that he headed into the cage.

But last night, Walter was lying on the ottoman, melting into a puddle of bunny love while I gave him forehead scratches.  His eyes were closed, he was grinding his teeth: he was completely calm.  Then, I said to him nonchalantly, "It's almost time for you to get in your cage for bedtime."

At the mention of get in your cage,Walter jolted upright.  He looked at me incredulously.  Say it ain't so!  I said it one more time: "Walter, get in your cage." He hopped off the ottoman, gave me some angry head shakes for good measure, and without me following behind him, hopped into the cage for the night.

It's a rabbit miracle!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Little Spoon

I think Walter's obsession with the bedroom door is more about getting my attention than actually wanting to go into the other room.  For the past two days, all he's done is dig and chew at the door, despite my use of lemon oil.  Every time I get up to redirect him, he gleefully runs over to me and nudges my hand for some forehead scratches.  Tricky bunny.

He has been doing this more at night than during the day.  I think he just really enjoys an evening snuggle session! I've taken to lying on the ground and watching as he curls his small bunny body into me, as if he wanted to spoon.  So for a couple minutes each evening, we lay on the floor, me on my stomach, with Walter basically nestled in my armpit.  He gives me a few licks with his scratchy rabbit tongue, and then grinds his teeth in contentment.

Who knew my formerly antisocial, uninterested rabbit would become such a love bunny!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Lemon Oil

I don't usually let Walter in the bedroom.  I did when I first moved into my apartment, but then I discovered that Walter's lounging time under my bed was really time spent pulling up the wall-to-wall carpeting.  Figuring neither my landlord nor I would not like the carpeting to be ruined, I banned him from the bedroom.  Over the past weekend, however, I had some friends over for brunch.  Walter can be a pretty shy bunny, and I assumed he would want to be able to get away from the noise of company, so I allowed him to spend the afternoon in the bedroom, hiding under the bed.  Apparently he loved it, and now he can't get enough of playing in there.

For the past two days, the bedroom, as usual, has been off-limits to him.  Walter has spent much of the day staring longingly at the closed bedroom door, then scratching at both the floor and the door itself, and then eventually biting at the walls.  Of course, none of these things work, and all they do is manage to make me mad at the bunny.  This morning, Walter was particularly feisty.  So I had to resort to more clever methods than just turning him away from the door.  Enter, lemon oil.

I've used lemon oil on the door frames before, and it deters Walter from chewing things that he shouldn't.  Today, I decided to put some on the door and the floor mat in front of the bedroom door, in the hopes that the smell would be enough to keep Walter away from the entire area.  Sadly for Walter, this method worked.  Also sadly for Walter, I accidentally got some on his nose as I was waving my lemon oil-covered finger in front of his face.  He is still not pleased with me.

I bought a small (0.5 fluid ounce) bottle of Aura Cacia lemon oil from Whole Foods a while back.  I am sure I probably paid too much for it there, but you can find it online for about three bucks.  You only need a teeny tiny bit of lemon oil when applying it to door frames or wherever, so even a bottle as small as half a fluid ounce will last you a long time.

Using lemon oil as a chewing deterrent is something I definitely recommend.  It's been a huge help for me. I just put a tiny bit on my finger, then rub my finger across the door frame or the table leg or whatever else Walter likes to chew.  It's such a small amount that I can barely smell it, but it keeps Walter away for days or even weeks.  And, as I discovered today, using more than my usual amount can keep the rabbit away from an entire area! He hasn't gone anywhere near the bedroom door for the past hour.  (Though, that could also be because he's still mad at me for getting a dab of the lemon oil on his face.)

What do you recommend as a rabbit chewing deterrent?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Year of the Rabbit

Happy New Year, blogosphere!  2011 is, in fact, the year of the rabbit.  My Google research, via Stan's Sewing Supplies, of all places, tells me the following about the year of the rabbit:
"According to Chinese tradition, the Rabbit brings a year in which you can catch your breath and calm your nerves.  It is a time for negotiation.  Don't try to force issues, because if you do you will ultimately fail.  To gain the greatest benefits from this time, focus on home, family, security, diplomacy, and your relationships with women and children.   Make it a goal to create a safe, peaceful lifestyle, so you will be able to calmly deal with any problem that may arise."
Here's to a healthy and restorative year of the rabbit! 

In other news, Santy Paws was very good to Walter this Christmas (and by Santy Paws, I mean my parents).  I left Walter at the kennel for six days while I went home for the holidays.  It's the longest I've ever left him, so I knew I was in for a world of rabbit revenge when I picked him up.

When I came to get him, the veterinary staff were all disappointed to see him go, saying that he had been such fun company while I was away.  Apparently, there was a girl bunny in the cage next to Walter and the two of them played all week long. So, when I brought him back to our apartment and Walter began his usual tirade of stomping his feet at me and chewing on walls, I wasn't sure if it was because he was mad that I left him for a week, or because I took him away from his new girlfriend.

In order to soften the blow, I gave Walter his Christmas presents as soon as we got settled in at home.  My parents had gotten him three things.  The first was a box of sweet meadow apple sticks. Walter seemed a little more interested in the box itself rather than the sticks within, though.  His next present was a toy made out of wooden blocks connected by wooden rods.  It's designed to hang from the top of his cage, but Walter had so much fun picking it up and tossing it around, that I decided not to hang it up.  Now the sound of it being thrashed about the cage wakes me up almost every morning.  I constantly find it in his water dish, where the rabbit-friendly paint on the toy turns his water various shades of orange or blue.

His last present from my parents was a Snak Shak.  My dad was really excited about giving this to Walter.  It's an edible tunnel, made from fresh alfalfa and honey.

Image courtesy of Google

The thought was that Walter would snack on it while also hiding in it, but the rabbit has yet to try to squeeze himself inside.  Truthfully (and disappointingly), I think Walter is too fat to fit in the tunnel.  But, Walter likes to lick the Snak Shak and occasionally give it a nibble or two.

My present to Walter was a stuffed Eeyore toy that I found in the closet in my old bedroom.  I thought it would be nice if my bunny had a new friend to play with, and Eeyore has these cute, floppy donkey ears, and such a sad, "please love me!" look on his face.  Walter was not so interested in his new friend:

Maybe I shouldn't have presented Eeyore and a Brussel sprout at the same time..