Rabbit up and downs

So a couple days after I got the rabbits one of them bit me. I was going to pick her up so the kids could hold / pet her, she was having none of it and gave me a little nip. If you have rabbits, you are probably already shouting at me. Basically, everything we did (other than providing housing, feed, and water) we did wrong. Now I know that we shouldn’t have touched them for a minimum of a week, preferably two. I did get lots of good advice on a facebook rabbitry group. For instance, what I should have done the first week, and have been doing since, is simply spending time out there, talking with them, and bribing them with various foods. I’ve learned that they all pretty much love white pine branches / needles and grass, not so much kale and various other things we’ve tried.

So with a week of bribing under my belt the boy I am able to pet about half the time, the most chill rabbit will actually come to the cage door to investigate and can easily be pet. I did try putting my hand underneath her to move her once and she did seem to freak out. My daugher’s rabbit is supposed to be one of the nicer, she will let me pet her when I bribe her now, so that is definitely progress. The last rabbit is VERY stand-offish and still runs away at the slightest touch or hit of touch. She also makes me a bit nervous that she is going to bite me as she charges me much of the time and makes very sudden moves. I’m not sure if she is asserting dominance, is just nervous, or if I’m at the risk of being bitten.

I am happy to say that the water nipples I got off amazon worked beautifully, I was able to go out of town for a couple days and the water jugs I hooked in to the water nipples have so far lasted a week. It didn’t take too long to get everybody using the nipples, a couple figured it out quickly, a couple I never really was able to figure out when they got it. I knew from the get-go that I didn’t want to use water bottles since they’d be too hard to manage in the winter. From what I’ve seen I’d need 2-3 bottles per rabbit to swap out in winter time, that is more money and hassle than I wanted to deal with. I have seen some decent winter watering setups using water nipples, a bucket of water, a stock tank heater and a recirculating pump. The pump makes sure the water is warm so (hopefully!) the water wont freeze. This seems like the least effort and since the water is in an insulated container it shouldn’t use too much power. If I move the rabbits near the house (for wind-break purposes) I might even be able to run the lines inside to make sure the water stays plenty warm. I’d want to have some sort of redundancy (or at least alarm!) in case a pump or heater stopped working, or in case the water froze despite the heater / pump.

These¬†are the water nipples I bought from Amazon (I was in a hurry and the prime shipping got them here before I had to leave for the weekend). I think they are a couple bucks cheaper direct from rabbitnipple.com, not sure if that includes shipping though (and I wanted to be backed up by Amazon’s customer service when dealing with a company I hadn’t dealt with).

I’ve also discovered that the cage doors need to be MUCH larger than you’d anticipate if you haven’t previously dealt with rabbits. It makes it much easier to reach in to do what is needed when you can get a shoulder in. Having a way to latch the door solidly open is good too. I haven’t decided if I prefer the door to open upwards, downwards, to the open area, or to the wall.

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