Monday, January 18, 2016

Bonding Part 2: They've Met, Now What?

So, an expert bunny bonder has helped you and your rabbit choose a partner. Now what?

Well, now the real work begins.

Part of the bonding process is the drive home. Bring a carrier that can be opened from the top and an extra person who can break up possible squabbles on the way home. Don’t miss this opportunity.

They’ve just met. NOW is the time to safely and mildly traumatize them. The purpose is you want them to cuddle together in slight terror and seek comfort from each other. The longer the ride the better. Up to 3 to 4 hours is fine. When you get them home put them in the bathtub together and let them decompress with some hay or greens. Let them sit there for 25 to 30 minutes or until their breathing slows and they start to explore. After they catch their breath place them in their separate enclosures.


The couple should be housed in separate X-Pens four-to-six inches apart. The pens should not be able to be pushed together by a loving, or suddenly angry rabbit. I use a cardboard roll about 5 inches in circumference that I got from purchasing outdoor carpeting at Wal-Mart. But, you can also use tall paving bricks, old shoe boxes with weight inside or anything that is safe for the rabbits to bite, but won’t move when jostled violently by grumpy bunnies. They need to be able to see, smell and even taste the same air as their new friend. This means NO hidey huts. We don't want "out of sight out of mind." If you visually separate them, then you will have to start from square one, each time. If the X-pens are  too close, a fight could break out that leads to torn lips, noses, eyelids, pulled hair, removed toes, etc. At this stage of the courtship, the relationship is still very fragile. All interactions need to be monitored carefully.


Take them out for a date, lasting 15 minutes to 30 minutes depending on how things are progressing. The number of times you do this is up to your schedule, but the more the better. 15-minute dates every hour are wonderful. But, after each date do not put them back in the pen they were previously in. Put them in the other rabbit’s area. So Rabbit A was in area A and Rabbit B was in area B. You take them out and have them sit in the tub for 15 minutes where they ignored each other, groomed themselves and peacefully ate off the same hay pile. When you’re done with the bonding session but rabbit A in area B and rabbit B in area A. Don’t move anything that was in the other rabbits area, leave them for the new rabbit. This means:
·         DO NOT move the litter pans.
·         DO NOT move the water container.
·         DO NOT move or touch the toys.
·         DO NOT move the hay rack.

If everything is going well, increase the length of the date by five-to-ten minutes every day. In our next bunny bonding blog, we will share what to have on hand during a date; just in case someone says something rude and a scuffle breaks out…Until next time…binky on!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The Art of Guinea Pig Manicures & Pedicures

Did you know that guinea pigs typically have four toes on their front feet and three on their back feet? Those are 14 nails that need to be cared for regularly to ensure your guinea pig is living the happiest and healthiest life possible.

In fact, regular nail trims are one of the most important aspects of proper guinea pig care. It’s also something that many guinea pig owners neglect to do in a timely manner. Some individuals simply forget while others don’t like putting their guinea pigs in a situation that may stress them out. But forgoing nail trims can severely impact your guinea pig’s health!

Why Nail Trims Are ImportantGuinea pig toenails grow constantly but vary from pig to pig. Some nails grow straight while others curl and are more brittle. Guinea pigs as domestic animals do not experience enough wear and tear on their nails to forgo regular trimmings. They require their loving humans for monthly manicures and pedicure.

Without regular toenail trims, guinea pigs nail can grow too long and put added pressure and pain on the paws. This risks painful nail breakage and long nails embedding in the skin, which can lead to infection.
Illustration of nails and quick.

Tools Of The Trade
To trim your guinea pig’s toenails you can either use a human nail clipper (some guinea pig experts believe it’s the safest option) or a small animal or kitten/puppy nail trimmer.

Nail clipper.Nail clipper.

Perfecting The Guinea Pig Hold

Being the small, delicate creatures they are, it’s important to learn how to properly hold your animal for nail trims. If possible, enlist a friend to help you with nail trims--preferably one with animal experience. One person will hold the guinea pig securely and keep them comfortable while the other trims each nail.

