Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Do Rabbits Yawn, or Roar?!

Hershey's Memorial

"Every bunny we have met has taught us something new. In meeting Hershey, we learned that certain rabbits thrive in different situations. When we first met Hershey, she was a growling, batting, angry bunny that actually scared me! However, once we brought her into our home, absent of other girl bunnies, which usually don’t get along unless spayed, she calmed down and became the perfect companion. Hershey loved it when my husband and I would have conversations on the floor. She would bounce between the two of us, begging for treats or forehead rubs. Our favorite memories of Hershey involve her walking on floors other bunnies would slip on like linoleum, and how she didn’t like going into any box, but jumping on top of them. Hershey’s major way of communicating with us was her wonderfully cute lop ears. She had total control over them and if she had no interest in something, they would be lopped. Partial interest in something got one ear raised, full interest had both raised. To this day, I can’t image having another lop eared rabbit that couldn’t have this amazing ability. If you ever even casually petted her, Hershey would throw herself onto the ground, silently demanding to be pet for hours. She loved the attention and was too cute to ignore. She never took any petting for granted.
Hershey came to us with a respiratory problem she most likely got while living in her first home as a hutch bunny. Her previous owners probably could have prevented the problem. We treated her with many antibiotics, but unfortunately pneumonia claimed her short life too quickly. We very much miss our cute lop eared companion."

Monday, November 9, 2009


A few years ago I received an Aerogarden as a gift. After having it for this long, I figured I would impart some knowledge I have gained from the experience.

It is nice to have around for some fresh greens. The fertilizer pellets don't have information as to what is in them but I never bothered to look it up online either. I don't know what is in them.

What are some of the pros and cons?
- Fresh greens
- Nice to feed rabbits and eat
- 66 pod seed starting kit for a real garden
- Easy to use
- Easy to maintain
- Easy to clean
- Easy to grow their plants
- Cheap replacement parts

- Price

It is incredibly easy to use. It will give anyone a green thumb. However, you will not offset any costs of growing the vegetables with money saved from those vegetables. It is just too expensive. With Aerogarden ($150), seed pods($20), motor replacement ($10), growing bulbs($20), and electricity you will not offset the upfront costs. They are just too high. You will replace a motor or two with roots growing into the motor and clogging it.

We are going to try the 66 pod seed ($30) starting kit to see how everything will transplant into the ground. I will let you know next spring when I start it up.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Litter Training and Bottle Training

Litter Training
This process is a little different then a cat's litter box. With a rabbit, they choose which corner they decide to go in. To make litter training a rabbit a little easier, here are a few steps.

1: Choose a litter box style. I prefer the scatterless version. The litter lasts longer and my rabbits aren't sitting in their wastes. Be careful with the scatterless if your rabbit has a history of sore hocks.
Regular animal litter box.
Scatterless Litter box. I prefer these.

2: Choose your litter. For a rabbit there is only one choice. Carefresh. Since I am cheap, I go for the grey stuff. Rabbits aren't picky.

3: Decide how you want to place/hang hay around the litterbox. Rabbits like to eat while on the pot. This will help the process along.

4: Place litterboxes in a few corners. I normally put them in three corners when I bring the rabbit home.

5: Positive reinforcement. When the rabbit "goes" in the litterboxes, give them a treat. Dried cranberries, dried banana chips, etc.

6: Gradually reduce the number of litterboxes.

7: If the rabbit is not altered be prepared for them to "mark" towels or rugs you place in their cage.

8: Set your rabbit up for success. They will do what they want. If they don't like a litterbox in the corner, they will move it. They also decide when to switch corners for whatever reason if they aren't altered. This can be a frustrating thing to deal with.

9: Rabbits are all different. Some are more prone to litter boxes then others and litter training might take longer.

10: If you are going to give your rabbit free range of your apartment, slowly add more space that they are able to roam. Start them in a cage for a week with supervised time out. Open the cage and give them range of a room. The rabbit needs to remember where the litterbox is so don't go too fast when adding more room. Rabbits are creatures of habit and are a bit OCD. As long as they know where the litterbox is, they will go there most of the time.

