Sunday 18 March 2012

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary in Time

Pea, Pod, Cosmos or Goofy enjoying an extra treat

Did you know that one of the things bunnies like to eat the most is fresh herbs? Oh you did? Well, erm, that's OK then. If you didn't, you might want to check out the RWAF list of veggie snacks safe for bunnies.

Herbs are great for bunnies but they have a very strong aroma and taste so consequently some take a while to get used to them. And here's why that's important.

A few weeks ago Jemima had a 'bad day'. I still don't know what triggered it, but she spent the day avoiding me, wouldn't eat her breakfast or any treats/pellets I offered her. This was not like her at all, usually even when she is sick she still eats in horse-like portions. She was lively enough, shot off like a rocket if I went near her (probably knew she was at risk of being carted off to the vets), but clearly something was up and she wanted to be left alone.

As you will most likely know, if a rabbit stops eating it is something to be concerned about. Their guts are in almost continuous motion with their unstoppable mission to turn all grass and hay into very large piles of poo. If the gut stops moving, if they go into GI stasis, there is a chance you won't get it going again and that's the end of that. If you hit 24 hours of no eating/pooing you are definitely in proper emergency territory.

Well whatever caused Jemima's illness, the one thing I could get her to eat during that day was parsley. She'd only pick at it at first, but it was just enough to keep me from going into stress-overdrive until, thankfully, she started to bounce back. By the next day was eating normally again.

My experience is not unique it turned out, as discussing the incident with fellow volunteers we found that a number of our bunnies had found herbs to be the only food they could face in times of sickness.

So here's my point. Those of us that have had bunnies for years have had at least one close call with stasis, where the vet has sent you home with gut-motility medicines and liquid food to syringe feed, where you are desperate for them to eat something. If you take the time to gradually introduce your bunnies to different fresh herbs and find out which ones they really like now, it may give you just the head-start you need when you find yourself in this situation in the future.

Plus of course, your bunnies will love you more for giving them such tasty food!

Saturday 10 March 2012

Take Two

I promised myself I was going to blog more this year about the goings on at the Rescue, but it has not turned out that way. This is largely because the last month or so has been littered with bad days and some sad losses of long time residents, which kind of puts me out of a blogging mood. This weeks stress was poor Dexter - we finally found a perfect home for him and his terribly shy friend Mars, only to discover on his final vet check that he has developed a heart condition and started dropping weight.

Dexter and Mars

We couldn't rehome him of course and his future health is uncertain, but we won't give up on him. We now have him medicated and are trying to get his weight back up. He does appear to be eating reasonably well and didn't say no to a post-breakfast treat of extra tasty herbs this morning!

Which brings me to my next topic. Today was quite chaotic at the Rescue with lots of new volunteers, which gave me the chance to catch up on some photo's for Rabbit Rehome. For anyone who is interested in taking good pictures of bunnies, my usual method is:

  • Sit on the ground away from the bunnies, legs straight out in front
  • Hold out some tasty fresh herbs or veg
  • Let bunnies come to me in their own time.
  • Once they have taken food a couple of times, introduce the camera.
  • Let them get used to the sounds of the camera before trying to take proper pictures. They will probably want to sniff (and sometimes taste) the camera at this point to see what it is.
  • Finally, after all my efforts I usually discover there is really no chance of getting a good picture because I have bunnies clambering all over me looking for snacks and they are far too close and active to get a single shot in focus.

So there you go, that's how I do it (or not). This also explains why the two things that appear most commonly in my library of bunny photo's are my green waterproof trousers and my wellies! Here to demonstrate from today's efforts are Rose and Chablis:

Thanks girls. Now, please, if you could just go and stand looking cute over there! [sigh]