Archive for the Cute and Funny Photos Category

Caring for Rabbits in the Winter

November 27, 2013

Can rabbits live outside in the winter?  Absolutely.  But there are a few things you should know about cold-weather rabbit care if you’re going to keep your rabbits outside in sub-freezing temperatures.

Wintery weather in Michigan - snow blowing

This is the view out my window at the moment.  I don’t think I’ll post a “selfie” right now, but if I did, you’d see I’m wearing a scarf.  In the house.  As usual.

It’s the day before Thanksgiving.  I live in northern Michigan, and if we don’t have snow by this time of November, we wonder what’s going on.  Some days I feel like I’d  welcome global warming if that meant I didn’t have to thaw frozen water bottles in November.  This year I was trudging through four inches of snow on my birthday, which was two weeks ago.  We’ve got eight inches on the ground right now.  And we’re sure grateful for our tank full of propane, because we’re burning through it fast.

I always feel for the little critters that live outside this time of year, both the wild animals and my domestic rabbits.  It seems impossible to live in an environment where the temperature doesn’t touch above freezing for weeks at a time, and yet they make it through.  Truth is that rabbits are built to handle winter weather much better than summer heat.  My rabbits often look their best over the winter.  They’re active and eager to see me rather than stretched out panting.  Their coats are dense and not molting.   Bitter cold is fatal for baby rabbits, but adult bunnies can do very well outside in the winter if you know how to care for them.

Care Tips for Pet and Show Rabbits Living Outside in Cold Weather

photo of domestic rabbit playing in the snow

Water matters…as usual.

Water is the most important thing you can provide for your rabbits during the hot summer season.  And guess what?  It’s also the most important thing you can give them in the winter.  If a rabbit doesn’t have water to drink, it won’t eat, and that can lead to G.I. Stasis quickly.  Provide your rabbits with fresh water at least twice a day.  It’s important any time of year, but especially when their water is going to freeze thirty minutes after they get it.

Since water freezes so quickly, it’s important to use the right watering equipment.  I always use plastic crocks in the winter  — no bottles, no glass, and no ceramic.   (EZ crock, I’m your biggest fan.)   Plastic will not crack when it expands, nor be as brittle if you drop it.  I keep two water crocks for each rabbit, so I can alternate between them well letting the frozen crocks melt in the house for twelve hours.  That’s a whole lot better than trying to work the ice cube out of each crock on the spot.

Rabbits will gnaw on the ice in their crocks, and sometimes this creates a hollow big enough that you’re tempted to just top it off with water instead of replace the whole crock.  Don’t do it.  Rabbits deserve a full dish of water which won’t freeze as fast as a little puddle on top of an ice cube.  I’m talking to myself here…

Handling your bunnies matters…as usual.

I’m always talking about how important it is to take your rabbits out on a regular basis and look them over for signs of illness.  This is especially true in the winter.  Feeding rabbits in cold weather can be tricky: you never want to let them get too fat, and yet they burn many more calories when they’re trying to get warm.  You need to watch your individual rabbits closely to make sure they are staying in good shape.  Watch them in their cages to make sure they are eating and moving around normally.  Take them out and feel their spines.  Lack of water will bring out a rough spine quickly, even if the rabbit still looks chubby under its winter coat.  In my experience, a rabbit who is suffering over winter will be very rough over the backbone.

Check your rabbits’ drop trays regularly.  If it stops producing normal-looking droppings, you have a problem and need to act fast.  (Take your rabbit where its warm, force-feed fluids, and keep it moving around, like you would a colicky horse.)  Of course, you won’t be able to know if the droppings have stopped unless you clean your drop trays once or twice a week… so make a point to clean them, even though it’s literally a frozen nightmare to do on a dark, 16-degree evening when you get home from work.

What and how much should you feed rabbits over the winter?

How much should you feed your rabbits over the winter?  Feed whatever will keep them in good condition.  That’s always the rule.  Where I live, the average high temp in January-February  is under 30 and the average low hovers around 11 degrees Fahrenheit.  It’s so cold that I want to make sure my rabbits have all the energy they need, so I full-feed.  (Full feeding means filling up the cups so rabbits have constant access to food.)  If you live in a warmer climate, you may find that your rabbits put on excess weight if you full-feed.  Or you might not.  My feeding program may not work for your rabbits, and yours may not work for mine.  Develop a plan that’s best for your own bunnies.