Bottle Training

This is actually easier then it seems. When I bring a foster rabbit home I place the bottle somewhere that might be comfortable for them to reach. (Should be about head height when they are sitting.) I give them a crock of water for a day or two. Then I remove the water crock before going to bed. This gets them a little thirsty in the morning. When I wake up I take a dried cranberry and place it in front of the bottle spout. When the rabbit tries to take the cranberry, take it away for a second, and tap on the ball at the end of water bottle. I place my finger in front of the rabbit now that my finger is wet, smells like cranberries, and they are thirsty. I repeat this process a few times. If the rabbit doesn't catch on at first, I put a crock of water back in the cage and remove it before bed again. I work on it the next day.

I have yet to have a rabbit take more then 3 days to learn to drink from a bottle this way.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Bunny Proofing 101

Arguably one of the most important things about having a rabbit, bunny proofing can be......difficult.

Is your rabbit in a cage? Does your rabbit have free range of your house/room/apartment? If your rabbit is in a cage there are less concerns and we are going to focus mainly on free range rabbits.

Having a free range rabbit is the equivalent of an 8 year old boy. If you leave stuff out, chances are, it will get wrecked. So having a free range rabbit is both good and bad. They are good in that they force you to keep your place picked up. They are bad in that they wreck some things. It is going to be a learning experience having a free range rabbit, but it is rewarding in the end.

So what is your rabbit looking at when he/she sees your stuff?

Carpet. Rabbits will dig up carpet. They won't dig up all of your carpet, but there are certain areas your rabbit has decided needs to be torn up. Cover these areas with furniture or a rug.

Electrical cords! If you have exposed electrical cords it is paramount you inspect them daily or even hourly. Do NOT leave a cord strung across the floor. This is begging to be chewed in half. Also, rabbits have expensive tastes and like to chew the $150 laptop cords. Beware.
Book spines. If there are ends of books in the reach of a rabbit, they will be chewed. If you leave a set of Encyclopedia Britannica's close to your rabbit's grasp, overtime, you won't be able to find the volume that houses your information on Zubaz parachute pants without going through all of them.Cardboard, paper, anything made from paper pulp. Will get chewed. It's inevitable. If it's there, the rabbit will eat it.This box is on top of the dining room table.

If your rabbit is a not leave the chairs out on your dining room table. Truthfully, this is a challenging predicament. You have to arrange everything in the area around your rabbit jumping up on it. Anything that is 0 to 3 feet tall is fair game. If the rabbit has access to the bathroom this includes items in close proximity to the toilet. Anything on or near a couch, table, or office chair is the same.Trash can. Don't put an empty treat bag in there that might force a rabbit to knock it over looking for dried cranberries.

Cupboards. Some rabbits can figure out how to open floor cupboards. Beware of this. Nothing is safe inside of them unless you can secure the doors.

Baseboards. Some rabbits like to chew on baseboards. You must rabbit proof against this if they start chewing on them. The landlord might not give you back your security deposit. Plants in pots. Good luck with this one. Keep them out of reach of the rabbit if they are toxic, and try to keep the pot small enough that the rabbit can't jump in it and dig.
Immediately following the taking of this picture dirt was thrown everywhere.

Fake or real leather. Yes they chew on this. Belts, couches, shoes, purses, backpacks, duffelbags, and your 80's leather pants you only put on to go to Def Leopard concerts. Remote controls. The buttons will get chewed. Keep these out of the reach of your bunny!

