Okay, for those who know me, the last title I would earn in life would be Clean Freak. I hate cleaning. However when it comes to rabbits, I don't mind. I wish I could find that same passion about my house.
So lets start with something non related. Years ago, when the bed bug outbreak first came out, I lost my mind at the thought of them. I had to get the novaform mattress, because they were bed bug resistant. To this day I don't think we have been in a hotel since. We got a trailer and we travel that way now. That is how terrified I am of bedbugs. I don't even take my kids to the library, because yes, there was a bedbug outbreak at many libraries. The only irony in any of this is... I love bugs. I carry spiders around and save them. Go figure. I just have issued with parasitic tiny ones I think.
So I started to worry about mites in our rabbitry. The rabbits weren't itching. They weren't losing pathces of fur. They actually weren't showing signs at all. I had noticed some mild dandruff on a molting rabbit. Well from reading in the past, dandruff should be considered as mites. So if there was even a slight possibility my mind was not capable of letting it rest.
So me being me, I really hate chemical treatments. Hate them. So I researched and decided to go with Diotemaceous Earth, also referred to in the rabbit world as DE. I had wanted to get some to rid my world of earwigs anyhow so this was perfect timing. I purchased a 50 LB bag of foodgrade DE for 40.00. Do your research. You can get cheaper DE. Make sure it is Food Grade or you will kill your rabbit.
So I will summarize my 8 hours of cleaning.
Finding a place to put every rabbit in your stackables is, well interesting. I have x-pens out side but we all knwo how well rabbits get along. So after placing 6 in pens, that left me with 6 more. I had carriers for 2. Quinne brought one to her room. Kait kept one and Kami kept one and I put one in the bathroom. Imagine if company had come today. Wow.
So my husband was gone until later and when he came home, I was in work mode. I shouted out without thinking, "Buddha is in the upstairs bathroom, don't disturb him". I wonder what my neighbors think.
So the cleaning part... gave me a love hate relationship with stackables. Yeah they are lovely for many reasons. But cleaning that gap where the drop pans go... well I don't care for that.
So while all the cages were drying, I put DE all over the floor. Come play now Earwigs! I also put a fine coat under all the newspaper in each of the drop pans. Hopefully this resolves earwigs and spiders!
Then one by one before I brought each rabbit back to their nice sterile pen, I combed them thoroughly with DE. I made sure to avoid their eyes and face. I also made sure to do this all outside, so that they had plenty of ventilation.
At one point my husband forced me to stop so the family could eat his amazing pulled pork sammies with cole slaw and special sauce. Yum!
Then back to business. While cleaning the final round I was almost numb and brain dead. As I walked out I had an X pen full of our cute babies/ juniors. In the X pen was my husband smiling like a little kid. I thought perhaps I had gone delusional. He hurried and got out before I could get my camera. :)
So Finally 8 hours later we are as clean as if we just purchased cages and rabbits today. Hooray!
I also plan on using DE in the lawn where my Xpens are. This is used to kill of parasites and worms of all types so I figure this will be a great preventative.
Last month we posted a picture of a sweet little doe that was going through the infamous Uglies. She was a great example because they hit her hard. And for a long long time. I wanted to follow up with her as she starts to emerge from them. She still has a long road ahead but she is also part of our very slow growing line so hopefully a few more months will turn her into a swan.
Well with the heat coming on strong now one thing is sure... the flies are here to stay for awhile. If you have rabbits you certainly have to expect it. By now hopefully we all have fly strips everywhere. We even got one of those electric swatters this year. Makes it a little more fun. It's like playing tennis... and the fly is the ball.
So while they are irritating us and we want to keep them away, it is even more important to keep them away from your rabbits. Which in order to do this, means cleaning, and often. Several species of flies lay eggs that can hatch in under 20 hours. That means if you cleaned your cages yesterday, you could technically have maggots within a day. I don't know about you... but I hate maggots. With most of our rabbits we can go a couple days without too much mess. But with a cage of juniors it has to be a daily cleaning event. A doe with babies, it has to be a daily cleaning event.
