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Bunny Bulletin

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

Today's Blog is written by Lhanna, one of our foster carers.

A few months ago, I wrote a blog post on Lucy & Leah, my two foster bunnies.
They were severely emaciated on arrival after being intentionally starved, and our vet did not expect them to pull through at all.

However, a steady measured diet of nuggets, specially selected greens and hay with forage seen them through the worst of it. Never before had I been so nervous about going out to my shed to give the bunnies breakfast; a strong coffee, or a dose of dutch courage was needed before every visit in those first few weeks. When you are in charge of the care of two lops, who weigh only 1.2kg – just over half their recommended body weight, its extremely scary – but it pulls something deep within that you can't ignore, and despite the fear and anxiety, you would do anything to get them better and well. Everytime I went out to see them, they would clammer for attention – sit on my knee and flop next to me – their tiny, yet long bony bodies terrified me, made me cry and made me angry. I channelled all those emotions into their care, and I was rewarded with two confident, self assured bunnies within a few months.

Once they reached a normal weight, they started escaping out their shed pen – so we extended it, and they got neutered. We then moved them into an outside set up, with a house and run with a ramp. The girls loved it, and would race all around jumping of the ramp onto each other and just being bunnies which was amazing to see.

Strangely enough, I never quite seen them leaving me but I never made a move to stop it. In my time as a fosterer I have failed many a time; Alice, Ollie and Freddy are now all permanent residents, having once been fosters. Some bunnies, you just know they are here to stay – that you are what they need, and they are what you want.

I never felt that with Lucy & Leah – which is not something a lot of people understood.  I loved them – and do still love them, but I knew that what I could provide, is not what I wanted for them.

The day I got the message that they were adopted, I was confused. Initially, I was overjoyed, excited, confused; and then I wanted to know all I could about the family.
And then I was happy.

Despite going through that rollercoaster, I always wanted better for them. My home was their home as long as they needed it – I never wanted them to move foster home, and wouldn't swap trying to catch them in the garden for all the cookies available – but I also would never have adopted them. That's not to say that I couldn't offer a wonderful home to them, as I could have, but could I then do the same for another pair? I had been so successful in helping them gain weight and become the confident, loving bunnies they where – why not save up that knowledge and do it all again?

And that is why I foster.

It's a strange situation fostering, and all the emotions attached to it. However, I think of it like this; I love all the rabbits who pass through my gate, but I also love them enough to let them go. Enough to want better for them – enough to want them to get all that they deserve, and to make new owners happy, and create a positive image of bunnies in their head; to make them fall in love with not just their bunnies, but all bunnies and to carry on the cycle when they pass. If I keep all my fosters, the above is impossible. It is surprisingly easy to say goodbye, when you know the new owners are so excited and want to give these rabbits as good a chance at a fabulous life that I have prepared them for, and told them stories about.

This week, I seen a picture of Lucy & Leah in their new home – playing on grass, next to a tunnel, and clearly close to the photographer. That made me smile; and that simple image of them trusting another person, a person who has done their utmost to provide a life of enjoyment to them, is what I wanted for them. And to see it happen, well it makes it all worth it. No good luck – just Well Done; you deserve it to both parties.

A Message from RWAF

Think Run!

Sadly, we're close to the last knockings of summer and before we know it, the winter months will be upon us.  For pet rabbits that are kept in a hutch with no attached running enclosure, that's when their exercise time goes down to virtually zero.

The Rabbit Welfare Association & Fund (RWAF) is the UK's largest charity with the sole aim of improving the health and welfare of domestic rabbits, pets that all too often are kept in conditions that fall well short of the needs of the species. They are advising rabbit owners to take advantage of the few remaining weeks of summer to attach a permanent exercise run to their rabbits' hutch in time for the weather to turn.

""In the summer, owners will often lift their rabbits from the hutch to the run, or give them supervised exercise time in a walled garden,"" said Richard Saunders, Expert Veterinary Advisor to the RWAF, ""even this isn't ideal because the time is still limited to well below their natural requirement, but in the winter it is a great deal worse because owners don't want to put their rabbits out into the rain or snow.""

