Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Bunny Sitting for the Summer

For the past week, our home has been occupied by four humans and three exotic pets. If you've kept up with this blog, or know me personally, you know we have Weegee the parrot, and now our temporary additions are rabbits. I was calling them bunnies, but after we had a number of guests tell me, "those things are huge! I'd call them hares or rabbits, not bunnies," I suppose I ought to stop referring to these large creatures in the diminutive. To give you an idea of their size, when they're splayed out, relaxing, they look to be around a foot and a half long.

Mary Potter, domestic rabbit
The two rabbits are brown females (no idea what breed, if any) and come from Dash's 2nd grade menagerie classroom, which also included a few guinea pigs and a couple of turtles. The rabbits are named  "Mary Potter" (has white paw-tips) and "Bugs Bunny." If I were to characterize their personalities, I'd say Mary Potter is more aggressive and Bugs Bunny is more curious. But, I really haven't had much time to get to know them.

Dash's teacher told me that she let the rabbits out for 3-4 hours a day and suggested I put them in the bathroom (easy cleanup, no cords or stuff to chew up) if we wanted to give them free time without worrying that they'd get into trouble. I learned very quickly that it's not a good idea to let them out right after they eat, unless you don't mind wiping up the area thoroughly! The bathroom hasn't really worked out as a good free-play option for us, but I've been letting them hop around in the kitchen while I'm getting everyone's breakfasts ready, then after dinner they hop around some more while I'm doing kitchen cleanup.

They get pellets and lots of hay in the morning, then in the evening after they're back in their cages, I let the kids give them small amounts of lettuce, apples, bananas, or other treats. One thing I don't quite have a handle on yet is the smell. They have very stinky pee!! I need to figure out a better way to mask the ammonia odor. Luckily, my pal Jill in Oregon sent me a really long message about rabbit care. I'll need to revisit the TL;DR note and scan for bedding tips.

I was warned by another parent who had watched the rabbits over a weekend during the school year that we may need to prepare ourselves to get asked to keep them. O_o  She told me that Mary Potter and Bugs Bunny were babies at the beginning of the year and the teacher may want to have babies for the new batch of second graders. That means that these rabbits are only 9-10 months old and may not be full size yet? They already seem too big for their cages, but I'm not really prepared to buy new enclosures for them (or be their forever home).

We may consider keeping bunnies in the future since I'm thrilled that nobody has exhibited allergic reactions to them (crossing fingers!), but I'd like ones that are either litter-box trained or young enough to train easily. These ladies just poop all over their cages, and don't seem to prefer the litter boxes. Not sure what to do about that. More research needed! They are entertaining to watch and super soft; they like being petted. The kids really love them. Weegee's keeping his opinion to himself, as is AJS (who seems to like them outside of mentioning "hantha virus" while they're in the kitchen).

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