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BINKYBUNNY FORUMS > BEHAVIOR > Is my bunny sad?
Last Post by hopsalot at 9/27/2012 7:41 AM (12 Replies)
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User is Offline hopsalot
38 posts Send Private Message
9/20/2012 12:28 AM

Hi

I joined this forum because I have found so many useful forum topics and information here. I live in South Africa, which means although many many people do keep rabbits, rabbits are not as popular pets as dogs and cats round here. Its difficult to find a vet that has extensive experience with rabbits, and most people have millions of opinions regarding rabbits. I could, however, not find info specific to my problem, therefore my post....

I've had my bun for little over a year now. She was a present from my boyfriend to keep me company when he would be away for long periods. Uninformed customers as we were, we searched many petshops and came across one that was kind of legit. We were told that she's an english rabbit, but she's probably some kind of cross. Never the less - she was (and is) PERFECT. About a month  after I got her I took her to our family vet for a check up, and was told that she is probably 3 months of age.  Which meant I got her when she was 6-8 weeks old when we brought her home for the first time.

Had I known better, I would have gotten a brother or sister from the same litter. We still had a lot to learn....

Since then, during the past two years, I have moved twice and she has therefore lived in 3 different places to date. With her own private garden always a prerequisite when house shopping - she has never lived in a cage. She sleeps in the house at night, and can go in/out as she wishes during the day. The garden has a 6 foot wall and is completely rabbit safe, and because it is so hot here I built her a little shed outside with UV filter shade netting should she wish to lounge outside.

On the dietary side, I have been feeding her Cuni Complete pellets as well as Cuni Nature (which she doesnt like all too much), and a bowl of veggies and herbs twice a day (alternating between carrots, radiccio, tender stem brocoli, normal brocoli, basil, coriander, parsley, dill, fennel, rocket, italian parsley) in addition to a never ending supply of fresh mountain grass hay both inside and outside the house. She also spends a lot of time grazing in the garden and I sow new grass every now and again to assure she has enough good quality grass in her garden. (shes +- 2 to 2.5kg's)

I started feeling bad for having to leave her home alone when I go to work, and after two months of settling in in our new place, I had her spayed with the purpose of getting her a friend. It ended up being a terrible ordeal. She didnt take the surgery very well. Her digestive system crashed 3 days post op, I took her back to our family vet who gave her dexamethasone, I think it's a corticosteroid. Things were looking ok until about 7 days later when, within an hour, she nearly died. I rushed her to the only 24hour academic hospital where they gave her strong pain medication and took bloods etc. They said she had permanent and ongoing liver damage due to the corticosteroids. I contacted one of my friends who is also a vet but not in practice. She concluded that the bloodwork did not provide enough proof of liver damage since a fasting liver test was not performed. With careful nursing and the help of a very knowledgeable friend, my bun survived serious gastric statis and tons of stress.

Two months down the line (two weeks ago) I contacted a local breeder (i didnt know we had those here), who suggested a male friend for my bun, about the same age. I followed the rules for introduction posted all over the net (and in this forum) to the point. It didnt work out. After a few days my bun still ran away, and started stressing so much that she went off her food and started to lose weight again. They didnt fight, nor did she kick him or he hurt her, she was just completely scared to death. Might it be because I brought her home too young and she's scared because she doesnt know the smell and looks of other bunnies? I had to return the new bun. The breeders said that they think my bun probably doesnt know better and thinks I'm her sole companion. I don't want to put her through the stress of a second bun.

Relieved as I am that the little fluffball I love so so much and would do anything for survived, I am still worried. I would like to know what any of you think, given my long description of circumstances:

1.My bun loved to run and binky all the time. Since we moved in here, even 2 months before she was spayed, she stopped binkying. She hasnt ran or binkied since we moved in here.

2. She has a sad look in her eyes since I had her spayed, as opposed to the naughty bun she used to be before. She used to be so destructive. That's stopped - but so has her energy and livelihood.