If you must go it alone, here are two ways to hold your guinea pig to safely trim their nails:

Tips & Tricks
For first-timers, trimming your guinea pig’s nails can be a bit nerve-wracking. Here are a few tips and tricks:
  • Dark nails can make it challenging to see the nail “quick.” Shining a bright light from underneath the paw can help you locate the quick and avoid it. 
  • If you accidentally cut your guinea pig’s nail at the quick and experience bleeding, please do not panic. It can be frightening due to the amount of blood flow. Keep styptic powder or pencil on hand to stop any accidental bleeding. 
  • Distractions may be helpful during nail trims. Some individuals have success with feeding healthy treats to get their piggies to stand still during a trim.
  • Set a monthly recurring reminder on your calendar so you don’t let your guinea pig go too long between trims.
Happy trimming!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Bonding: Introductions.

Rabbits are social animals. There are exceptions to any rule, but most rabbits want to be with another rabbit. Bonding rabbits can be a tricky business. The caregiver loves their resident and wants what is best for them, so very lucky rabbits will live in pairs, trios or more. I’m going to go over some bunny bonding basics with you. From what to expect, to what can go wrong and what has worked best for me in the past.

When choosing a companion for your rabbit. Please realize YOU don’t choose a companion for your rabbit. You can pick out individuals to introduce your rabbit to, but the rabbits are the ones who choose their companion. This is just how it works. The first thing to realize is that rabbits are very emotional. They love deeply and they hate deeply. They are very suspicious of strangers and can be lethally territorial. If you go about introductions wrong, injuries can result that require emergency veterinary care. So, only adopt a companion rabbit from an organization that understands that the rabbit chooses, and allows you to bring your companion rabbit with you for introductions.

A few do’s and don’ts:

DO go with an open mind. Have a list of rabbits that are being fostered communicated to the organization in the order that you would like to make introductions. The one you hope for should be #1.

DON’T expect your rabbit to know who is on the link or give a fig about the one YOU hope for.

DO leave your emotions at the door. Your resident rabbit may be the submissive partner. He may be mounted and he may get chased. It is ok. This is normal.

DON’T interfere with the bonding process by touching your rabbit or “comforting” him during introductions. Every time you interfere, the rabbits have to start over and you risk ruining the bond.

DO watch body language. Rabbits will clearly tell you how things are going.

What you WANT to see with an introduction:
  • Rabbits ignore each other. Good.
  • One rabbit mounts the other. Bottom rabbit lays submissively and allows it to happen. Good.
  • Rabbits eat in front of each other. Good.
  • Rabbits groom themselves in sight of the other rabbit. Good.
  • Rabbits voluntarily sit near each other. Great.
  • Rabbits groom each other. Holy Grail. Hardly ever happens, but is the best possible meeting.
What you DON’T want to see in an introduction:
  • Biting.
  • Aggressive chasing with fur plucking.
  • Excessive mounting with bottom rabbit struggling to get loose.
  • Immediate attacks.
  • Defensive stances.
  • Growling.
  • Any sort of bloodletting.
Once your rabbit has chosen, the actual bonding process has begun. Please realize that rabbits are emotional (Yes I said it before, but it bears repeating). They feel things deeply. Your responsibility as the bunny parent is to be a good in law. This means don’t over protect your resident rabbit, but also don’t ignore him. The relationship that is forming between the rabbits is very fragile at the beginning. The rabbits are starting a friendship.

Just like with humans the rabbit friendships start with some attraction. “That person/rabbit looks fun to hang around. I think I’d like to get to know them better.” This can quickly escalate to “What a JERK. I hate them.” If the bonding isn’t handled properly.  The responsibility of the human is to make sure that the rabbits interactions build on positive feelings. Just like human relationships, rabbits want to be with other rabbits that good things happen with and who have shared memories of good things. The human orchestrates the meetings and “dates”.  But, that is information that we will go over in our next blog. Until Next time…binky on.