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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-01-2008, 06:46 PM Thread Starter
zen
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Question new bunny issues

Hi! I just got a new bunny last night and am really hoping for a bit of advice on her feeding. I'll take her to the vet on Mon AM if I need to, but she's already so scared by everything new I don't want to traumatize her even more right now if possible.

I got her from a person who posted on a list that she needed an immediate home- I'm pretty sure they were completely out of food & couldn't afford anymore, she mentioned bunnies will eat grass & I'm wondering if that's what bun's been eating. I did ask for some of her food, & what brand they'd been using; they didn't have any to give me & didn't remember the name. Yesterday I didn't pet her (she was SO stressed & I didn't want to freak her out more, I just put her carrier, open, in her cage) but today she let me pet her a little & I realized that she is skin & bones. She's an angora-type, with clipped hair but still a big fuzzball, about 4 lbs.

She hasn't eaten any of the pellets I gave her, she's eaten very very little - like maybe a pinch- of the timothy hay. I gave her a piece of leaf lettuce which she sucked down like candy, but I didn't think it was the best for her so didn't want to do more. I went out & picked a bunch of dandelion greens (we don't spray so we have LOTS, lol) which she ate a bit of, like maybe 2/3 of a cup loosely packed. She is drinking regularly.

I'm worried she's not eating enough & might get a hairball or just starve. I'm worried I'm giving her too many different new things, and I'm going to freak out her digestion.

I'm going out later tonight, after my husband brings back my car, and I'm going to go get some different types of hay & some other pellets. I'll also try anything! I'm going to drive out to a specialty store I'm hoping will have a good variety of bunny stuff, if anyone has ideas of products or anything else to give her.

My last bun, Hannah, was a giant lop I had for many years. I always had to watch her as she tended to pig out & get kinda fat, I'm not used to a bun who isn't thrilled by eating!

Thanks so much for any advice or ideas!

-denise
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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-01-2008, 07:34 PM
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Welcome!

Congrats on your new addition! It sounds like your going to give her a much better home then where ever you got her from did.

Not all bunnies will pig out like your old one did. My Barnaby doesn't, he doesn't even usually finish the amount of pellets I give him. He'll just nibble usually on his veggies, but he loves his hay.

Hay is the most important part of their diet, as you probably know. I give my bunny mixtures of diffrent grass hays. Alfalfa isn't as good for them and should only be a treat.

If she stops eating or going to the bathroom completly for 12 hours or more, treat it as an emergency and get her to the vet.

I would introduce new foods to her slowly, since you don't know what she's been exposed to. Since you already gave her lettace (lettace is ok as long as its not iceburg) and dandelion, maybe give her a small salad of those once a day, and slowing introduce other greens/veggies over time.

She may just be nervous. She's in a completly new environment with new people and smells. Try to keep the area around her cage calm and quite. She may eat more when no one is looking and she feels safer.

I wouldn't go crazy trying diffrent types of pellets. You don't want to keep changing her diet and pellets really arn't that important anyways. Hay is much more important and should make up most of their diet. What type of pellets are you giving her now?

She may like some types of hay over the others - You can try timathy, oat, brome, orchard grass... Some rabbits will like some more then others. You can mix hays too and give her more than one type at once - that's what I do.

Even if she does start eating more, I would take her to the vet for a check up. It never hurts to get a new pet looked at and you'll probably want to consider having her spayed if she's not already.

Good luck! As long as she's eating some everyday and going to the bathroom I would give her some time and let her get use to things, she may just be afraid of her new surroundings.

And if you don't know already, www.rabbit.org is a great site with lots of bunny care info.

Good luck, and keep us updated!


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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-01-2008, 08:47 PM
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Considering how emaciated you say she is, I would go ahead and get her into the vet so they can check her teeth. Dental problems are extremely common in rabbits with a poor diet, and it sounds like her former owners were probably just feeding her pellets and no hay.

She may not be actually able to eat the pellets.

We are as gods to the beasts of the fields. We order the time o' their birth and the time o' their death. Between times, we ha' a duty. - Terry Pratchett.

"Men have forgotten this truth", said the fox, "But you must not forget it. You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed. - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-01-2008, 09:23 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks so much for your answers.

My husband was late & the store closed before I could get over there, so it's going to be tomorrow AM when I go get her more hay choices & stuff.

I found out about her late Thurs., & have been on a crash-course of cruising the internet & learning about different bunny foods & other bunny issues. I have to admit, it's been about 15 years since I had a bunny & bunny tech is much more advanced, which is awesome! I used to give my bun hay & pellets which I bet were just called "rabbit food", it was what there was back then. I'm really glad there's so much more info now.

