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pell1l.gif When adding a pet bunny to the family, an excellent place to begin searching for that special bunny may be by calling your local State 4-H Extension Office, listed as your State Cooperative Extension Service in the County section of Government listings, for a referral to local 4-H and/or American Rabbit Breeders Association members who can assist in finding your very special bunny. You should be offered feed and care instructions, a health guarantee and knowledgeable assistance with any possible health or behavior concerns that you might need assistance with.

pell1r.gif These tips are offered as an opinion after raising Holland Lops and working with various breeds as a 4-H Leader, assisting 4-H and ARBA youth over the years. However, each bunny owner tends to have worked out their own unique way of best caring for their rabbits so these tips are simply what appears to work out best in the care of Holland Lop bunnies. Holland Lops are quite hardy if fed correctly as youngsters so these tips tend to be especially important when bunnies are under 6 months of age...

pell1l.gif Carefully turning the bunny onto it's back and holding it close to you each time it is handled serves several purposes. This lets the bunny know that you are in control, as the dominant one, and also seems to help the bunny remain calmer while lessening it's fear of falling or being dropped. This practice also tends to assist in keeping the bunny calm, easier going and more enjoyable to handle as it matures, which is especially important when being held by younger children. Turning the bunny onto it's back, scolding and returning to it's cage also appears to be an excellent way to correct most behavior concerns. Bunnies should never aggressively bite anyone although it might accidentally nip after smelling something tasty on fingers or clothing or if does have been handled just prior to handling a buck...

pell1r.gif I try to feed good quality pellets, showing no signs of discoloration, preferably purchased from a smaller feed company through a local feed store, as this tends to provide overall better quality control than I've experienced with most feed purchases from major feed companies or products offered at many chain or pet stores...

pell1r.gif Treats seem to be OK, in SMALL amounts, but small is the key word. I avoid any treats with corn, sugar or dried fruits, etc. I do offer them a small daily treat of 1 teaspoon to 2 tablespoons, (depending on the bunny's size), of flaked, steamed barley mixed with 10% black oil sunflower seed, (from a mix of 1# sunflower seeds to 10# barley). I don't offer rolled oats from feed stores after losing several young bunnies with internal bleeding from what appeared to be punctured intestines after feeding rolled oats with sharp hull ends to find the problem disappeared when the oats were discontinued. However, oatmeal processed for human consumption seems to be fine to feed. Processed cereals such as oatmeal, shredded wheat, rice krispies, cheerios,or others not containing any added corn or sugar, should be acceptable when offered in small amounts, if desired. Rabbit pellets are generally considered to be a complete balanced feed and will most likely contain small acceptable amounts of corn and molasses, but health problems may occur when more corn or sugar is added to the diet, as some tend to get seizures with excess sugar while excess corn or other grains might lead to a serious bacterial infection in the intestine followed by possible death from diarrhea and dehydration...

pell1r.gif Anything moldy seems to be extremely deadly to bunnies! I discard any pellets, grains, hay or straw that appear to be discolored, damp, or moldy in appearance or showing any signs of mold dust when lightly shaken before being offered to the bunny as food or bedding...

pell1r.gif Banana, apple, carrot or most root crops, (growing underground), except for potatoes which tend to be too starchy, appear to be safe in SMALL amounts. I don't offer lettuce, cabbage, pears, other fruits (or most other above ground crops) to be safe as some tend to cause the bunny to develop pasty or loose stools in addition to painful bloating. Once the bunny reaches at least 6 months of age, you may desire offering small amounts of other treats. However, I'd recommend closely watching the bunny after any diet changes and immediately discontinue offering anything, including newly purchased pellets or grain, that are followed by pasty or loose stools...

pell1l.gif My Hollands are offered a good quality, clean, dry grass or alfalfa hay daily (Grass hay is preferred). Bright green Alfalfa cubes are also occasionally offered. If the bunny is playing in the yard, small amounts of grass or dandelion seem to be OK for the bunny to nibble on, as long as neither have been treated with insecticide, weed killer or fertilizer. The key again, is SMALL amounts, especially for a young bunny...

