Thursday, August 28, 2008

Jersey Woolies

The Jersey Wooly is also known as the Dwarf Angora in Europe. The Jersey Wooly was developed by crossing the Netherland Dwarf and the French Angora. They weigh between 2.5 to 3.5 pounds. These rabbits are very affectionate and playful. They love to be around other animals especially cats and small dogs. Jersey Woolies are very intelligent and can be taught some simple tricks. Most Jersey Woolies have very friendly personalities. As pets they range from laid-back lap bunnies to outgoing explorers. They have an easy-care coat, due to the high ratio of guard hairs. Once they are 6 months old, they require very little grooming, but they should be given hairball preventative treatments. These rabbits were officially recognized by the ARBA in 1988.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Growing Up!

These are pictures of a bunny of mine named Princess. Bunnies are born with no hair and their eyes are closed. After a few days the hair grows in, but their eyes are still shut. At around day 9-12 the eyes open. Between day 14-18 they will leave the nestbox and begin to eat a little food and hay. They will be weaned at around 7 weeks of age. At 6 months of age they are considered an adult.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Walk the Bunny

Your bunny will probably end up walking you, but it is a fun way to give your pet bunny a little exercise. There are special leashes/harnesses made for rabbits. Please do not use a cat collar and leash. You could injure your bunny. Do not pull on the leash. Just give the bunny a little freedom to roam around and eat some dandelions. Most bunnies seem to really enjoy it. :)

Thursday, August 14, 2008


I usually wean my rabbits between 6-7 weeks of age. Weaning begins much earlier, though. Kits begin the weaning process as soon as they start eating on their own. This usually occurs between day 14-18. At that time, they are still getting the majority of their food from their mother's milk.

The process of weaning can be a very stressful time on a dwarf rabbit. Roughly 25% of dwarf rabbits are born as peanuts and can not digest food. These peanuts are also deformed and die within 1 week of birth. Unfortunately, there is nothing that can be done to save them.

"Faders" or "Runts" also occur in dwarf rabbit breeds. These kits are usually born small and show a lot of good show quality characteristics. They do well the first 2-4 weeks, but then gradually fade away. I believe that there are some dwarf rabbits born that are not quite normal, but not a peanut either. They are something in between. From my observations these rabbits usually grow fairly well while they are on their Mom's milk. The problem develops when the Mom is no longer able to provide everything the bunny needs solely through her milk. I don't think the digestive system is formed well enough to handle solid foods yet. The kit usually loses weight gradually over a few days and goes into digestive distress. I have had a few of these kits make it through this stressful period. I think that some of them are just a few weeks behind and it takes a bit longer for their digestive system to develop completely. I have fed them electolytes, hay, baby food, probiotics and more. It usually doesn't work and they fade away. Maybe some of them would never be normal. I can really only guess. I do know that this seems to occur most with small does or brood does with a very large litter. It also seems to have a genetic component. I would not personally breed any faders that live to a breeding age, although they seem to live normal lives once they make it past 12 weeks of age.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Thrianta Rabbits

The Thrianta rabbit is one of the newest breeds to be recognized by the American Rabbit Breeder's Association in 2006. Thriantas (pronounced Tree-an-ta) are known as "The Fiery Red Rabbit" or the "Fire of the Fancy". They have a beautiful orange-red coat and brown eyes. Thriantas are between 4-6 lbs, which makes them a good small sized pet rabbit.

The Thrianta traces its history back to the Netherlands in 1938, when Mr. H. Andreae, a school teacher, began developing the breed as a tribute to Holland's royal house, the House of Orange. Bred from Black Tan, English Spot, and Havana rabbits, the Thrianta was accepted in the Netherlands in 1940, but the original standards, stipulating a hint of tan coloring under the orange top coat, made the breed difficult to maintain. World War II also took a toll on the Thrianta population, as the Netherlands were invaded by German forces just days after the breed's first official recognition. By 1966, Thriantas were no longer listed in the Dutch standards.

Thrianta rabbits look like a larger rabbit in a small package. For those interested in the longer ears and sweet personality of the large breeds, but don't have the space. You might be interested in these fiery rabbits. They probably come with a higher price tag though, since they are still fairly rare and hard to find ($75-$100).

Vanodine - Great for Everything!

It's wonderful to find a product that is so useful for many different things. I had always heard about how great Vanodine is, but I didn't realized it until a breeder gave me a little bit for a rabbit sold to me with some sore spots behind the ears. Once I tried it I was hooked.

