Category: Rabbit Care

A Gentle Giant

Yesterday heaven was given a true gift as Doc, the giant angora rabbit left us to live with the angels. The only thing larger than he was, was his strong gentle heart. He was a wonderful ambassador for German Angora Rabbits everywhere.

Through his several surgeries, daily medications, shots, and two amputations, in a hard fought battle over a relentless infection, Doc never for a moment lost his sweet, loving nature.

What was most remarkable about him was his ability to capture people’s hearts. From Vermont, to Washington, to California, people were rooting and praying for Doc’s success. Because of his special needs and required medications, he traveled when we did. This brought him to UCWDC dance events including the South Bay Dance Fling and Paradise Dance Festival where he won over the hearts of many swing and country dancers.

Jules Veterinary center in Tracy became a second home to Doc and the amazing staff there loved him almost as much as we did, bringing fruits and vegetables from their own homes to keep him eating. They made sure his bed was soft and warm and that he was never without loving attention.

At home Doc spent time with Daisy. With all of his medications making it completely against all odds, somehow a miracle happened. Daisy gave birth to one single beautiful white baby rabbit. She was a Christmas miracle that we named Lilly. In Doc’s one and only offspring we can see so much of him and his determined nature.

Our hearts ache for our big, sweet boy and Daisy wanders the room looking for him. None of us can believe that a simple rabbit could touch so many lives. But, then again, he wasn’t just a simple rabbit. Even in pain he loved to give a sweet hug; even though he wasn’t always comfortable, he never tired of sitting on a lap; even in the last moments, when at the end, when he could barely move, he managed to nuzzle under my chin and give reassurance like only he could. No one who ever met him would ever say that he was ‘just’ a rabbit. Doc was a living example of unconditional love, bravery, strength, and giving – all dressed in the form of one large white, and very fluffy, rabbit.

We love you and we miss you Doc, today and every day.

More Rabbitry Cleaning

This is a subject that I apparently keep come back to. But, it’s an important one. I share a space with now…six wonderful rabbits and I’m one of those people that is sensitive to smells. Usually that doesn’t go well together. Honestly, I do clean cages and sweep up hay twice a day. So, there’s admittedly a lot of cleaning going on. But, I’ve gotten it down to a pretty quick process.

Cooper and Emma are my original bunnies. They are rescue and a bonded pair. I’ve had Cooper for over eight years now. So he’s a pretty old man. They both live in the x-pen and use a litter box. Neither wanders out much since they aren’t as active as they used to be. I have pine shavings in their box and change it once to twice per day.

Doc, Daisy and Lily live in Condo’s, which are very large cages. I think 36″. I can’t remember exactly…but plenty of room. I go between odorless, lightweight, low dust cat litter and pine shavings in the trays under their cages. I also use some lime in the area where each goes most. This makes cleanup really easy.

Bear has his own large condo. He is very sensitive to smells. Pine shavings and kitty litter make him sneeze. So, I use a large puppy pad in his tray. I just wrap it up and toss it and replace with a new one. Not as cost effective, but easy and it work better for him.

Since everyone gets run time every day I also have a lot of organic spray cleaner and shop type towels available. Running around they usually only have an accident (actually, they’re marking) near the other rabbits. So I expect that and it’s a quick clean-up. Okay, except for Bear. If he see’s me cleaning it up, he’ll get upset and really…and I mean really… spray. So I have to be a little more ninja in my cleanup. And, I leave the towel there so he is sure that his mark is still around, until he goes back into his condo.

All of the cages get a deep cleaning once a week. You might be able to tell from the picture, the cages have removable hard plastic mats. German Angora’s are heavy rabbits, and although I don’t trim the bottom of their feet (so that they have as much cushion as possible) I like having the extra protection of these liners. They don’t particularly like laying on them (I notice they lay in the area where the liners don’t quite reach), probably because it’s a little cooler with more air circulation under them, but I like the added protection they have on their paws.

These get taken out and disinfected every week when the rest of the cage is wiped down. You can find them from Amazon here.

I have the air cleaner running in the room as well. Honestly, I don’t know if it does much, but with that filter as dirty as it is, it must be cleaning something.

The biggest challenge, really, is hay. Not that it smells, and I only sneeze during allergy season, but that stuff does seem to get everywhere and is not vacuum friendly. So, there’s a lot of sweeping going on. But, it’s a small price to pay for such sweet critters and the beautiful ‘wool’ that they produce.

Welcome to the World!

A wonderful Christmas surprise welcomed us. Daisy was actually pregnant and delivered one large, healthy and incredibly adorable baby! After several attempts and her thinking she was pregnant each time. I have to admit, I didn’t believe her this time. My comment to a friend was, “Yep, Daisy thinks that she’s pregnant again.” Well the joke was on me.

