Pudgy Pets - Taking care of a rabbit?

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11-10-2011, 06:17 PM
So just now I went on a walk with my dog and found this:


Before any of you start yelling about the carrots, I know. They shouldn't eat too much of those but this poor thing is all skin and bones. I needed to give it something that it could eat and get water from. I'm going after dinner to get a water thing (don't know what happened to the one I had) and some rabbit food.

So anyway I was walking my dog and I found this rabbit, or rather it found me. It hopped right up to me and I was able to pick it up and it huddled right up against me. Obviously this was someone's rabbit, but I'm guessing it was dumped since it doesn't seem the type to just run away. It hopped right into the cage when I brought it out and is also determined to stay in that cage for the time being.

I've had rabbits before but they've always been indoor rabbits (this is why I had the cage). Thing is, my mom won't let it in the house. I have to keep it outside and I know people do that but I'm kind of paranoid that something will happen to this rabbit. Can you safely leave them outside? I want to put it in the garage for the night...and I managed to get my mother to agree to let me bring it in the basement when it gets cold.

Any tips for raising an outdoor rabbit? :/ This one is so friendly and sweet that I can't just let it go. It was obviously scared and hungry...

11-10-2011, 07:45 PM
My first rabbit, "Mr. B." a huge New Zealand white, was kept outdoors, even during most of the winter. Only when it dipped below zero did we have to bring him inside (onto the closed in porch or in the basement). But my father had built him a very sturdy and well-insulated hutch (which was also on legs. Because rabbits can literally die of fright, I'd be concerned about leaving an open cage directly on the ground where a curious dog, cat, fox, owl... could try to get at the rabbit. Even if the cage is secure, the bunny could literally be frightened to death).

Also, you want a closed-in bedding box within the cage, filled with hay that will allow the bunny to get out of the wind and rain.

From what I've read, outdoor bunnies actually do better against the cold, than against heat. So when it's very hot outside, you'll want to bring his cage in the shade or even inside. Putting ice chips in the water bottle is said to help. That's what we did for Mr. B.

If you can bring the cage into the garage at night, that would be ideal, because the bunny would be protected from both weather and predators. If not, I'd really consider putting the cage up on cinder blocks. And using a piece of canvas over the cage (and remembering to have a bedding box for

I know you said you didn't want to let it go, so I'm probably just telling you something you already know, but I want to stress how bad of an idea that really would be - just in case. If you can't keep him, find him a new home or take him to the Humane Society, because domestic rabbits are not able to take care of themselves in the wild. They're not as sturdy as wild rabbits, and they don't have the instincts necessary for survival (which is probably why the bunny is so thin).

I also wanted to mention that it's possible that he was not dumped, and that his owners are looking for him. I "found" a white mini-lop bunny in our backyard once, and my mother made me ask everyone on my paper route if they had lost their pet rabbit (personally, I thought "Finders Keepers" but I was only 11 years old). While the owners weren't on my paper route, one of the people on my paper route knew the owners, and they were looking for him (turns out he lived almost ten blocks from us). Their cage was homemade, and they didn't realize just how quickly a rabbit can chew through a wood door.

It's not always easy to find the owner of a stray bunny, because they can travel so far from home, but just to be sure, I would suggest checking with the local Humane Society or Animal Control to see if anyone had been looking for a missing black, lop-eared rabbit.

11-10-2011, 08:09 PM
Kaplods, thank you for the advice :)

I put him/her (going to check the gender in the morning when I can see) in the garage right now, because while we don't have foxes or any predators like that roaming around my neighborhood, I know there are cats and raccoons and this bunny is very weak right now.

I really wouldn't imagine just letting it go. The more time I spend with this rabbit I see that there is no way it would survive out there on its own. I did walk around several blocks with the rabbit and knock on doors asking if anyone lost it, but nobody knew anything (this was not fun with my little dog trying to see what I was holding!). I didn't think it could have wandered far, but I will put up flyers. I was planning to anyway, just in case. I know there's a local rabbit rescue too (I was researching them recently as I wanted to adopt a rabbit in the near future) as so many of these little guys get dumped in my area, but they might know if someone lost a bunny. I'll contact the other agencies you mentioned tomorrow too :) Thank you for mentioning them, I wouldn't have thought about them otherwise.

Thank you so much for the advice! :) Hopefully if I can't keep this bunny that it has a loving home waiting for it.

11-10-2011, 09:08 PM
If you want to keep him, I'd advise against flyers with photos or too specific of information, because someone could easily falsely claim it was their missing bunny. To be honest, I wouldn't even bother with flyers.

Some people may consider me hard-hearted in this way, but I would want to be sure that the people were diligent about trying to find their missing pet.

Now I know flyers could have been up and I could miss them, but personally, myself, I'd only just call the humane society - because it would (or should be) the first place someone who lost a pet and wanted it back would call. And I've volunteered in humane societies and I know that except in super large cities, the volunteers would know and remember if someone had called in a missing pet of that particular description in the past year).

That way, I'd be less worried about people "pretending" to have lost a pet, in order to get a free pet.

I'm not a distrusting, suspicious person by nature. I've just seen people do some very insane things, especially regarding animals. When I was a probation officer, I encountered more than once person who would frequently give their children pets (because they found ways to get them "free," including pretending to be the owner of lost pets) and then because they couldn't afford to take care of them properly, would dump them (or worse, sell them or keep the animal, but not take care of the animal properly). Then at the next birthday or Christmas, they'd repeat the process. I hated seeing animals treated as disposable gifts - but sadly there aren't very many laws that prevents this, especially if no mistreatment is involved (abandoning pets is usually illegal, but generally hard to prove. The former owner just claims the animal got lost or ran away some how).

