Bunnified News, Commentary, Social Criticism, Bunzo Journalism

RUNNING BUN MAGAZINE - All things "bunnified," news from the rabbit multiverse, deep down in the Earth, where it's still warm.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Prelude to The Secret Voice of Rabbits

http://www.zazzle.com/fierce_bad_rabbit_running_bun_cover_full_size_poster-228335920098990786?rf=238368801324753632


▀▄▀▄▀▄▀▄▀▄▀▄

Secret Voices of Animals and Math

Hello fellow rabbit lovers and animal lovers. It looks like publication is becoming more monthly. I think that is a better solution for this busy RabbitPhotog and her sidekick, social critic Thumper S. Thompson. We're very busy watching the waves of the future, you see, and picking out which ones of them we want to embrace in this particular rabbit multiverse. Handpicked parallel multiverses, curated for you by two very different, alternative personalities required to exist today in a totally schizo world full of gross injustice, social inequality, and speciesism. Hurrah!

Incredible New Technology

I wanted to make you aware of this new technology which analyzes the brain waves of dogs and uses some pretty heavy duty math to recognize the patterns and match them up to the thought involved. That's right. Hogwash, you might say but the technology exists right now to use thoughts to command machines through a computer interface. If you didn't know that, then you are behind the times. And it's beyond the scope of this one blog post to catch you up. But it's true.


Do You Hear What I Hear? 

And now a group of Scandinavian scientists are breaking a new barrier. But here, take a look at this ***ARTICLE AND WATCH THE VIDEO*** and then come back here, and I'll tell you how, as soon as I saw it, I knew they were about to change things forever.

Back? Ok, good. Now the part of the video when I knew they were really on to something was when they showed someone holding up one of those quote bubbles next to the dog's head and the quite was, "Who are you?" 

Many times, MagicMan and I will be sitting in our backyard on our swing while we are outside with our dogs to play fetch. Our brother and sister German Shepherds don't get along so they are never out at the same time. Our old collie mix, Macintosh and boy GSD, Rocky, come out together and then the girl GSD, Jessie, and her Schipperke mate, Felix, come out together. While Rocky and Mac are out, Jessie, whose inside waiting in her crate, will protest with sad howls until it's her turn to come out. Ever since we first rescued them, we have witnessed this drama. Jessie tries to imitate human speech just like the husky, Mischka, I told you about in a previous post. Correction, I shouldn't say she tries to 'imitate' human speech. I should say she attempts to enunciate English using the inadequate (for speech) muzzle of a German Shepherd. She does manage to get the message across though. She is clearly yelling to us, "I don't love you, I don't love you," over and over. You see, dogs live in the moment and when you appear to show favor to their rival, they don't love you at that moment.

Jessie's howls of this message sound sad rather than angry. And they make me sad to hear her declaring she doesn't love me. So as I throw the highly coveted Kong ball to her brother, I call back to her as imploringly as I can, trying to appeal to her higher dog self who is less jealous, "But Jessie, I love you and I love you so much and you know I'm going to throw ball for you next as long as you want. Don't you know I love you, Jessie?" Usually, she will start whimpering a little more softly and eventually stop with the harsh declarations of, "I don't love you!" And of course, then there are the times when she is about to come out to play and is loudly howling, "I love you! I love you!" which is great,

In this same manner, I have noticed after years of listening to the happy hour howl fest which goes on around our neighborhood, that the dogs are all barking a certain number of times, each which is a symbol for a word. They are barking I sets of four successive barks, "I don't know you! I don't know you!" much of the time as people walk by or a strange dog is being walked out on the street. But they also bark to each other quite regularly because they do know their neighboring dogs quite well. And that bark is just three successive barks, "I know you! I know you!" In days gone by, we had other dogs and other neighbors and those dogs all said the same thing. That's right, they "said" the same thing.

So do you think I'm nuts? Well, fine, I really am not worried about it, especially now since the folks at "No More Woof!" are going to prove I'm right. So if you do think I'm nuts, I suggest you enjoy your last days of ignorant bliss because, as Nostradamus said, "when the animals will be heard to speak," everything changes, everything.

And, yes, I have heard rabbits speak, too. So there. But I'll tell you about that later. Happy holidays and  Happy New Year.

Tread lightly,
-RP

 -RabbitPhotog

All content and images © Running Bun Magazine. Use without permission prohibited.

See more of this issue's content.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Bun Jovi: Keep the Faith

▀▄▀▄▀▄▀▄▀▄▀▄

The Evolution of the House Rabbit

Ancient History

The origin of keeping rabbits in the hutch came not long after their domestication about three thousand years ago to be a food source for the Romans. Ancient Phoenicians invading the area now known as Spain found such large numbers of these lagomorphs living on the hillsides, they christened this land 'Hispania' - which translates into the Latin word for rabbit.1 Through their conquests and seafaring, Roman domestication of these hardy mammals helped propagate the globe with descendants of the European lagomorpha.

The Kitchen Hutch 


The hutch design we think of today in its traditional form, with top-opening pitched lid and wire mesh bottom on stilts, was kept in the kitchen of large estate homes and palaces so kitchen staff would have the evening meal handy for the slaughter while probably also affording service staff and their children with a temporary pet. Eventually the hutch moved outside as homes got smaller during the rise of the Middle Class in the Victorian era. The idea of keeping rabbits as house pets probably began in this age as the fad of keeping pets in general became popular and possible for more people. No longer suffering from such vast social class division as they had in the age of aristocracies before the French revolution, Western society became more affluent and so did the rabbit's disposition amongst us. Around the beginning of the 20th century, we have evidence of the first house kept rabbit as pets in the West. The rabbit hutch is truly a vestige of the Dark Ages of rabbit history as a food and fur animal.

Generally speaking, backyard hutch rabbits are considered livestock and house rabbits are considered pets. In keeping with the livestock versus family member argument, perhaps the number one reason not to keep a rabbit confined in an outside hutch is due to an overall low quality of life. In the wild, the European rabbit from which all pet rabbits are descended live in very large (150 or more) social groups in complex, underground warrens much like prairie dog cities. In the tunnels of these deep earthen burrows, the temperature and humidity is fairly constant year round. Thus the rabbit is designed only to endure a controlled climate, so to speak.

These two rabbits share a salad on their warm spot on the hearth. They are cherished pets and will live to a ripe old age.
All content and images © Running Bun Magazine. Use without permission prohibited.

In an outside hutch, the poor rabbit suffers through extremes of weather - especially in the summer. Nature's design for the rabbit to cool himself is through his huge, wafer thin upright earlobes. These earlobes have hence been genetically engineered, by chance or design, by humans to be smaller and shorter or even flop over as with lop breeds. Unable to cool himself naturally, the hutch rabbit is especially vulnerable to death by heatstroke. Similarly, in the winter, without multiple comrades to snuggle, he cannot keep sufficiently warm and may freeze to death or suffer frostbite of the extremities which ultimately also leads to death. And even if hutch bound with others of his kind, the hutch rabbit still does not have sufficient protection against wind and freezing rain like he would in an underground burrow.

