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BINKYBUNNY FORUMS > HOUSE RABBIT Q & A > New bunny is terrified and refusing all hay
Last Post by BB Administrator at 9/08/2012 7:37 PM (9 Replies)
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User is Offline Teddy25
Richmond, CA
5 posts Send Private Message
9/06/2012 9:45 PM

So this bunny was put up for free on the farm & garden section of craigslist, I just started working at a rabbit rescue so a friend emailed me the ad thinking that I could help. I got in touch with the owner and picked him up yesterday, there's a big possibility that I might keep him (depends on how he ends up doing with my other pets) but if not I'll foster until a great home comes along.

He is close to three years, the owner thought he was actually a girl but we found out yesterday that he's very much a boy lol we're on the waiting list to have him neutered with a vet the rescue really trusts, I'm not in a big hurry to fix him because I want him to be a little bit more settled in before I go and stress him out even more. He's been an outdoors only bunny his entire life and has never had any hay, the previous owner had him on pellet and fresh greens buffet diet and the reason he ended up being rehomed was because he started digging him self out of their backyard and visiting the neighbors.

 I'm having issues with getting him to eat, he plays with the hay a bit but won't really do more than nibble at it but any pellets or greens I give him are gone in a blink. I brought home orchard grass, oat hay, alfalfa and some sort of botanical mix that is basically timothy with rose petals and he's not really eating any of it. I'm not sure of what to do next, I don't want him to into stasis but I also want to get him into a good diet. For now I'm free feeding pellets, giving veggies 2-3 times a day and having hay available. I also brought home some critical care and a syringe just in case.

 My other problem is that he seems terrified of everything here. At his previous owner's place he was very outgoing, very active, used to cats, and pretty people friendly. Here I've yet to see him leave the litter box during the day, he set up camp on it as soon as I put him in the run ( I have him in my kitchen in a large dog x-pen), I hear him dig and move the hay around but that's about it. At night he seems to be a little more active (judging by the small trail of poos). He has a big box to use as a hidey, but won't go inside it.

I'm not sure how to make him confortable. I live by my self but have two cats and a dog. I try not to bother him and neither my cats or dog are showing any interest in him either. Any suggestions would be very much appreciated!

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User is Offline Roberta
Wanneroo, Western Australia
4364 posts Send Private Message
9/06/2012 10:14 PM
New home and environment, lots of different smells. Its probably all still a bit much for the little guy. If he has been an outdoors bun he is also most likely use to standing watch which means he won't sleep in the box as he can't see whats sneaking up on him.....
Give it a few weeks and I am sure you will improvement daily you could also try getting him a cat bed. My bun Piglet has a big round KMart one with the pawprint in the middle and he loves it.
I don't know what to do with the hay other than persevere. Maybe chopped it into smaller pieces and inch or two long and mix a bit with his pellets.

User is Offline Roberta
Wanneroo, Western Australia
4364 posts Send Private Message
9/06/2012 11:56 PM
Also have you tried throwing a blanket on the floor next to his box and getting down to his level so he can check you out ? Mine love it when I lay on the day bed even Blossom who is a drama queen comes running up for nose bonks when she can meet me eye to eye.

User is Offline Hazel
1620 posts Send Private Message
9/07/2012 9:37 AM

If he's three years old he doesn't need to be free fed! 1/4 - 1/2 cup of pellets a day per 6 lbs of bodyweight is the rule of thumb. That's probably the reason he's being iffy about trying the hay, he gets yummy pellets all day long and is stuffed!

If you cut back on the pellets I'm sure he'll give the hay a try.

Thank you for taking him in, he's very cute!

"You ain't buna fide!"

User is Offline Cristina
128 posts Send Private Message
9/07/2012 2:18 PM
Your a dear for rescuing him. And he is sooo gorgeous!!! I'm sure he's just adjsuting to his new enviroment. We rescued our first bun from being outside. For the first 2 days I had her in a laundry basket in the laundry room until I could get her a cage. She literally would NOT move from that basket. 2 weeks later she was letting us pet her and wandering around the family room. 2 months later she was free range all over the house, she'd groom me and curl up on my lap. It takes them time and they have to trust you. As was suggested, what really helps is having consistant and regular bonding time. And I also really encourage you to get on the floor with him. You won't be a scary human but you'll be on his level and he can relax more. Let him sniff you and get used to you. It will take some time. Eventually he'll run up to you and even let you pet him. Just keep working at it!

