Our breed is Rex: Our fur is like plush velvet and that makes us unique. Our breed was named after the rex gene which causes our whiskers and eyebrows to be curly. We come in many colors. A Rex weighs about seven pounds. A smaller version, known as the Mini Rex, weighs about four pounds. Photographed above: Nick and Nora are Mini Rexes looking for a forever home, and are available separately. They are playful cuties who love humans and have good litter box habits. To meet them, contact their foster mom, Pat Daly: email@example.com
Question for Scooter, the Bunny Editor
Heather Jewell wrote about her lop-eared bunny, Tyler, who will be 10 years old this year. "For the past few weeks, Tyler has been really stinky and has had poops stuck on him. Thankfully, with my mom's help, we very carefully combed them off his tummy and around his tail. He's eating, drinking and going potty fine, but I'm worried that something is wrong. Is it normal for senior bunnies to have poop stuck to them?
Scooter answers: "No, it is never normal for a rabbit to have a messy bottom. If our owners let us get fat, we can't reach between our legs to eat our cecotropes and they stick to our fur. Or, we might be too arthritic to reach them. Or, we might be lame from an E-C (parasite) attack. Your vet will be able to pinpoint the cause and remedy. In most cases, what we eat causes messy butts - too many pellets, too many treats, too little hay. We rabbits are superb at digesting plant material but poor at digesting starches and sugars. That makes sense when you consider that our ancestors ate what nature provided."
Tyler, however, was not overweight, not arthritic, a good hay eater and not getting too many pellets and treats. Heather said: "Tyler weighs about five pounds and gets a little less than 1/4 cup pellets with about a half-teaspoon of oats on top every night. I only give him one or two senior Smaks cookies a week, at most."
Our investigation then turned to the type of pellets Tyler was eating. For years, he was doing fine with Joy's Mix, our own pellet combo that we mix and feed our shelter bunnies. It is a blend of two Purina products and a sprinkling of Kaytee Rainbow Exact. Heather removed the Exact (a higher fat treat pellet that most rabbits adore), but the soft stools continued. So, we transitioned Tyler to ZuPreem pellets and the soft stools ended. Tyler is one of several older bunnies with soft-stool issues that ended with a change to ZuPreem, a pellet made solely of timothy hay. Just as aging humans can't eat the same things they did when they were younger, it's often the same with animals. We sell ZuPreem in our shelter store.
Note: If you change your bunny's pellets, do it gradually over a period of days by adding new pellets to the old.
Buttnote: Tyler's bottom was messy enough that he needed a butt bath. To do this, cradle bunny in your arms like an infant and run warm water over his genitals. Slather with Zymox Enzymatic Shampoo, designed for pets. Rinse and blot dry. I follow that with an application of hydrocortisone-free Zymox cream to heal red, inflamed skin. Zymox is a good healer too for sore hocks. Part the fur on the soles of your bunny's paws. If you see bare, red spots, he has sore hocks. Rex buns and overweight buns are especially susceptible.
We use Zymox shampoo because others, even baby shampoos, are too harsh for a rabbit's delicate skin. You can order Zymox products on Amazon. If you order Zymox cream or spray, you must be certain to choose the hydrocortisone-free versions.
Shopping Amazon: Initiate your purchases through smile.amazon.com and designate House Rabbit Society of Missouri as your charity (confirm our location as Chesterfield - our P.O. location.) It's simple and we get free money!
Loving Bunnies To Death: We express our love and generosity with food so it is our natural tendency to overfeed our rabbits, especially when they act like they're starving for pellets and treats - as our rabbits often do (the little beggars.) We know extra pounds are bad, but why? They are hard on the joints and increase the risks in surgery, but did you know that rabbits, unlike humans, store fat inside their body walls? And, as the fat accumulates, it compresses their organs? Neither did I until Hope Animal Hospital shared these x-ray photos:
Left: The stomach of a "good weight" bunny. The stomach fills the cavity and digestion is taking place throughout. Right: The stomach of an overweight bunny. Note how the spine has been pushed outward by the fat within. Fat has filled the cavity and compressed the stomach; it is the flattened white tube you see along the bottom of the photo. Digestive capability is extremely reduced.
When I saw these photos, I resolved to "treat" my bunnies with more greens and petting. Timothy hay is nutritious and must be the main food; pellets are a supplement. An adult bunny (one year of age) should need no more than one-quarter cup of pellets daily. Dwarfs and older buns may do just fine on one-eighth cup; Flemish giants may need more than one-quarter cup but ask your vet. Restrict treats to one in the morning and one at night. A handful of greens can take the place of a treat. For suggested greens, veggies, fruit, go to www.rabbit.org/Rabbit Care/Diet
Wednesday, April 9: Julie Tristan will visit our shelter at noon to tape a show for "Show Me St. Louis" that will air before Easter. "Show Me St. Louis" airs 12:30 - 1pm weekdays on KSDK-TV, Channel 5. This will be the public's first glimpse of The Bunny House!
Tuesday, April 8 and Wednesday, April 9: Will you join us at the shelter to tidy up so the bunnies make a good impression for their television appearance? We really need help Tuesday because we want to clean the cages and litter boxes. You can come day or evening but tell Pat Daly when you are coming so we can coordinate. If you can join us Wednesday morning for a final touch-up, tell Pat so we can coordinate: firstname.lastname@example.org or 618-632-2940 (h) or 618-920-0705 (cell)
Thursday, April 10 - 4pm to 10pm: Please dine at Texas Roadhouse in Kirkwood or St. Charles and our chapter will receive 10% of your bill. Thanks to our Saturday volunteers for arranging this fundraiser! Winter brought high bills for power and snow removal so hay could be delivered to our shelter and, if we have a big turnout, this fundraiser will really help us. You need to print out the flyer (click on pdf attachment at bottom) and present it at the restaurant. It's in color so you may want to print in black & white.