Many people think our domesticated rabbits are the same species as American hares or cottontails and therefore they are well-suited for a life outdoors. They are not. The American hares, or cottontails, have evolved differently and lead vastly different lives having adapted in very different ways. The two species cannot interbreed with their European cousins and even if by some freak of nature they should be mate, the pairing would produce sterile offspring. Domestication has not only changed the body shape of the rabbit and affected his ability to run, defend, cool and warm himself, it has also caused a loss of vital natural instinct so critical for a rabbit to survive in his wild, natural state at the bottom of the food chain.

Terror from Above 


Extremes of weather are hardly the only peril of the hutch rabbit. Most rabbits will die of a heart attack at the mere sight or sound of a predator. And many people do not stop and think about just how many predators the rabbit attracts. Any breed of dog may be interpreted as a predator by the hutch rabbit even though many breeds of dogs can live happily and healthily beside the house rabbit with proper training. The same goes for felines. But the list does not stop there. The sound or sight of a hawk or owl overhead can cause a heart attack in these fragile prey animals. And don't think you don't have any raptors where you live. The peregrine falcon has made a huge comeback in recent years as well as the bald eagle and owls as well are thriving. Though rarely seen, in many urban and suburban areas, raptors are widespread.

Also ubiquitous now though also rarely seen is the dreaded coyote but the predators we are most familiar with and who pose the most dire and immediate threat in most cases is the raccoon. The raccoon is the most successful mammal in North America, even more so than humans as they outnumber us 6 to 1, 2 and they love to eat the toes of rabbits even if that's all they can reach through the wire mesh of a hutch. Raccoons, whose paws contain more nerve endings than our human eyes, 3 are highly intelligent and have been known to pry open many types of cages to steal their prey. In rural areas, garbage cans must be kept in padlocked cages to thwart the attempts of this crafty omnivore. Most hutch rabbits are not even kept as secure as garbage in these outlying areas! Badgers, skunks, rats, bobcats, bears, and weasels are just part of the list of enemies of the hutch rabbit. Can you possibly protect any animal from all of these successful and determined predators?

There is one more predator, however, from which the hutch rabbit is entirely indefensible. Flies. Several species of flies will attack the rabbit and burrow into his flesh to lay eggs. Maggots are born shortly afterward and feast on the flesh of the rabbit causing infection, abscess, and certain death without immediate medical attention. The signs of this type of infestation are extremely difficult to detect in the early stages and few if any children (and some adults) possess the powers of observation to note this condition. Perhaps there is no more ignoble demise than flystrike during a searing summer when the rabbit becomes a living corpse. Wire-bottomed cages and hutches invariably produce sore hock conditions on the rabbit's feet which is a perfect entry point for fly infestation. Sore hocks alone can cause bone infection and result in the need for amputation.

Even more difficult to detect than this are blood parasites thought to be carried by all rabbits which strike opportunistically when the immune system is compromised. A hutch bound, depressed, and lonely rabbit's immune system is compromised by default and this is the perfect victim for microbial takeover by the dreaded protozoan e. cuniculi or the bacteria pasteurella, to name but a few.

This is Fiona. She was originally a hutch rabbit and then went into rabbit rescue for several years. She was adopted and spent her golden years lounging on a warm hearth in a household where she was loved by all.
All content and images © Running Bun Magazine. Use without permission prohibited.

A Warm Spot on the Hearth, A Warm Place in Your Heart 



Even if a hutch bound rabbit should be kept in the nicest barn or garage or sundeck, the social needs of the rabbit cannot be met even if kept in groups of two, three, or more. The space required for any mammal to properly socialize cannot be provided with any cage and the ability to properly socialize with humans cannot be achieved through these remote living conditions. To be a part of the family and accept and trust humans, rabbits should be kept under the same roof as you. Cohabitation of a shelter structure such as a house is the greatest evidence of love and acceptance and the very definition of a pet. A companion animal is one with whom you live in your house not one for whom you have to put on snow boots and a parka to visit in your backyard. So with all of these considerations, what is your relationship with your rabbit? Is he livestock or a companion? If you asked him, what do you think he would say?

1 McBride, A. (1998) Why Does My Rabbit? Chapter 2, p. 24. Souvenir Press 

2 Life of Mammals, David Attenborough 
3 ibid.


 -RabbitPhotog
All content and images © Running Bun Magazine. Use without permission prohibited.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Secret Voice of Rabbits

▀▄▀▄▀▄▀▄▀▄▀▄

Nightmares and Parrot Wannabe's

Late, Like a White Rabbit

Hello again bunny peeps! It's me, RP, RabbitPhotog, and sorry for being so slow to get back to this series; The Secret Voice of Rabbits. I was getting ready to write this post right before Halloween but got delayed. So the day after Halloween, or rather on November 2, the Day of the Dead, or All Soul's Day, I had an eerie reminder to do it.

You see here at our little bunny photography studio, MagicMan (my photography assistant, rabbit handler, keeper, and spousal unit) and I noticed a long time ago that bunny rabbits love  movies. Oh, they love some TV shows, too, but mostly they love movies. They like the kind of movies in which the people talk to each other a lot. Not argumentative characters arguing a lot (although when done just so by top Hollywood talent, they do seem to love a good argument) but characters just having good, genuine conversations. One example is Miss Potter! But you know, we'll come back to that as I just know my esteemed bunny social critic, Thumper S. Thompson will want to weigh on that and he'd be upset with me for blazing any trails on that topic. So look for that down the road, folks.

A scene from "Miss Potter," (left) and Beatrix Potter's original pencil drawing from which this scene is taken.

So we have TV's with DVD players spread about the place so the bunnies can view some great entertainment. Mostly, it's horse movies like Seabiscuit, Secretariat, and War Horse, and literally a dozen others (after all, TST says horses are just really big bunnies!). But, as usual, I digress. The point in mentioning this was that on Halloween night, we watched a good Halloween movie, Fright Night. MagicMan likes it because he's a huge Dr. Who fan. Along with Colin Farrell, Fright Night stars David Tennant, who, MagicMan says played the best Dr. Who. I have to agree as I think he's probably the best actor to yet play that part.

 

The Scream

During Fright Night, as in any vampire movie, there's lots of screaming by the women victims. And then the night after watching it, we woke up in terror when we heard one if these screams right next to us! Imagine, we woke to hear a rabbit screaming! Rabbits only ever scream when they think their life is in danger, what was going on! I could tell it was coming from MagicMan's favorite little kooky, goofball buddy rabbit, Magic (yes, MagicMan's favorite bunny's name is Magic, coinkydink?). Was he having a nightmare? Did the movie we'd just watched the night before give him nightmares? We would never want him to watch anything that gave him nightmares!