3. She used to stretch out with her feet behind her on the carpet whenever I was in the area, as if we were enjoying a relaxing time together. She never since being spayed does that anymore. She just sits quietly on the corner of the carpet, in a normal reserved bunny position. Now and then she would flop and fall asleep.

Is it because I betrayed her with putting her in hospital, and forcing her to like a new bunny? Is she sad because of the stress of moving so much? Is she missing bunny company without knowing it? Am I doing it all wrong?

I just dont know what she's thinking, and I don't know what to do

Please tell me what you think :'(

I'm sorry for the long message ;(

 

 


User is Offline LittlePuffyTail
New Brunswick, Canada
Forum Leader
11434 posts Send Private Message
9/20/2012 1:47 AM
First, I would like to welcome you to Binky Bunny.

I have to bring up my concern that your bunny is allowed outside. I know you mentioned there is a fence, but there are still dangers to an outside rabbit. Are you positive there are no prey birds that could come snatch her. There is also the risk of disease and parasites.

How long did you have the second bunny. Bonding can take many weeks or months. It`s normal for bunnies to be stressed during the bonding process.

How long have you lived in the new place. She may be just adjusting to her new surroundings.

I`m certain she`s not unhappy because she feels betrayed by you. Bunnies don`t think like humans. It`s likely that having her spayed calmed her down. It`s normal for females to be less naughty and bunnies often become more lazy after getting fixed.

Is she still eating and pooping normally.

That`s upsetting that your vet put her on corticosteroids as they are very bad for bunnies and should only be used with extreme caution. I`m glad your bun recovered well.
Proud to be a Bunny Hugger and a voice for the voiceless
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User is Offline Beka27
Cleveland, Ohio (USA)
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9/20/2012 4:04 AM
Welcome here! It sounds like she has a very wonderful home with you and you love her so much.

I would not worry about her being sad. If anything, she sounds calm and content. Does she like to play with anything or explore?
Meadow..... Photobucket ...... Max, my angel bunny

User is Offline hopsalot
38 posts Send Private Message
9/20/2012 4:44 AM

Thank you very much for the welcome!

As for my garden, I live in a townhouse in a security complex where each little garden is surrounded by a six foot wall. I am very cautious with picking a garden, because my bun used to dig a lot and a fence would never work. I have peace of mind that she cannot escape. (I had to go see 30 places to find the right bunny garden haha!). Parasites and diseases have not yet been a concern. There's only a well kept lawn that is isolated from any large gardens / natural ''veld'' as we call it. I am, however, always concerned about things coming in to catch her. I have never seen prey birds around the area where I live, that is mostly a problem in less urbanized areas, or farmland. My worst fear is cats and I have had an incident where she came running in and there was a cat in the garden. Since then she is not let out unsupervised. I drive home during lunch times so that she can go outside a bit, and then she gets to go in and out as she wishes in the afternoons when I get back from work. On weekends I stay here mostly because I never want her to be alone during the night. I also fluff her with  carbo dust (the small animal variety) once a month to ensure that she doesnt pick up nasty parasites. Also, we dont get Myxomatosis or Haemorrhagic Disease/RHD in South Africa, for the same reason that rabbit imports for breeding and other purposes are not allowed. I know there are many other diseases but I''m still learning.

We've lived here for about 5 months now, and she eats and poops normally (well after the terrible ordeal with the spay/corticosteroids/gastric stasis).

The bunny bonding only lasted a week. It's fairly impossible for me to seperate them during the day and when I'm not supervising. Because mine has never lived in a cage, she gets extremely upset and stressed out if I put her in a closed up hutch. I no longer have any form of a cage or hutch to put the new bun in.  I also started to run out of neutral teritory to try introductions. Also, doing multiple introductions at the home where the other bun came from would be traumatising to boot because it is more than an hour's drive from me. After a week of continous freezing and panting and eyes popping out, the both of them lost half their body weight even when they were in roughtly the same (and only) room besides my bedroom. I had to give up - because I didnt know what to do anymore and the more I keep reading the more I think I'm doing it wrong. Some say that you should never introduce a spayed female to an unaltered companion. That could have been the case too....

