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Advice for a newbie?

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Advice for a newbie?

Post Number:#1  Unread postby BunnyAuntie » Thu May 18, 2017 5:31 am


So my niece brought her rabbit yesterday. He seems to be settled in pretty well but I have a couple concerns. The first is that he hasn't eaten any hay. They were feeding him nothing but pellets with these colorful crunchy things in it. He loves those, of course!! If I start cutting him back on those (and the pellets) and start giving him more greens, will he start eating the hay? Other suggestions? I was also wondering how long I should wait before worrying if he hasn't pooped :oops: he had a long trip (about an hour) to get here, and it was unusually hot. He did drink well but I don't know if he ate as much. There's so much conflicting info online but I know if I ask here I'll get good safe, advice. :) Thank you. Oh and Roo thanks you too :D

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Re: Advice for a newbie?

Post Number:#2  Unread postby MaggieJ » Thu May 18, 2017 8:10 am


Hi BunnyAuntie and welcome to RabbitTalk. :hi:

I cannot stress too strongly the need to go slowly with any new foods except grass-hay. A rabbit that was raised on junk pellets needs plenty of times to adjust to new foods, especially greens. They simply do not have the gut flora necessary to tolerate the change and can become very sick and even die.

Continue to offer the hay. It will help with the transition and is excellent for the digestive system, but a rabbit like Roo may not like it at first. Consider him like a child raised on fast food who sits down to a wholesome home-cooked meal. "You can't be serious" about sums up the reaction.

Rabbits generally like greens, and when raised on them from the beginning, they can digest them easily, but rabbits introduced to them later need to go slowly. One blade of dandelion or plantain (the lawn weed, not the banana-thing) the first day and add a leaf every day or two until you're feeding a "normal" amount. The best greens are the common weeds listed in the Safe Plants sticky.
safe-plants-for-rabbits-list-t55.html

Never feed iceberg lettuce and don't feed vegetables from the cabbage family until the rabbit is well accustomed to other greens. Always go slowly with any new food.

Change is always stressful to rabbits, and sometimes upsets their digestion. Water is vital, of course, but rabbits often do not eat much those first couple of days in a new home, especially if there is a lengthy journey to get there. Continue to offer the preferred pellets for the time being, but look about for a good quality pellet. Others can advise you better than I about pellets; for most of the time I had rabbits, I fed them a natural diet.

When Roo is settled in, eating normally of the junk pellets and nibbling hay and bits of greens, you can start to make the transition to the better pellets. Begin by adding just a tablespoon of the new pellets to the old ones. Limit quantity to what the rabbit will clean in a day. You don't want the rabbit to go hungry, but you want to encourage him to try the new pellets so a slight decrease in the amount of the old feed will help. Over time you can increase the new pellets and phase out the old.

I hope this is helpful. Continue to monitor the bunny's food consumption and its droppings, it's general demeanour and level of activity. We're here to help explain anything that puzzles or worries you.

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Re: Advice for a newbie?

Post Number:#3  Unread postby SarniaTricia » Thu May 18, 2017 3:09 pm


Maggie summed it up fabulously...

I'd just like to add, quite calm environment.... give them time to adjust to the new space before giving them a lot of attention.
They need time to feel safe.
They are prey animals, and some give up easy if they think they are going to get eaten.
Sometimes a cardboard box to hide in(in the cage) is a great item

I have a rabbit that I think was raised without hay, she really doesn't eat hay like the rest of the rabbits.... she always has it available, but she doesn't seem to like it much.

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Re: Advice for a newbie?

Post Number:#4  Unread postby BunnyAuntie » Fri May 19, 2017 5:03 am


Thank you for the advice!
MaggieJ: Thank you, I'll be sure to go slow on the greens. I guess he's been given a few here and there, but I'll take it easy at first. Does that include bark/twigs? I put an apple branch in his hutch and he loves it!!! There are a LOT of green things in my yard but I never paid attention to what they were, I guess I have to get identifying!
SarniaTricia: Thank you for that about your rabbit not liking hay! My big concern about it was because he saw the vet last month and she said he had minor tooth spurs and that less pellets and more hay would take care of it. He came with some compressed hay blocks. I was told he really liked them... would those help the spurs? Are they just for treats? Is there anything else that will help the spurs? Sorry for all the questions, I really want to get this right :oops: Also he's in an outdoor hutch, one end is all enclosed, so he has a good place to hide, but I have to say he seems pretty brave for a bunny! :)
Oh, and he's pooping like a champ! :D

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Re: Advice for a newbie?

Post Number:#5  Unread postby SarniaTricia » Fri May 19, 2017 8:59 am


Hay cubes are GREAT!
You can use those instead of hay if he prefers them....
If you find a feed store they carry them in 50lb bags for about the same price you will pay for a 1/2lb bag at pet stores.
Just get yourself a garbage pale with a lid to store the bag in .... and one for your feed as you will find that the feed store bags are less expensive too.