A lot of breeders feed high energy supplements over the winter, such as calf manna or an oat/barley/sunflower seed mixture.  I’ve never done this myself, but if you’ve got a bunny that’s underweight, those conditioners will help quickly.

Hay is always helpful for rabbits to have, including during winter.

rabbit playing in snow

Should you use electric heating devices?  Nest box warming pads, heated dishes, heat lamps and so on?

I am very, very wary of using electric heating devices around rabbits.  I strongly advise against them.  Firstly because they are unnecessary.  Barring very old and very young ones, rabbits can live outside in sub-freezing temperatures without issue.  (If you’re still not convinced, check out the paragraph on wild rabbits in the winter, below.)

Secondly, I don’t think you should use electric heating devices due to the fire risk.  Heated nest box pads very nearly killed our first two rabbits.  We had the bunnies in a wooden hutch, tucked up to the house so the cords on the heating pads would reach the outlet.  We were very careful to keep the cords out of reach of the bunnies’ teeth.  And yet something caught fire.  I thank God that we saw it from the window in time to rescue the rabbits, but they smelled like smoke for a long time.

In short, I don’t think the benefits of using electric heating devises with your adult rabbits are worth the risk.  If you want to help keep your bunnies warm, give them a nest box stuffed with straw.  Some bunnies will use it and some won’t, but at least it will make you feel like you did something.

What about a climate controlled rabbit barn?

If you plan to heat your whole bunny barn using electricity, that’s a different story.  I do think that can be done safely: I’ve used an electric space heater in the barn without issues.  There are better and worse ways to do it, but that’s a topic we’ll have to cover in another article.  For now, let’s focus on keeping rabbits outdoors.

Breeding rabbits in the winter

Again, this is a topic we should save for another article.  But I want to mention that it is totally possible to have success breeding rabbits in the winter: it’s just harder. Due to the lack of daylight, does will often be less receptive to the buck.  However, if you use an artificial source to make sure she’s got 10-12 hours of daylight, you may be able to trick her body into thinking its spring.  Once you’ve gotten a successful breeding, your biggest challenge will be keeping the babies alive in the cold.  I usually bring the doe into the house or a heated area for a week before and after she kindles.  After that I will leave the kits in the house and bring them out to the doe once or twice a day for feeding, until they are over two weeks old.

wild bunny in hole

Above photo: a wild cottontail peeks out of his hole in our yard, wondering if he should come out yet.

How do the wild rabbits get through the winter?

My family loves to watch the wild animals that live in our yard.  By day we feed the birds, and at night the wild cottontails come out to clean up the seeds that fell under the feeder.  Unlike the ground squirrel and chipmunk that we see in the summer, wild rabbits do not hibernate over the winter.  In fact, we see more wild rabbits when its snowy than at other times of the year.  When they’ve finished the leftover sunflower seeds, they’ll nibble on the raspberry canes that grow outside their holes.  During the day they stay in the shelter of their homes, cuddled up in their thick fuzzy coats.  At dusk they come out and warm themselves with activity, showing off leaps and straight-up vertical springs that no domestic rabbit can match.  I’m not sure how they make it through the winter, and yet somehow they do.  So to celebrate the hardiness of the winter bunny, I’ll leave you with a few sweet pictures of our feeder friends.  Happy winter!

 

bunny at feeder

wild cottontail at bird feeder

rabbit at feed plot

Midnight flashlight photo-op

 blue jay on a stick in winter

blue jay

squirrel

This squirrel is convinced he owns the feeder and everything near it.  He’ll run off the jays without hesitation.

 

Vote in our Winter poll!

[poll id=”6″]

 

If you liked this article, please do me a favor and share it on your favorite networks.  Thanks!

Rabbit Jumping Harness Photos

June 20, 2013

A friend from Down Under sent me these funny photos of the harnesses she makes for competitive jumping bunnies!  She says hopping is really catching on in some parts of Australia… I wish it would here in the US.

Mr. Bentley is so not impressed:
Netherland Dwarf Rabbit in Harness is not impressed

 

Below: Mini Lop rabbit in dress harness photo

Bunny rabbit lop ear in dress

 

Credit for the photography and creativity to Mich of Forrest Gait

Rabbits in Washington State – Rabbitry with Lionhead Bunnies for Sale

February 20, 2013

Pine Forest Rabbitry – Rabbits in Elk, Washington  Click the Screenshot below to visit!