I thought about getting a baby and introducing him/her - any thoughts on that?

Thank you for your reply. I really do hope that she's not unhappy but just calmed down after being done.

 


User is Offline hopsalot
38 posts Send Private Message
9/20/2012 4:51 AM

Thank you again for the welcome! I love everyone's bunny pictures. It means I'm not the only bunny-bonkers-person out there!

Maybe I'm seeing her as sad because I think she should be? I would never know what she thinks. She could be calm and content for that matter.

She likes exploring the odd thing or two now and then, especially the grocery bags when I come home from shopping! These days she mostly lounges in her thatch roof hut in my living room during the day, and likes to follow her nose around picking the best grass to snatch in the garden.

These days she decided that she wants to sleep on the bottom corner of my bed matress, so I leave her be. She does try the occasional trick to chew my woven furniture but not as much as she used to.

I do love her very much and my world quickly started to revolve around my bun. I learn more about their mystical secret lives every day.

Maybe she is calm and content and not as energetic as when she was still growing. How I wish I could see her run!!!


User is Offline RabbitPam
South Florida
Forum Leader
10533 posts Send Private Message
9/20/2012 5:24 AM
Let me say welcome, also. I agree that you are providing her with a very loving home and the best care you can find, so she certainly is in a good environment.

While I agree that being outside is risky, and that's mostly from predators, letting her out supervised, if she's used to it and has the option of running inside or into shelter at a moment's notice, is a good way to handle it. I wouldn't worry about her being totally indoors at any point, however, since we all have house bunnies that are perfectly content.

Many of her changes are actually understandable. First, when a bunny is just a few months older, ie. closer to a year, they often don't binky nearly as much. As adults they tend to lounge more and spaz around the house less. This mellowness is natural and fine, and is also common after a spay as well. Once you've seen a vigorous baby bunny binky, you think there's something wrong but really it's just bunny grown-up behavior. Not to worry.

She also has had a prolonged illness due to the complication with the medication, so she may be recovering more slowly. She may still not feel totally well, and rest is good for her. If she is eating and pooping normally now, then watch her but consider her on the mend. But still, getting vigorous just may not be what she's capable of for a while longer.

Another thing to keep in mind is that bunnies are crepuscular, which means awake and alert at dawn and dusk, but sleeping midday and late at night. It makes them great pets for working people, because leaving them alone during the day is good for their resting period, and they get good sleep then. They are not lonely if you visit before you leave and when you get home.

I would not push a bonding with another bunny. If she didn't take to the new bunny, it sounds like it would have been a tough bond and she may prefer being a solo bunny. I am one of the people here who can say that a solo bunny has a fine life with you, based on both of my bunnies being alone with me. I never had a mate for either of them. My bunnies never seemed to suffer for companionship, although I often worried about it. It took other people to point out to me how clearly happy each has been in my company, and even doing less seems to be Sammy's choice of lifestyle these days.

So be patient with her, don't read sadness into her face, but be alert for signs of any further medical issues. Often a depressed seeming bunny is an ill bunny hiding what's wrong. Describe her on occasion to your vet friend who will notice signs of problems, but otherwise I'd say she's just healing and resting after her situation. I'm sure she loves you very much.
 photo CarrotCrop100x500BBSiggy_zps0f2147e4.jpg Have your people call my people. We'll do carrots.

User is Offline hopsalot
38 posts Send Private Message
9/20/2012 7:40 AM

Thank you for your reply!

