Diary of a New Breeder
To Breed or not to Breed
What a week! Haley decided she wanted to breed Jake and Chelsie, so we picked Chelsie up and put her in his cage, thinking that would be the end of it. Jake knew what to do, but Chelsie was not interested in the least. She kept her back to the cage wall, and Jake had such a hard time. She’s quite a bit bigger than he is, which is what everyone has recommended to me, but it made breeding her harder because she was so uncooperative. Poor Jake tried about for about 20 minutes until he just gave up and lay down. We took Chelsie out and placed her back in her own cage – she looked really put out and Jake was just plain tired.
I came in and wrote to my friends on the Rabbit Web. Luckily, I got lots of good advice. We put apple cider vinegar in Chelsie’s water, left lights on for a while, and tried putting Jake in Chelsie’s cage. None of these things worked, though. But one piece of advice that I put to good use was to pick up Chelsie’s back end and hold her. Poor girl – I had her almost standing on her head. Her toes were dangling on the cage wire and were a really funny sight. But Jake did his job and then snorted and rolled off, so I assume he was successful. We repeated this process the next morning with the same results, so we’re hoping that Chelsie is pregnant. Now we have begun a 30-day wait to see if rabbits really multiply like rabbits!
11/08/00 Cut Your Bunnies’ Toenails!
We brought home three new rabbits from the last show! David won two mini rex in a raffle, and I bought a little baby holland lop for Haley. The two David won are very nice rabbits, with one exception. Sparkle, the doe, has sore hocks, all because someone did not take care of her toenails. I found out that when a rabbit’s toenails are too long, they lift off the cage bottom, causing the rabbit to sit wrong on his or her back feet (hock). This actually causes the cage wire to damage the hock. I’ve always tried to cut toenails frequently, but acquiring Sparkle has made me wonder if I’m doing it right. Luckily for me, Cooley’s Critters website (http://home.talkcity.com/MemoryLn/cooleys-critters/) has a very good explanation of how to cut toenails, complete with pictures!
I watched this rabbit try to hop, and she looked like she was almost paralyzed in the hindquarters. I immediately cut her toenails as short as I felt comfortable, and now a week later she hops fairly normally. I hate that Sparkle was hurt, but I am so glad that I realized the importance of keeping those nails trimmed.
Oh, yes, Chelsie loved the wet carrots! She actually started eating only one day after we got back home–that’s a vast improvement for her.
10/10/00 Let’s Try Something New!
I’ve been worried about Chelsie because she travels so poorly. She stops eating and drinking each time we take her to a show. I’ve made her chamomile tea and put Acid-Pak 4-Way in her water–both of which are supposed to help ease stress from travelling or showing. In the latest paper from the Texas Rabbit Breeders Association, I found a new idea that I will use this coming weekend when we show in Pauls Valley, Oklahoma. Soak carrot strips in water for a couple of days before the show, and then feed your rabbits the water-soaked carrots. They not only eat something, they get some water at the same time! I can’t wait to try it. (I’ll let you know how it works.)
9/21/00 Tea and Pellets
It’s amazing how much I have to learn about rabbit care. I am so thankful I’ve made some online friends on the Rabbit Web and have been able to piece together a program that works for us. I think the idea that surprised me the most is giving rabbits tea! I am so glad Rochelle told me about that. I adapted her huge recipe for our four little bunnies, and it turned out very easy to do. I make a gallon of tea using one regular tea bag and give it to our rabbits once a month instead of their plain water. Easy as pie, and I prevent intestinal bacteria and reduce the ammonia smell from urine at the same time!
It also occurred to me that one of the most important things to know is that when you bring home a new rabbit, be sure to ask the breeder for a Ziplock bag of the pellets that he or she has have been feeding the rabbit. Because abrupt changes in a rabbit’s diet are very stressful on them, you can mix the old feed with new feed for a while in order to make a more gradual change. It’s wonderful to learn something new each day!
9/6/00 A Show in Paris
We’ve been to Paris! This past weekend, the kids and I showed rabbits at the Red River Valley Fair in Paris (Texas, that is). It always interests me how wonderful “rabbit people” can be. There was a friendly air of competition, of course, but, all in all, everyone cheered for the winners and had a good time. Haley was especially happy as her little junior buck was awarded Grand Champion Mini Lop! At five months old, that means he will only be a junior for only one more month. I also learned some very important things for keeping rabbits cool at a show. Take your own fan and aim it directly at the rabbits; keep a spray bottle of water to mist their ears since the ears regulate body temperature; and, lastly, freeze bottles of water to place in the carry cages. David’s little Mini Rex doe was really cute lying on top of her water bottle. Too bad I also forgot to take my camera.