Saturday, December 14, 2019

Adapting to aging bunnies

Sometimes, Bunya needs a cuddle to get away from Ethel's treat-aggressive behavior. Which he taught her.

Here Bunya's munching a small piece of their favorite treat, a Probios. It looks like a "crumby" disaster but part of that was because the camera was so close. Love watching bunnies eat. Their little moufs are just so cute.

You can also clearly see his cataracts.

Bunya has very little vision left; we think he may be able to see a little light. When I call him for a treat, he'll run into my leg. I'm happy he still shows such enthusiasm for treats, but am sad, too.

We just had their semi-annual wellness vet visit. He's over 12 and she's 9-1/2. They are aging gracefully, but both are losing weight as they age. They are the lightest they've ever been.

Ethel is a food vacuum; we might change her name to Hoover. Bunya can't even eat as fast as he used to - of any food given to the two of them, 80% is speedily consumed by Ethel. To give Bunya a chance to have a few pellets in peace, we have modified their morning procedures.

Old way: I used to give them their medicine in the kitchen, with a Probios treat chaser. Ethel runs around like crazy, sliding all over the slick floor, so excited for her morning medicine and treat. Bunya, a lot more low-key, starts to take his medicine. When Ethel sees this, she runs towards Bunya, slides on the kitchen floor and body-slams Bunya out of the way to take her medicine, so she can gobble her treat. If Bunya is interrupted in taking his meds, he does not like to restart.

New way: They stay in a pen overnight (so hopefully, Bunya doesn't get into trouble or hurt himself). Instead of opening the gate to let them run into the kitchen, I give them their medicine while they are still in the pen (Ethel still body-slams Bunya out of the way, but I can give them the medicine at the same time). Then they get their treat.

I open the gate and have trained Ethel to expect a special treat for her in the kitchen, so she gobbles her Probios and races out of the pen. In the kitchen, half the pellets are waiting for her in an edible treat bowl that she loves. So after she finishes the pellets, she starts eating the bowl, sliding it around the kitchen floor and leaving a Hansel & Gretel kind of hay crumb trail behind her.

The next video is from our new buncam. It does not broadcast but allows me to check on the bunnies from other rooms and the office.

This is what happens when they get morning meds and breakfast. It's black & white at first, until the lights come on (there's a flash as the camera adjusts). Ethel gets so excited and speeds around their (nighttime) pen in big circles. Bunya "looks" at her like she's crazy (he's right, she is).

Mr. B waits for the two-legged treat dispenser to deliver meds and treat [dispenser is dressed to get on the treadmill, so please excuse]. On one of her laps, she sees he's waiting and pushes him out of the way. When it finally arrives, they take their medicine and treat. Ethel gobbles hers and races to the edible bowl (with pellets) in the kitchen. Bunya finishes - taking so long to eat, you'll think the video has stopped - and walks to where he expects his bowl to be, because he can't see it; he has adapted to the new routine, too.

Here's Ethel at her edible bowl in the kitchen.

This keeps her busy as long as I leave the bowl on the floor. In the meantime, I give Bunya his own (non-edible) bowl with some willow leaves and pellets. Once he has had a chance to eat the pellets at his leisurely pace, I pick up Ethel's bowl and she joins him snacking on willow leaves.

They can still share a bowl of water without Ethel reverting to her Roller Derby manners.

This is an extra bowl of water in the kitchen. More bowls mean bunnies drink more.
They have a much bigger version of this flat bottom crock in their pen.
Ethel (aka Hoover) figured that after she scarfed down her pellets, she should run back and check on what Bunya was eating. After one day of that antic, I closed the gate to protect Bunya and his more leisurely dining experience.


Well, Ethel took her perseverance to a whole new level this morning. She finished her breakfast and ran back to snatch Bunya's. The gate was closed to prevent that - NOT. That stopped her for one or two mornings and she just decided she was a force of nature.

After my initial panic, I remembered I had some wire cutters in their room and could get her out, so, of course, I had to take a picture first. When I slowly opened the gate, she swung away from the food, so she just finished wiggling through and continued eating his pellets. No assistance needed.

I guess I'll have to stand guard now, like a hockey goalie, to give Bunya a chance.


  1. This makes me so sad. They're both sweet as can be, and so precious. It's rough, watching our 'babies' get old, before our eyes. On the other hand, we only had 8.5yrs with Lola, because of carpet fuzz, and I'd rather have had her, for a handful more years.

  2. Sending 'no worries' wishes to Bunya and family! I have learned and laughed so much by reading Rabbit Ramblings! Thank You! My tip: We accidently bought the Probios treats with Glucosamine and Chondroitin years ago. I kept buying them and think that these were very helpful in keeping the older bunnies mobile. Oxbow also sells joint tabs and other formula supplement treat hay tabs. I have tried them for variety but think the joint tabs and probios joint formula show the best results. Maybe you & GHRS can try them also and see if u get improvement in older bun mobility/health & happiness? Take Care All

    1. Thank you - didn't even know they made that.

  3. Where can I get Probios treats for rabbits?

    1. You can get them through Amazon or from the manufacturer. For bunnies, buy the hard (not soft) horse treats; apple flavor is what we get. Our bunnies are 3-4 pounds each. We break the cookies up and give a piece in the morning and before bed (they run into their pen in anticipation, even when all I'm doing is walking in that direction). Total they each get maybe a half to 2/3rds of a cookie every day.