Respect for Rabbits
Dear Jenny: My bunny hates his new pellets!
DEAR JENNY: I recently changed the pellets for my bunny, and he hates them. I didn’t know better and was giving him alfalfa, when I learned he should have Timothy-based pellets because they are healthier for him. What can I do to get him to eat the new pellets?
DEAR FRUSTRATED: Changing foods suddenly can be hard for a bunny. They like consistency and are really set in their ways. He doesn’t like the new pellets because alfalfa has a sweeter flavor and rabbits love anything sweet! The best way to transition to the new pellets is to mix them. Over a two-week period, mix the pellets together starting with half-Alfalfa and half-Timothy. After two days, reduce the amount of alfalfa to one-third of the mix. At the beginning of the second week, reduce alfalfa to one-quarter of the mix. In the middle of the second week, change to all timothy with a few alfalfa, sprinkled in. By the end of the second week your rabbit should get 100% Timothy pellets from then on. Stand firm; your bunny may be stubborn, but you are doing what’s best for his health and that’s important. — JENNY
DEAR JENNY: The other day, my bunny started thumping her feet very loudly. It really scared me, and I thought there was something wrong. She thumped for almost a half hour! I called a vet office and they said that there was nothing wrong, but I don’t understand why she did this. Should I be worried? — SCARED MOM
DEAR SCARED MOM: Thumping is something rabbits do to signal “Danger!” to their warren – other rabbits or humans that live with them. Thumping is a behavior that has a purpose. You’ll see it mostly when a rabbit hears something they cannot identify, and they become worried about what it might be. So, they thump to warn others of potential danger. Rabbits will also sometimes thump if they are angry at you. Maybe you picked up bunny and she didn’t like it. She’s likely to thump, to show her displeasure, once you set her down. The best response from you is to gently stroke her and tell her "it’s okay." Be calm and quiet and help her to calm down too. I wouldn’t suggest that you try to get her to stop. Many rabbits have, in fact, saved their humans from danger (house fire, etc.) by thumping to alert them.