No, Magic wasn't having a nightmare. He was wide awake when he let out his scream, although it wasn't a really loud one, a rabbit scream is truly loud and this was not. It was...almost like a mimic of a scream, a taunting type of sound. In his younger years, when he first came to us, this quirky little albino bunny did used to have nightmares and he did used to sometimes wake up screaming from those nightmares which, you can imagine, scared the bejesus out of us. So why was he taunting us and purposely scaring us?


Rabbit Parody on Edvard Munch's The Scream
A Rabbit Parody of Edvard Munch's The Scream

Magic had come from a very scary situation where someone had over 100 rabbits running around a small, suburban home breeding out of control. Almost all the rabbits taken from that situation were albino and the rest solid black as this is what happens with severe inbreeding. Many had parts of their ears missing as well, but for the most part, they were all in good health, probably because they were still pretty young. 

So here Magic came. He no longer had to fight over food with other rabbits, no longer had to fight over territory or anything. He has his own spacious custom-designed domain and a human who dotes on him like the way Tom Waits' character in Seven Psychopaths dotes on his albino rabbit. His nightmares lingered for a while after first coming here but then as he acclimated to the sound of several large parrots in the next room, the nightmares went away.

MagicMan and MagicRabbit cuddle on the bed.
All content and images © Running Bun Magazine. Use without permission prohibited.

In becoming part of a family of avid movie fans, he, along with the other bunnies, watched lots of movies and TV shows and was carefully desensitized to them. Part of my background as an animal photographer includes an advanced understanding of operant conditioning, i.e., animal behavior, so the bunnies were carefully desensitized to scary movies over time. Movies like The Lord of the Rings trilogy with the Orcs, Uruk Hai, and whatnot, were part of that program. This went beautifully and many hilarious stories arose from the experience. 

Of Mimicry and Puppetry

All the bunnies became quickly aware that there is a very real thing such as talking animals. Not only that, but the ones who talk, do so very loudly. And if you think parrots don't know what they're talking about, then I suggest you read up on Alex the African Grey and free your mind, man (as TST would say). Don't think that your bunnies don't know what's going on either. Just last year, the top minds in science declared that animals are as aware as humans. With that comes a certain species jealousy which develops when an animal is first confronted with an intelligent, vocal parrot. When one of my parents' dogs first met my then young Amazon parrot, and was greeted with a hearty "Hello!", the dog, a highly intelligent poodle, looked shocked, ran off and sat in the corner facing the wall like he would do whenever he was being ridiculed. I felt sorry for the little fellow as I could sense his embarrassment and shame for not having a mouth which could easily speak words. But there are dogs that talk, too, and quite well. Like Mischka, the husky. Maybe you've even seen Mischka in one of her TV commercials for a bank!





The bunnies are no different. They listen and absorb what's going on around them and try to tell us things. Little Magic bunny has told us a couple of times now that he does have a pretty good sense of humor, and that he is completely desensitized to scary movies but that he also knows we are not desensitized to scary bunnies! So he will, very seldom, scare the pantaloons off of us with a fake scare by mimicking a scream now and then. We've noticed it's usually a day or two after we watch a scary movie (as we are not in the habit of watching this genre) but then, again, maybe he's being a movie critic, of sorts, in doing this. Or maybe he just gets a big kick out of scaring us! We know he has a great sense of humor, as many rabbits do, because of the way he uses his ceramic pellet and water crocks to imitate our Tibetan Singing Bowls alarm clock if we haven't set it. Yea, and he knows exactly when it would have gone off if, indeed, it had been set. I digress again! The point is, Magic Rabbit is a pretty magical guy with a wicked sense of humor. ¹

The point is, rabbits scream. But they may not just scream when they think they're about to be killed. Sometimes, if they feel very secure in their environment, and if it's a very stimulating environment in which they must really exude their personality to compete with showy and show off parrots, they may scream just to have fun watching your reaction. Or, maybe it's to get even with those loud birds. Maybe. The birds all love the bunnies, and the largest of our parrots even used to have a bunny as a pet. The bunny would sleep every night in the bottom of the parrot's cage and the parrot would very carefully do his business in a far corner of the cage. He would toss her some of his pellets, too.

But that's another story for another day. In my next post in this series, The Secret Voice of Rabbits, I'll talk about just one of the secret things you can tell your rabbit to help the both of you make a much better bunny photo. And I still haven't even gotten to the part about their secret voices! All in good time. Meanwhile, I'm pretty busy bonding some bunnies right now so I know Thumper S. Thompson will step in here to pinch hit for me with another post soon.

Until then, tread lightly!

-RP


¹ "Anthropomorphism is a theory which presupposes its own validity." -Dr. Donald R. Griffin, Animal Minds


 -RabbitPhotog

All content and images © Running Bun Magazine. Use without permission prohibited.
 
See more of this issue's content. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Enter the Rabbit Hole

RabbitPhotog here, stepping in yet again for Thumper S. Thompson, Senior Writer of Running Bun Magazine. Where the heck is TST? Is he in Las Vegas? Hiding in the shadows of Owl Farm? Lurking around the campaign trail? Or maybe protecting Jimmy Carter from swamp rabbits down in Georgia? 

Let me take a brief segué here to mention he might very well be protecting Prez Jimmy Carter from swamp rabbits down Georgia way. You know he loves Jimmy Carter, ever since he heard the man quote Bob Dylan in a campaign speech all those years ago. It's not every day politicians quote folk singers, much less the heir to Woody Guthrie's soulfire found smouldering in the personage of Robert Zimmerman. But maybe you didn't know about all the glowing embers the swamp rabbit drenched during that story? Rest assured, TST will enlighten you later down the road on those twisted tales.

President Jimmy Carter shoos off a swamp rabbit attack (far upper right)
Suffice it to say, TST is indisposed until later this month until after his favorite holiday, which also starts with a T and during which he devours huge amounts of that avian meat analog known as Tofurky. It can be hard to find the Tofurky Vegan Feast this time of year, and so perhaps, he is out there rooting and snooting for it. Yea, that's it.

Meanwhile back at the ranch, me, RabbitPhotog, owes you dear reader, another tome promised in the series which is coming to be known as The Secret Voice of Rabbits. So let us enter the rabbit hole.

