Quincy begging for a treat
Amy's RabbitRant of the Month
Hope everyone had a happy, safe holiday! RabbitRant is back, a little late, with New Year's Resolutions for your rabbit!
I, a small fuzzy bunny, resolve to eat more fiber (or fibre, depending on which country you're reading this in).
Bunnies REALLY need fiber, and the best way to give it to them is with long-strand Timothy hay. Some of you may not have heard of this kind of hay, but it's really just a variety of grass. Odds are, you're feeding your bunny Alfalfa hay. Now, this certainly provides the fiber buns need, but it also provides a lot of calcium (it's a legume hay). And since all pellets (that I'm aware of, anyway) are formulated with an alfalfa base, your bunny is getting all the calcium it needs. You see, too much calcium can lead to sludge in the bladder and that can cause all kinds of problems. So the easiest remedy is to change your bunny's hay from Alfalfa to Timothy, Oat or Brome hay (whichever you can get). Most pet stores offer both kinds, and if yours doesn't, bother the store manager until it DOES! And don't forget: the fresher the hay, the better.
I resolve to cut down on treats.
This is a tough one. Bunnies are so cute when they're getting a favourite treat! Well, okay, your bunny can have some treats, but let's look at which are good and which are bad.
Anything that has sugar in it is a definite no-no for bunnies. Too much sugar can upset the delicate balance of digestive flora (organisms) that keep your bunny's digestive tract working and your bunny eating and healthy. Now, one organic raisin a day will *not* hurt your bunny. But a small handful will. One yogurt drop isn't a problem, but watch how many your bunny is begging for! Even papaya tablets have sugar in them, so limit them to once-in-a-while treats. I've actually seen slices of sugar cane sold as bunny treats. Avoid them at all costs! Just because it's labelled as a bunny treat doesn't mean it's safe for your bunny.
Fruit is also full of sugar and should be seen as a treat to be given only occasionally. We used to feed Newton half an apple for her dinner, until we learned this was a very bad idea. Now she gets a large handful of mixed green vegetables and maybe a piece of carrot. Much healthier and she loves it just the same! If we give her fruit, it's no more than a 1/2" piece of banana or a grape. And it's not every day.
Some people feed their buns oats or other grains as treats. If your bunny doesn't have a weight problem, this is probably not so terrible. But remember: a bunny's balanced diet consists of (from largest percentage to smallest) hay, vegetables and pellets. So grains should be only seen as a treat...maybe a teaspoon or two, tops. And whatever you do, avoid nuts and seeds. Nuts and seeds have more fat than your bunny needs. Long-haired bunnies have different fat requirements, however...check with your vet. Did you know that corn kernels can actually be dangerous! They can cause life-threatening blockages in your bun's digestive tract. Some mixed bunny treats contain all sorts of seeds and nuts that are no treat for your bunny. Just avoid them.
I resolve to get more exercise.
Well, sometimes it's near impossible to get a lazy bun up and running around! But a well-exercised bunny is a healthier bunny (exercise helps keep their digestive tracts working properly) so here are a few ideas suggested by my bunny friends:
- A cardboard cat condo (they go by different names)...a multi-level cardboard play house. Line the ramp with grass mats for traction and watch your bunny go wild! I hear these are highly popular and very affordable. Available at pet stores.
- Cardboard concrete-forming tubes...the kind construction companies use to pour concrete and form it into posts. It comes in a variety of widths and bunnies love to scoot through it. Newton spends a lot of time sitting in hers, eating it from the inside out. Available at Home Depot-type stores.
- Your basic cardboard box. Fill it with newspaper and watch your bunny go mad shredding it all. And the best part? The shreds stay in the box (if the sides are high enough). Some people also put old t-shirts in the box for bunny to rearrange to his/her heart's content.
- OR make a maze out of cardboard boxes with holes linking one to the next. After all, bunnies in the wild love to run through small, dark places!
Good luck in helping your bunny follow through with his or her resolutions!
- December 1996: Holiday hazards facing your bunny
- November 1996: Pet stores and your rabbit
- Sept/Oct 1996: How to bring your outdoor rabbit inside for good!
Disclaimer: Amy is not a vet. She is a person who loves rabbits. Please consult a qualified rabbit veterinarian when making any changes that will affect your rabbit.