Vanodine is a pet friendly product that is used for general disinfecting. It is also used to keep wounds from getting infected, good for sore hocks and can be put in drinking water to clean out watering systems and bottles. It's good for ringworm and respiratory infections, too. It can be used in a misting system to keep everything germ free. It is a wonderful product to clean nesting boxes with. It is completely safe and so useful in a rabbitry. It does contains Iodine though, so it will temporarily discolor a white rabbit.

Here are ways to put Vanodine V18 to good use:

General disinfectant for cleaning - 3 tsp/gal
Spray for wounds, eyes and nose - 1 tsp/gal
Drinking water - 0.5 tsp/gal
Misting - 1.5 tsp/gal

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Flying Bunnies!

I am an experienced shipper. I say this because I think I've already made every mistake imaginable and have learned from them all. I have shipped my bunnies to Canada, Hawaii and Domestic US.

My first shipping experience was to Canada. Luckily, Canada only requires the same paperwork/vet certificates. The only problem is that I booked a flight on a date when the inspections office was closed in Toronto. Well, that was not the only problem. Actually, the airline I booked the flight with also did not accept rabbits as cargo (United). I show up at the airport (a 1.5 hour drive from me) and they tell me I have to go to the main terminal. I guess they thought I was traveling with the bunny. It was a big hassle and eventually I learned that I could not use United as a carrier. I contacted Air Canada and everything went well the second time around. After this experience I promised my husband that I would no longer ship rabbits.

My second shipping experience was to Miama, Florida. I made arrangements with Delta and everything went well until we were back home after dropping them off and got a call from Delta explaining that the cooling system wasn't working on the plane and they couldn't ship the bunnies. I was pregnant and hormonal and NOT happy with the situation. The bunnies were sitting at the airport and they said we had to come get them ASAP. My husband had to drive 3 hours after an evening work event. He got home around 1AM and had to turn around and drive back to the airport at 4AM to drop them off at American Airlines to make the trip to Miami. This was the second time that I promised him I wouldn't ship bunnies anymore.

I have had a few very good experiences. I shipped to Hawaii twice with no problems using Continental. I also shipped to Minnesota using Northwest and had no problems. Each time I have promised my husband that I wouldn't ship anymore.

In order to ship rabbits, you must have a special carrier with ventilation on all 4 sides and a solid top and bottom. The rabbits need individual compartments with a food and water dish in each compartment. This is the easy part. You also need a vet health certificate dated within 7-10 days of shipping date. This is also pretty easy, but you have to be sure the temperatures in the departure and destination city and stops in between are good. I don't ship in the hot summer. The hard part is to find an airline that understands the rules and regulations for shipping rabbits and is capable of making everything go smoothly. You also need to check and see what the hours of operation are for any inspection facilities. Bunnies do not need any vaccines and rabies is not an issue.

What I have learned from shipping rabbits is that as many times as I have promised not to ship again I always end up doing it one more time. I think my poor husband has realized this and he now just goes along with whatever I decide. I have also learned that I definitely need to stick around until the bunnies are in the air or at least be half expecting a call to tell me that they couldn't get on the flight and are now sitting and waiting for me to come rescue them.

It is a pretty exciting feeling to know that my little RBB bunnies are all over North America. I guess that is why I will continue to ship. For anyone interested, it is pretty expensive. It ranges from $250-$350 for 1 to 6 rabbits. That price includes the carrier, vet health certificate, cargo charges and gas money for me to travel to the airport and vet.

Meet Joharv!

Meet Joharv my Bengal cat.

He is a purebred neutered bengal cat. Okay, so he is not a rabbit. :) I do have some other pets besides rabbits. :) Bengals are wonderful pets. I'm allergic to cats, but not to him because his fur is different. He can also fetch, beg and comes to his name.
The name Joharv comes from a movie I watched as a kid called "The Night Train to Kathmandu". There was a prince of an invisible city in the movie named Joharv (silent v). Bengals are a cross between a domestic and Asian Leopard Cat (ALC). They are highly intelligent and can learn all kinds of tricks. Too bad my husband hates cats! Unfortunately for him the cat was part of my life before he came into it. :) He doesn't mind Joharv too much. How could you not love a cat that fetches?

Timothy Hay?! Alfalfa? Timothy-Based Pellets and Orchard Grass?!? Help!