Even though I was skeptical, I still kept an eye on the dates, albeit somewhat loosely. Day 31 she stopped eating, I have never known Daisy to miss a meal for any reason. That evening I reached in to pet her and talked to her…I got boxed….From sweet Daisy. This is so out of character that I was no thinking that this might actually be it.

Checking on her every hour or so, sure enough at around 11pm on December 18th. A little, well, actually rather large, and very bald, pink baby was in the nest box. Just one.

Of course the nerves set in with just one. Will it be warm enough? Will it get enough to eat? More than my share of worrying and more middle of the night “check-ins” than I’ll admit to.

But, with luck, and Daisy being a GREAT mom, the little one is thriving wonderfully. Daisy is a fairly hands-on Mom and they are always snuggled up together.

Now, at 4 1/2 weeks the little comes out to play, run and jump, loves alfalfa and oats and drinks from the water bowl like a champ. The perfect name is Lily…and it will be even more perfect if she’s a girl!

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Rabbitry Odor Control

An indoor rabbitry has a few challenges. While it’s wonderful to be able to go in any time, spend time with the bunnies and free time is spend hoping around the bunny-proof rooms, it also has a unique set of challenges. The biggest…smells.

bunnynose2As anyone with a rabbit can tell you, their urine smell is pretty hard to miss. And we’ve gone through quite a few options. to come up with…finally…a set-up that is working well.

In addition to the two large German Angoras that live in their bunny condo’s. The two cottontails, Cooper & Emma have an x-pen and are litterbox trained. Since Cooper is 8-9 years old he doesn’t enjoy roaming around much anymore and prefers to just stay in his area.; it’s really only Daisy and Doc, the two Angora’s that take turns running around the house. So, this leaves one litterbox and two big cages (and I mean really big cages) that need to be cleaned…and that can mean a lot of smell.

It is known, or at least suspected, that high protein diets make the urine smell worse. Because the two angoras are fiber rabbits, they are on a high protein diet. Given the amazing amount of “wool” that they produce at each shearing, it sure seems to be working. They are fed Kings rabbit feed and supplemented with Dr Cheekes YQ. 

What didn’t work

  • Pine Shavings: Very economical. I filled the litterbox and the tray of each of the cages. However, I found myself having to dump and replace all three twice a day. I bought a really large bag from the local feed store. While economical and very convenient, the smell was still way too much for indoors.
  • PDZ Refresher/Sweet PDZ: I really had high hopes. It comes in a granular formula and in large bags for horse stalls. I was ready to be impressed…and… that was the closest I got to being impressed. Honestly, it simply wasn’t much better.

What worked

  • Well, okay, I can’t honestly say that it’s working. But, I think it’s working. I ordered this air cleaner from Amazon. I’m going to say that it’s working. Actually, I think it is. I run this little guy 24/7 and the filter has picked up quite a bit of “stuff” and it certainly can’t be hurting.
  • Lime: I sprinkle lime powder in the bottom tray of the cages. The litterbox doesn’t get any since I don’t think it would be safe for my elderly rabbits to jump around in. But for the bottom tray of the cages, it’s working VERY well. It’s a great helper to the main litter. I pick it up from the local feed store. 
  • Cat litter: I’m still playing with which brands. So far the lightweight and dust free clumping versions of Fresh Step and Advanced have worked. The Fresh Step has been better at odor control so far. I’m down to cleaning once a day and I’ve even skipped a day and it hasn’t been terrible. I scoop, add a little more litter and sprinkle lime on the top. Since rabbits tend to go in the same areas. There’s really only a few places in their three foot cages that need scooping. I’m trying more brands, but want to stay with the lightweight and dust free. Let me know if anyone has had great success with their cats. (Noah, our large Ragdoll cat, has a wonderful self cleaning litterbox. If they could invent a way to do this for the rabbits, I would be in heaven!)
  • Cage deep-cleaning: Once a week…well, okay, maybe a little less depending on my schedule, the cages get a deep cleaning. The flooring is pulled out and washed with bleach and water. The sides of the cage also get cleaned with a safer cleaning solution.

I have heard that wood stove pellets in the tray absorb odor but I have yet to try this. It might be worth a try, but I’m not too optimistic that it cat beat cat litter.   Between all of this you can’t even tell there’s a rabbitry in the house. And, given that it is in the same room as my fiber studio, it is happybunnyreally important to me that it smells great in there. Afterall, who wouldn’t want to spend as much time as they can in a fiber studio with fresh smelling, cuddly bunnies!