I'm so glad I joined the forum. After three replies everything is already making more sense to me. The crepuscular nature explains why she wakes me up by chewing on my furniture at the crack of dawn, and then sits and waits by the door to the garden so that I can open up for early morning grazing. At lunch time she doesn't want to be bugged - so instead of thinking somethings wrong, I should rather accept she's taking a nap and resting. At sunset she normally likes to wander outside or catch the last bit of sun, until it gets darker and she comes in for dinner. Wow, not rocket science afterall. Would have thought that after all my reading on the net I would have known this?! Now I do thanks to you!

I am glad to find out that growing up and being less hormonal can change a bunny's nature a bit. I thought that if lots of binkys denote extreme happiness, none would mean extreme unhappiness I'ts been roughly 8 weeks since her illness, I never thought healing up would take so so long. I wonder if the long acting corticosteroids could still be making her sick, but she eats normally again and poops as usual. I'm very paranoid about her (most consider me rather mental when it comes to this so lets dont say it out loud shhhh haha!) after everything so the moment she doesnt want to eat I go out of my mind and check for a healthy rumbly in her tumbly.  But she's been fine so far. It's been a hard recovery, but I never left her side and know that she would never leave mine.

I am aware of the fact that hiding illness makes things really difficult. I thought they get sick very quickly, but infact they hide it so well that you only become aware of it in the last hours of severe illness. After all of it, I can say that refusing food, refusing company and moving around a lot as if uncomfy means theres tummy problems. At the moment me thinking she's depressed has none of that, she eats happily and chills a lot.

For now I think I am going to try and see it from the perspective that she can be happy as a solo bunny with my companionship and that I really am doing the most I can to ensure she has a good pet life but still remains a bunny that can dig a hole and flop over on a cool patch of grass now and then!

It's always difficult to find an affordable living space with a good rabbit garden, but I will keep what you are saying in mind about all the house buns out there. Do you think that because she's used to and likes her garden she would be able to happily live in a apartment without a garden? She's qutie adamant about ther morning stroll.

Thank you so much for being the one to point out that my bun CAN be happy alone, and is probably fine withing good measure.

I appreciate everyone's help.

 


User is Offline Elrohwen
Hudson Valley, NY
Forum Leader
7322 posts Send Private Message
9/20/2012 10:06 AM
Welcome! Some great advice and insight. Sounds like she has a great home with you and a very good bunny life!

I wanted to address the bonding thing. First, be very glad you didn't get two bunnies from the same litter! All baby bunnies get along, but many start to fight around puberty and have to be separated until neutering, then rebonded as if they were strangers. It's really a harder situation, most of the time, especially because owners are so upset seeing their previously "bonded" bunnies (only bonded because they're babies, really) start to fight, then having to stress them out to re-bond them. Also, breeders and vets have been known to sex bunnies wrong, so people buy two, thinking they're the same gender only to end up with one of them pregnant. The same will apply if you were to get a baby bunny to be her companion. It might work at first, if she accepts the baby, but there's a strong chance the baby will get ornery around puberty time and you'd have to separate and re-bond anyway.

Bonding is almost always stressful for bunnies and humans, so if you're finding that it doesn't work for your situation, that's ok! She'll be perfectly happy as an only bunny.

I think it's really cool that you have such a nice garden for her! I won't let mine out because of fear of predators and ticks, plus they hate it out there. They think the living room is their natural habitat. I'm sure your bun would be perfectly happy living only in an apartment, even though she loves her current garden situation. Especially being free-range as she is, I'm sure she wouldn't miss it at all.

 

ETA: Sounds to me like she's just slowing down with age, as most buns do. My boy has been a lazy lump at least since he was one year old. I almost never see a binky (or even a lazy head shake binky) out of him - he's just a chill little guy and prefers to lay around with his feet kicked out. With their downturned mouths, bunnies can look sad if that's what you expect them to be, but really they just like to spend a lot of time sleeping or staring off into space. I actually enjoy it now - it's kind of relaxing and zen to just watch them lounge around quietly. I would try to find something interactive to do with her to get her up and moving. My guy will lay around all day if I let him, but if I bring out the treats and train him to do tricks, he gets excited and active really quick and wants to interact with me more.

