Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Changes in the Past Year

I noticed this evening while trimming Umbra's nails that she no longer run and hides behind/under the furniture afterwards (or during if she gets particularly squirmy, and then I have to catch her all over again). She wouldn't even come out for a "please-forgive-me" treat.

Now she expects, even demands, a treat. A first she will run off, kicking at me (so rude), but she quickly comes back grunting and biting. "Give me a treat.. and then I will consider lessening your punishment".

Monday, January 28, 2013

Parkour Bunny

This rabbit has skills. I can't imagine all the trouble Umbra would get into if she learned to do this.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

There is nothing like..

Free lettuce.

My mom scored a bunch of left over lettuce as well as celery and carrot tops from a church event. She can blame Umbra for clogging the vacuum all she wants but deep inside she loves her too.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Rabbits and Animal Testing

Its no secret that rabbits have long been a popular test subject. According to the American Anti-Vivisection Society, rabbits used in medical research  more frequently than any other species, currently about 200,000 per year. Many sources cite that the reason for this is that rabbit are easy to breed and easy to handle (I should say non of these "researchers" ever tried to trim a rabbits nails). You may have also noticed that your rabbit hardly ever blinks; this made them convenient for the Draize eye irritant tests. Rabbits have also been the subject of pregnancy testing.

So why am I bringing all of this unpleasantness up? I just saw a PETA campaign against the testing of tobacco products on animals, including rabbits. Among all the arguments I could raise against animal testing, what bothers me most about this is that the dangers of smoking has been known for decades. I can't imagine the usefulness of this research.

I took a class in communications research last semester, and while this differs in many ways from scientific or medical research, one of the first questions you have to ask yourself when starting a project is "is this useful/important?" In this case I say certainly not. I wonder how this was approved/ funded. We already know how bad smoking is; we know that quitting is the only way to avoid the repercussions of smoking.

You can learn more about PETAs campaign against testing of tobacco products here, or contact your government representatives and request legislation against animal testing.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Various Rabbit Items

Over the weekend I went to a bridal expo with my friend and future maid of honor. To my surprise I won a door prize: a $50 gift certificate to a little boutique. Of course only I would spot all the bunny merchandise they had to offer.
 For some reason they downloaded sideways and I am unable to right them.

This last one was not at the store, it was made for me by a IHRS member. She has started selling these pom-pom bunnies to raise money for IHRS. This is my little Umbra pom-bunny. It's pretty cute and soft, but of course no comparison to the original.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Wood Pellets as Litter Update

So I am on my second litter box of wood stove pellets as alternative litter. It absorbs so well, I discovered I have to use less. Umbra's litter box was filled with droppings before even half of the pellets had gotten wet.

The only drawbacks are that Umbra kept snacking on them at first, but I haven't seen her do it since. However, whenever I fill up her litter box she comes running because she thinks I'm getting her food. I don't mean to tease her, but they aren't those kind of pellets. I give her a treat anyway, just so she won't go insane (and plot my murder).

The verdict: thumbs up for wood stove pellets. Inexpensive and super absorptive; what more could you ask for?

Hay Update

I picked up my 50 lb box of Oxbow hay yesterday. It looks great: nice and green and fragrant. I was pleasantly surprised to be refunded almost $6 for my purchase, but this has lead to some internal conflict. In my previous post "Small Pet Supplies Rant" I mentioned that Pet Supplies Plus and Small Pet Select sell 50 lb of hay for the same price. Because of this I was going to buy my hay from Small Pet Select in the future. I would like to support a small business dedicated solely to the well being of small animals, especially rabbits, but I also like to save money.

Quite the predicament. Any suggestions?

An added benefit to buying from Small Pet Select is I don't have to get depressed whenever I see bunnies for sale at the pet store (although Pet Supplies Plus seems to be not as irresponsible as Uncle Bill's). I saw these little guys the were on "sale". I really hope they end up in good homes, I wish I could save them all. They seemed so happy, the little flopped one was grooming his/her dutch friend and flopped over making a little bunny ying yang. I couldn't help snapping a pic even if it made me sad. Good luck little guys!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


Why is there more cute bunny stuff at my work! ladknduaidfpopaeradn. I was going to post a couple pictures of the few bunny items we have, and on the website there is even more. I'm never going to be able to save money now!!!

Careful, your real bunny might want to eat this one though.
See more at Pier 1.

Sunday, January 6, 2013


In non rabbit news, I added the Followers gadgets I would love it if you joined! Thanks all, hope you had a wonderful weekend!!!

Introducing Snow

I've seen a couple videos of other people's rabbits enjoying the snow. So much fun digging... but as you can see from the video below, she really didn't care about the snow. More than anything she was just mad that I picked her up to put her there.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Umbra's Foot Part 2 (and other news)

See figure one (ipods do not take the highest quality picture, sorry).

Also an apology for Umbra is in order.. I did not mean to shut you in the closet earlier, you just blend in with the shadows (you are named after a kind of shadow after all). Sorry.