Oh, but wait! This is a perfect time to mention our 2014 Official Running Bun Magazine calendar! We are even treated here to a glimpse of the cover which features a rabbit hole entrance with hulky looking Mini Rex bunny rabbit peering down into it from the grassy plains above. These fantastic calendars feature a different rock star rabbit each month as they appeared on the cover of Running Bun Magazine. There are also some out take shots from each if the photo shoots of that month's rock star rabbit. And found only here in this calendar, each rock star rabbit's bio and stats. That means their real life name before entering rock star rabbitdom, the sad story from whence they came, and the tantalizing tidbits of their personal happily ever after. 


http://etsy.me/1asvQqK


January features the incomparable Buno of U2. February has the beautiful Bunoncé's cover and headlines about her being Dangerously in Love with Bun-Z and out take shots of her onstage dance moves. March takes a look at a modern day Fierce, Bad Rabbit á la Beatrix Potter's famous tale. April is the mouth watering Mr. Chocolate who melts on your wall and not in your hands. 


http://etsy.me/1asvQqK


May is drop dead gorgeous Bink!(y), the fabulous animal welfare advocate with her gentle, loppy gaze. June is awesomely magical with The Gloved One (do we really need to say which bun is this?) showing out take shots of him dancing the MoonHop! 



http://etsy.me/1asvQqK


July is the dapper and dashing crooner, Harry Bunnick, Jr. who also starred in the legendary science fiction thriller, Independence Day. August features the angelic empress rabbit rescue icon, Glenna the Good, whose tragic tale still evokes tears from some and inspires others (like myself, her photographer). September's Back to School cover has none other than our own Thumper S. Thompson with the only ever photographic stop action thump shot! Truly legendary! October's cover is the original down and dirty rock star rabbit, Muck Digger of the Running Buns sticking out his tongue in total irreverence. November mellows out with Splash of Buns n Noses as he awaits the cold November rain and last but never, ever least is Bun Jovi just in time for a holiday prayer as in Livin' on a Prayer!


http://etsy.me/1asvQqK


How can you resist? Currently, we only have five of these in stock, so get yours before they're gone. Thanks! And the proceeds will all go towards helping us help our rock star rabbits! And we do a lot for them. 

So as the calendar cover says, Follow Me, let's go down the rabbit hole together. And I will have to continue this post later in the week. That's when I'll talk about the secret to getting that scared rabbit's ear up from being flat on his head to standing up tall and proud. 

 -RabbitPhotog
All content and images © Running Bun Magazine. Use without permission prohibited.

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Secret Voice of Rabbits

▀▄▀▄▀▄▀▄▀▄▀▄

Preface 

So my colleague, Thumper S. Thompson, has lit a fire under my battooskie to get me working on a new blog post, my first post here on Running Bun Magazine. In my first post, I should unequivocably state that I am a hooman! Yes, that's right, there are hoomans involved with things here at Running Bun Magazine but only as much as is simply unavoidable. As an animal photographer of cute and fluffy beings (and of the occasional not so cute but still awesome being), I expect my little, and sometimes big, models to do their job, that is, to look cute. Their job is to arrest the camera and thus the viewer of the result.

Consider yourself under arrest. I mean really, the camera is like my Bobbie stick. I use it to capture and detain many widdle cyoot bunny rabbits who've run amok, all those irreverent lagomorphs out there marauding in the street, fields, and in our homes (yes, in our very homes right under our noses!) wanton, flagrant perpetrators of being criminally cute! It's must be stopped and I must stop it! And so I do; usually with f11 through f16, or so.

Magic Secrets Revealed!
I have a big black barrel, a Nikkor 18-200mm actually, and I aim it head on at those little twitching noses. They know when they see it that I mean business. I have a lot of help with the bunny shoots. First order of help comes from MagicMan, my rabbit herder, cat herder, and all around handy magician. Oh yea, and I'm married to him. He corrals the rascally rabbits for me and places them up on the shooting stage. I know it all sounds like one of those attractions at the board walk or carnival where one pays money to shoot at targets and win a plush toy. Guess this is kind of similar in that we, MagicMan and I, did pay a lot of money to do this shooting! There's about $10-12,000 worth of ammo, or studio photography equipment contributing to each shot! That's a lot of dough, ain't it? And we did it for free, free for the bunnies, I mean. Not free for us, we didn't make any money off their photo shoots at all...and we had to take care of the bunnies for a long time until they got adopted. Take them to the vet, pay for their food and lodging, fill the gas tank to take them to bunny matches, it just goes on and on. So can you blame us for trying to recoup some of that? We never really could but we're going to try and hope bunny peeps out there will have sympathy for us because we really blew a wad on them and there's literally nothing left for us.

After MagicMan rounds up the little bunnies and places them up on the shooting table, he bribes them with carrots, kisses, and papaya tablets. There it is! The secret! Yes, we really do use a carrot and stick to get a lot of these shots! But that's really only a minor part of the whole secret to a successful bunny rabbit photo shoot. There is a lot of animal communication going on. Also a lot of fear factor. Truth be told, at first the bunnies are all mostly terrified. Time was, almost every single studio shot we've ever done was benevolently presided over by a couple of large soft, peachy, pink parrots, our two fabulous Moluccan cockatoos, Happy Amadeus and Mrs. Mozart!

Mrs. Mozart sits only feet away from the shooting table.
All content and images © Running Bun Magazine. Use without permission prohibited.


That's only one secret behind our rock star rabbit photo shoots. In subsequent posts, the ones that I will write, not ones written by Running Bun Magazine Senior Writer Thumper S. Thompson, I'll tell a little more about each the many secrets behind a successful bunny photo shoot, ok? So y'all be sure to stop by regularly and check it out! Yea, but I guess those are the first two secrets; that I have a photographer's assistant helping me, MagicMan, and that I have a magician's assistant helping me, too, Mrs. Mozart, Moluccan cockatoo! I do really mean a magician's assistant too as Mrs. Mozart lived with a real, professional magician for the first 17 of her now 31 years and she brings much magic to the entire household here in this outpost of strange and wondrous things on the edge of reality! And, by the way, Mrs. Mozart is a rescue Moluccan cockatoo, as is her neighbor, Happy Amadeus.

And the secret voice of rabbits mentioned in the headline? What was that all about? The secret voice of rabbits is only partially heard through a type of morse code pounded out with their hind foot and the other part ever so softly heard with the feather soft up and down rustling of their whiskers through clock-like positions, each of which has very specific meaning. Their secret voice is a real, spoken voice. But it's so soft, barely audible, and the room must be so very quiet for it to be heard. No I'm not talking about their snort, or growl, or contented tooth purr. I am talking about their voice, about what I have observed as a result of living with both parrots and other animals and the species jealousy which parrots arouse in other animals when they shout out, "Hello!" That jealousy causes other animals to work with their mouths as best they can to also produce a garbled, "Hello" or some sort of audible sound.

I'll detail these stories in future posts, stories that read like those of Mischka the famous talking Husky of YouTube, or the many famous Siamese cats who are trained by their breeder to yell, "hello!" at cat shows, and so on. But that's all I'm going to say for now. (At least it should be clear why the heck I use an alias for me and my husband! Ha!) Follow me (said the white rabbit), follow this blog, and I will make good on my promise to reveal all of these secrets in time. If you were a true white rabbit of the rabbit cyber multi-verse, you could have already dug up all of these secrets, as they lie in wait, an excavation extraordinaire hidden forever in the labyrinth of the ether.