Yes, I know there are so many foods to choose from for you pet bunny. It can get confusing.

I use alfalfa-based pellets with 16% protein and feed unlimited timothy hay or orchard grass which is slightly sweeter. The reason that I do this is because my rabbits are used for breeding and need a rich diet. Alfalfa-based pellets are also good for bunnies that need to gain weight. This type of food can be used for rabbits in all stages of life, but should not be fed free choice to adult rabbits. I give my dwarf bucks around 1/4 cup per day.

The timothy-based pellets are a great for indoor adult pet rabbits. I do not recommend timothy-based pellets for growing rabbits. If you are using timothy-based pellets, it is okay to give your bunny some alfalfa as a treat.

It is very important to find out what your bunny has been eating and try to buy some of that or something very similar until he or she is full grown. Rabbits do not like a quick change of diet and have to be monitored closely to be sure they are eating and growing well. I always provide a couple of weeks worth of transitional feed when someone buys a rabbit, but I am also happy to pick up a 25 lb bag of Manna Pro from the Tractor Supply Company for people who buy a bunny from me. I like to know that my bunnies won't go through the stress of moving to a new home and a change of diet at the same time. This is probably the number one cause of death the first couple of weeks in a new place. Even 24 hours of not eating can throw a bunny into digestive distress and cause death.

When you feel it is the right time to switch your bunny over to a new diet, please do so very gradually. You should mix the new food with the old food 50/50 for at least one week. You should also be sure that the protein content is the same. If a rabbit is used to eating 16% protein and you suddenly give him 14% protein he will still eat the same amount and lose weight. If you start feeding that same rabbit 18% protein he will gain weight.

Please do not buy the eye-catching pet store rabbit foods/mixes full of nuts, seeds, fruits, etc. These are not made for rabbits. They are made so that people will buy them thinking that bunnies want this pretty diet. They contain too much sugar and junk food. It would be like eating hot dogs, potato chips and soda every day. :)

Monday, August 11, 2008

Do you have anything cheaper?

I sometimes get asked this question by people who want a cheap pet.

I can understand that people want a good deal on a rabbit. Everyone wants a good deal. Let me ask you a question though? Let's say you buy a rabbit for $20 compared to $100. Most of my rabbits are well under $100, but I'm using that as an example. A rabbit will live 8+ years usually. This means the $20 rabbit will have cost $2.50 per year and the $100 rabbit costs $12.50 per year. If you have been very careful with costs and your rabbit never gets sick, you might get away with only spending $50 per year on food and bedding. Add that to the $100 for a very basic rabbit cage set up and supplies and you will have spent $500 over 8 years. Of course you are going to want to provide your pet with treats from time to time and possibly an outdoor play pen, etc. My point is that yes you can always find a cheaper bunny somewhere if you search for one, but I think it's worth paying a tiny bit more for a bunny that you really want, instead of purchasing based on price. In the end is $10 more per year that much more to get the pet you wanted?

In case anyone is interested, I spend around $1,000 on rabbit food alone in a year and $400 on bedding. I have spent around $2,000 on my cages and $3,500 on my bunny barn. I wish I knew what it costs me to heat and cool it. Over 3 years, I'm guessing I've spent around $10K. All of my "bunny money" goes to keep my bunnies happy, healthy and comfy. Yes, I just depressed myself a little bit with those numbers. LOL

How did I become a rabbit breeder?

I get asked this question all of the time.

I feel so lucky to be doing something I really love. No, I don't make any money doing it. However, I love animals and enjoy having new babies in the nestbox all of the time.

When I was around 10 years old, I finally talked my Dad into buying me a netherland dwarf at the Huntingdon County Fair in Pennsylvania. He was a Ruby-Eyed White buck without a pedigree. Knowing what I now know, he had great type and he was full of personality. Soon afterwards, we bought a black himalayan doe. My Dad and I made a bunny motel on the side of his shed. It had electricity with lights for them and everything. I remember working on it with him and painting it when it was finished and the excitement of putting our two bunnies into their new homes. Of course, what happened next was bound to happen. Queenie had her first litter of kits. It was winter and only one survived. A little girl named Buttons who looked just like her but a little smaller. Later we bought 2 more rabbits. A black doe named Sunshine and a sable marten named Martin. Sunshine had a litter of 6. Two of which went to live in my Biology class (as pets! - no disecting!). I still never dreamed that I would grow up and have a rabbitry.