Can you alleviate some of your rabbit's chewing tendencies? Yes and no. If you place a phone book somewhere where they don't like it, they will tear it apart and use up a lot of energy. They might get bored with it at times so take it away and put it back later.
I hope this helps with some initial thoughts about letting your rabbit have free range of your abode. As long as you keep your cool, it can be a rewarding experience. If you don't like being punished for not picking your stuff up, then keep your rabbit in a cage.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Cottontail Quilts

We have a bunny angel in our midst! Cindi Glinski creator of cottontail quilts donates a portion of her proceeds directly to our foster bunnies in order that necessary care items may be purchased for them. Cindi and her husband share their home with a house rabbit named Harriet (seen here giving her big bunny yawn!) who is very love. Cindi's work is both touching, unique and something to be cherished for a lifetime. Critter haven Bunnies are beyond grateful to Cindi for her continued care and interest in our cause of saving bunnies. To see Cindi's items please go to:

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

You Chose Tears

This was not written by me, but it pertains to everyone that is associated or adopts from an animal rescue.

by Anne Kolaczyk

February 5, 1998

The little orange boy stopped. Behind him, ratties were playing, chasing each other and wrestling in the warm sunshine. It looked like so much fun, but in front of him, through the clear stillness of the pond's water, he could see his mommy. And she was crying.

He pawed at the water, trying to get at her, and when that didn't work, he ju
mped into the shallow water. All that got him was wet, and Mommy's image danced away in the ripples. "Mommy!" he cried.

"Is something wrong?"

The little orange boy turned around. A lady was standing at the edge of the pond, her eyes sad but filled with love. The little orange boy sighed and walked out of the water. "There's been a mistake," he said. "I'm not supposed to be here." He looked back at the water. It was starting to still again and his mommy's image was coming back. "I'm just a baby. Mommy said it had to be a mistake. She said I wasn't supposed to come here yet."

The kind lady sighed and sat down on the grass. The little orange boy climbed into her lap. It wasn't Mommy's lap, but it was almost as good. When she started to pet him and scratch behind his ears like he liked, he started to chitter and chatter and grind his teeth in happiness. He hadn't wanted to, but he couldn't help it. "I'm afraid there is no mistake. You are supposed to be here, and your mommy knows it deep down in her heart." the lady said.
The little orange boy sighed and laid his head on the lady's leg. "But she's so sad. It hurts me to see her cry. And Daddy too."

"But they knew right from the beginning this would happen."

"That I was sick?" That surprised the little orange boy. No one had ever said anything and he had listened when they thought he was sleeping. All he had heard them talk about was how cute he was or how fast he was or how big he was getting.

"No, not that you were sick," the lady said. "But you see, they chose tears."

"No, they didn't," the little orange boy argued. "Who would choose to cry?"

The lady gently brushed the top of his head with a kiss. It made him feel safe and loved and warm-but he still worried about his mommy. "Let me tell you a story," the lady said.

The little orange boy looked up and saw other animals gathering around.

Cats--Big Boy and Snowball and Shamus and Abby and little Cleo and Robin. Merlin and Toby and Iggy and Zachary. Sweetie and Kamatte and Obie.

Dogs too--Sally and Baby and Morgan and Rocky and Belle. Even a lizard named Clyde and some rats named Saffron and Becky and a hamster named Odo. They all lay down near the kind lady and looked up at her, waiting.
She smiled at them and began:


A long long time ago, the Loving Ones went to the Angel in Charge. They were lonesome and asked the angel to help them.

The angel took them to a wall of windows and let them look out the first window at all sorts of things-dolls and stuffed animals and cars and toys and sporting events.

"Here are things you can love," the angel said. "They will keep you from being lonesome."

"Oh, thank you," the Loving Ones said. "These are just what we need."

"You have chosen Pleasure," the angel told them.

But after a time the Loving Ones came back to the Angel in Charge. "Things are okay to love," they said, "but they don't care that we love them."

The Angel in Charge led them over to the second window. It looked out at all sorts of wild animals. "Here are animals to love," he said. "They will know you love them."

So the Loving Ones hurried out to care for the wild animals. "You have chosen Satisfaction," the angel said.

Some of the Loving Ones worked at zoos and wild animal preserves, some just had bird feeders in their yards, but after a time they all came back to the Angel in Charge.

