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Forum HOUSE RABBIT Q & A Fostering Abandoned Rabbit, Seeking Advice

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    • BunnyHopefully
      1 posts Send Private Message

        Hello! I’m a first-time rabbit caretaker, and this is my first time posting on the forum.

        So my story is that my family started noticing rabbits (and some quite obviously domestic rabbits) in our suburban neighborhood when there haven’t ever been any before, but they were also disappearing shortly after we’d see them a few times. (We think they met unfortunate demises.)

        Eventually, my mom and I spotted another white rabbit with brown patches.

        It was small, adorable, and had a special affinity for our yard and the meager protection our neighbor’s fence lent her.

        My mom and I were worried that she wouldn’t survive either, so we thought up an elaborate ploy to catch her. (It was hilarious, but it worked and didn’t freak her out!)

        I now have the rabbit (which we named Cookies because it’s just so precious and sweet!) in a rather large dog crate with a removable plastic tray until we can get her a better housing situation. (Henceforth, I’m going to refer to the rabbit as ‘her’ because I’ve been unable to detect any male parts, lol.)

        She’s living on aspen chips, because that’s what I had on-hand and use for my backyard chickens. She has a water bowl, a litter tray (also filled with aspen shavings), a feeder filled with Timothy hay 24/7, and a little nook she likes to sleep in.

        I’ve given her garden-grown mint, oregano, basil, and sage. (She doesn’t like sage, lol.) But her absolute favorites are organic parsley and cilantro from the grocery store. (I’m trying to root my own so I can have it on-hand when I need it.) And I’ll give her half a baby carrot or a sliver of banana every other day or so. I haven’t given her any rabbit pellets, because I want to research to make sure I don’t end up giving her junk-food.

        I’ve had her for four days now, and it’s been so amazing to see how quickly she’s gained confidence!! At first, she was terrified and would just stay in her ‘safe nook’ most of the day.

        But I’ve been bribing her with herbs and really working with her. Just yesterday I got to stroke her for the first time without her freaking out! She’s showing curiosity and a little bit of sass, and she’s just adorable!

        When we caught her, we were planning to immediately take her to a rabbit rescue, but unfortunately they were full and refused to take her. We do have a family friend that is indifferent but would take her for us. But he’s going to be keeping her in an outside enclosure, and she’s such a sweet girl that I want her to get a house-rabbit-bliss life with her forever owners, lol. I’ve also noticed that she just really doesn’t like being outside.

        Anyway, now I’ve gotten so attached to her that I DEFINITELY want to keep her. I’ve started carrier-training her so we’ll hopefully be able to take her to the vet soon, or transport her to whoever we find to keep her.

        If we decide to keep her, I need to know if she’s microchipped (yikes), how old she is (and therefore whether she needs to continue eating Timothy hay or needs to start alfalfa), and if she has any health issues or parasites.

        I also suspect she’s underweight, so I want to know what a vet would say about that. Maybe substitute with alfalfa?

        I’ve done a lot of research about keeping rabbits over the years, but I’ve never been able to get one even though I’ve wanted one for a long time. Now I’m doing even MORE research, lol.

        I guess I’m starting this discussion because I know I’m going to have a lot of questions, and I want to give her the best environment and care possible while I have her. (Unfortunately, it’s not up to me whether we can keep her or not, but I’m hopeful.)

        I guess the biggest thing I need to know right now is her approximate age so that I’ll know if I’m feeding her right.

        I’d also LOVE to know what breed y’all think she is. (I’m thinking maybe a mini-rex? Her fur doesn’t seem super poofy, but other than that, she looks like one to my inexperienced eyes.)

        Are there any tips or potential pitfalls I should be aware of?

        I haven’t been able to confirm her gender since I’m not comfortable handling her that much yet. She doesn’t let me pet her unless I’m holding her favorite treat, so I won’t be able to check until we build a LOT more trust.

        I’m going to try to upload a picture of her… I hope it works!

      • Bam
        16930 posts Send Private Message

          Thank you for saving this bunny!

