Month: March 2014

Lex is a Big Bun Now

Lex turned the tables at yesterday’s bunny play date with Lou.

She chased Lou all around their pen, and then did the dominance dance on him.IMG_4717

Their playdate was still successful: Lex was binkying all over the place and Louis was doing Bunny 500’s (scampering like a race car in circles around the room). They even ate salad together!

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Lou was very calm, and allowed Lex to take her stand. Nick was not surprised that Lex asserted herself: He knew she was a strong-willed bun the moment he met her.

We aren’t sure how old Lex is, but dominating behavior means she is sexually mature, which usually happens from 3-6 months in age. We set up an appointment for her to be spayed (or neutered – nothing will surprise me anymore). I hope it goes as smoothly as Louis’s operation.

Once they are both altered, they will be one step closer to their cage-free partnership!

 

Bunny Bonds

You can’t stick two humans in a room and expect them to be fast friends. And this past week, I’ve learned you can’t do that for bunnies either.

Louis is an outgoing, life-of-the-party bunny who likes to be the center of attention.

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Lex is a shy, timid bunny who takes a long time to warm up to people.

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So it was not surprising that the first time they met, Louis assumed the dominant role by climbing on top of Lex, and Lex ran away and cowered in the corner.

That routine happened the first few times they met. It was very discouraging. I knew it would be a process, but I expected there to be more sniffing than humping.

But we kept at it, and kept arranging bunny dates.

Now, two weeks later, we’ve had a breakthrough. Here are the signs of a good bunny relationship developing that we’ve finally seen:

1. Ignoring: The two bunnies ignore each other, meaning they are not threatened

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2. Sniffing/Grooming: The bunnies calmly sniff and groom each other; a sure sign of budding friendship

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3. Resting/Grooming Themselves: The bunnies are each so relaxed they are able to discard their inhibitions and put themselves in a place of lowered awareness

Tricks we’ve used:

1. Put salad in the pen with them so they can munch on treats together

2. Rub each of their foreheads while they sniff each other, making them think they are grooming each other. This has been our most effective strategy

3. Place a screen between them at the first few meetings so they could slowly get used to each others’ scents without being thrown in one pen together right away

Bunny “dating” is a lot like human dating. They have to get to know each other before they live together. But if they keep having regular playdates and keep becoming more and more comfortable with each other, they’ll be friends in no time.

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Louis’s New Friend

Nick and I had been debating about getting Louis fixed for a while. We read that it drastically decreases a bunny’s chance of getting reproductive cancer, but also that it could alter the personality of the bun.

But the day we went to Pet Supplies Plus to pick up some hay and food for Louis, our decision was made for us, in the form of a tiny black and white bunny.

Lil Baby Lex

Lil Baby Lex

She* was cowering in the corner with another tiny brown bunny. Both were being squished and dominated by a large, orange, mature bunny.

Nick and I looked at each other and knew we wanted to take the little bun home. We asked to hold her, and  as she clung to each of us for dear life, we knew we needed her as much as she needed us.

They packaged her up in a little cardboard build-a-bear-esque box and sold her to us for $25. They told us we would have to sign a waiver, but they never followed through with that. It scares me to think they’re willing to sell a bun to anyone with 25 bucks.

Build-A-Bun

Build-A-Bun

We took her home to Nick’s room, and Louis immediately fell in love. He started “honking” – a light grunt that signifies hormones – and “circling” – a way for bunnies to express their dominance. He was hot and bothered, and she was scared to pieces. We decided to make a vet appointment the next morning to get Louis fixed, then moved him to my house until the surgery was done and his hormones were settled.

His procedure went very smoothly, and I picked him up from the vet and tucked him in my coat on the drive home. He was groggy and kept falling asleep for the next 24 hours.

Tucked Bunny

Tucked Bunny

Groggy Post-Op Lou

Groggy Post-Op Lou

The vet told us to wait a month for all of his hormones to exit his body, so when that month was over, we were eager to introduce the buns again.