"They know we love them," they told the angel, "but they don't love us back. We want to be loved in return."

So the angel took them to the third window and showed them lots of people walking around, hurrying places. "Here are people for you to love," the angel told them. So the Loving Ones hurried off to find other people to love. "You have chosen Commitment," the angel said.

But after a time a lot of Loving Ones came back to the Angel in Charge. "People were okay to love," they said, "but sometimes they stopped loving us and left. They broke our hearts."

The angel just shook his head. "I cannot help you." he said. "You will have to be satisfied with the choices I gave you."

As the Loving Ones were leaving, someone saw a window off to one side and hurried to look out. Through it, they could see puppies and kittens and dogs and cats and lizards and hamsters and ferrets. The other Loving Ones hurried over. "What about these?" they asked.
But the angel just tried to shoo them away. "Those are Personal Empathy Trainers," he said, "but there's a problem with their system operations."

"Would they know that we love them?" someone asked.

"Yes," the angel said.

"Would they love us back?" another asked.

"Yes." the angel said.

"Will they stop loving us?" someone else asked.
"No," the angel admitted. "They will love you forever."

"Then these are what we want." the Loving Ones said.

But the angel was very upset. "You don't understand," he told them. "You will have to feed these animals."

"That's all right," the Loving Ones said.

"You will have to clean up after them and take care of them forever."

"We don't care."

The Loving Ones did not listen. They went down to where the Pets were and picked them up, seeing the love in their own hearts reflected in the animals' eyes.

"They were not programmed right," the angel said. "We can't offer a warranty. We don't know how durable they are. Some of their systems malfunction very quickly, others last a long time."

But the Loving Ones did not care. They were holding the warm little bodies and finding their hearts so filled with love that they thought they would burst. "We will take our chances." they said.

"You do not understand." The angel tried one more time. "They are so dependent on you that even the most well-made of them is not designed to outlive you. You are destined to suffer their loss."

The Loving Ones looked at the sweetness in their arms and nodded. "That is how it should be. It is a fair trade for the love they offer."

The angel just watched them all go, shaking his head. "You have chosen Tears." he whispered.

"So it is," the kind lady told the animals, "and so each mommy and daddy knows. When they take a baby into their heart, they know that one day it will leave them, and they will cry."

The little orange boy sat up. "So why do they take us in?" he asked.

"Because even a moment of your love is worth years of pain later."

"Oh." The little orange boy got off the lady's lap and went back to the edge of the pond. His mommy was still there and still crying. "Will she ever stop crying?" he asked the kind lady.
She nodded. "You see, the Angel felt sorry for the Loving Ones, knowing how much they would suffer. He couldn't take the tears away but he made them special."

She dipped her hand into the pond and let the water trickle off her fingers. "He made them healing tears, formed from the special water here. Each tear holds bits of all the happy times of snuggling and petting and shared love. And the promise of love once again. As your mommy cries, she is healing.

"In time, she will be less sad and she will smile when she thinks of you. And then she will open her heart again to another little baby."

"But then she will cry again one day," the little orange boy said.

The lady just smiled at him as she got to her feet. "No, she will love again. That is all she will think about." She picked up Big Boy and Snowball and gave them hugs, then scratched Morgan's ear just how she liked.
"Look," she said, "the butterflies have come. Shall we go over to play?"
The other animals all ran ahead, but the little orange boy wasn't ready to leave his mommy. "Will I ever get to be with her again?"

The kind lady nodded. "You'll be in the eyes of every rattie she looks at. You'll be in the brux and boggle of every rat she pets. And late at night, when she's fast asleep, your spirit will snuggle up close to her and you both will feel at peace. One day soon, you can even send her a rainbow to tell her you're safe and waiting here for when it's her turn to come."

"I would like that." the little orange boy said and took one long look at his mommy. He saw her smile slightly through her tears, and he knew she had remembered the time he almost fell into the bathtub.

