When the weather changes from mild to hot and you break out the shorts and flip flops, your bunny will undoubtedly be shedding his/her winter fur coat. When a bunny sheds, it's called molting. Bunnies typically molt about twice a year, though one molt may be barely noticeable and the second look like a blizzard of fur. Baby bunnies have three molts their first year since they also have a baby coat to shed, but again, some of these molts will likely be mild.
Removing the Loose Fur
Two other methods for removing excess fur are by plucking/rubbing the fur off while outside or in an area where you can let the fur fly. This is great for bunnies that hate being brushed, but you may need a few healthy treats to keep him/her at ease. Finally, if your bunny is extra mellow, you may be able to vacuum the loose fur. My bunnies often tolerate this because they are used to me vacuuming their cages each morning, but they would still rather eat their own poop than be groomed by me. :)
Why is it Important to Remove Loose Fur?
Just like cats, bunnies give themselves baths in an attempt at proper hygiene. When they are molting, they ingest any loose fur in areas that they clean. Unlike cats, however, bunnies cannot vomit up hair balls. Sounds good, right? Well, not really. The fur sits in their digestive tracts and either forms "poop ornaments" (poop strung together by fur) or slows down and possibly stops digestion. This immobility of the gut is called GI stasis, and excess fur ingestion is one cause. GI Stasis has the potential to quickly kill your bunny, so it's important to keep loose fur to a minimum and educate yourself about GI stasis.
Support Your Bunny's Digestive System
During molts, it's especially important to boost your bunny's digestive system to help prevent GI stasis. First, a constant supply of hay is essential to help sweep material through the intestines. I recommend a fresh timothy hay or orchard grass (weeds and clover can be included, bunnies love them). First cutting will be the least green and most thick, second cutting is softer and usually greener, and third cutting is very soft green, and fragrant. I usually purchase second cutting, either from a local farmer who doesn't use pesticides/herbicides/fertilizer or online through Farmer Dave's or Small Pet Select on Amazon. Just make sure the hay smells fresh and not moldy or overly dusty. Bagged pet store hays are usually sub par quality.
Second, digestive support tablets can be a great aid in helping your bunny's digestive system stay active. My favorite are Sherwood's digestive tablets, which contain papaya, ginger, pineapple, and other gut-stimulating natural ingredients...plus, the bunnies love these (yes, they're like bunny crack)!
Third are herbs that help digestion. Plantain herb, dandelion greens and flowers, parsley, and comfrey are just a few herbal digestive aids. If your yard is not treated with chemicals, you likely have plantain and dandelion everywhere. These can be fed freshly picked/washed or washed/dried for later use. When feeding fresh herbs, be careful not to give more than a small handful at once. If you notice mushy poop later (from your bunny that is), then cut back on the amount of greens. Dried greens are not as harsh on the digestive system and can be fed in slightly larger quantities (this is basically what hay is, dried greens). I try to keep dried plantain herb on hand in a mesh bag all year long.
Last but not least, remember to offer your bunny plenty of exercise! Exercise helps to stimulate gut motility and keep things moving, plus, your bunny will love being able to run, hop, and binky. Basements, garages, and outdoor exercise pens all offer a great spacious environment for your bunny to have "recess."
I hope you have found this information on brushing bunnies during molting helpful. If you have any questions or comments, please post them below. Thank you!
This is a loaded question, and the answer really depends on a multitude of factors. I will say, however, that one of the biggest mistakes parents can do regarding first pets is to make a hasty decision to buy a bunny for their young children (toddler/preschool/young elementary age), especially when they assure me, "My child is ready to learn responsibility." Well, what happens a few weeks into the "responsibility lesson" when your child loses interest or discovers that bunnies don't like held or carried like a kitten might tolerate? Someone else ends up taking over the responsibility, and the bunny may end up neglected, seen as a nuisance, or even worse, surrendered to a shelter.
I am certainly not here to point fingers, as I have been in this situation myself when purchasing my first Holland lop as a 4-H project for my 9-year-old son and a second bunny for my 6-year-old son. Of course, they loved their bunnies and did an excellent job providing daily care - for a while. Soon, however, school began again, and getting up ten minutes early for morning feeding/cleaning and finding time for daily interaction became an issue for them. Eventually, we ended up selling both bunnies to new homes (at a monetary loss of course) and learning an important lesson: bunnies require a lot of time and effort and need to be a family decision - and that children sometimes aren't ready for additional responsibility. Household chores are a much better way to teach such a quality.
Before getting your child a pet, it's a wise idea to ask your child to do a simple chore daily for a couple weeks with only minimal reminders (such as feeding a fish, filling a bird feeder, or watering a plant - where another living thing depends on their responsible actions). You'll know pretty quickly whether they're ready for their own pet, and if not, then start with something smaller and simpler like a hamster, guinea pig, or even a cat - unless your entire household is on board with getting a bunny FOR THE FAMILY.