So for now the secrets revealed are that I have a second hooman helping me and that I have a former magician's assistant, a Moluccan cockatoo, blowing kisses at the bunnies when I ask her to calm the bunnies down. They're all scared of those huge parrots at first but then I tell Mozart, "blow kisses, Mozart, please," and she throws the sweetest kisses imaginable. If you know cockatoos, then you know they can sound sweeter than anything on Earth when they choose. And so, the bunny photos are proof positive of that.

Lighting setup is something else I'll discuss in future posts. And you might even see a video of a shoot now and then. Here's some teaser photos of my shooting table.

Tread Lightly.
RP
The shooting table or stage with 2 of the 5 lights visible.
All content and images © Running Bun Magazine. Use without permission prohibited.
Foster bunny rabbit Skennen waits for the barrel to load.
All content and images © Running Bun Magazine. Use without permission prohibited.
Foster Bunny Rabbit Skennen now a Rock Star Rabbit!
All content and images © Running Bun Magazine. Use without permission prohibited.

Oh, and by the way, poor Skennen here was a blue ribbon winning rabbit at a county fair one day. Later that day, his owner abandoned him and his brother, also a prize winner, at the county animal shelter. But we went and got him, got him neutered and then matched to a lovely French lop from Iowa and he continues to live happily ever after.

 -RabbitPhotog

All content and images © Running Bun Magazine. Use without permission prohibited.
 
See more of this issue's content. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

We Are UnDead: Zombies Unite for the Hopping Dead

▀▄▀▄▀▄▀▄▀▄▀▄



October 6, 2013

I'm sitting in my office holding my iPad tightly. The tension and nervousness is a tic I can no longer really master. It's been almost three years since I posted on this blog and the world is now a different place. This gadget I hold has replaced textbooks, cameras, newspapers, and all the employees associated with those prior technologies.

It has definitely put a dent in the Universe, Steve, this iThing. My little corner of the rabbit multiverse within the cosmos has been rocked to the core. Emphasis on rocked. I love this thingamajig. I feel like I'm living in the Blade Runner / Minority Report / Total Recall (2012, please) continuum every time I look at one of RabbitPhotog's fine art (very fine!) rock star rabbit photographs with this Retina display. As my own retina ages, it has become more dependent on the iVerse. Does that make me an android in beta? If so, then this android definitely doesn't dream of electric sheep but rather albino rabbits with eyes of all different shades of lavender and rose to blood red.

And here in my little nooky niche of the vast rabbit hole known as cyberspace, a new Running Bun Magazine cover is bursting in my head. Wriggling and binkying, it is almost ready to emerge. It's October and we all know what that means, right? Of course, it means zombies! Albino zombies, yea not Rob of White Zombie, but Shauna the Bassist and cover bun this month, an albino zombie. And so that should be a strong indicator of what's to follow...

FOLLOW ME...

Knock, knock. Wake up, Neo. How do the words go? "I am the nexus one, I want more life, I ain't done, yeah." This is what I hear when I see the sad eyes of albino bunnies gracing their angelic faces; some see a demon, I see an angel. Partially blind (human albinos are legally blind), the ones with the reddest eyes have the worst vision, the most fear, justifiably. They can sense the stupid superstitious fears of those hoomans who see only the Rabbit of Caerbannog. "That's no ordinary rabbit!" the knights yelp. No rabbit is ordinary. Red eyed whites? They're not Jackson Whites. Pink eyed whites? They have invisible angel's wings BUT you must have the sight to see them. The sight lit by your inner light which has been kindled by the grateful love of the helpless, the meek. Don't be a zombie, open the nooks and crannies of your soul to the love of an albino bunny rabbit today. And if you've read this far, your reward is code BCBUN20 for 20% off items in the Memorabilia section!

Run fast and binky hard. TST.

 -Thumper S. Thompson

All content and images © Running Bun Magazine. Use without permission prohibited.
 
See more of this issue's content.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Fear and Loathing and Leporiphobia


▀▄▀▄▀▄▀▄▀▄▀▄

"You didn't think I was serious just because I carry a rabbit around?!"


Thumper S. Thompson here with more thoughts on our glorious Halloween Running Bun Magazine issue this month, October 2013.

As you already know, Shauna, bassist of White Zombie and cover bun this month, is a drop dead gorgeous albino mini-lop rabbit. She has pure, heavenly white fur and beautiful white eyes. White eyes, you say? Well, yea, because if we collectively refer to the color of the pupil of an eye to determine what the 'eye color' is, then all humans have black eyes!

Obviously, that's not the case. Albino humans, who are legally blind, don't have black pupils but rather, dark rose-colored pupils and the same goes for rabbits. The color of albino bunnies' pupils can range from bright red to deep, deep rose but the color of their irises are usually anywhere from a pastel lavender to softest pink to white. Shauna, the cover bunny girl in question, has irises of the palest rose, really white. So let's not say she has bloody red eyes, shall we? And why does it matter? It matters to me, Thumper S. Thompson, bunzo journalist.

As far as albinism goes in bunny rabbits, the redder their pupils, the more albino they are and the worse their eyesight. Again, I'll refer to human albinos, they are legally blind. So a bun with blood red pupils has very poor eye sight indeed. But almost no one shows them the same patient tolerance and required legal accommodations to which their human albino counterpart is entitled. And rabbits are a freaking prey animal, for Peter's Sake! They can barely see and so, of course, they're afraid if some hooman with fast moving hands and body is hovering over them like a darned zombie waiting to disembowel them!

But rabbits, in general, while admitting that generalizations are generally a poor way to form any kind of opinion, are a spunky lot. They'll defend themselves, for the most part, yet many times they give a very tolerant snort to warn you that they're disgruntled with your behavior. Then, if you still don't learn, there is always nature's ultra effective device, negative reinforcement. This usually results in a 'bite' which usually isn't anything more than a nip. Yet, the deliverance of such is a blow to the ego and the emotions of the receiver. Yeah, it hurts hoomans feelings to have a cute little bunny rabbit nip them when all they're trying to do is communicate that they, the rabbit, are disgruntled with the inadequate intelligence of hoomans requiring this type of education from a supposed lower species.

The reason I'm telling you this is that an actual real life phobia of such celestially beautiful bunny rabbits exists and it is called leporiphobia. Leporiphobia is named based on the root word of lepus, meaning, of course, rabbit. Now these poor souls who suffer from this phobia have my deepest sympathy because they must go through life never knowing the truth about these wonderful animals, these albino bunnies. There is something so angelic, so pure, so ethereal, so perfect, so rapturous, heck, so celestial about these gorgeous animals, that perhaps the fear of them is really a fear of something more holy unto thou than themselves. Yeah, that's it.

I think I did once actually have a friend who had leporiphobia. But that's another story for another day, and it's a beautiful story I won't tell today. Today, I wanted to talk about how one hooman may develop this phobia if they happened to watch a certain movie; that movie is Seven Psychopaths.