Saturday, April 12 - 9am to 2pm: If you live near Columbia, Mo., visit us at the Open House of the College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Missouri. Joy Gioia, Susan Ruby, Bobbie Shewmaker and Pat Daly will take bunnies from our shelter and discuss bunny care with the students and public. We will be in the Veterinary Medicine Building on East Campus Drive. http://cvm.missouri.edu/news/openhouse2014.html
Saturday, April 12 - 11am to 3pm: The Humane Society of Missouri will hold its SPRING FLING at Longmeadow Ranch in Union, Mo. The staff will take bunnies from the Franklin County confiscation and our volunteers will join them and talk to people about rabbits.
Tuesday, April 15: Join us for our St. Louis meeting and bring your bunny for a nail trim. It starts at 7:30pm in the lecture hall of the Humane Society of Missouri, 1201 Macklind Ave., one stoplight west of the St. Louis Science Center. Bring a towel for your table and a bunny snack. For our donation request, we would appreciate plastic trash bags with drawstrings. We go through 80 a week for litter box cleanings.
Thursday, April 24: Join us for our O'Fallon, Illinois meeting and bring your bunny for a nail trim. It starts at 7pm in the O'Fallon Public Safety Building, 285 N. Seven Hills Road, opposite the YMCA. Bring a towel for your table and a bunny snack.
April Outreach Events: If you wish to participate in these events, contact Marjorie Manahan: email@example.com or call 636-734-3964:
Saturday, April 5: Three book signing events - St. Louis 11am - 1pm; Ballwin 11am - 1pm; O'Fallon, Mo. 3 - 4:30pm
Sunday, May 4, 2 - 5pm- Volunteer Appreciation BBQ.The directors of our chapter will provide a free, afternoon barbeque for all volunteers, past and present. If you have ever volunteered for us, even once, in any capacity, we invite you to come with your families. We will hold the event in the parking lot of The Bunny House and set up games, like washers. We ask you to bring lawn chairs and a side dish. We need to determine how much meat and veggie burgers to grill so you must RSVP by Saturday, April 26 to Bobbie Shewmaker: firstname.lastname@example.org Tell Bobbie: 1) The number of persons in your party; 2) What side dish you can bring; 3) Any suggestions of games that would be fun for children and adults.
Our chapter has survived and thrived since 1998 because we are blessed to have so many volunteers. We are, in fact, one of the most active House Rabbit Society chapters in the country. We opened The Bunny House in November and it takes a huge number of volunteers to keep it humming and keep the rabbits happy. It also takes a huge number of volunteers to produce the events we are doing this month, and year-round.
Our directors are volunteers too. They wanted to host something very special to thank everyone who volunteers, and they hope you and your families have a wonderful time at the May 4 BBQ.
Task For Today: Open your Bunny Emergency Kit and check the expiration dates on the gas drops, aspirin and squash. I just bought replacements at Walmart for my kit. The kits are $23 in our shelter store. If you live out-of-town, we can mail you a kit. I just mailed one to Kansas and postage was $8.75. Even if you don't have a kit, please ask for our document: A Bunny That Refuses Food Is A Bunny In Crisis. Ask Pat Daly: email@example.com Knowing what to do when your bunny rejects a treat can save your bunny's life. That's why we suggest a treat in the morning and evening to alert us when our bunny has a tummy ache.
NEW in our shelter store: We have American Pet Diner's guinea pig/chinchilla pellets, 5-pound bags for $5. In about two weeks, we will have oat hay in small bags for $6 and 5-lbs for $17. Bunnies like variety as much as we do and most think oat hay is yummy! Add some to their regular diet of timothy hay.
From This: 2-week old infants found alive with mother. To This: Now 2.5 months old and living in our shelter.
Now, this will be interesting: A man who pleaded guilty to animal cruelty will serve 20 hours of community service at The Bunny House under the direction of our Mama Grizzly - Chapter Manager Joy Gioia. You will recall that three of our Illinois member/volunteers joined the code enforcement officer of Caseyville, Illinois on the bitter cold night of Jan. 27 and removed 29 tame rabbits from ramshackle outdoor enclosures (above) at a vacant residence where Jerry Hoffee kept rabbits for breeding income.
It was obvious Hoffee was neglecting them. The few water bowls were frozen and filthy; the buns had been chewing the ice. Their cages were filthy and without protection from wind and snow. Tree limbs had fallen over the enclosures and we had to pry off plywood and Plexiglass to get to the buns. There were dead infants - 20 in all. The survivors were dehydrated and had various wounds and infections. One adult died a couple of days after arriving in our shelter; we presume his kidneys failed due to dehydration. We spent $4,173 for their medical treatment and spays/neuters, not including expenses for daily care and feeding. Hoffee paid a $500 fine to the city. He was not ordered to reimburse us, nor our Illinois member who spent $300 for a vet visit and special food for the surviving chickens she took home to nurse.
Hoffee, 71, will see the survivors, all residing in our shelter. He will see the mother we saved with her seven infants - now adolescents and the cutest little lionhead-Dutch mixes you ever did see. He will see how people of integrity and compassion treat rabbits with respect - and he will clean their litter boxes.