I bought her sunscription vita-plus pellets, it seemed the best choice at the petco near me, and a bag of timothy hay. She hasn't eaten any pellets at all, as far as I can tell. The place I'm driving out to tomorrow has oxbow brand, which seems like it's probably better, & they have a variety of different hays. I wish I could know what she had before, so it would be familiar to her & we could work our way into something new.

I'm absolutely horrified at the idea that her teeth might be so bad she's not eating, I hadn't even thought of that! I did plan on getting her in for a checkup, but I had wanted to wait until she was familiar with me so she would at least have one familiar person in another new situation. If she's not doing well, though, obviously you're right & I need to get her in sooner.

If her teeth are rotted, how do we fix that? Is it possible to fix? Will she be OK with the right food?

She is chewing on her toys I got, a little wicker ball & a bunch of wooden sticks fitted together in a cube. She's shredded much of the ball already, but I bet it's not that hard to chew.

She is pooping a little, and drinking/peeing, which I take as a good sign her digestive system isn't shut down.

What if she doesn't eat more hay, even if I get a bunch of types? How much greens are OK for her to eat? I was so glad she ate something but I really want to make sure she gains weight & gets back into healthy bunny form. I know they need the bulk of hay, but I have been thinking of the pellets as the "calorie" food, and wow that baby needs some calories.

Thanks again, I really appreciate getting the voice of experience!

-denise
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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-01-2008, 09:30 PM
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Her teeth actually won't be rotted -- rabbits have teeth that grow continuously, like a lot of rodents. When they eat hay, it grinds them down to keep them from getting too long and out of alignment. So if they don't have the hay and other fiber to keep them the right length, they can grow too long and entrap their tongue, or cut up their cheek, or just be painful in general.

We are as gods to the beasts of the fields. We order the time o' their birth and the time o' their death. Between times, we ha' a duty. - Terry Pratchett.

"Men have forgotten this truth", said the fox, "But you must not forget it. You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed. - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-01-2008, 10:08 PM Thread Starter
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Ah, so maybe more of a trimming/filing thing to get her teeth to the right length, then the right food to keep them at that point? That makes sense. I hope for her sake it's not too bad, though, she's such a little scared bun & I don't want her to have more stress, I don't know if she could handle it. I suppose they could put her to sleep for it, but I'd be worried about that too with her skinny-lack-of-health. Maybe they could give her a little bunny valium for the procedure.

I wish they had just tried to find a home when they couldn't take care of her, instead of waiting until she was in such shape!
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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-01-2008, 10:26 PM
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Yeah that would have been much better probably, but she's really lucky to have found you!

Are you sure she is a she? Does she have a name yet?

When I wrote my reply I didn't even think of teeth issues, but yeah that's pretty common especially if she wasn't getting a good diet. I would try to get her into a vet soon just to rule out any health problems, or get them taken care of if she has any.


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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-01-2008, 10:43 PM
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It sounds like she has found herself a wonderful home with loving owners! I am so happy for the three of you.
Just be sure to take her to a bunny savvy vet. It is very important as there are certain medications used commonly for cats and dogs that will kill rabbits. If she does need to be put under having a bunny savvy vet will be the best way to insure that she doesn't receive too much sedation. My old bunny Tabby had to have her teeth done. I was a nervous wreck because she was so thin, old and sickly. I couldn't believe how bright eyed she was when I picked her up! It was like she was not under at all. She was much happier after.
If you need a suggestion of a good bunny vet the house rabbit society has a listing on their site.
The most important part of a buns diet is the hay - so if that is all she is eating now I don't think you need to worry. Some people don't even give their buns pellets - just hay and veggies. The house rabbit site also has a listing of bunny safe veggies. I took that listing to my vets and went over it with him. I have also added a few things - always checking with the vet first.
Please post pics of her - I am sure I am not the only one that would love to see her.
Oh and this is a great site to learn about bunnies on! I don't know what I would have done without them when I found my first bun.

mommy to
Tyler - kitty
Oscar - water turtle
Bean - kitty
Frankie - dachshund
Belle - dachshund
Oliver - bunny
Ophelia - bunny
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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-02-2008, 08:29 AM
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True this site is the biggest help!! please keep us updated im glad she found you,karma will repay you. congrats on your new bunn
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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-02-2008, 08:43 AM
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Kathydip made an excellent point! Make SURE the vet knows rabbits. The average dog/cat vet got maybe 1 semester in vet school on exotics, and there are a ton of medications for cats and dogs that are toxic to rabbits, guinea pigs, and other small mammals because of how different their system is.