It's a great movie, Seven Psychopaths. I loved it. Our staff  photographer, Rabbit Photog, likes it too but had a rather hard time with her initial viewing of it. However, I know there were two reasons she bit her lip as she watched it and she was determined to watch it; the first reason is because there are about twenty or thirty sweet little albino mini-rex bunny rabbits in it, and the second is because her favorite leprechaun was playing the main character and that would be Colin Farrell.

The movie also stars the master of deadpan comedy, Christopher Walken; emerging comedic genius, Sam Rockwell; Tom Waits as the gentle bunny handling tour de force; Woody Harrelson as a most truly psychopathic mobster; and Abbie Cornish and Olga Kurylenko in small, short-lived but forceful roles. My favorite female character is played by Amanda Mason Warren as Maggie, the wife of Tom Waits’ younger self. Linda Bright Clay appears as Myra, Han's wife.  

As far as the rabbits go, the lovelies make their first appearance early in the movie when Zachariah Rigby (Waits) shows up at Billy Bickle's (Rockwell) house in response to an ad Bickle placed in the L.A. Times. Zach then has tea (of course! rabbit peeps only have tea! with a mad hatter, no less!) with Marty (Farrell) and ensues the story of his transition from serial killer to gentle rabbit caretaker, a role which costs him the love of his life and wife, Maggie. As Zach gets up to leave, we see one of the rare occurrences of a Hollywood film demonstrating the proper way to pick up a rabbit. Carrie, the albino bunny, has been hanging out on the coffee table enjoying a carrot while listening to her hooman recount many, gory murders he has committed. Before that, a flashback to the horrifying murder at which Zach met his first rabbit again shows the innate gentleness of Zach's character. This murder scene flashback is also graced with the twenty or thirty albino bunny rabbits, all hopping about utterly unconcerned about the grisly hooman behavior which surrounds them.

A bunny drinks the blood of her caretaker after his grisly murder by Maggie (Warren)
The bunny makes an appearance again at the movie's end, post credits, when Zach phones Marty from a phone booth to express his disappointment in Marty over a broken promise, one for which Marty agrees to forfeit his life. While Zach and Marty talk, the bunny sits on the phone book shelf of the booth and occasionally stands up to explore the glass enclosure. One can't help but wonder if this is some sort of vague homage to Farrell's stand out performance in a movie named after such an enclosure. One also can't help but wonder, are there really any phone booths left in L.A.? We're also treated to Waits' brilliantly delivered line, "You didn't think I was serious just because I carry a rabbit around?" That line is sure to find it's own place of fame in movie history.

It's not often Hollywood treats us to such a nice portrayal of the bunny rabbit, much less the beautiful albino bunny rabbit. Hence, I felt all involved deserved a shout out to help promote this sure-to-be-a-cult hit comedy, Seven Psychopaths. All brilliantly written, directed, and acted.

However, for you faint of heart peeps out there, this movie is shockingly violent, gruesome, and unsentimental BUT no animals are harmed. Nevertheless, for some, the movie could actually induce a sudden, most fierce and unforgiving lifetime filled with the dreaded leporiohobia! Beware!


Zachariah (Tom Waits) phones Marty (Colin Farrell) from a phone booth with his rabbit, Carrie
Happy October, folks.

TST

 -Thumper S. Thompson

All content and images © Running Bun Magazine. Use without permission prohibited.

See more of this issue's content.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Growing Up Bunzo: Thumper S. Thompson as a Young Bun

http://www.zazzle.com/thumper_s_thompson_running_bun_cover_full_size_poster-228450623242514321?rf=238368801324753632

▀▄▀▄▀▄▀▄▀▄▀▄

Successfully Litter Box Train Your Rabbit


How many times have I spoken with prospective rabbit adopters to hear them tell me they want to keep their rabbits in a wire-bottomed cage so their poop and pee will just fall through the wire bottom and onto newspaper or whatnot below? Too many times. So I proceed as diplomatically as possible to explain that the bunny they wish to adopt has been lovingly and diligently litter box trained since the day he first came into foster care and there is no need or rather, justification, for the cruel practice of housing a rabbit in a wire-bottomed cage - which could lead to multiple health problems including bone infection, broken legs, and the need for amputation, and so forth.

I'll never forget the one prospective adopter whose previous rabbit had been housed in a very pretty cage but which still had a grate for a bottom instead of a solid floor. I waved my arm to the cage, "Would you want to take a nap in there?" I already knew this adoption wasn't going to happen but maybe I could change this person's mind about how they kept their rabbits. At least they did keep them indoors but a wire-bottomed cage is about as archaic as you can get next to actually keeping them outside in a wire-bottomed hutch!

The woman responded to me, "Well it's better than sitting in his own pee." There was no getting through to this person. Often it is very difficult to bring a person to the conclusion that maybe things have changed since the first rabbit they had 20 some years ago, and that there are now better ways to take care of this fragile little pet. And that better way is called using a litter box.

Now this isn't to say that litter box training a rabbit is exactly the same as litter box training a cat, in fact, it is very different. The litter box to the rabbit is not only their toilet, it's also a nice place to hang out. Adopters who are neat freaks often have trouble with this concept but the fact remains that rabbits will be munching hay while happily nestled in their litter box and then they'll pause for a moment and take a leak and then keep munching hay. But they're not sitting in their pee if you've set up the litter box right!

Secrets to Success:
Inputting = Outputting = Flight Readiness


The secret is that since we know they will have stuff going in one end (food) and out the other end (waste) at the same time, you put the stuff that's supposed to go in the front end (food) in the litter box so when they pause to let some of the other stuff (waste) go out the other end, they're already in the right place to do this!

Let's stop for a moment though and think about why rabbits are like this. In the wild, this animal, which is descended from the European wild rabbit, lives in large, underground burrows populated by dozens, maybe hundreds of individuals whose collective number is called a warren. Inside these burrows, each pair of rabbits, male and female, have their own little private burrow which is connected by tunnels to the rest of the warren's private little burrows. Here the kits, or babies are born, and here they and the adults will spend most of their time - underground in the dark where the climate is fairly constant year round.

For part of the day though, at dawn and dusk, they will venture above ground to dash about and stretch their legs and, of course, eat. Their natural diet is grass and leaves and so they won't have to go far to find food unless the warren is overpopulated and they have decimated the local environment - which does sometimes happen.

So there they are, sitting above ground, not far from the entrance hole to their underground city and they are contemplating the constellations in the sky or the moon's shade of blue or gold that evening. They won't venture far from the burrow for safety's sake. They'll be quiet and listen carefully to everything around them. They munch on grass, delighting in pulling the blades, roots and all, out of the ground and filling up their tummies. Then suddenly they hear the snap of a twig. What is it?