Another side note. I joke often about wanting to lint roll Umbra, and then someone told me it actually works quite well, especially with Rex fur which brushes do little to remove. So since all lint rollers have mysteriously gone missing (Lorna this is fodder for you next story). I had to buy another. It is a miracle and just in time for Umbra's big molt. I will make a video later about bunny lint rolling technique.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Bunny Foot

A while back I thought one of Umbra's toes on her hind foot looked kinda funky. I didn't think much of it at the time, plus she really dislikes having her feet touched. I managed to get a a better look at it the other day when I noticed it still looked off. The toe in question sticks up a bit at an odd angle, and when I touched it Umbra did not jump away like she usually does. I'm thinking maybe it is dislocated and that she has lost feeling in it. It seemed a lot more pliable than the same toe on the other foot.

Anyway, it is about time for Umbra's annual check up so we will see what the doc thinks (I believe I have located a reputable one in the area, since we have moved). In the meantime, maybe Lorna of Fuzzy Critters may have an explanation for this mysterious injury?

If possible I'll snap a pic and you all can weigh in.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Joy of Rabbit Parenting 5

Rabbit eats my checkbook, both metaphorically and literally.

A "Small Pet" Supplies Rant

I know this seems pretty grumpy way to start out the new year, but consider this a cleansing of my misgiving of the small pet supplies industry. Lately, I have been trying to cut spending wherever possible in order to save money for my wedding. The last place I would want to cut spending in on Umbra. She deserves the best care I can afford, but I'm noticing that a lot of the items marketed for small animal use, are way over priced.

Example 1: bedding/litter

Currently I use Carefresh Natural, which is made from the byproducts of paper mills. Not only is this resourceful (I'm a major green-nerd, I love it when we find uses for everything) but it also compostable. It is super absorptive, and is compressed to a third of it's size, which is convenient for storing. The drawback is the price (similar off brands are not much better). The 60L bag runs about $20, and I estimate that I go through about one of these a month. That's $160 a year. Considering I have just one small breed rabbit, multi-rabbit homes or large bunnies could go through much more (also depending how often you change the litter box, I do mine every other day).

Although I think Carefresh is a great product, I went in search of a less pricy option. I learned that the some of the Indiana House Rabbit Society members use wood-stove pellets for litter. I am assured they are safe for alternative litter. Similar pelleted fibers are marketed for pets, like this pelleted straw from Oxbow, runs about $12 for 8lbs. I got a 40 lbs of wood stove pellets at Lowes for $4, quite a  difference. I have yet to try them out, but I will submit a verdict soon. Wood pellets are available at most hardware/ home improvement stores.

Example 2: hay

We all know how vital hay is in the diet of most small herbivores. Rabbits need 24/7 access to hay, and a healthy rabbit will take good advantage of it. Usually I feed Umbra Oxbow band Western Timothy hay, but buying the bagged hay from the pet store really adds up. Most pet stores will carry bags up to 3 lbs and costing between $10-12. One store in my area carries a larger bag (6lbs I think) for closer to $20. Either of these options will cost you around $3 per pound.

Ideally, you would discover a local farm that sells Timothy, or some other high quality grass hay (i.e. not primarily alfalfa... good luck), in which case a bale will go for somewhere around $5. If you are unfortunate, like myself, local farmers and feed stores only carry alfalfa, or and alfalfa-grass blend (hard knowing if there is an acceptable ratio of the two). I have found some other alternatives. Pets Supplies Plus will order 50lb bales from Oxbow if you inquire. I ordered my first today for $64 (half the price per unit of the bags they keep in stock). Ask at your local pet store to see if they do the same. You can also buy from smallpetselect.com. I took advantage of a sale they had a while back and ordered an 8lb box for close to $20, a small savings from my usual purchase. At this point I will apologize for not making a review post as I had promised. They hay was pretty good quality, I was a little worried that the hay would get contaminated during shipping as it is only in a cardboard box, but the company seems genuinely interested in the well being of small animals and the website is educational. They also sell 50lb bales for $65, free of shipping costs when you sign up for automatic shipment schedule.

Example 3: Other

Today, I saw a play tunnel for cats for $7. It is much bigger than the one I have for Umbra and half the cost. Umbra's tunnel was marketed for small animals, including rabbits, however, she can just barely fit through it and she is not a big bunny.

It's tough finding toys for Umbra that are affordable and she will actually play with. Admittedly she is a really picky rabbit. She does love willow balls though. I haven't gotten her any lately due in part that the stores are always out of stock, and secondly they cost $4. That is kinda a lot for something she is going to demolish in less than a day. It aggravates me that we sell identical balls at my job for $1 for someone to put in a bowl on their coffee table. I desperately want them for Umbra, but I don't know if they are untreated!

Finally I can't tell you how many way over priced and cheaply made brushes, nail clippers and litter box scoops I have seen. If they are for "small pets" they are usually cheesy looking, like a little critter face for the handles and whatnot. Clearly this is a marketing gimmick used to lure in children. This leads me to a deeper qualm I have with the pet industry: small animals are not throw-away starter pets for parents to torture by leaving in the care of their irresponsible child (I note that this is not the child's fault) as a test for getting a "real pet" like a dog or cat. Hamsters, guinea pigs, even mice and of course rabbits are just as deserving of the best care that dogs and cats are. It is sad to see any animal abused as a means of making a profit, whether it is the breeder or the companies that provide the supplies.

It can be tough deciding what is worth buying for your animal friends. While I would like to save money, quality and safety must always come first. Umbra is not just a rabbit, she is a good friend of mine and just as much a part of my family as most people consider their dogs. She has a vibrant personality and specific needs, physical and social. We are nearing the second year of our friendship and I hope that I can provide for her so that she will spend many more with me.