Purina® Rabbit Nutrition E—Newsletter

FEATURED STORY | Patty Yee: Part of the Family

When Patty Yee was a child, she had cats, guinea pigs, gerbils, turtles and fish. She got her first rabbit as a pet when she was 8 years old and found her pet of choice for life.

"Some people have dogs or cats as pets," Patty said, "but I prefer rabbits."

As an adult, Patty got her first rabbit for her family in 1996.

"Our family's first rabbit was named Ribs," Patty said. "She had beautiful thick fur and was a very laid back, nice rabbit who did not mind being handled. She would sit in one place for hours. She loved fruits as treats, especially strawberries. Because of her and my love of rabbits, we have had rabbits as pets to teach my kids kindness to animals and to learn the meaning of responsibility".

Patty got their first three rabbits from pet stores but has adopted all the rest there afterwards from non- profit rescue organizations. She does not believe in breeding for show or food, because she thinks there are just too many unwanted animals in shelters and rescue organizations that need good homes.

"When our beloved first rabbit died, we got two more from a different pet store," said Patty. "When one of these bunnies became sick and was diagnosed with cancer, we learned a lot about rabbits by joining rabbit forums and researching websites. It was then that we started fostering and adopting rabbits from rescue organizations, and I decided never to buy any pet from commercial pet stores."

Patty says spring, just after Easter, is high season for rabbit shelters since people buy rabbits around that time for their kids and then realize that it takes work and commitment.

"People need to realize that if they get pets for their children, they ultimately are responsible for the care and well being of that animal and that it is a lifelong commitment," said Patty.

It was through the forums and rescue rabbit organizations that Patty learned the importance of a good feed and where to buy it since it was not widely available.

"I used to buy rabbit feed in supermarkets and name brand pet products stores until our second rabbit became sick," Patty said. "I joined the rabbit forums to ask questions about rabbit illnesses and care. Then, from the rescue organizations, I heard about the wonderful, all around palatable 'green bag' from Purina."

Patty's "green bag" feed is Purina® Rabbit Chow™ Complete Natural AdvantEdge® rabbit food that she gets at Hemlock Hill Farms in Colts Neck, NJ.

"My rabbits love this brand of pellets so much, and it's offered there in 25 and 50 pound bags," said Patty. "I bought some for my brother, and his rabbits equally loved the pellets. When he ran out of pellets and could not find Purina® feed, he told me his rabbits did not like the replacement pellet he used. He asked me to ship the 25 pound "green bag" to him, which I happily did for his rabbits!"

Patty currently has two rabbits, which were both adopted from rabbit rescue organizations—Baby, a female Dutch and NewMan, a male mixed English Spot and Dutch.

"I got Baby at 5 months old from a New Jersey rescue organization who told me she was found in a neighbor's yard," said Patty. "I asked the rescue owner for the friendliest rabbit he had, and she is the friendliest rabbit I have ever known. She follows you around, makes eye contact and licks your hand. She's just like a dog, only you don't need to walk her and she does not bark or make much noise!"

When Patty adopted NewMan she was shown one other rabbit, but for her, it was an easy choice.

"NewMan's past was a sad one," said Patty. "A previous owner kept him in the same cage with another rabbit, which was very aggressive. Newman was bitten on his back so much that his skin was falling off. It took two months of vet visits, stitches, medication and TLC by the rescue owner for NewMan to recover. He almost did not make it, but through it all, he remains the sweetest bunny ever."

Patty's husband, who also has grown to love rabbits as pets, builds hutches, rabbit houses and rabbit condos (with two levels) for the rabbits, who live in their own rabbit room. Sometimes in the summer Patty takes them out on the deck to enjoy the sun and nice temperature.

"We have a leash, but they hate it," said Patty. "So we set up a pen and rabbit houses out there so they don't feel vulnerable, and someone is always out there to keep an eye on them."

Patty's favorite thing to do is to pet Baby since Baby sweetly licks her hand. Patty loves to cuddle NewMan since he's so mushy and gentle.

"My husband's favorite thing to do is to feed, or rather sneak, treats to them," she said. "The rabbits love seeing him since they know he's got treats in hand."

One of the most important things Patty can stress to new rabbit owners or to any new pet owner is to learn as much as you can about the animal beforehand. A great way to do this is by joining rabbit or animal forums and asking questions to learn about other pet owners' experiences.

"My family is committed to providing the best care for our rabbits, who are considered part of our family," said Patty.

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RABBIT TIPS | Free Ranging Rabbits

Indoor pet rabbits are often allowed to have the "run of the house," or at least allowed to roam free in certain rooms. Your pet rabbit will certainly enjoy frolicking in the house. There are, however, certain risks you should be aware of at all times.

Before you get started here are a few points to consider:

  • Decide which areas of the house you are designating for your rabbit to roam freely. Rabbits are chewers by instinct, so keep that in mind. If you are choosing only a few rooms, kitchens and bathrooms are ideal for the naturally curious rabbit.
  • If you are allowing your rabbit full range of your house, make sure to rabbit-proof your wiring with plastic tubing from the hardware store. You might also want to protect chair and table legs with hard plastic furniture protectors.
  • Set up an area with an open cage containing the rabbit's litter box, water and food. This is a place the rabbit will use to feel safe, to rest and to use the bathroom.
  • Start with your rabbit in a small area first, such as a kitchen. Get him used to that being where his cage and litter box is. Then gradually allow him access to as many rooms as you like, one at a time.
  • Remember, rabbits like to dig, chew and squeeze into small places, so be very diligent when rabbit-proofing your house. Rabbits have a tendency to chew on things and may gnaw furniture, curtains or carpeting.
  • Rabbits should always be supervised with other pets, especially dogs.
  • It's best to cage a rabbit at night, or contain him in one room once house-training is completed successfully.

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GET TO KNOW | Purina® Rabbit Chow™ Garden Recipe® Natural AdvantEdge®

Purina® Rabbit Chow™ Garden Recipe® Natural AdvantEdge® rabbit food is not only fun for your rabbit to eat, but it also provides the wholesome blend of pellets, nutritious vegetables, fruits, and seeds it needs to stay healthy. Its special formula is great for all breeds and ages of rabbits.

  • The Natural AdvantagEdge® Formula—superior, consistent, natural* nutrition FREE from all fillers, preservatives and artificial colors.
  • Complete, natural nutrition—requires no supplements.
  • Variety of textures—dehydrated carrots, dehydrated papaya, oats, black oil sunflower and dehydrated celery for healthy teeth and enrichment.
  • High-quality plant protein—loaded with natural nutrients found only in plants that optimize vitality and support immune function.
  • Chopped timothy hay—for optimal digestive tract function.
  • Stringent quality standards—ensure many of the industry's highest quality ingredients are used.
  • Constant nutrition formulation process—compensates for naturally varying nutrient levels in ingredients for greater nutritional consistency bag after bag.
  • Total rabbit nutrition formulation system—considers all key nutrient levels in ingredients and their interactions with each other to better support overall rabbit health.
As always, when changing your rabbits from one feeding program to another, make the change gradually, over a five to seven day period. Mix the new feed with the old, gradually increasing the amount of the new feed (it's always important to allow time for the rabbits' intestinal flora to adjust to any new feed.) Continue to feed at the same time each day—evening is best. Clean the feeding dish daily so uneaten food does not become stale and moldy. And always provide plenty of clean, fresh, cool water to rabbits at all times.

*with added vitamins, minerals, and trace nutrients

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