Without thinking they lift their butts and empty their bladders without moving any other muscles as that would make a noise too, like the one they're listening to. They're ready for flight if need be. But now they hear another snap and it's time to go! Time to dash back underground to safety and their bladders are already empty and thus, they are lighter and so, faster. The wild rabbit, when eating, tries to appear as motionless as possible as he sits camouflaged with his brown flecked fur sitting amongst the leaves. So in one end and out the other is not 'gross' or 'yucky,' it's efficient and it's about survival.

Back underground, the wild rabbit will deposit some of his little poops inside his private burrow as sort of a street sign - 'hey this is my house, not yours.' But he won't leave that many there; mostly, he will have deposited these little 'smart pills' here and there above ground to let the other rabbits know he was there and that he's brave enough to go this far out or that far out from the burrow - kind of a dare game. After all, when there are about a hundred rabbits living in an underground city, it's not like all the local predators don't all know about it. So poop marking above ground is strictly meaningful amongst rabbits only.

His Very Own Postage Stamp-Sized Yard


So with the house rabbit, the litter box simulates a little piece of his natural environment. Fill it with litter and then, most importantly, put hay on top of the litter so he has to sit there and eat it inside the box. Sometimes when I arrive at an adopter's house, they will have the setup all wrong. They'll have a tiny little litter box in one corner that the rabbit's butt will barely fit into much less the whole rabbit with room to spare, and then on the other side of the cage, they have a hay rack or something to dispense the hay. Then I will always get a call a week or so later asking me 'why does he poop over by the hay rack and not in his litter box?'

So put the hay in the litter box on top of the litter. Always give your rabbit the very largest litter box that you can. Even for the smallest rabbits, I always urge adopters to get the extra large size cat box. Fill this up with litter to about two to two and a half inches deep. I have to laugh when I find some adopters have a layer of litter that is so thin on the bottom of the box that you can see the bottom through it. What good does that do? Nothing! Fill that box up at least halfway full of litter! We'll come back to the reason for that shortly.

Now your box is half filled with litter; so let's put some hay on that of that. Put in about as much hay as your rabbit will need for either half or a whole day depending on how often you want to hand out the hay. Since I foster a lot of rabbits, I feed hay once a day. Don't just take it out of the bag and plop it in there. Fluff it up as much as possible! Hay is the best rabbit toy! Try to make the hay into a fluffy mountain pile of hay that your rabbit will delight in spending the day arranging and taste testing.

This is a tremendous source of entertainment for your rabbit. Both males and females alike will carefully spend the day picking out the leaves they wish to eat and strategically arranging the leaves they don't want to eat into a nice little bed. If you have any brown leaves in the hay, these will, by default, become bedding. But that's fine, this is an important source of enrichment for the rabbit to be able to do this exercise. For some of my rabbits, I like to fluff up a ball of hay in my hands and then toss it onto their heads as they sit in their box. They love this and hide under the mound of hay playing hide and seek while secretly selecting the tastiest leaves in privacy.

Layers Upon Layers
Like the Princess and the Pee


At the end of the day, your rabbit will have a layer of hay which you will see him lay on and he will stretch out his legs as long as he can and just squint with pleasure. This is important for him to be able to do this. This is also his bed. Yes, he just happens to pee and poop in a corner of it but you will notice he doesn't lay in that corner. Most likely, he will only urinate in one single corner of the box and poop there too so that's why it's important to give him as large a box as possible. That way, this particular corner will be relatively out of the way. For a really large rabbit, it can be harder to find a huge box for this. You can try concrete mixing bins of different sizes for a really large rabbit. Some adopters report to me that their bunny is peeing just outside the box but it turns out, invariably, that they are really hanging their butts over the side of the box and peeing over the edge. So these rabbits need a deeper box which they can't do this in or a high back box.

As the week goes on, the layers of hay that little bunny has discarded and made into bedding will pile up and add a layer of odor control and comfort to his little simulated natural environment. After a week, sometimes two for smaller rabbits, you can toss the whole box in a compost pile and start anew. There is nothing in his personal space that is going to be softer or more inviting for a nap than a properly presented litter box.

Litter Review


So let's talk about litter for a minute. Some litters are rabbit safe and some are not. Don't ever use clay or clumping cat litter; ever. Some animal shelters are known to use clay cat litter for the bunnies but this is most likely a budgetary restriction. The safe litters to use for rabbits are Carefresh, Yesterday's News, and aspen shavings. There may be other brands similar to Carefresh and Yesterday's News but they are basically the same. Carefresh is comprised of recycled wood chips which absorb urine and have pretty good odor control as the week goes on. Yesterday's News has a nice, waxy smell I love and it is pellets made of recycled newspapers, hence the name. Personally, I use shredded aspen. The shelter where I volunteer uses wood stove pellets which are extremely inexpensive but I don't like them; they disintegrate into wet powder. No thanks.

Don't EVER use pine or cedar! These litters contain deadly phenols, or fumes, which cause organ damage! I really wish pet stores wouldn't even sell them but they do - which should tell you, also, that pet stores are in the business of selling you stuff and it's not necessarily good for your pet! You might have a local rabbit rescue which sells all of these litters (as well as other supplies) at a discount and the proceeds benefit their foster rabbits. Check it out!

I use aspen shavings because it is soft and also cheap and I have a lot of bunnies. The brand name litters I mentioned can get pricey if you have a lot of rabbits. But if you only have one or two, you should be able to afford it. Although Yesterday's News smells nice and waxy, it is not comfortable for the bunny to lay on. Aspen is fun to dig in and push around and shape into a little bed - and, it makes awesome compost! If you have a compost pile made from aspen shavings, hay and rabbit pee and poop, grubs will eat it and poop out the most incredible top soil! Then you can grow a nice garden for your bunnies to have fresh herbs and veggies.

I know that some of you out there are going to change your rabbit's litter box every single day or maybe even twice a day because you have a more sensitive nose than most or because you are, well, obsessive-compulsive cleaners. That's fine, I just want you to realize that rabbits are the most fastidious animals; they clean themselves constantly and are really very tidy - their poop doesn't even smell! When given a litter box setup like I've outlined here, they will be extremely neat and careful. Oh you may see the occasional 'smart pill' outside the box but that's just a greeting card. Just pick it up and put it in the corner of the box they normally use for that. Remember, the litter box is important for cleanliness but also important psychologically to the house rabbit. Try to see things his way and you will have a very happy little bunny on your hands.

The Female Rabbit's Sacred Space:
Her Litter Box


One last thing - it may drive you crazy that your rabbit seems to be wasting a lot of hay. Once they've lain on it for bedding, they will not eat it. If you are buying expensive hay via the internet, this is great but you may want to try getting some good local hay which will no doubt have some brown leaves mixed in or try some internet hay from an individual farmer like Farmer Dave or Kleen Mama. Your rabbit will meticulously pick out these brown leaves and arrange them into a bed.

