I think a formal introduction is necessary finally! My name is Adriana and I am the owner/ operator of Blue Clover Rabbitry. It's important for our families and future families to know where exactly their bunnies come from and how they are raised. We have so many buns that are shipped out of state, and those families don't get to come see the atmosphere that their babies are raised in. I'm hoping I can explain and express in this blog the process of how babies are raised here!
There are so many different rabbitry's out there and each owner runs and operates differently. Everyone has their own opinion on how to raise rabbits but I wanted to dig a little deeper for you all to understand how I run my rabbitry and how our babies are raised! We handle our bunnies from day one when they are born. It is not dangerous for our bunnies to be handled when they are newborns because our rabbits are domesticated and we have a very strong bond to all of our does. They will not reject their babies like wild rabbit mothers would do. So when you see pictures of baby bunnies in my hand, don't fret! They are safe! Baby buns like to be warm when they are little, so even though they mostly just sleep, this is the most crucial time for bonding with them that will shape their future! We cuddle them up in the palm of our hands or tuck them in warm pockets. Did you know their eyes don't open until they are 10 days old?! That's such along time to not see anything! So their first sense is touch. Once you've created that warm and safe bond holding them in your hands, when their eyes open they can quickly associate that you are a safe zone for them. Bonding with them when they are newborns is a crucial part of raising rabbits here at Blue Clover!
Around two weeks is when the bunnies are starting to be alert and learning to hop around, which by the way if you haven't seen...is adorable! They don't have their balance quite yet so there's a lot of tipping over and rolling. A lot of pictures I post on instagram are of baby holland lops and we have so many people asking what breed they are because their ears are sticking straight up. Holland lops are not actually born with floppy ears. Depending on several factors, it can take anywhere from 2.5 weeks to 4 months. If they flop at 2.5 weeks, it's literally the cutest thing on planet Earth that you'll ever see... This stage is where it starts to get fun because they're responsive to you and since they're starting to eat solids, you can feed them strands of hay while you're holding them. I may have a little obsession with baby buns....ok maybe a big obsession! This is what I do full time 24/7. It's not a hobby, its a lifestyle. Sharing my bunnies with the world has been a dream come true and I'm so thankful how much God has really blessed it!
At three weeks old, the buns are running around and very responsive to their surroundings. This is usually when we take pictures to post on our website for upcoming reservations. One place rabbits love to be pet is right above their nose. Sometimes when you start, they don't want you to stop and if you take your hand away they'll come running and nudge you to keep petting them. To have a three week old do this to you is priceless. At three weeks they weigh about a half a pound...if that. They still fit in the palm of your hand and some may even start giving kisses at this stage.
We have play pens inside that they get to exercise in. Our buns are also beginning potty training before they leave. We've had some families say that their bunnies picked it up in one day and others, it's take a week or two. We do have information on our website about potty training, so if you want some successful tips or trouble shooting advice, check out our other blogs or "how to care for bunnies" page. The rest of their time here we just make sure to bond and hold each bunny every day. Our number one priority is social time each day with the babies, so when we have months where we have more babies, it may take us a few extra hours to respond to messages. My niece who is now 5 is a big helper when she comes to visit. She is so gentle with the bunnies and loves holding them. We also socialize them with our boxer puppy Bailey! It's important to us to socialize them together because there are other families out there that have other pets and it makes for an easier transition when they've already been in contact with a dog before. Our rabbits are not afraid of our dog and most of the brave little bunnies will go up to her on their own once they've had a few snuggle sessions.
I am continually seeking to provide better care for my rabbits. It's a continuous road of learning the do's and don'ts of raising them! A few things we've changed in the past year is adding apple cider vinegar to their water, which if you are interested in learning more about that, we have a blog post on the benefits to adding it to their water. We've also switched to an organic non soy-corn feed which has made a huge difference in their fur. A lot of people that come to see the bunnies always ask why they are so soft. The feed is one of the main reasons! We also are going to be busy bees remodeling our 700ft shop to accommodate our bunnies housing this Spring. Our online store may be small right now because bonding time comes first and since the demand has grown astronomically, we have a lot more babies to attend to daily. When there is a little bit of down time, that is when I get to sowing bunny quilts or making hay bin/ litter box combos for local orders. Youtube will be another thing being improved this year with videos of current babies and "how to" videos. If you haven't subscribed yet, do so! We have big plans for 2018 and can't wait to make the announcements as we hit each milestone!
God bless you all!
First you will want to buy a litter pan, but not just any litter pan. On the market for rabbits you will find these litter pans that are a triangle shaped which can be placed in the corners of your cage. These are not the most effective ones to use and I do not recommend them. If you do choose to buy one of the corner pans and you are having trouble potty training, switch to a square one. Try to find a pan that is stable enough that if they push their feet on the edge, it wont tip over.
For litter, we recommend using a shredded paper or pellet form to absorb urine. Do not use clay-based or clumping litter as this is harmful to rabbits’ respiratory systems. Look for a litter that is odor absorbent, as rabbit urine has an unpleasant smell. Put a thin layer of litter at the bottom of the litter box- just enough to absorb wetness. If you do not have a hay bin/ litter box combo, we recommend adding a thin layer of straw to the top of the litter in the pan because rabbits like to chew on something while they’re in their litter box. There’s no need to fill it too high since rabbits don’t bury their droppings like cats. Plus, when you clean the litter box, you dump the entire contents out each time. Don’t fill too high or you will excessively waste a lot more litter than necessary.
You’ll want to limit their free roam space in the beginning to get them acclimated to their new area. Buying a puppy pen to confine them in one area is a good idea. As they are progressing in their training, you can open their space up more until they are fully potty trained. Then feel free to let them free roam with full access to their litter pan. If for any reason they start having accidents, retract their space again until they’re using their litter box. Some families have multiple litter boxes depending on how big of a space they have to run around in.
Here are a few other tips for those stubborn, “outside-the-box” bunnies:
· If an accident occurs, wipe up the urine with a paper towel and pick up stray poop and place both in the litter box. This helps get the message across that the litter box is the place that they should do their business. Keep in mind that rabbits are generally not 100% perfect with their litter box. Sometimes they leave a few droppings next to the box, or they urinate over the edge of their box. This is normal, so placing a plastic mat under their litter box or putting the litter box on a tile floor makes it easier to clean up these little mistakes.
· Bunnies here at Blue Clover Rabbitry begin potty training before they leave. Some rabbits pick it up right away within a day, while others may take a few months. Be patient and persistent! If you can see they’re about to go outside their litter box (they may lift their tail or sometimes they sort of shimmy down in a seated position right before they go), try to pick them up and put them in the litter box.
· If your bunny is insistent on going in one corner of the room, sometimes it’s easier to give in to their stubbornness, and place a litter box in that corner.
· If your rabbit is pooping/spraying pee everywhere, this is probably due to your rabbit marking his territory. It’s a good idea to get your rabbit spayed/neutered in order to calm down their hormones and lessen the likelihood of territory marking. Sometimes it can take up to a couple months for the spraying to stop so be patient. You can buy a litter box with tall sides to help avoid urine being sprayed out of the pan.
Even if your buns live outdoors, you can still potty train and we would recommend doing so for cages without a drop pan. This allows the cage and rabbit to stay cleaner.