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Bunny Bulletin

Our regular bulletin board featuring blog articles, updates and advice from our volunteer team.

We recently received a call from a member of the public desperately looking for our help.  What started as two confirmed females, abandoned at the lady’s home, had managed to develop into a situation where she was now trying to manage approximately 16 rabbits.  She could only assume that a local wild rabbit had entered the enclosure and bred with the females and now both females were producing litter after litter.  She was struggling, not only with the volume, but also in trying to contain them within their environment.  She was concerned that she didn’t know how to sex the rabbits and that leaving them in one enclosure would increase the risk of further babies. A picture of half-wild rabbits, interbreeding in underground warrens within the lady’s garden was starting to form and we naturally recognised this was an urgent case.

Our waiting list for rabbits to enter the rescue continues to grow, and is the largest it has ever been since the charity’s formation in December 2010.  As such we prioritise rehoming requests based on the circumstances and the date we receive the request.  Naturally therefore it needs to be an extreme scenario for us to prioritise a case ahead of the waiting list.  However, where there are large numbers involved, combined with the potential for further breeding and illness we will always treat these as our highest priority.

On Tuesday, 7th July 2015, we pulled together a small team of volunteers, hopped in the van and headed out to assess the situation.

On arrival, we immediately could see the issue, but thankfully circumstances were not as bad as we had started to imagine they may be.  The rabbits were in an enclosure with more than ample space, and the majority of the rabbits were all VERY young.  As we breathed a sigh of relief that the risk of further pregnancies was now considerably reduced, we sought further details from the owner.

The main issue appeared to be the two mothers who were continuing to breed with a mysterious bunny.  Although the run was large, it was low and open topped making it very easy for the mothers (and some of the others) to escape.  The mums would regularly disappear, sometimes for days at a time.  On arrival, neither mother was there: one had not been seen for some time and the other was running around the surrounding area; she was close, we saw her, but she wasn’t within catchable-distance.  The owner also advised of having come out one morning to find a rabbit had been attacked and killed by a predator.

We set to trying to capture the rabbits so we could sex them and split them into appropriate groups.  In doing so we split them:
• 2 girls, approximately 12-16 weeks old
• 3 boys, approximately 12-16 weeks old
• 2 boys and a girl, approximately 8-10 weeks old
• 6 babies, estimated to be around 4-6 weeks old.
• 2 older females (mums) not assessed as we couldn’t catch them!

Given the young age of the rabbits we were happy to keep them in these groupings, which also allowed us to find the space within the rescue to bring them in straight away.

The owner was keen to keep the two mums and so we offered some advice on what she should do to capture them and changes needed to the environment to make it safe; safe in terms of keeping her rabbits in, and also keeping predators out.  We also offered some further advice about the benefits of neutering and some further dietary advice too.  We will keep in touch with her to see how she gets on with the two mums, who may well already have been pregnant again.

Our immediate concern was the youngest group of 6 babies.  They were far too young to be taken away from mum at such a young age.  Ordinarily in such circumstances we would consider bringing mum with us or to leave the babies with the owner until they had reached 8 weeks old then bring them in to the rescue.  However given that we had limited evidence that mum was returning daily, and the increased chance of predator attack in the environment we made a very difficult decision to take them with us at this time.

In addition, one of the 12 week old males, who had long fur, was identified to be very seriously matted, to the extent where we believe it may be causing discomfort.

Since bringing the rabbits into the rescue a couple of weeks ago, all rabbits have been doing very well.

The young babies, who are all eating hay and nuggets well, are also being hand reared with an additional feed of goats milk & honey to try to replicate their mother’s milk.  Around about their estimated age rabbits would normally begin to wean themselves from their mothers milk so we are hoping they will naturally come off this in about 2 weeks time.  They have been placed with a foster carer who is on annual leave for the next few weeks, allowing her to provide full focus on the rearing of these little ones.

The matted bunny is doing well and has now had his fur shaved.  This is the quickest, easiest and safest way to remove his matted fur which will relieve strain on his skin and will allow us to ensure his regrowth is maintained properly.

As with all our large cases, we have picked a theme for the names of all the rabbits.  On this occasion our theme is “The Phonetic Alphabet”, and so we ask you to say hello to Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, Echo, Foxtrot, Golf, Hotel, Indigo, Juliet, Kilo, Lima, Mike and November.

Since the rescue itself we have had feedback from the owner to advise that she has managed to get a hold of one of the mums, and in doing so has noticed the arrival of an unknown white rabbit in the garden.  Further investigation and support will continue, but we now wonder if this mystery rabbit could be dad!?!

Check out our website for further details on the rabbits and details on how you could adopt from this rescue case.

 

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Last night the rabbits were given the next instalment of their Christmas gifts hand crafted by some of the volunteers.

On Christmas Eve some of the volunteers will give the rabbits a special Christmas visit and their last set of gifts.

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For the past few months, a pair of the Fairly Beloved Volunteer team have been very busy. They have been collecting a large selection of treats for bunnies; from Pet stores, pound stores, ebay, garden stores and online stores. 

On Sunday, the 14th December, a group of volunteers got together and started putting all of these objects to a good use; to make Christmas extra special for the bunnies, by hand making a selection of toys. 

We met at Lynne's, one of the care assistants house's where we walked into a lounge filled with boxes; boxes of toilet roll tubes, boxes of hay, readigrass, cardboard planters, sisal rope, delicious smelling herbs, crunches, dried fruit and wooden beads; all bunny safe and so colourful! 