If there is a rabbit rescue or HRS society near you, you can contact them to see if they have any vet recommendations -- they'll usually deal with the vet a LOT!

We are as gods to the beasts of the fields. We order the time o' their birth and the time o' their death. Between times, we ha' a duty. - Terry Pratchett.

"Men have forgotten this truth", said the fox, "But you must not forget it. You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed. - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
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post #11 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-02-2008, 09:21 AM
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Just in case you haven't found them yet...

Here is some vet info:
http://www.rabbit.org/faq/sections/vet.html
http://www.rabbit.org/vets/vets.html

And here is some feeding info:
http://www.rabbit.org/faq/sections/diet.html
http://www.rabbit.org/care/veggies.html
http://www.rabbit.org/care/fruits.html

Also I saw you mention Oxbow. A lot of people with House rabbits I know use Oxbow, including myself. The timothy pellets (called "Bunny Basics T") are a great pellet to use for adult rabbits. I always recommend them when people ask me about pellets.


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post #12 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-02-2008, 12:58 PM
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wow, these were all excellent posts, I never would have thought of overgrown teeth! Does she have a little hideout/house where she can hide and feel safe? It might help her with some of those nerves! You sound like you're doing a great job, and of course the vet is a must. Good luck!
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post #13 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-02-2008, 02:21 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks everyone!

She's snarfing down the new hay, still thinks the new oxbow pellets aren't food for bunnies but as long as she's eating hay I'm happy. We'll work out the calories somehow, more veggies or something, if she never turns onto the pellets. I'm so glad she's actually just sitting & eating! She also got a couple new toys she's playing with, so cute!

I know a wonderful naturopathic vet, but she's not on any of the lists I'm seeing. There's a rabbit rescue very close, I'm emailing them to see if they have worked with the vet or know anything about her & rabbits. She helped me so much with a rescue dog I had for years. Stella (the dog) had some very real intense anxiety and other doggie mental health issues, this vet was so kind & tried so hard to make things be better for her (we also worked with behaviorists). If she's good & knows about bunnies, then I'd love to keep going to her, otherwise I'll work from the rescue group's recommendations. Since she's eating (& she's been eating for hours! big handfuls of hay!)now I'm not going to try to go Monday, but for sure, sometime next week.

Right now bun's in a funny set up, a standard bunny cage fastened to a huge pet carrier. This was what we could come up with on short notice, lol, my dad is a retired engineer & builds a lot, he's making me a better cage for her long term house. We kind of had to throw it together as until Friday AM we didn't know we were going to get a bunny! Just today she's started to venture into the wire "outdoor" part, though if anyone moves too quick in the room she darts back into the carrier.

She also has a little wooden box in the carrier she's hiding in most of the time, I wanted her to have a hiding spot so I asked my dad to make that first. It's actually very cool, untreated hardwood, dovetails with no glue or nails, so if she chews a piece of it to uselessness I can just pull that part off & he can make another side for it, they just hammer into place like wooden legos, kinda.

& I was told it's a she, lol! Bunnies can be tricky though, & I'm not poking around the poor girl yet to see myself. I'm kicking around names, but I don't know her quite well enough yet. She's a very kawaii bunny, so I'm leaning toward Japanese names.

She is eating greens from my hand, and when I come into the room she'll poke her head out of the carrier (I'd say to see if I have more salad for her), so she seems like she's getting more used to me. I don't want to stress her, she's just so easily spooked. I'm SO itching to brush her & wipe off her back feet, though, they're grubby & I hate the idea of her not being clean.

My last bun I got when she was a tiny baby, I was told she was a mini-lop & would be about 5 lbs.- then she just kept growing until she was about 18 lbs & massive. From the beginning, I held her a lot, would just sit & watch TV or whatever with her laying on my chest. Then after she got huge, she was never "cuddley" but she still always thought she should lie on people (she could scare people!) & always wanted to be petted by anyone she met. Obviously I don't expect this bun to ever be quite as comfortable with people as Hannah was, but I really hope with a lot of patience I can get her to be OK with living in a house with us & not being afraid. There was only one time in about 10 years that Hannah ever got scared enough to thump, and I had no idea what was happening since I hadn't ever seen her like that before.

Anyway, I'm getting long & off topic, but thanks so much for your advice & encouragement everyone! I'll definitely post pics when bun decides to favor us with her presence out in the house.

-denise
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