I went to college and studied in Moscow, Russia and then Bremen, Germany. I made the terrible mistake in Germany of buying a netherland dwarf rabbit and keeping it in my apartment. I don't know how I was thinking that I'd bring it back with me to the U.S. I had to give the bunny up and I learned a valuable lesson. You have to be ready to make a lifetime commitment.

I was planning to be an FBI agent, with my background in Russian Language. Unfortunately or fortunately I was in a car accident which gave me a back injury to prevent this. I met my husband in Baltimore while I was an instructor for Homeland Security and we moved out here to Winchester, VA to allow me to be a stay at home Mom (since it is less expensive to live here than where we were).

It was our 1st wedding anniversary when I met Skittles. Skittles was in a pet store in Myrtle Beach and I just fell in love with him at first glance. He is probably a dutch mix and the store was selling him way too young!, but I had to get him. After talking my husband into it, we went back to the pet store the next day and waited in the parking lot until it opened and luckily he was still there! I had it in my head that all of Myrtle Beach wanted him.

We moved into our first house with Skittles and it wasn't long before I knew what my hobby was going to be. I joined a bunch of rabbit clubs and e-mailed breeders. This time I wanted all the information that I could get before breeding. I was able to get some good pedigreed breeding stock and helpful advice from a number of breeders. My hobby grew from there. I have had hundreds of rabbits born here now and it is always exciting for me. I lay awake sometimes thinking up rabbit names and worrying about the new litters. I have pieces of paper all over the house with rabbit ideas, genetic codes, breeding projects, cage building plans and thoughts scribbled on them.

Rabbit breeding is not a business for me. It is a hobby that keeps me happy and at times makes me sad. It is not a hobby for everyone. Many babies don't make it. Moms have trouble kindling. I can't keep them all and sometimes it is even tough to see them go. It is important to me that they have good homes. I enjoy giving and receiving advice. It is where my thoughts go when I get stressed out with the joys of parenthood or financial concerns. I am lucky to have such a hobby.

Too Cute for Words!

The baby bunnies are just too cute right now. I wish I could have lots of people come and visit them just to hear all of the "Awwwws". Unfortunately, they are also VERY fragile and jumpy at this age. I don't know how many times I've had one end up on the floor running all over the place (behind and underneath cages) and I get so worried one will end up injured. To protect my little ones, I have to keep visits short and hands off at this age. Once they are over 4 weeks old, they are a little easier to handle but not by an amateur. I get so many people asking me if they can come and see the little ones, but I usually have to say no. It is just not worth stressing them out at this age and risking possible injury. Plus, you can't even tell what their personality is going to be like yet. They are just soooo cute, though. :)

To Worm or Not To Worm

Worming is not always necessary. I do it fairly regularly since I get new bunnies into the bunny barn and will sometimes take my bunnies outside. Pinworms are regularly found in rabbits and most of the time it is not a real cause for panic. I do worm mine because I think the rabbits stay healthier that way and it might help prevent "faders". If you have an indoor rabbit that does not go outside and is not in contact with other animals then you probably don't need to worry about it. I use Wazine 17 that you can find in a feed store (Each 100 mL contains 17 grams Piperazine Base). I add 2 Tablespoons per 1 gallon of water and fill up their water bottles and watering systems with it for 5 days straight. I saw some pinworms in my rabbitry back in 2005 but I haven't seen any at all since I've been worming them. Ivermectin also works, but it can be difficult to give the correct dosage on a small rabbit and it needs to be repeated. I use Ivermectin given orally for mites and to prevent wry neck at 0.1 ml/lb. I'm not a vet though and this is just what has worked for me.

Blue-Eyed White Lionheads

I am so excited to have 2 double maned blue-eyed white lionheads now. They were both born here and are a result of hard work and patience. I started out with a couple of lionheads from Cimmaron's lines with great manes and bred some very nice blue-eyed white netherland dwarfs into them to get F1 vienna-marks. The F1s had great manes for single maned lionheads, although the does were better than the bucks. It took many litters before I actually got my first blue-eyed white lionhead. Unfortunately, that one ended up not having a mane! Anyway... many litters later and now I have Silverado and Pearl. I can't wait until Pearl has her first litter of double-maned lionheads. It is so exciting for me. :)

No time for posting!

Okay, well I thought that my blog was a good idea. Then I had a second child and there was NO time for posting anything new. I'm hoping to have a bit more time now, so I'm giving it another shot. :)