The Carrot Tribune - May 2017

The Carrot Tribune


In this issue...

  • Basic Bunny class, May 13
  • Hoppy Hour, May 20
  • Preventing Myxomatosis
  • From the Archives: Tricks are for Rabbits
  • Join us on Instagram
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Basic Bunny Class, May 13

1:00 to 2:00 - Handling and Husbandry
2:00 to 2:30 - Training

Bring your Rabbit or Guinea Pig. Learn easy handling and care-taking during the first hour, then for the last half hour play training games that are fun for you and your pet! 

$5.00 for an individual
$10.00 for a family
Free to BUNS volunteers

All classes are in the Humane Society Education Building, at 5399 Overpass Rd, Goleta, (to the east  of the Animal Shelter)

Our next class is April 8. Join us on our Facebook event page to learn more! 

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Hoppy Hour - May 20

We have another Hoppy Hour this month! Join us May 20 from 1:30 PM to 2:30 PM. Bring your fuzzy friend and give them an opportunity to socialize with other rabbits! Socialization is a very important part of overall rabbit welfare, and a Hoppy Hour is the perfect opportunity to let your bunny play with others. 

Hoppy Hour will take place on the Humane Society Lawn, at 5399 Overpass Rd, Santa Barbara, CA 93111. Admission is $10 per rabbit. All animals must be healthy and rabbits must have been spayed or neutered at least 30 days in advance.

We'll be providing light refreshments for both you and your bunny, so please join us for an afternoon of fun!

Join us on our Facebook page for more info!

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Preventing Myxomatosis

Why worry about Myxomatosis, a mosquito bourn disease, during a drought? The Myxomatosis virus, a fatal rabbit disease, exists in California’s wild rabbits.The drought drives wild animals, including rabbits, closer to communities where irrigation provides water and food.

Mosquitoes, which transmit the virus, breed in any source of standing water: flower pots, pool filters, even bottle caps. In warmer weather, more mosquitoes survive the winter die off. Which means more breeding stock going into the spring.
This year wild rabbits, the source of Myxomatosis will be closer to your home. Mosquitoes, the most likely means of transmission, will be thriving. The combination can be deadly for your rabbit.

There are precautions you can take. Window screens and screen doors can reduce access to your home and your pets. Check your screens for rips and tears. If found, have them re-screened or close the tear with duct tape or painters tape. If your rabbit lives in an outdoor hutch, staple window screen to the wooden frame around wire walls. You can buy a roll of window screen mesh from Home Depot or OSH.

If your rabbit must exercise outside of a screened area, limit exposure time. Put the rabbit out in the late morning, and bring it back inside in the early afternoon. Do your best to reduce exposure time to mosquitos.

Talk with your vet about Vectra 3D. Developed for dogs, Vectra 3D is, according to the manufacturer, 80% effective in repelling 3 of the 4 mosquito types likely to transmit Myxomatosis. We have used this product safely in rabbits. However, it is sold in doses for dogs 5 pounds and over. So rabbits under 5 pounds get 1/2 the dose. Talk with your vet before using.

Learn more about mosquitoes, which can transmit encephalitis, West Nile and the Zika Virus’ to birds, humans, and other animals. Click here for more information:

Myxomatosis can also be transmitted by fleas and ticks. If you have cats and/or dogs keep their flea and tick prevention current.

There is no known treatment for Myxomatosis and the California Myxoma virus is always fatal to pet rabbits. Prevention is the best and only protection your for your rabbit.

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From the Archives: Tricks are for Rabbits

This year is the 25th anniversary of BUNS! We're celebrating by sharing stories from our volunteers about their experiences with BUNS. This month's story comes from our newsletter archives: In the 1990’s BUNS began to promote clicker training for rabbits, and this was one of our early articles on the subejct, written by Heidi Greer, former BUNS Vice President and Education Coordinator.

I happened upon it completely by accident. One day I was watching TV, and my rabbit, Bretta, hopped across the floor in front of me. Feeling friendly, I made a kissing noise with my lips. How surprised I was when she ran right over, put her front paws on my legs, and touched her mouth to mine! Where had she learned what a “kiss” was? I didn’t think I’d taught her that, but then I remembered something. You see, every night I go into the kitchen, get a couple of raisins, and give them to Bretta as a treat before going to bed. However, I give them to her only after I make a sound to get her attention, and I hold the raisins in between my lips. At some point she’d learned that the sound meant she should touch her lips to mine, where she would find a raisin. Then it hit me, if she could learn to give me a “kiss”, what other tricks could she learn?

Think about it; your rabbit probably already responds to a variety of sounds – the sound of the refrigerator opening means “food”, and the thump of your foot means “danger”. Why not expand on that? Clicker training has been a popular method of training dogs and horses for several years, and it works with rabbits too! Clicker training is effective because it uses the animal’s tendency to repeat actions that have positive consequences. How does it work? To put it simply, the “click” is way of saying “good” – it helps to identify which actions result in positive consequences, and thereby encourages your rabbit to take those actions.

The first step in clicker training is to get your rabbit to associate the “click” with a positive consequence. You’ll need a clicker, which is a small plastic box that makes a clicking noise when pushed. You’ll also need something your rabbit already views as positive, usually food (use small portions!). Start by simply clicking and giving a treat. Do this until your bunny looks for the treat when he hears the “click”. At this point he knows that this “clicking” noise means food, which is something he wants.

Next, begin shaping the behavior you want. For example, let’s say you want your rabbit to come to you when you call his name, You’d begin when your rabbit sitting or lying down. As soon as the rabbit makes any movement in your direction, with his head, his paw, his ears, anything, “click” and then give a treat. The timing of the “click” is crucial. You want to click during the action, not after it. Otherwise, he won’t associate the action with the sound of the clicker. Continue and his behavior will become more confident. Now try waiting a little longer before clicking. Wait for a greater motion towards you; maybe your rabbit will move a paw. Click again and treat. Repeat for a while and then raise the bar another level– maybe he’ll get up and take a step towards you. You get the idea! Breaking the desired action into TINY steps allows your rabbit to progress quickly.

Once your rabbit has learned the desired behavior, you can introduce an additional cue, such as verbal command that he will learn to associate with behavior. It may seem strange not to give commands initially, but remember your rabbit can only learn one thing at a time. Gradually you should stop using the clicker and giving the treat. Eventually you will be able to simply give the cue and he will perform the behavior your want!

Rabbits are creatures of habit and are easily trainable. Once you get the hang of it it’s fun! Think of tricks your rabbit can learn! He can learn to come, stay (very helpful when at the vet!), fetch toys, stand on his hind legs, hop in your lap, etc. It’s more challenging, but you can even train your rabbit NOT to do things, like bite or chew on the furniture. The possibilities are endless. Give it a try! At the very least you will enrich your relationship with your bunny.

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