"I love you, Mommy," he whispered. "It's okay if you cry." He glanced over at the others, running and playing and laughing with the butterflies. "Uh, Mommy? I gotta go play now, okay? But I'll be around, I promise."

Then he turned and raced after the others.


Monday, November 2, 2009

Chickens? Delicious Eggs? Yes, this is where your food comes from.

For starters, I am far from an expert in housing any livestock or most animals for that matter. But gosh, I do love learning! If there is one barnyard animal to have, it's chickens.

This summer my wife and I received 4 chickens from a co-worker. Since I learn as I go, there were a few things I didn't think about.

How to protect against raccoons and possums?
How do I protect against hawks?
This chicken isn't looking so good, oh, they molt?
Does this feces indicate they are properly fed?
They do indeed where is this little chicken laying her eggs in my yard?
What is brooding?

The most helpful advice I have read or heard was "As soon as you understand that the chickens are dependent on you for protection, it gets easier." Hopefully this posting can help sway you in a direction you want to go with regards to chickens.

Without further ado here are our chickens,
They love tomatoes.

How do I house my chickens?I had a chicken coop that I did not lock up every night. After one early morning, 5 raccoons, pants that were on backwards, buying a hatchet and 2 gallons of milk from the grocery store at 5am (creeper!), I would recommend getting/building a chicken coop that can be locked up at night. This will help guard against raccoons and possums. It's easy to let them out in the morning and the chickens go to bed by themselves. Just remember to go out and lock them up.

How do I guard against hawks?Keep your chickens under a mesh or chicken wire. If you don't (like me) this one is tough and one that requires experimenting. Currently I have numerous CD's hung from a tree in their pen and an owl decoy I bought from Gander Mountain on discount for $10 because one eye was missing. I move the decoy every day and it kinda freaks out the chickens, but it has worked for a month now.

How many eggs do I get a day?
We get 1 or 2 a day. We have one chicken that is molting, one that is laying, and one that lays her eggs somewhere else. I randomly happen across a pile of eggs from the little one. For a family of two, this is perfect. We eat them during the week and cook a big breakfast on Saturdays with them. You will have to wash the eggs off and they may look weird at times. Part of seeing where my food comes from has included coming to terms with some funny situations. Chickens lay eggs through the same place they defecate. This means your eggs may have poo on them. This is no different from store bought eggs, just wash them off and enjoy.

My chicken is acting funny, is this normal?
I thought one of the chickens was sick for a week. Turns out she was brooding. She was in a daze, rarely ate and drank, and just sat in the coop like she was sitting on eggs. We just had to take her out of the coop from time to time so she would eat. In about a week or two she snapped out of it.

Will the city allow chickens?
I am lucky to live in a city that has an ordinance against "nuisance animals" and not chickens. This means no roosters. We have all hens. Talk to your neighbors beforehand, and offer them fresh eggs when you think they may be getting fed up with chickens making noise. Luckily my neighbor used to raise chickens as well, so they like them next door. They only really make noise when they lay an egg. I probably would too.

How much does the feed cost?
Layers mash, which last a few months costs $16 for a large bag. Oyster shells last forever and they are $6. Grit lasts a long a time and it's $7. I am sure there are cheaper solutions, but thats what I get. Our chickens are also let out a lot while we do yard work, so they eat plenty of bugs and grass. This is nice because bugs and grass are free. I like free.

Will I save money on eggs by having my own chickens?
No. You won't. You will however, be able to tell people that your chickens are properly cared for and give you eggs. The coop costs money. If you have free range chickens (like us), the fence costs money. The feed costs money. The feed and water containers cost money. Owl decoys cost money. Chances are you will break even eventually.

Overall, I don't regret getting 4 chickens. I was hesitant at first and spent a while talking with my wife about it. They are really easy to take care of and I love seeing where my food comes from. After watching how chickens are treated on farms, I love having fresh eggs that I know come from chickens that aren't abused.

P.S. If you throw tomatoes in the chicken pen from a distance, don't think your chickens will be smart enough to not run directly into the path of it.