pell1r.gif Alfalfa cubes, pieces of unfinished pine wood, (NO paint or varnish), and a pink colored Trace Mineral salt spool in the cage seem to help keep bunnies occupied and, hopefully, also helps to prevent them from getting bored enough to chew on the cage wires, possibly dislodging, breaking or pulling any teeth.

pell1l.gif Pine shavings or short shredded strips of black ink newspaper, (avoid comics), topped with a layer of CLEAN, dry grass, hay or straw is used for bedding in a wooden nestbox for does expecting litters. A layer of shavings covered by another layer of dry grass or hay helps insulate the newborn kits, however fine pine shaving residue should be sifted out before using as the newborn kits may inhale the fines up their noses or into their lungs. I have hanging wire cages inside of a barn rather than hutches, so wooden boxes or boards are placed on the cage floors of junior does and all of the bucks to offer them a place get off of the wire, helping to retain body heat in the winter and in the prevention of possible sore hocks. I avoid using cloth items as, when soiled, they tend to harbor germs and also possibly reinforce the bunny's natural tendency to chew on items of your clothing...

pell1r.gif A house bunny should be monitored closely when out of it's cage and exposed to electrical wiring, poisonous houseplants, furniture legs or carpet which can pose serious health problems if chewed. It's probably best to cage thebunny while the owners are sleeping or away from home. Litter training can usually be accomplished by observing which area of the cage the bunny prefers for it's potty spot and then placing a stable litter container or heavy crock over that area with some of the bunny's own droppings in it. Most young bunnies catch on rather easily but the task can become more difficult as they mature. Litter products intended for cats might pose serious health problems if eaten by a bunny...

pell1l.gif Clipping toenails can be accomplished by turning the bunny onto it's back while holding it close to you and, if necessary, wrapping the bunny snuggly in a towel while working with one foot at a time. You can usually see where the quic ends by looking at the underside of each toenail. It should be fairly safe to clip the nail midway between the tip of the toenail and the quic. A small pair of diagonal wire cutters appears to work best with my bunnies. If the nail is accidently clipped too short and bleeding occurs, remaining calm while keeping the bunny on it's back and as calm as possible until the bleeding stops seems to help the situation...

pell1r.gif Single bunnies usually do well alone and bond quickly to their owners but if two or more bunnies are desired, separate cages should be available by the time they reach 3 months of age. Bunnies generally prefer their own private space as they mature, so cramped living quarters can lead to disagreements and possible serious injuries, as one bunny is likely to become dominant in deciding that the other bunny is invading their space. Bucks seldom get along after reaching puberty and does usually also tend to start disagreeing around that age. Young bucks and does should always have separate living quarters to avoid possible early breeding difficulties including miscarriage or serious internal injury to the immature doe...

pell1l.gif When choosing a bunny, always check to be certain that the two top front teeth extend over the bottom front teeth and that the bottom teeth don't meet or extend out in front of the top teeth as this could lead to serious future problems after you have become very fond of your bunny...

pell1r.gif Hopefully, some of these tips will assist in the successful search for and care of your own very special happy healthy bunny friend...

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* This site was developed and intended for educational puproses only. DustyDickens bunnies have never been for sale through the internet and I don't advise buying any bunny without observing it in person and handling it first. In your search for your special bunny, I would recommend checking with your local 4-H Extension Office or ARBA for referrals to local breeders. A pedigree and/or high prices does NOT mean a bunny is show quality! Hopefully, the breeder will keep the best interests of the buyer in mind and only offer quality show bunnies to 4-H and ARBA youth, along with a health guarantee and any assistance needed to help make the experience special and enriching for our wonderful youth.

I've truly enjoyed raising Holland Lops and working with 4-H and ARBA Youth over the years. However, now due to some life changing circumstances, I no longer raise Holland Lops. My heart will always be with you all in striving to raise that special little Holland Lop bunny to love. Thanks for the warm memories that will surely bring many future smiles. I sincerely hope that my bunny hints have been helpful.


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