I also found it very strange and disturbing how many people will let their pets "loose" because they're afraid that the humane society to "kill them." What they don't realize is that the chances of any domestic pet living successfully in the wild, or even on it's own in the city, is almost nil. So instead of the chance at a home and at worst a quick, painless death - the animal is guaranteed a painful, possibly slow death from traffic, predators, starvation, malnourishment, exposure, disease...

But back to keeping this cute little bunny outdoors - you should be able to find a lot of great information at the library or online (just make sure to double-check online information, or verify that the source is reputable, such as a recognized rabbit breeder's association).

Just be forewarned that some of the information on raising rabbits is aimed at those breeding for food and fur. That doesn't mean it's bad information (in fact, some of the best information can be found from these breeders - because they're very commited to preventing loss of their animals from illness or predators). It can just be disturbing to read, if you're easily upset by the thought of animals being raised to be killed for food or fur.

11-10-2011, 09:31 PM
You know I never even thought of that, I won't put up the flyers then. I have to remember that not everyone is completely honest about these things and rabbits are too often thought to be cute, cuddly things for children and then dumped frequently. It's part of the reason for the local rescue we have here just for rabbits. They seemed to get dumped far too often around here and it breaks my heart to read the stories of people finding them.

I'll do research, thank you again :) I know how to care for indoor rabbits, but I'm totally clueless when it comes to making sure they're alright living outside. I know it isn't all that different, but I just want to make sure this little guy is safe and gets healthy and strong again. I'll start doing research and no worries if I come across information about raising them for fur and such, it won't phase me. As long as I find information that helps me take care of this rabbit then it's all fine :)

I've checked on it recently and it's gobbling up the food I got and drinking the water. It doesn't seem phased by living in the garage. Either that or it's too busy eating and drinking to care.

11-10-2011, 10:13 PM
Mr. B. the New Zealand White I had as a teenager didn't mind living outside at all. We'd often let him hop around the yard loose (with supervision).

He was also a cuddle-bunny and would love to sit in laps. I was always mad at my brother because he'd feed the bunny things he shouldn't have (like rootbeer). Mr. B. never got ill, but I was always afraid he was going to.

When I was in college my parents gave him away to a friend of my brother's because no one in the family had time for him (I understand why, but I wish they had at least asked me). At least he went to a great home, and to a friend so I knew what became of him. He became an indoor bunny, and my brother's friend said Mr. B. would cuddle on his lap while they watched tv and ate popcorn.

I'd love to have a rabbit now, but our old cat is absolutely terrified of other animals. She once even began yowling at a spider on the floor and wouldn't rest until my husband killed it. She's a brave one.

The only animal she can tolerate the sight of without panicking is the neighbor's pomeranian. They'll both watch each other from the screened in doorways in the summer. I don't think she realized the pomeranian is a dog.

11-10-2011, 11:30 PM
That's awesome that you rescued the rabbit! I work at my local humane society/animal shelter, and you can tell the animals are just so relieved to be safe and have someone taking care of them when they're rescued. As previously suggested, you can call your local animal welfare agencies and file a "found" report, so that if anyone reports a lost pet matching the bunny's description, they can match it up. They should also be able to give you info on caring for the bunny. I know at mine, we don't allow bunnies to live outdoors (more possible health issues than living inside) - so maybe they'll have some insight on that that might convince your mom to let him be an indoor bunny? Either way - good for you for helping save a life! :)

11-10-2011, 11:48 PM
You have such a good heart to rescue this little cutie. I hope it all works out!

11-11-2011, 01:36 AM
If you leave your bunny outside you have to careful of dogs, they will kill a rabbit.

11-11-2011, 05:47 AM
That is so kind of you, I seem to take in a lot of unwanted little creatures too! I would just second what everyone else is saying, you want to give it a closed off private hutch area so it can't get scared or cold! And also lots of hugs :)

11-12-2011, 08:29 AM
Hi everyone. Thank you for the replies/words of support! :) I've got a bit of an update on the bunny as of last night:

I think it's a boy. I'm going to double check again, since he wasn't very calm yesterday.

I've called the different places mentioned. Someone did lose a lop-earned bunny but it was brown. They'll let me know if this guy was reported missing. I've kind of fallen in love with him though, I hope nobody claims him.

He's doing alright. He's drinking water and gobbling up food and whenever I pick him up he cuddles right up against me...This little guy has my heart wrapped around his tiny paw!

He's staying in the garage because the cage I have is NOT meant for keeping a rabbit outside safely. As I said, I've had indoor rabbits before, years ago, but never an outdoor one.

I've convinced my mother to let him stay in the basement semi-permanently. I'm going to go down there and set up a little space for him...the main reason for all of this is that she wants him away from the dog and she's not allowed downstairs anyway. Slowly, perhaps I can convince her to let him stay down there permanently. She thinks he's super cute so I might have him work his charm, haha!

I didn't want to name him in case someone claims him...but I did anyway. I've named him Wheatley, which if you know video games you're probably laughing right now. Chell was the designated girl's name in case I later discover "he" is a "she" or something like that.

Edit: Nope, turns out she's a girl. Chell it is. Thought that might be the case since I didn't think I would have just found a neutered male.

11-29-2011, 01:36 PM
As one who's owned by a rescued bunny - kudos to you for your big heart and being able to recognize that she wouldn't survive without your help! I never considered a rabbit for a pet; we had always been dog people until DS12 changed schools and we met Patches. Even though he's not the cuddle-bunny yours is, our little guy has been an absolute joy. I find him to be the perfect mix of great pets - not "in your face" like a dog, and not predatory or aloof like a cat. I am bunny-smitten! :)

01-08-2012, 11:55 AM
Omg, I've never heard of stray bunnies before now. What a sweetie to have found you & blessings to you for rescuing her.