          She is truly adorable! I can’t say what breed she is, but she is most likely a mix. She looks young, but not a baby. How much would you estimate that she weighs? Rabbits that have been living feral tend to be a lot skinnier than house rabbits, due to skinny food (grass, mainly) and lots of “exercise”.

          It seems you have been doing great with her so far. You could get her pellets that contain alfalfa (a lot of pellets do) and keep her on timothy (or other grass-) hay. It’s often tricky to wean a rabbit off alfalfa hay, so it’s better if she keeps eating grass hay. Good grass hay eating habits are fundamental for a long, healthy rabbit life.

          Boy rabbits don’t always have their testicles on display, and it is very difficult to sex very young rabbits. Even vets sometimes get it wrong!

          If she is a girl and sexually mature (i e over 3 months) she could be pregnant.

          Please ask all questions that pop up! We’d love to try and answer them!


        • DanaNM
          9038 posts Send Private Message

            Thank you for saving her and welcome! Cookies is an adorable name, she looks a lot like my Cooper! She doesn’t look like a rex to me, likely she’s a mix. Rex buns have very short plush fur, it feels like velvet.

            I recommend checking out the sections in the rabbit info section:

            There are tips on litter box set up, housing, diet, etc. For litter training you will want to provide a litter box (usually a large cat litter box works well) and only put the bedding in the litter box. Put her hay in the box as well (i put a fluffy layer of hay on top of the litter and also give a hay rack). Otherwise she will use the whole area as her toilet.

            I agree she looks young, so it’s possible she’s a “he” but with undescended testicles. Time will tell!

            I doubt she’s microchipped. It sounds like either someone is dumping rabbits in your neighborhood, or there is a breeding colony of domestic stray buns. I agree with Bam that you could transition her to alfalfa pellets but keep feeding timothy hay. Be careful with introducing new veggies (no more than 1 new food per week, and give a small amount at first). I would also avoid fruit for now. The important thing is to make sure she gets lots of grass hay and develops good hay eating habits, and sometimes too many treats can cause them to eat less hay and cause digestive upsets.

            My buns aren’t fond of sage either hahah, but they do love basil! Cilantro and parsley are def favorites though. Hand feeding is a great way to earn trust. Don’t worry too much about trying to pet her now. For new buns I like to “play hard to get”, where I spend time with them but mostly ignore them. That helps them learn you aren’t a predator that’s going to try to eat them. 🙂


            . . . The answers provided in this discussion are for general guideline purposes only. The information is not intended to diagnose or treat your pet. Seek the advice of your veterinarian or a qualified behaviorist.  

          • LBJ10
            16976 posts Send Private Message

              OMG! So cute! Thank you for saving her! I agree, it would be hard to not want to keep her. Definitely not a Rex. But… do I detect some wispy hairs between her ears and on the back of her neck? It almost looks like it in the pictures.

              You’re going to want to get her into a more permanent setup. You can continue using the dog kennel if you wish and then make a pen with either NIC grid panels or dog exercise pen(s). Or, you can make a condo using NIC grid panels. I agree that if you want her to be litter trained, you will need to remove the litter from the bottom of the kennel. That just creates confusion on where the “toilet” is. Some bunnies like a bare floor just fine, particularly while litter training. If you want something for traction though, most people prefer fleece liners. I personally use fleece dog whelping mats as liners.

              Hay consumption is extremely important, so yes, keep it up with the hay. I would recommend finding a good pellet though. Simply feeding her pellets will help her put on weight. You shouldn’t have to do anything else besides maybe give her a little extra. I agree with the others that she isn’t a baby, but she is definitely young. So an adult diet with a little bit of supplementation should be all that is required.

            • BZOO
              331 posts Send Private Message

                When choosing a pellet brand, look for ones that are primarily hay based.  No “fun” colorful bits or seeds.

                Sherwood and Garden Select are two good ones.

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            Forum HOUSE RABBIT Q & A Fostering Abandoned Rabbit, Seeking Advice