Keep and eye on his teeth ... if the vet noticed and issue.... if they get too long, you can trim them with snips(it is a horrible thing to do, but so is starving) or bring him back to the vet for trimming.... if you google "rabbit bad teeth" you can see some images of good and bad rabbit teeth... this is a serious but usually manageable condition for a pet rabbits (DO NOT BREED as this is most likely genetic) ANYTHING for him to chew on helps.

Most of my rabbits don't like hay cubes, but I like them for the rabbits that goto shows.... Less messy than hay and gives them something to do during the boring waiting to be manhandled phases.... lol....
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Re: Advice for a newbie?

Post Number:#6  Unread postby MaggieJ » Fri May 19, 2017 9:02 am


An apple branch is unlikely to cause problems - good fibre and it should help with the tooth spurs. Compressed hay blocks are fine too. Because rabbit teeth grow continuously, they need those things to gnaw on.

There should be good weed websites for your state or province that will help with plant identification. Please add your location (state or province and perhaps a direction like SW or NE) to your profile. So many rabbit questions are influenced by climate that you will get far more pertinent advice if we know where you are located.

It's good that he's "pooping like a champ." Lots of healthy, well-formed "bunny berries" are always a good sign. :)

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Re: Advice for a newbie?

Post Number:#7  Unread postby BunnyAuntie » Fri May 19, 2017 4:55 pm


Oops sorry, I'm in Vermont. He's doing much better today. We've had some unusually hot weather here too so that may have 'put him off his feed' a bit.
I've found a good site for identification:
https://gobotany.newenglandwild.org/simple/
Lots of good photos and easy to navigate...

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Re: Advice for a newbie?

Post Number:#8  Unread postby Marinea » Sat May 20, 2017 8:40 am


Something I have found that seems to help with the heat: ceramic tiles. I went to my local building store and got scrap 12x12" ceramic tiles. I put one in each cage. The buns love laying on them in the heat.

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Re: Advice for a newbie?

Post Number:#9  Unread postby BunnyAuntie » Mon May 22, 2017 5:39 am


Ooooh that's a really good idea, Marinea! I'll keep that in mind for when it warms up again. We're back in the 50's now.

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Re: Advice for a newbie?

Post Number:#10  Unread postby TheChad » Tue May 23, 2017 10:44 am


BunnyAuntie wrote:Ooooh that's a really good idea, Marinea! I'll keep that in mind for when it warms up again. We're back in the 50's now.


I use two liter bottles that I freeze. They lay against them. The advantage is that they don't expel themselves on them. At least not that I have seen. lol

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Re: Advice for a newbie?

Post Number:#11  Unread postby BunnyAuntie » Sat May 27, 2017 6:31 am


Thanks [b]TheChad[b] I'll keep that in mid too! :)
Well I think I solved one mystery but created a new problem... When my niece brought Roo, she brought the bag of food they were feeding him, it's just a clear plastic bag. She said they bought the food somewhere (pet store, maybe?) for $1/lb. So they obviously bought it in bulk. I just did a search on Amazon and found a 'food with crunchies' that matched exactly... it's Kaytee Guinea Pig food!!!! I'm not sure of the exact nutritional differences, but they are made with alfalfa hay not timothy hay, which probably explains why he's not interested in the hay or pellets I bought! He did just see the vet and she said he was healthy except for the spurs on his molars, but I can't imagine this would be good for him in the long run. So now my question is this.. what would be the best way to transition him to the actual rabbit pellets? The company makes a rabbit version with Timothy hay and alfalfa meal as the first two ingredients, would that be a good way to start?

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Re: Advice for a newbie?

Post Number:#12  Unread postby Marinea » Sat May 27, 2017 9:48 pm


Yes, but make the change slowly. Like over a week or so, slowly adding more of the new feed and less of the old. Watch for any changes in bun's poo.
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Re: Advice for a newbie?

Post Number:#13  Unread postby BunnyAuntie » Tue May 30, 2017 5:35 am


Thanks Marinea I'll go slow :)

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Re: Advice for a newbie?

Post Number:#14  Unread postby olafthebunny » Tue May 30, 2017 8:42 am


I would suggest switching to a new feed. It was probably on a muesli type mix which can be very bad ( like eating junk food every day, every meal.) Just some plain, simple but healthy pellets should be fine:) If you live in an area that has that brand, try Oxbow. Very good pellets, well at least I've heard.

I'm sure your niece just loves him to bits! I soon became a rabbit fanatic :lol: It started with one family shared rabbit to having my own and my sister having a rabbitry :lol:
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