- Elrohwen

User is Offline hopsalot
38 posts Send Private Message
9/23/2012 9:06 AM

Thanks! I really am learning a lot already!

This is the first time someone mentions that about bonding two members of the same litter. I've never thought about it that way. Sounds even more dramatic. I would never be able to witness that. I guess things worked out for a reason then. I'm sure there are many cases where it did actually work out, but I wouldnt take chances in future.

That's true, it is stressful. I have never in my life, even after pulling the one all-nighter after the other studying, felt so completely exhausted. One should remember that it's in the interest of the buns and thats what I told myself, but I wont lie about it at all. It was quite an experience.  If given the good outcome, I would go through it again anytime. But at this point I think my bun should take it slow and recover for now.

It's a privilege to be able to give my bun such a life. But also heartbreaking that It's hardly affordable. We might have to scale down a bit soon. But the long and happy life I envision for her includes a permanent garden she can call her own somewhere in future! Hold thumbs tee hee!

I'm glad to hear that mine isnt the only one pulling the grown up stunt. I'm never really sure, she seems to take on a new personality every day. Typical woman! She probably plays me very well considering the fact that she owns me instead of the other way round! She also loves her treats. It's always a bit of a bummer - I dont know what to give her. I read about the treats in the online shop and realised she does love rose petals. She used to steal them off my dried rose bunches. It's just difficult to find ones that havent been treated in some way. I've tried the trick with some tiny dried rosebuds used for tea from a chines supermarket. I obviously don't know whats written on the packaging so I took the chance. I don't know if it's been treated. I might have to start growing my own roses! (Can import the cranberry rose mix from the shop, will cost about ten times as much getting it to my doorstep in one piece!). Joys of bunny living here!

Thank you so much for the post!


User is Offline RabbitPam
South Florida
Forum Leader
10533 posts Send Private Message
9/23/2012 9:42 AM
I just got back to your post today, and was so glad to learn that you are feeling helped by all of our bunny info. It certainly can be a relief to know about a bunny's nature, even with different personality traits. It's what makes them so interesting and different from other kinds of pets.

I've also discovered that since bunnies are creatures of habit, you can create habits for them that will be a constant as you move around. I've moved, with my bunny, into several apartments over the years. I've learned to keep the habitat set up exactly the same so it's familiar. But there are new toys you can buy for her now that will be with you for years if she loves them. They are either found in the BB store or on sites like The Busy Bunny. I am thinking of the accordion-style tunnel, which is cardboard. It's a great hiding place that can be set down in any room and be like a cave for her to be out, but relax or nap in.
Many people have the maze haven, which is fun and can be changed around, or made into two levels.
A lot of us have the Cottontail Cottage, which is interesting for bunnies that like to climb and be on higher levels and go up ramps.
If you get some of these bigger toys, you have entertaining options for her besides a garden. You can also hide treats in there, or under kleenex boxes for her to find. A bunny loves a project to work on, so you can encourage that kind of play, too. Shredding a phone book is often a favorite.

I recently bought a set of hard plastic baby keys at Walgreens for my bunny, and you'd think I'd given her gold. She now shakes them (gets my attention with it) and tosses them, or I steal them, she steals them back, I steal them again, she hides them and tries to get me to pet her head instead..... It's a bit of fun play for a rather sedentary girl.
 photo CarrotCrop100x500BBSiggy_zps0f2147e4.jpg Have your people call my people. We'll do carrots.