As far as Hay, my Toby isn't a good hay eater either. The only hay he seems to somewhat like is the Oxbow botanical. I talked to his vet about this and said it's because I have him on an unlimited amount of pellets. He's only 4 months so I don't want to measure out his pellets just yet. But she told me when I cut down to the 1/4 cup a day he will start eating the hay. She really encourages only a few tablespoons of pellets a day, because this encourages them to eat their hay which is what is the most healthy for them.

Definitely cut back on the pellets to 1/4 cup. I know that its hard not seeing them eat for a few days, I went through that with one of mine. But trust me, after a few days ( 3 for my bun ) they get hungry and will eat their hay like they need to. My vet also told me that pellets are made from hay so if your rabbit has an unlimited supply why would they bother eating the actual hay itself? Something to think about! Let us know how it goes and good luck!

User is Offline bullrider76543
Joplin MO
1291 posts Send Private Message
9/07/2012 3:07 PM
I agree, with the others to try to be a little patient with him and get down on the floor and let him come to you. when I first got Mr. Hopper he was the same way. he never ate hay, his previous owner only fed him pellets. he is healthy and now 6 years old, but it took a while to get him used to eating the hay like he is supose to. and to this day will still eat pellets before hay.
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User is Offline Kokaneeandkahlua
Edmonton, Alberta; Canada
Forum Leader
12104 posts Send Private Message
9/07/2012 4:43 PM
Welcome!! Congrats!!

Give him time. Try to put a blanket or newspaper over half of the cage, so he feels a bit protected, and maybe a blanky on the bottom of the cage so he has better grip. And just be patient. Rupert was so wild when I first adopted him, fearful and spooky and clawed uncomfortably when I held him. Now people make comments all the time about how friendly he is, and how easy to hold he is...they can come 180 with some time.

He's adorable by the way!

User is Offline BB
San Francisco Bay Area
Forum Leader
8986 posts Send Private Message
9/07/2012 9:24 PM
Oh, he is adorable. I am dittoing what everyone else has said. This is a huge change for him. KK's suggestion of putting a blanket over half of his cage is good - he needs to feel like he has a safe place. Not sure if you have room for a hidey box, but that would be good too. I know it may seem like it would allow him to hide more, and it will at first, but in order for him to feel secure to explore, he needs to have a safe base that he can run back to -- sort of like a security blanket. it will take time - maybe in a few days or a week, he may start to relax. When we moved to a new place, my bunny Jack did not want to explore out of his cage for a week, and then after that he stuck to one room for a month before venturing out to explore the rest of the house -- while his bonded mate, explored the new place within a few days of being there. Which I had to watch to make sure she kept her litterbox habits in tact as normally I would have limited the exploration process, but she proved to be good about it, and understand where her home-base (and litterbox was).

It was good that his previous owner though did at least feed him greens, as they are fibrous and the extra moisture would have aided in digestion. However, hay is ideal and so give it some time. I think when you lessen his pellets, he may try to eat more hay. When you are able though, I would just have him checked out by a vet to make sure he doesn't have any tooth issues, that may be hindering his hay consumption. My bunny Rucy had a slight malloclusion that caused spurs to develop on her molars. She had no problem eating pellets, and the greens were also not a problem (unless the spurs got bad and needed to be taken off by the vet), but though she would eat hay, she would only nibble on the softer leafy pieces and not avoid the more fibrous courser parts.

Since you are fostering him right now, the rescue should have a vet they take their bunnies to ?? -- good idea to get him checked out anyway.

User is Offline Teddy25
Richmond, CA
5 posts Send Private Message
9/08/2012 7:34 PM
Thank you everyone for the very helpful advice! I'm happy to report that last night he actually decided to start exploring the kitchen when I was around and today he actually started checking me out when I was sitting down with him, he even climbed on my lap with the lure of sharing an apricot (he only got a few bites) Late last night I heard him pushing his ball (has a bell inside) and today I saw him tossing one of his toys around and coming up to my cats to smell them. I really was expecting him to be a lot more shy after his litter box camp out lol.

I did take away the pellets (he'll start getting them once a day now) and added extra towels on the floor, though he didn't seem to mind walking on the linoleum. He will be checked out by a vet when he's scheduled for the neuter, unless he shows signs of needing more immediate medical attention. Now I'm just hoping he starts liking the hay a bit more with the cut back on pellets

User is Offline BB Administrator
BB Webmaster
447 posts Send Private Message
9/08/2012 7:37 PM
Yay! That's great. Keep us updated -- and with pictures too. He's adorable.
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BINKYBUNNY FORUMS > HOUSE RABBIT Q & A > New bunny is terrified and refusing all hay

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