I have watched in amusement many times as a (spayed) female rabbit carefully places these brown (or green) leaves around her litter box; one here, one there, oh no, they put it in the wrong place and will try it in another until they get it just so. Some of these gals spend the entire day with these interior decorating exercises so if you change their box every day, they're not going to like you too much. That's sacred ground for a female rabbit; let it sit and let her have her fun.

 -RabbitPhotog 

All content and images © Running Bun Magazine. Use without permission prohibited.

See more of this issue's content.

Monday, April 15, 2013

B!nk(y) - Animal Welfare Advocate

▀▄▀▄▀▄▀▄▀▄▀▄


How to Extend the Life of Your Pet Rabbit

How long could your beloved pet rabbit live? The answer is a lot longer than most people realize (we currently have a 16 year old rabbit!). With proper care, good sources of information, and qualified veterinary care, your pet rabbit could easily make it into his teens.

Generally speaking, the smaller the rabbit, the longer they live. Similar to dogs; where a large dog will only live about 7-9 years, so goes for a large rabbit. Where a smaller dog may live 16 to 18 years, so goes for the tiniest rabbit!

The Netherlands Dwarf is the longest-lived rabbit breed and also the smallest.
This silver marten marked palomino colored bunny can expect to live 10-15 years.
All content and images © Running Bun Magazine. Use without permission prohibited.
The smallest breed of rabbit is the Netherlands Dwarf which averages one to three pounds. The largest breed of rabbit is the Flemish Giant which averages 15-20 pounds. Both of these breeds are abundantly represented in rabbit rescue groups so you should be able to adopt either of these preferred breeds (please check Petfinder.com).

So why would someone want to adopt a large rabbit if you are looking for the longest-lived breed of rabbit? Well, along with being a large rabbit also often comes certain personality traits that are very popular such as a mellow personality, cuddliness, etc. Along with being a tiny, hyper-aware dwarf rabbit comes an increased flight response and heightened prey sense, thus, not so mellow or cuddly. However, of course, each rabbit is an individual and these personality traits can be found amongst any of the sizes of rabbits.

Now that you've found your preferred size of rabbit, how do you make sure you can provide for his maximum longevity? Provide the healthiest diet, lowest stress environment and best quality, qualified veterinary care you can. Not every veterinarian can successfully treat rabbits. Rabbits are considered 'exotic' by veterinarians, as are parrots and reptiles. These species are not covered in veterinary school and to learn about them requires internships with veterinarians who are exotic specialists. So research your vet carefully.

The Flemish Giant is a shorter-lived breed of rabbit. Being so large, often 15-20 pounds or more, they suffer from a variety of health problems including spinal concerns. They are often docile and sweet though.
All content and images © Running Bun Magazine. Use without permission prohibited.

 As for a healthy diet for rabbits. Take it from me, a veteran rabbit rescuer, the healthiest rabbit diet is comprised of 90% good quality horse hay or grass hays. Timothy hay, orchard grass, or brome hay provided in a variety of 'cuttings' - different qualities and sizes of leaf width will keep your rabbit's extremely delicate digestive tract humming along like an old Volkswagen.

A rabbit's digestive tract must always be in motion or it will shut down causing the rabbit to go into shock and die within a very short time, maybe just 12 hours. You will know this is happening because his poops will get smaller and smaller until they disappear and when that happens, it's too late. The main ingredient to keep this system humming along without causing obesity to the rabbit is the indigestible fiber from the hays mentioned above. These hays will also keep your rabbit's perennially growing teeth nice and trim. Well, you're probably wondering, 'I thought rabbits are supposed to eat mainly pellets?' That credo is from the meat rabbit industry which feeds rabbits a fattening diet to put weight on them as fast as possible as longevity is not a consideration.

This is not to say that rabbits don't, indeed, need pellets. They just need very little. The main reason to give pellets, which should be about 5% of the daily diet, is to provide a fortified source of nutrients in case the hays you are providing are of varying nutritional quality which happens with any crop. So the pellets are like vitamins for your rabbit and if you are feeding good quality fortified pellets, you shouldn't need to supplement with any other vitamins although there are plenty of these on the market. Just make sure those pellets are made from timothy hay and not alfalfa which is too high in calcium for adult rabbits.

The remaining 5% of your rabbit's daily diet should consist of appropriate vegetables which will provide more nutrients as well as provide enrichment and, hopefully, a satisfying culinary experience. Each rabbit is an individual and will have individual tastes, which may or may not be a good thing, so you will have to find out what your rabbit likes the best. The best vegetables to try are ones which will not cause gas. Gas attacks can be fatal for rabbits. Try to avoid cabbages; yes, they are inexpensive, but they also cause gas. Avoid spinach which is high in calcium, a mineral rabbits have trouble metabolizing and could, as a result, cause kidney or bladder stones or bladder sludge (ouch!).

Stick with the best, safest and most preferred vegetables; carrots - although these are fattening and so should be given in small amounts; romaine, green leaf, and red leaf lettuces are also wonderful and nutritious. Completely avoid iceberg lettuce which has no nutritional value and can cause runny stools. Cilantro is a favorite as well. Try to give organic whenever possible and when not, wash all of these thoroughly as rabbits are highly susceptible to pesticides.

And, of course, make sure you provide your rabbit with plenty of fresh, filtered water every day. You'll be surprised to know just how much water your rabbit actually needs to consume every day. Buy him the biggest water bottle you can find and fill it up with fresh water every day. Keep the bottle clean by using a bottle brush and untreated dish detergent such as Dawn or Palmolive (no antimicrobials containing deadly triclosan) or just scrub it with lemon juice (a natural antibiotic and disinfectant). Be sure to rinse it well before filling with drinking water.


When kept in altered (spayed or neutered) pairs, rabbits live longer, happier, healthier lives. They are highly social creatures and, in the wild, live in large groups called warrens comprised of sometimes several hundred individuals.
All content and images © Running Bun Magazine. Use without permission prohibited.

 Giving your rabbit a safe, warm, indoor, comfortable cage (no wire bottoms!) in a low-stress area (not too much hustle and bustle), and make sure they are spayed and neutered to prevent cancers (and bad behavior). Give him a couple of comfy litter boxes to nap in and use for necessaries. Doing this should provide your rabbit with an enriching and thus life-extending sense of happiness and well-being. Perhaps the most obvious but often most overlooked part of your rabbit's happiness and well-being is to provide them with a compatible mate of their own kind. Rabbits mate for life in the wild1 and thus having an altered (spayed or neutered) opposite sex mate keeps them happy and feeling safe and cuddling with their mate does wonders for their immune systems, just as it does for ours.


Now that you know what the keys to providing the basics required to ensure longevity for your companion rabbit, you can rest assured that your rabbit will live happily ever after.

Sources:
1 The Private Life of the Rabbit by R.M. Lockley, Introduction by Richard Adams, "They were not unusually promiscuous and in many instances retained the same mate for life."

 -RabbitPhotog
All content and images © Running Bun Magazine. Use without permission prohibited.