It's been a while since I updated you on rabbit news. They're all such characters and we've had some medical dramas so now everyone's living happily ever after (for now and within reason) let's get this update underway.
Mops was the smallest of Charlie and Bella's babies. One of her parents carry a ressessive Rex gene, which means that Mops has short, velvetty, wavy fur. We call her colour "black and white" but officially I think it's known as "broken". She's super smart, really curious, and a loner. The last few weeks have seen her become a free-range rabbit. She doesn't return to a hutch at night any more, but she's kind of taken over the entire garden. She's as friendly as she's ever been, but while she doesn't like her nose being rubbed she doesn't mind a quick, gently back rub.
Look at that face! Now you don't know this, but that face hasn't looked like that for months. Probably getting on for 4 months he's had a runny nose. He's been to the vet three times and had as many courses of antibiotics. His nose didn't stop streaming and when I came home from work on Friday, it was so bad his whole neck and chest was sodden with the discharge, and he was swallowing continuously as it streamed down the back of his throat!
It was super scary for me to see that, partly because I thought that wet neck was from an abssess (so relieved it was just snot) and also that he got so much worse so quickly.
Rabbits are prey animals, and as such, will hide an illness or injury so predators don't pick on them. So a rabbit displaying illness is probably pretty sick. I decided to take Charlie to a different vet because I felt the one I was taking him to wasn't really listening to me or offering any real problem-solving thought processes.
I went to a vet in Avondale. That's about a 40 minute trip for me and Charlie. The vet works out of a tiny cupboard of a place in a shopping centre. I wasn't even sure I was in the right place because it felt like that back entrance to a store cupboard!
But it was the right place, and the vet was great. He listened to why I thought Charlie was unwell; he examined Charlie really thoroughly. Checked he didn't have a temperature and checked that his teeth (often a problem with rabbits) weren't the problem.
He also asked about the other rabbits - something the other vet never did. By doing that, he could suggest that Charlie didn't have a virus, because if he did, the other rabbits would have caught it. And that he probably didn't have a bacterial infection because Charlie's hutch-partner Bella hadn't caught anything either. All the other rabbits are really healthy, and they have tons of contact with Charlie.
Good deducting, I reckon.
He gave Charlie a dose of the antibiotic the other vet had used, but he suggested Charlie might be immune compromised, or allergic to something. I asked about what Charlie might be allergic to and he suggested the pellets, or the hutch, or the hay.
Considering hay is fairly new to Charlie in the last six months, it might be a contender.
When I got home on Saturday, I set up a hypo-allergenic hutch for Charlie and Bella. No hay, with a new brand of pellets, and compressed paper bedding instead of straw. I lined the little trays they like to sleep in with suppliments from the Saturday paper, and then opened the doors to their new house and let them out of their old one.
This morning I couldn't believe the improvement in Charlie. His face was completely dry. Although he still coughs, it's nowhere near as frequently, and his breathing is normal and there's no more compulsive swallowing he was displaying the day before. The very best thing was that when I brought them their breakfast - they have green leafy vegetables in the morning - he ate them! He has only been eating the pellets for ages, but he chomped his way through the crunchy silverbeet so that was fantastic to see.
I read that as he's feeling better.
Right now he's galloping around the back lawn with Bella and Mops just like he used to. And while I know I changed a lot of his environment so I can't really pinpoint what it was about his home that 'got up his nose' I'll put money on it being the hay and I just have a nerdy little rabbit who has a reaction to the very food that is the very best for him!
After a long nap in the sun, Lady took a while to wake all the way up. She and Snowflake live in the same hutch and get on really well. They both don't mind when Richie drops in to have a snuggle, either.
Rabbits have a pecking order, and Lady isn't near the top but she's not at the bottom - that slot is reserved for Mops. Since the rabbits have been desexed, they are a lot less aggressive, but that's not to say everything is coming up roses. There are still sprinting rabbits trying to avoid having the butts bitten by a more dominant female, and clumps of soft white fur can be found wafting across the grass - but I try and regulate who is out with whom to minimise that.
Lady is a lovely girl though. She loves having a nose rub and back pat. She really loves her breakfast veggies too. When she first came to live here it was hard to tell her and Charlie apart as they are both blue eyed, lop earred, white bunnnies. But she has longer legs than he does and has about 500 grams on Charlie so it's a lot easier to tell them apart now.
Oh my goodness, this quiet gentleman is such a character - not to mention handsome. Don't be fooled though, he is all male when he needs to be especially when Charlie is around. They will attack each other and need to be kept apart. When he sees Charlie, but can't get to him, he'll take his aggression out on Abbey. She's fast though, and can manage to keep ahead of him. He's a Giant Flemish rabbit, and because he's so much bigger, he doesn't have the stamina of the smaller bunnies like Abbey, so she can out manouvour him.
Richie's tricks include jumping up onto the neighbouring hutch room and into the girls' cage for snuggles. Bounding up the back steps and into the house to watch tv or hangout in my bedroom. And when he runs, he may not run for long, but he's by far the fastest of all the rabbits when out in the garden.
Like the other bunnies, Richie is molting his Winter coat. Seems he's going to have a shorter, bluer coat for summer and it looks mighty good on him.
If you think rabbits are quiet, you really need to meet Abbey. She gruffs like a dog if another rabbit gets too close to her run. She'll charge at the fence and GRUFFF!!. When there's no fence between her and another bunny she'll chase them until she nips a mouth full of fur out of their rump! You don't mess with this bunny. The best way to describe her is 'street tough'.
She's adorable though. Mostly hates being touched but happy to have a sniff and a tiny nip of my finger which, in rabbit terms, is a friendly hello. At night, when I'm giving Richie a good ole nose rub, she inserts her nose into the space to get some action.
Sometimes I pick her up - like all the rabbits she hates that - but these days she lets me have a pat and a short snuggle. I still sport scars on my forearm from earlier days when that was impossible to do.
Abbey has a set of stackable cups - the ones we buy for babies? She loves uncupping them and throwing them around the place. She's so smart and completey loveable.