After some coffee and cake, Laura showed us a few of her ideas; for the past few years now, she has researched into rabbit safe providers, for things such as coloured wood, beads, and ropes. She showed us a few of the toys she had made before our arrival; the possibilities were most definitely endless! She has been making her own rabbit toys for the past few years; and with that as an inspiration we where raring to go! 

So, we got to work like little Elves. 

Lynne and Lauren created gift bags stuffed with tasty treats for the bunnies to tear open and investigate; these give hours of endless fun and encourages bunnies natural foraging instincts; as they find the super tasty treats! 

Laura gave the toy making group some great encouragement; and really got our creativity flowing. We created some pretty strange looking toys; planters stuffed with hay and dried fruit; loo roll tubes with holes punched and filled with tasty smelling herbs . . . baby rings at the top, linked and secured with sisal and barley rings; all completely edible and safe for the bunnies to enjoy. I don't know who was more excited; Lynne and Laura who's idea this all was, who have been collecting the items over the past few months, or us little elves, proud that we had created all these cool toys – and possibly the most creative thing I've done since school! 

It was great to bond as a team, and be doing something that we know is really going to benefit the bunnies at the warren this Christmas. 

Although the bunnies receive lots of love and attention from us volunteers on a regular basis; we all agree that Christmas is a time for love, giving and joy; and this is the best way we feel we can make the day special for these guys who haven't yet found their forever home, and aren't in a foster home, spending it with a family who love them and appreciate them for their little bunny ways. 

If you feel that you would like to give a bunny a forever home; a home to spend their Christmas in next year, spoil them rotten and celebrate your love for them, then please do get in touch in the new year! Currently, adoptions are closed over Christmas, but will re open in January. 

We will be visiting the bunnies on Christmas eve, to attach their new toys to their doors, stash their paper bags away; I'm so excited!

See a selection of our toy making activities in the photos below, and come back over the coming days to see us start to treat the rabbits in the rescue with their gifts.

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Following on from our post last week where we described the toy making workshop our volunteers had, the rabbits recently received the second batch of their gifts on the run up to Christmas

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Last night I received a call from one of our foster carers who had one of our rescue rabbits, Paul, staying with her.  She had just come in from doing her nightly check on Paul at around 9pm and found that he was not well at all!

I sped round to the foster carer’s home to see what I could do to help.  Paul looked in a pretty bad way.  He was all curled up in a ball on his side.  His head was severely twisted and his legs were askew.  His cheek was twitching rapidly and the poor guy looked very uncomfortable.  It looked at first glance to be stroke-like symptoms.

Not holding out much hope for the wee man, I rushed him to the Glasgow University Small Animal Hospital’s Emergency Out-Of-Hours service to see what could be done.

I did somewhat imagine the assessment would suggest he was too far gone and that a recommendation may be made for him to be put to sleep to save him from his misery.

However on assessment the vets concluded that it was as likely to be a sudden onset of a parasite infection affecting the brain as it was to be stroke symptoms.  The recommendation was to treat on the assumption it was parasitic and monitor closely for the next 24 – 48 hours.

The hope was that either way, be it through treatment for the parasite infection or the natural process of stroke symptoms settling, we should notice an improvement within the next 48 hours.

I was advised he would need some intensive care, particularly as we believed at the time he had also stopped eating.  The SAH very kindly offered to keep him in their care, but as we are well versed with the methods for syringe feeding and supportive care I was happy to bring him back to The Warren.

Arriving back at base around 11pm, Feona & I very quickly organised some Critical Care formula.  Paul lay on his side and quite literally lapped up the critical care and water from the syringes.  His mouth was desperately reaching for more so I tried simply hand feeding him some Fibafirst sticks which he thoroughly enjoyed.  I then moved on to some basil and parsley leaves followed by some romaine lettuce (dark greens!).  As he lay there I was shocked at just how well this ill bunny was chomping down his food.  He even managed to reach over and help himself to a little bit of hay that was next to his head on the counter.

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Having snuck him his dose of Panacur between water and critical care syringes we prepared his “sick bed”: a large indoor cage area that we set up with bare essentials inside only.  Blankets to help keep him warm which we then topped up with hay – that way if he managed to wriggle his way around the cage he should still manage to reach some hay to feed from at night.  A shallow water bowl in the hope he’d manage to drink himself.

Just before we set him in the cage, he tried to sit up on the counter.  He managed to hold himself well for about a minute before losing his balance again and settling, somewhat dizzy, back into his laid down position.  I gently picked him up and placed him in the cage.

This morning I woke up and headed up to The Warren to repeat the hand feeding for him.  I was expecting the worse as I recalled leaving him lying in the cage with an appearance akin to a dying rabbit.

I was surprised to be met by Paul sitting up in his cage.  His water bowl was close to empty and no signs of wet blankets around it, suggesting he’d managed to drink the water.  The food we’d left was still there, but had definitely been eaten a little.  I offered him some more hand-fed food and he wolfed it down.

His head though is severely tilted at the moment.  We suspect that whilst the Panacur has some hope of improving this, it is likely that he will be left with some permanent head tilt damage.

His fight to survive though is impressive, and we are delighted with his progress in just a short number of hours.  Hopefully he will continue to improve and we will return to our vet in the next day or two to discuss the next stages of appropriate treatment to try to get him fully back on track.

You can help towards Paul’s recovery.  A small donation towards his veterinary treatment would be very much appreciated, or simply share this article and help us spread awareness of Paul’s story and the work we’re doing at Fairly Beloved Rabbit Care.