What Should I Know Before Getting My Child a Bunny?
Ultimately, the answer is YES, bunnies CAN be good pets for children - in the correct situations. I generally don't recommend that children under 10 have a rabbit as a pet. It takes maturity to understand how to interact with and care for a bunny. Unless you are content with ending up as the sole caregiver for the bunny and can provide daily attention and exercise, then please carefully reconsider your pet choice. :)
"Should I get a friend for my bunny?" "Will my bunny be lonely without another bunny to keep him/her company? Can two bunnies get along?
These are questions I am often asked, and while the answer isn't a clear-cut "yes" or "no," I usually suggest starting with one bunny and then adding a second later if desired. There are certainly pros and cons of owning a single bunny compared to two more more.
Examples of Good Bunny Buddies:
The first pair of bunnies (far left) consists of my orange buck Sunny Jim and his girlfriend (one of them) Envy. Neither is spayed/neutered, but after an hour of chasing each other and breeding, they were best friends. Obviously, they would never share a cage and this scenario wouldn't work for those keeping pet bunnies, but I am fully confident that these two could be permanent playmates if spayed/neutered. Both have pleasant personalities, and Sunny is never aggressive.
The middle photo is from a customer (Eleanor M.) who purchased a chocolate tort buck, got him neutered, and then sought a female companion who would be spayed when old enough. The female, Mimi, immediately took to Mochi (after first having to show him that she wouldn't tolerate mounting), and two are good friends the last I knew. She will most likely begin to show displeasure at sharing a cage with Mochi upon maturity and will need to be spayed, but they have a great chance at long-term bonding.
Examples of Bad Bunny Buddies:
At left is Cocoa and her baby Henrietta. Henrietta was the runt and needed to stay with Cocoa past the normal eight weeks, and the pair became thoroughly bonded. I sold them to a wonderful family who wanted to keep both bunnies together. Well, long story short, Henrietta was really Henry (bucks can have a split penis when little, which makes them look like does initially - totally my fault, but tough to differentiate) and needed to be neutered. After surgery and a few weeks for the hormones to subside, re-introduction didn't go smoothly, and the pair had to be separated from playing together. Cocoa would likely stop mounting her son if she was spayed, but that is a risk possibly not worth taking on a doe who is already several years old. This seemed like a good match but ultimately was not.
The last two pictures are my breeding does Luna and Mable. On nice days, there are several does who I am able to let play together with no altercations at all, but one day, things went terribly wrong. In hindsight, Luna was pregnant, so I should not have let them out together, but it was a cold winter day, and I was inside the bunny barn with them as they played. Luna began to chase Mable and instigate all sorts of trouble. Before I could grab either, there was a scuffle, fur went flying, and then I saw Luna's bloody ear. Mable not only nipped Luna's ear, she bit half-way to the center. Luna had a ragged flap of ear dangling pitifully. I couldn't believe what had transpired in less than a minute together!
After my initial panic, I decided to clean the wound with iodine and Vetericyn spray and they try to use Gorilla Glue to suture the wound like they do in the hospital. For a week, it seemed to do the trick, and the ear appeared to heal. Until one day, the glue began to crack (likely due to Luna's grooming), and the ear became red and the flap dangled once again. This time, I knew a trip to the veterinarian was warranted.
I loaded Luna into the travel carrier and took her to West Park Animal Hospital in Cleveland, OH to see Dr. Kari Swedenborg, who specializes in "pocket pets" such as bunnies. Dr. Kari is a wonderfully knowledgeable and kind veterinarian with a warm bedside manner. I felt ashamed of my failed efforts to help Luna, but she never criticized. She agreed that the part of the ear that was loose and flapping needed to be removed to prevent being caught and tearing more. The wound was then cauterized and the bleeding quite minimal. As a side note, the doctor performed an ultrasound to confirm whether Luna was pregnant (which determined the anesthetic that could be used) and saw two wiggly babies! Amazingly, the bill was only $70, and Luna appears to be healing, though she will always have a permanent chunk of ear missing to serve as a reminder to me to be extremely cautious about letting two bunnies play together. If it ever happens again, I will seek veterinary care immediately. FYI - Gorilla Glue is not the same as skin adhesive that surgeons use, which may be why it didn't hold well on her ear.
In summary, it is possible to have two bunnies become companions to one another, but there are a lot of variables and expenses that make it a risk. If this is a risk you accept, be prepared to spay/neuter both bunnies as soon as possible as well as have separate cages. They may be able to play together during the day but will likely always want their own spaces for sleeping (which isn't always at night). Ultimately, a lot depends on the individual personalities of the bunnies after they reach maturity and post-surgery.
Hook's Hollands is a small hobby rabbitry on our Ohio farm and is operated by me (Diane) with the help of my family. We have a small herd of Holland Lop rabbits and focus on raising colorful bunnies with the best type and temperament possible.
This blog serves to spotlight various bunny care topics and share a bit about my experiences raising bunnies.