Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Hip Hop Hooray!

Here is Hip Hop the Angora Lop, the first head of livestock for Woodchuck Acres! I brought her home from the Elkhart Humane Society on Saturday afternoon. I felt like a nut, driving 105 minutes each way, to pick up 5 pounds of fur, but I'm glad I did. She really needed a home.

I have had hamsters and rats, dogs and cats, chickens and goats, goldfish and lizards, but this is a first for rabbits. We are still getting used to each other, and I'm still figuring out how best to have this creature in my home. Right now, it's all experimental and experiential.

Originally, I planned to keep Hip Hop in the Florida room, but Princess Fern has been having litterbox issues lately, so I started locking her out there while I'm gone, and she likes it. Not wanting to upset her, I decided to start Hip Hop under the breakfast bar in the kitchen. That did not last long, as Hip Hop freaked when she saw the dog and cat, and when Hip Hop thumped, her cage rattled so hard, the dog and cat freaked. So the cage is now on top of the breakfast bar. Everyone is happy with that arrangement. For now.

Then there is the issue of the rabbit litterbox. Hip Hop is treating it like a nesting box, pooping and peeing at the other end of the cage. Or, more accurately, peeing out the other end of the cage (and into the dog's water bowl - no wonder Betsy was not drinking). I've tried the paper-based litter from the petstore and shredded newspaper from my home office, but both cling to Hip Hop's butt fur - not very attractive. So right now I am using sheets of newspaper in the pan under the cage floor, with a newspaper guard keeping the pee local to the cage, until I figure something else out. Meanwhile, I put an old towel in the litter/nesting box, which Hip Hop doesn't seem to like.

I am not impressed with the rabbit equipment I've purchased so far. The hay wheel does keep the timothy off the floor, but the little access door won't stay closed. The design of the holder for the flat-sided water bottle is not very secure, and Hip Hop managed to jiggle the bottle loose, causing it to crash to the floor, breaking the cap. It took me two days to get the food dish attached properly to the cage bars, and I was able to do that only after I discarded some of the "double-locking" pieces. And the litterbox can be attached to the side of the cage, but there is no quick-release on the mechanism, so to remove the box for cleaning requires more work than I think should be necessary.

Our primary activity so far has been grooming, as Hip Hop's fur is rather matted. I leave her in the cage and reach through the side door to tease out the snarls. She is surprisingly patient, and I treat her with a leafy green every couple of minutes. Most of the bigger snarls have been combed out, so now I am working on the less visible ones that make her feel lumpy. I also have a little baggie of bunny fuzz to play with.

Hip Hop is still rather jumpy, which makes me jumpy. When I carry her to the big bathroom, where she can run around and stretch her legs without fear, she shivers. If I move too suddenly, she jumps. I read that rabbits sometimes bite or fly out of your arms or fling themselves about their cages until they injure themselves, so I treat her vewy, vewy carefully. But I can tell she is feeling more relaxed, as instead of huddling in her litterbox, she lays stretched out on the cage floor, mistress of all she surveys.

I considered changing her name, but if I get some more rabbits, I can name them Do Wop and Bebop.

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