We put a window screen between them and allowed them to sniff each other through the barrier for a while. When we thought things were going well, we put them in the pen together. They sniffed each other again, but then Louis mounted Lex and we cut the playdate short.

We did a lot of research on bunny bonding and read that one bunny will naturally express dominance over the other. Louis is bigger and older, so it was no surprise that he was the one to claim the throne.

The next bunny playdate was more fruitful. We used the screen again, and then let them interact in the same space. This time, we made sure to pet each of their heads while they sniffed each other, which is supposed to simulate grooming and bring on a feeling of calm. It definitely worked.

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After about 10 minutes, Louis started doing his dominance dance again, and we separated them. But their bonding is progressing. They are already getting more and more used to each other. Once Lex is not such a novelty anymore, Louis will surely calm down and learn to be a pal to her rather than a lover.

Nick with his babies

Nick with his babies

*We still don’t know if Lex is a boy or a girl. I’m trying not to jump to conclusions so a Lulu situation doesn’t happen again..but she seems very feminine…

The Plight of the Easter Bunny

When you think of Easter, you think of bunnies. Cotton-tailed long-eared animals that hop around and look cute in the arms of children.

Every easter, hundreds of rabbits are sold as seasonal gifts without the owners understanding the commitment they’ve just made. And after the holiday, many bunnies lose their trendy glow and end up in a cage in the basement 24/7, or set free in a backyard, defenseless prey to any predator.

Rabbits cost time and attention. They are like dogs in cats bodies. They need your attention, and they need daily servings of dry food, vegetables and timothy hay. They need exercise outside of their cage. And they need to be neutered or spayed, which costs upwards of $200.

So if you know someone considering a bunny as an Easter present, please fill them in. Bunnies are endlessly entertaining, adorable and loyal pets. But they are not goldfish. You can’t set them in one place and feed them once a day. They need your love.

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She’s a He?

“Her name is Lulu.”

I did not question the introduction even after we adopted her.

I mean, how could she not be a girl, with such white fur, such a pink nose and such long white eyelashes?

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Suite: Judy Blue Eyes

One night a few months ago, Nick picked Lulu up and handed her to me. But I noticed something peculiar.

“What’s that?” I asked, and gestured to her privates.

Nick and I looked at each other with pursed lips and confusing thoughts bustling around our brains.

We denied it at first..until we took a closer look. There between his legs hung two fuzzy bunny balls.

“It’s almost like we’re accepting that our daughter had a sex change,” Nick eloquently said.

We decided we would call him Louis, and we would no longer dress him in the pink frilly hoodie.

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Louis’s Pink Hoodie

It took a while to see Louis as a little guy, but now with his propensity toward eating with his mouth open and crawling into beer pitchers, it’s become obvious.

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I can has beer?

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Cheers!

“Lulu’s” Beginnings

I first met the little ball of white fur at my friend Mary’s house last June. Her roommates wanted a pet dog, but knew they couldn’t have one at their current house, so they opted for a bunny.

“Her” name was Lulu (more on that later). She had snow white fur, pastel pink ears and nose and sky blue eyes. She was gorgeous. But once her new-bunny glow wore off for the owners, she was retired to the basement where she sat in her large tupperware container/laundry basket cage on top of a table.

Lulu's first cage

Lulu’s first cage

I told Nick about Lulu’s plight and took him to see her one day. Mary felt bad for the bunny and wanted us to rescue her. Nick took one look at her and knew we had to have her. So we got her roommates permission, put Lulu in Nick’s jeep, and drove back to my apartment with a new member of the family.

Lulu and Nick

Lulu and Nick

When we put her on the floor for the first time, she was nervous. But she warmed up quickly, sniffing everything in sight and “binkying” – jumping high in the air in place, a sign of bunny joy.

We fed Lulu carrots and gave her hugs.

Lulu loves carrots

Lulu loves carrots

Lulu drinks a lot of water

Lulu drinks a lot of water

Lulu loves hugs

Lulu loves hugs