User is Offline hopsalot
38 posts Send Private Message
9/26/2012 11:02 AM

I certainly am learning a whole lot! I know I am applying it too, because since I started seeing her as a happy and content bun, she's been responding in the same way I moved my furniture around in my bedroom (or should I rather say....her trees have moved). She now, whenever the lights go off, sits close by, stays there for a little while until I pretend I'm sleeping, then she gives me a lick or two and off she goes to her favourite corner of the bed! I feel more accepted haha!  She even flops down and sleeps next to me like it's her side of the bed sometimes. Cheeky!

I also took the ''creatures of habit'' to heart and have set up a proper routine. Getting food at the same times daily, going outside at the same times, and then I decided to brush her coat every night before she goes to bed. Ít's already taking effect, she's confident in following the pattern, and interacts more because I groom her and get a bunny kiss in return before bed time. Such a big diference within a short time, just because of a change in outlook! SO happy!

We are definitely getting a cottage or maze for her. I did buy two of those ''cat tunnels'' made from material that are foldable a while back. She didnt take a liking to those and still prefer her thatch roof hut. Is it safe for them to tear a phone book? She loves scrapbooking haha! I gave her all the scrapbooking cut-offs while working and she would be very busy working on those. I took them away because I noticed she was nibbling the paper into pretty shapes, but the nibbles were nowhere to be seen and probably eaten. I was scared the paper could get stuck in her tumbly. I think she would rather enjoy the phone book project, but need to know if it really is safe for buns who swallow everything and anything.

The plastic baby keys are a good idea. You have a special bun that interacts with you haha! Ive never seen something like that. In our place it's the private life of pie, rabbit pie! HAHA! But will definitely try that one out! Thanks for the awesome ideas!

I have a newfound concern though, I found dandruff on the back of her ears this afternoon that wasnt there last night when I brushed her. I will read other posts and start a new thread in another topic if needed.

Thank you all so much!

 


User is Offline wendyzski
Chicago, IL
1316 posts Send Private Message
9/26/2012 3:47 PM
Ive been away for a while, but I'm glad to see that you have found our comments useful and interesting.

I also have a solo female bun - She is very social with people and clearly misses me when I'm at work, so I tried to foster a possible bondmate for her.  It was a disaster.  They were fine together in neutral territory but once we were on her home turf she became very aggressive.  I was a wreck, and eventually had to return him to the rescue for his own safety.  So I can totally relate to what you have been through.

 My previous bun (in my icon) hated every other bun she met, so she really bonded with me.  She would hop up every night on to my  bed for pettins, and then when I turned out the lights shed go under the bed to sleep.

I'm glad you are finding ways to enjoy a routine with your bunny.  Are you familiar with the website The Language of Lagomorphs?  It has a lot of very good information about rabbit  body language, and it can help you not only understand your rabbit's feelings but also "talk back in some cases.  Because they are prey animals, rabbits can be very subtle in how they show affection.  You may have to look carefully - for example you can tell how comfortable and relaxed a rabbit is by how hard it would be for them to get up and run away. So flopping over on her side in bed with you is a HUGE sign of trust.  I've never had a bun do that.

And while you said that you got her spayed so that she could have a bunny friend, but no matter the reason it's still a very good thing that you did. Some studies show intact female buns to have an 85% chance of reproductive cancers by age 4!  So let us hope that your bunnygirl is with you for many years to come.

 


User is Offline hopsalot
38 posts Send Private Message
9/27/2012 7:41 AM

Thank you!

That page is saved in my favourites A bit much to take in at once, so whenever I see a strange ear signal I try to go see if I can find it there. It's not as easy to distinguish and interpret as it looks from the language of lagomorphs site haha! But very interesting indeed. In the same breath I can say I feel like my bunny is a traffic pointsman giving directions whenever I visited the page! I'm so proud!

I didnt know the incidence is THAT high. In that case I will promote spaying whenever I need to. It's rather sad considering buns can live past 10 years. Pie can atleast enjoy a good long life on that front, and if I can help it - on any other front haha!

I've noticed the (((((vibe))))) thing - so from little Pie and I ((((thank you and bunny love)))))x

 

 

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