As the charity points out in its literature and on its website, rabbits keep different hours from humans so shouldn’t be reliant on their owners to be lifted from their hutch into the run, and they should be able exercise in all weathers. Having a hutch inside or connected to a large secure enclosure is vital to allow them to display their natural behaviours. The exercise area should be at least partially covered with tarpaulin which is inexpensive from garden centres and DIY stores.

There has been a recent increase in the availability of better quality products that meet rabbits' needs and it is now much easier for people to get hold of 6 foot hutches and large exercise runs. The RWAF recommend a minimum floor space of 10ft x 6ft for a pair of rabbits (rabbits should be kept in neutered pairs or compatible groups). The RWAF urges owners to use their imagination when providing accommodation for their rabbits. As Richard Saunders explained, ""There are several manufacturers that stock good quality runs that fall short of the minimum recommended size but that doesn't mean they can't be combined to double the space!""

Check out http://www.rwaf.org.uk/exercise for more information about the importance of an attached exercise area for your rabbits.

www.rabbitwelfare.co.uk

http://www.rabbitwelfare.co.uk/pdfs/Excerciseleaflet.pdf

On Wednesday 30th July Ewen (of Ewen and Cat) became very poorly with runny poo and sudden and severe weight loss.

He has been seen by the vets Wednesday and today (Thursday) and is receiving round the clock intensive care.

Ewen is on a cocktail of different medicines including antibiotics, gut stimulants and fibre supplements and is receiving syringe food and water.

He has having his faeces analysed to find out what is causing him to be so poorly.

 We are hoping he finds the strength to pull through and his foster carer and Vet will work with him closely to give him the best chance. We would greatly appreciate lots of thoughts for Ewen and if you can afford to donate a couple of pounds to help towards his treatment we would greatly appreciate it. We rely on the help of the public to help these poorly rabbits.

Donate Here

Yesterday we told you that Ewen, from Ewen & Cat, had taken very unwell during the week.

At the start of the day yesterday everything seemed to be very much as it had been for the previous two days.  Medically we were doing everything we possibly could and whilst he was very much NOT ok, he was still fighting to get well again.

However later in the day he collapsed but held his head up (most collapsed rabbits are flat out).   This called for an immediate return to the vet but by the time we got there he started fitting and he was helped along the road to rainbow bridge.

We are very upset, as you would expect.  Running a rescue, unfortunately losses are to be expected.  We saved Ewen & Cat from being culled and yet despite all our best efforts we still lost Ewen. Cruel cruel world.

The samples were sent away yesterday, so hopefully we will get some answers as to what has caused this.

Cat appears to be doing very well and doesn't appear to have any issues so far.  We will hold her within the rescue for the time being until we have some news back from Ewen's samples.  Once we are confident that the cause will not affect her she will be available for adoption on her own, although as per our adoption policy we will be looking for a new home where she will have other rabbit company.

Following on from our Busting Bonding Myths, we thought we'd cover some basic bonding per-requisites.

Before you begin it is very important to ensure you are ready to bond.

All Rabbits Must Be Neutered
It is possible, in some cases, to bond rabbits that are not neutered.  However it is usually very difficult and can often be unstable.

For a long-term, safe bond you want to ensure that all rabbits, regardless of age, are neutered (except in special medical situations and/or where bonding a baby rabbit).

You must have a Temporary Environment for each of your new rabbits
It will almost never be the case that you can put your rabbits together and leave them overnight on the first night!

So it is very important that you have the space and equipment necessary to provide a separate environment for each of your new rabbits to live until bonding is complete.  This includes the ability to give new rabbits exercise time separate from the rabbit(s) they are bonding with for the initial period.

Know Your Rabbits
It is important that you have spent some time with your rabbits, and you know their character well.

This will give you an excellent head start when it comes to understanding their reaction to the bonding process and some of the exercises you may choose to carry out during the process too.

Don't be surprised though to discover characteristics within your rabbit that you never knew existed though - bonding can bring out a very different side to your rabbit.


Next Steps

Later in the week we will share the ""Main Exercise"" used for bonding rabbits.