Monday, March 20, 2006

The skinny on rabbit poop

Most housebunny owners are somewhat obsessive about bunny-poop. We pay a lot of attention to how much a bunny is *producing* and what the pooties look like. This isn't because we have too much time on our hands (well, not entirely) but because pooties are an indicator of the health of a rabbit's digestive system. A rabbit who isn't making nice pooties has a problem and it's up to the owner to figure out why.

Unless a rabbit has a physical problem, oftentimes the cause of less-than-perfect-pooties is a lack of fiber in the diet or too much starch. Rabbits need huge amounts of hay and very little of the other stuff that people like to feed bunnies. If there is a problem, you'll notice your bunnies' pooties getting smaller and smaller. It's all about knowing what's *normal* for a particular bunny. The photo at left shows a sample from each of the five bunnies that live here. The pooties on the right are from the Flemmies and are marble-sized. All the way on the left are Dora's pooties - she is not the smallest bunny here, but she is not a good hay eater and it shows in her poops. A rabbit that eats a lot of very high-fiber hay, like oat hay, will have beautiful, light-colored flakey pooties. (Oh gosh, listen to me! - I am not obsessive!)

Many people who haven't encountered a rabbit, outside of a backyard hutch rabbit, are surprised to learn that they can be litter-trained. In fact, most rabbits will train themselves to use a box, so long as you put the box where they want it. My newest bunny Dora has been somewhat difficult in this regard, because she refuses to use the litterboxes that are in her cage. She "holds it" overnight and will dart out of her cage to the corner litterbox first thing in the morning. She does the same thing when I'm at work. Why she has this peculiar habit I don't know, but she is proof positive that rabbits are "clean" animals. It's the way that most people keep them that makes many think otherwise.

An important part of training a rabbit to use a litterbox is to set up the box in such a way that a bunny will like to go there. It has to be cleaned regularly. I set mine up with a pelleted-wood product for litter and fill it to the brim with hay. The bunnies will munch hay and poop at the same time. Most bunnies here also seem to find their box to be a convenient place for a nap or a snuggle-session. You can see Boomer and Cricket in one of their boxes with barely an inch to spare!

If you're really interested in learning more about bunny poop, a good article (with photos!) is available here.

8 comments:

bunnygirl said...

I never thought I'd read a blog post about bunny poop. But yeah, that's one thing I'm acutely aware of. GI stasis can set in so fast you kind of have to make yourself an expert you your little friend's output!

Susan Gets Native said...

I just don't have any words...

:^)

It does show that you really are taking good care of your bunnies.

Man, what a post...lol

Cindy said...

I know zilch about bunnies (or bunny poop for that matter) but the photo of the two snuggled in the box is just precious! thanks for the smiles :)

LauraHinNJ said...

bunnygirl: You're a bunny mom; you know how it is.

susan: Hey - you never know what you'll find here - can't have pretty flower pictures everyday, right? *grin* I was about to post an update to my new furniture post - a pic of my husband sound asleep on the couch, with his dirty workboots and potato chip bags and soda cans, but thought better of it. He'd kill me if he ever saw it!

cindy: Thanks for stopping by. I love your site!

Endment said...

What an education on bunny care...

Im with Cindy love the bunnies in the litterbox

Michelle Lewis said...

Laura - I am just dying here. Sharing us bunny people's secret obsession with poo to the world! LOL.

When I saw the "assortment" pic I thought "no! she didn't, surely she got that pic from somewhere on the internet", but as I read, I learned that "oh yes she did" Thanks for the laugh.

LauraHinNJ said...

Boomer and Cricket just ooze cuteness - they don't even have to try.

Yes, Michelle, I actualy went around to each pooty box and collected a sample, put them on my blotter and then took a photo. Nutty! Not nearly as nutty as my vet who will *dissect* a pooty to see how much hair is inside - yuck!

Thanks for stopping by - send a pic of Tink - I'd love to show off a Frenchie!

Anonymous said...

Okay experts on rabbit poops...:)What if the rabbit stops pooping altogether? Vet says she's fine but had temp and is now getting ABT...still no poop...suggestions?