Leo, the king of our castle

Friday, April 15, 2011

Live Easter bunnies - don't do it!

Don't get me wrong, getting a house rabbit was a great decision for my family, but it's big a commitment and not to be taken lightly. With Easter approaching, PLEASE don't bring home a rabbit just because they're a 10 on the cuteness scale. There are numerous reasons why a rabbit may not be the right pet for you. The Bun Life blog has an excellent list of has reasons not to bring home an Easter bunny here.

Need more proof? Watch this entertaining and educational video created by a dedicated San Diego House Rabbit Society volunteer.

After my family decided to get a house rabbit, it took us 6 months before we brought him home. We were waiting for just the right time, and I wanted to make sure my kids were really committed to the decision.

The "Make Mine Chocolate" campaign also has some excellent reasons to make all of your bunnies chocolate or plush this year.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Bunny chores - the division of labor between kids and parents

Before Leo came home, we talked to the kids about the related chores and strategized about ways to divide them so they were equitable. Leo is technically my son's bunny but I always expected that I'd supervise and do many of the chores myself. I'm pleased with the way things are working so I thought I'd share our routine.

Daily Morning Chores (before school/work). Approximate time needed: 10 minutes. My 12 year-old son does all of these. He has the most time during the morning rush.
  •  Let Leo out to stretch his legs
  • Feed daily pellet ration
  • Change water in dish
  • Prepare morning veggie plate (about 1 cup of mixed greens)
  • Add more hay to the litter box
Daily Afternoon Chores (when we get home from school). Approximate time needed: 15-20 minutes. I split these with my 9 year-old daughter.
  • Let Leo out of his cage (he stays out until we go to bed or leave the house) - my daughter
  • Add more water to dish - my daughter
  • Clean litter box - me
  • Sweep x-pen with a whisk broom (most days) - my daughter
  • Prepare afternoon veggie plate - me
  • Brush Leo (usually while he's eating veggies) - me
  • Vacuum if hay and fur outside the pen is getting out of hand (about every other day)
Before Bed Chores. Approximate time needed: 5 minutes
  • Find Leo and coax him back to the pen - my son or daughter
  • Check water and hay and top off if necessary - me
Saturday Chores. Approximate time needed: 20-30 minutes.
  • Wash litter box - me
  • Clean the x-pen (take everything out and sweep/vacuum the Cottontail Cottage, the carpet squares, and in the nooks and crannies) - my son
So far the division is working well. I've encountered very little resistance and I've let the kids choose the chores they like. We purposely do the afternoon chores right after we got home from school so they get done before other activities intrude. I certainly expect the kids to help, but not so much that they start to resent the bunny. You might notice that my hubby doesn't have any assigned chores, but that's by design. He put in many years cleaning a cat box, so I gave him a pass when we were discussing getting a rabbit. He does help out when I ask him to.

Monday, April 4, 2011

How can a little bunny have so much hair?!!

...said my daughter today while I was brushing Leo. He's been shedding a fair amount since we got him, but it's increased lately, so I guess he's having his spring molt. Today, I coaxed him into my lap with a pile of greens. While he munched, I brushed out as much loose fur as I could. Thank goodness I know how to clean the filter on the vacuum too.  I'll step up my brushing efforts immediately. Leo is still eating LOTS of hay though so hopefully he won't get stopped up. At least none of us shows any sign of rabbit fur allergies.

Friday, April 1, 2011

My hubby's new supervisor

The last two weeks have been unusually busy for the kids and I. It's been bad for my blogging, but it's certainly deepened the relationship between Leo and my hubby who works out of a home office. Leo's second favorite place in the house (besides his under-couch burrow) is the office. We've bunny-proofed the power cords, but there are still plenty of nooks and crannies to explore. When Leo's not exploring he usually supervises from his lounging spot on the office floor.

He was obviously reminding me to clean the papers of the top of my desk when I turned my back for a few minutes the other day and I found him exploring up there too. "Yes Leo, I know I have a paper problem. That's my project for next week...".

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Source for bunny and other "exotic" or unusual pet stamps

I recently discovered a rubber stamp website that has a huge collection of pet-related stamps, including some very cute bunny stamps. I don't make cards or anything too crafty like that, but I'll be placing an order soon. It's a great way to make bookmarks for the students at my school. The site is RubberHedgehog.com.  Even cooler, RubberHedgehog has pledged a portion of their house rabbit stamp sales to their local HRS in Ohio. Click here to see their selection of eligible stamps.

Will work for treats

My son has taught Leo to come when he's called (at least most of the time, when he feels like it). It's so cool!

To call Leo, we quickly rub our palms together. Leo perks up and hops over. If we repeatedly call, wait for him to hop over, and move a short distance away, Leo follows. It's become our most reliable way to get Leo out of his favorite spot under the couch and back into the room where his X-pen is. Now, we're trying to always reinforce the behavior with a small reward - a piece of carrot, etc. On second thought, maybe he's trained us!

I asked my son what inspired the calling method. He said that a lot of cats come when you rub your fingers together, so he tried rubbing his hands. It probably doesn't hurt that my son usually serves Leo his morning greens. If I get the trick on video some day I'll post it.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Rabbit book links sent by Judith Pierce, San Diego House Rabbit Society

In response to yesterday's post about rabbit books for kids, Judith Pierce, President of the SDHRS recommended these books for adults:
My family has a copy of the Handbook and it has been very helpful. I'm planning to pick up the Primer as soon as I can.
Judith also sent me links to these other books, but didn't include comments about the content.
Thank you Judith!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Favorite rabbit guide for kids (so far)

As an elementary school librarian, reviewing non-fiction books for accuracy is an important part of my job. Leo inspired me to take a closer look at my pet rabbit offerings. I have five books on my shelves, and I can't say I'm completely satisfied with any of them because none of them agree completely with what I have learned about house rabbit care.
Some examples:
  • Only two books include more than a paragraph about keeping your rabbits in the house.
  • All of the books mention pellets as the easiest way to feed rabbits.
  • Most books advise getting rabbits from pet stores or breeders, rather than listing rescue groups or shelters as the best source.
  • Most advise using wood shavings as bedding.
If I accept that all of the books have shortcomings, the one I liked the best was Caring for Your Rabbit by Jill Foran, published in 2003. It has the most comprehensive coverage of rabbit care, plus lots of related information to help school-age children decide if a rabbit is the right pet for them. As a bonus, Caring for Your Rabbit listed the House Rabbit Society website as a place to find additional information. It was the only book that listed HRS. My kids have enjoyed reading the book and it's definitely helped them learn about bunny care.

The books at my library were all published in the '90s or early 2000s. Has anyone come across a recent children's reference book that discusses house rabbits? If so, please let me know. I'd love to add it to my library collection.