Most of Harry's care came in the form of "need to know and how" basis.
In those days we had no Internet connections or e-groups full of rabbit savvy people who were willing to share their knowledge and expertise. In fact, we didn't know another single person who even owned a rabbit.much less a house rabbit! It was just us and Harry.
Harry was patient and kind with his bumbling human students. His whiskered face seemed so wise and understanding as we struggled to "get it right".
"Harry! Nooooo! Not there. Your litter box is here, not there!"
Litter box training ** was an adventure in trial and error. We learned that rabbits, not humans decide the final location of the litter box. Rabbits are not hard to litter box train, in fact even caged rabbits choose one corner of the cage for their bathroom. The best way, I believe, is to start the rabbit off with a small corner litter box while he's still in his cage. Later, as your rabbit begins to gain more freedom, you can gradually move the litter box out of the cage and into, hopefully a happy place for the rabbit and a convenient place for you.
Harry decided his bathroom would be in the corner of hallway.
At first, I used dust-free cat litter**, covered with newspaper. On top of that I added a few "rabbit raisins" to give Harry the idea. Sometimes, L left him rabbit treats to
inspire him to use his new facility.
Harry took exception to the newspaper and promptly shredded it and absolutely refused to set his furry bunny bum on the cat llitter. So I tried placing an old towel over cat litter and newspaper. Now, Harry was happy. He rarely had accidents after that, but he would never use his new bathroom without the towel on top.
"Hello, hello? Are you there?"
Bunny- proofing** is essential! Electrical cords and phone lines are bunny candy! I found that out first hand while I chatted away on the phone long distance. Perhaps, I ignored Harry too long or maybe as my husband said later, Harry understood the meaning of "keep it short", either way Harry chewed the phone cord neatly into to, cutting me off in mid-sentence. Bunny proof early and do it often!
Bunny toys and hide-outs** make interesting additions to you home decor. Harry had a variety of cardboard boxes with bunny doors cut in them that connected with other bunny boxes. I always had to cut two holes, an entrance and an exit or he would have nothing to do with them. We found a discarded weed whacker box which made a perfect bunny tunnel. Since rabbits are naturally curious, my son and I would rearrange the boxes, then hop on the bed to wait. Sure enough, Harry would come out to investigate. Concrete form tubes make excellent tunnels as well.
Every bunny, even a caged bunny needs something he can hide in and feel safe.
Rabbits enjoy toys. I discovered Harry not only liked towels for his litter box, he loved to play with them too. I would hold a towel up and he would run through it. He took great pleasure doing that when I was ironing. He would run back and forth through any part of the garment that was dangling down.
Harry participated in everything he could that was happening around him.. Once I was piecing a quit and had the squares laid out of the living room floor. Harry hopped right the middle and started scrunching up the squares with his front paws.
Apparently, he didn't care for my arrangement and decided to create one of his own.
On this same quilt project I was sewing black and white lace over some of the squares, so I had lots of lace remnants. Harry loved the lace best of all. He would scrunch it up with is front paws over and over again until he grew tired. Then he'd plop down, stretch out and relax on his beloved lace. One morning I draped a piece of black lace over the entrance to one of his bunny box hideouts. I knew as soon as Harry saw it, he'd scrunch it up and pull it inside his hide out. Harry slept in the next morning and a maintenance man coming to unstop my kitchen sink was dumfounded and curious. He never inquired about the strange lace-draped box, but he did complete his task in record time. <Smile>
Litter Box Training**
The "towel method" I mentioned may not be feasible for everyone however, PLEASE do not use clumping cat litters or those with deodrants. These products may contain toxins that can harm or even kill your bunny. Pine and cedar shavings offered in bunny start-up kits as litter or bedding materials should be avoided also. Choose instead organic litters made from alfalfa, oat, citrus or paper. Brand names such as Yesterday's News or Care Fresh, for example are considered safe.
Bunny toys and hide-outs **
Providing your bunny with toys will keep him from getting bored and make his life interesting. Rabbits love baby keys and things that make noise. They love to grab the keys in their teeth and toss them around. Cat balls with bells inside make great toys too, but be sure to get the ones made of durable plastic so your rabbit can 't chew through them. Cardboard toilet paper rolls (without the paper of course) filled with hay make excellent toys and they're edible Coffee cans with plastic lids made wonderful distractions for your rabbits. You might be advised however, to choose the smaller cans as the larger cans are very loud when bounced up at down at 3 am.
Rabbits are natural chewers and they need to be able to chew to keep their teeth healthy. The trick is to provide things that are safe and acceptable for your bunny to chew. Grandma's antique sewing machine leg obviously is not the best choice for a chew toy. Provide instead bunny chew sticks in a variety of flavors. These can be can be purchased almost anywhere. Plain, untreated pine blocks work well too. Another option for chewers is the wood chips used in barbecues. Those are 100% natural and come in hickory or mesquite flavors.
Bitter Apple or plain white vinegar can be sprayed on wood surfaces to discourage chewers . It may or may not be effective. EarlGrey, whom you'll meet later in this continuing adventure, loved Bitter Apple Spray.
Electrical cords can be tucked behind furniture or moved beyond bunny's reach.. Spiral cable wrap available from Radio Shack is useful in protecting cords as well.
Take care with rocker recliners when you rabbit is having a romp. He can become trapped inside or even crushed. You may need to block around the bottom of sofas and chairs. Rabbits love to make tiny holes in the lining and hide inside.
Be aware of house plants. Some are poisonous to rabbits and believe me if there plant is anywhere close to a rabbit, he'll take a sample.
C Copyright 2001 By Deborah J. Lindsey