Rabbits in Washington State

When you’re looking to buy a new bunny as a pet or show animal, there are three main things you should consider:

1. Its appearance.  If it’s a show rabbit, it should conform to the standard.  If it’s a pet, you want it to be cute, right?

2. Its temperament.  You should buy from a rabbitry where the owner handles their bunnies regularly and is careful to select for temperament.

3. Its health.  Obvious one, right?

If you’re in Washington state and looking for a bunny that is of good quality, has a great temperament, and is in good condition, I would recommend Pine Forest Rabbitry without question.   I had the pleasure of creating a new theme to help Darcey spruce up her site (if you’ll pardon the pun).  Through getting to know her, I am convinced of her commitment to taking excellent care of her beloved lionheads.  Click on the screenshot above to visit her website to see what she has available, and feel free to ask her any questions.  Like every reputable breeder, I know she’d be happy to answer them.  If you want a sneak peek, here are a couple of her rabbits:

Sweet Lionhead rabbit photo

Cute Lionhead Rabbit in Washington state

Whose Nose? Who knows! – Bunny Nose ID

October 6, 2011

Who knows whose noses these are? Just for fun, guess which breed each rabbit is just by looking at the photo of the nose. Click each pic for the answer!

1

s

s

g

d

g

g

h

p

j

s

Thanks for playing!

“October” poem by Robert Frost

October 4, 2011
it was a dark and stormy night.  The bunny with glowing red eyes

It was a dark and stormy night. The bunny, with glowing eyes...

Kristina has brought a trend to the rabbit blogoshphere: Blogtober! You’re supposed to blog every day in October, or at least more often than normal.  I thought it was too cute an idea to pass up, though I think I’ll be in the second category of “more often than normal.”  I was planning to blog more come this fall anyway, so it seemed a good time to start!

I just posted a rabbit faults and DQ’s quiz for those who want to practice for ARBA royalty or judges’ tests.  But as that is probably boring to many of the other blogging RA’ers, I’m hereby putting up my dark and stormy scary bunny picture (see left) and posting one of my favorite poems (I have a lot of favorites)…

October

by that Robert Frost dude.

O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
Tomorrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,

Begin the hours of this day slow.
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know.
Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon release another leaf;
one from our trees, one far away.
Retard the sun with gentle mist;
Enchant the land with amethyst.

Slow, slow!
For the grapes’ sake, if the were all,
Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,
Whose clustered fruit must else be lost–
For the grapes’ sake along the all.

Tags:

Easter Bunny Baby Rabbit Photo Gallery

April 9, 2011

Looking for a little springtime?  How about some cute Easter bunny photos of baby rabbits?

chocoalte baby Polish rabbit

These are baby Polish rabbits out on the lawn.

polish rabbit baby broken chocolate
“Do you believe in the Easter Bunny?”

(more…)

Baby Bunny Photo Shoot

January 15, 2011
One of my favorite things to do with bunnies is take the babies out in the yard for a photo shoot…
Picture

“Hey let’s go play explorers!”

Picture

“I wanna be Cwistapher Columbus!”

Read More!

(more…)

New Blog for Rabbit Breeders

January 1, 2011

Opal Mini RexHappy New Year from Rabbit Smarties Publications!  We’re determined to make 2011 a fantastic year for our business, which means you can count on our help to make it a great year for your rabbitry as well.  We plan to release several new resources for breeders this month, starting with this blog!  We’re excited about this blog that will offer many articles of interest to rabbit breeders.  Future posts may feature:

 – Articles on many aspects of rabbit keeping and competition

-Rabbit equipment reviews and ratings

– Creative tips for 4-H leaders

– Super cute bunny pictures and captions

– Interviews with rabbit judges or leading breeders

-Special offers for Rabbit Smarties publications

-And much more! 

One catagory of blog post that I am most looking forward to is a comedy column:  Correspondence between imaginary breeders Brittany Petite and Pearl Marten that every breeder can relate to!

To get things rolling we’re going to start with a couple of posts a week, so check back soon!

Happy New Year!  Check back later this week for 10 Tips for Preparing for a Registar’s License!–Ellyn,
Rabbit Smarties