I found a couple gruesome articles on what happens with flies and rabbits. I know a lot of people think they are safe because they are clean or because they live inside. Think again. Flies can lay eggs not, in the feces, but in the cage. Or even by the cage. Just waiting for a host. If it lays them inside a cage of one rabbit, that rabbit gets to be the host to all of it's larvae. Photos are fairly gruesome so don't read if you have a weak stomach.
A thing to mention is that many people believe Bot fly is not in our part of the US. However, a close friend of mine has known someone last summer who had to treat their dog for it and they never left the state of Utah. So clearly the flies live in our state. In fact it is native to Utah, known as the Warble Fly.
This site has a multitude of information regarding flystrike.
I like to think the more educated we all are the better off our rabbits will be as well. I routinely inspect each of our rabbits in a multitude of ways as a preventative. I know the behaviors of each of our rabbits, so if one is acting off, I can inspect any cause immediately. I check litter pans regularly for signs of blockage, or runny stool, or even no stool. I inspect the genital area for any signs of VD. Also as a preventative I like to mist the rabbits and wipe down their coats on a regular basis. They actually seem to enjoy this as well, especially during the heat.
This little guy is out of our Grand Champion Zilla. He is officially entering his uglies where his head and ear no longer are in proportion with the rest of his body. So far we are very pleased with this buck and hopefully he finally be the first Buck Kami will be keeping.
This gorgeous girl is slowly maturing into a beauty. She also belongs to Kami who has been anxiously awaiting to show her. She is an improvement on her Dam, Nixie which means Nixie has definitely out produced herself in her doe line. I think this doe is even nicer than Honey.
Before I ever knew of showing rabbits, or the huge rabbit world I knew one thing. That they were cute, and I needed them for photo shoots. When I brought home 3 rabbits, I didn't care about the breed. I cared that they were the colors I wanted for my photo shoot, and that they had floppy ears. I bought them on a whim. No food, no cages, just me being me. Instead of kids coming home with random pets, in this house, it's the Mom. So my husband helped set up the xpen, in the garage. Within seconds our cute little orange baby had escaped and we had to hurry to recapture him. Little did I know we had a repeat offender on our hands.
This group of 3 rabbits was our beginning. We had only planned keeping them 2 weeks and then I had a nice farm home for them. Well, we were hooked. Our cute little Orange rabbit was always independent and did not care to be held. He was always Mr. Independent. Due to some unfortunate events, it ended up that he was the only one left. He had a nice outdoor pen he lived in, until one day, he refused. He spent almost a year in there and finally one day, just jumped out. We never needed a top so we didn't bother with one. Well, it was kind of fun having him roam so we let him. Of course he ate all of my herb garden. But he was so enjoyable to watch that it was okay.
But then we began showing rabbits. So we had more rabbits. We quickly learned that he did not care for male rabbits and would nip at their noses. So we had to try always to keep him away. Even more so from the female rabbits. It became less and less fun letting him roam so we had to once again contain him. Well I went out today to bring babies to play and sat down by the x pen. Within a few seconds, here came Ginger to sit beside me and greet the babies. Sigh. There is just no containing this silly rabbit. He has brought us so much laughter and enjoyment along with a bit of frustration. But in the long run, if it weren't for him, I don't know that we would have any rabbits at all. So for that, we thank you Ginger.
Well it's officially here. The long dreaded heat. I remember back when I used to look forward to going off to the hills to escape it. Now I am so worried about our rabbits, that I can't bare to leave them for a day. A few tips to remember. Check their water levels often. I also have an entire row of my freezer just for frozen water bottles. It is kind of a pain to switch them out nonstop but they sure seem to enjoy it. I am also testing out something I had read, tiles. I found some 5 inch ceremic tiles at Lowes for .60 and keep thinking about them. I think I am going to get some today. You keep them in the freezer as well. I like the idea of being able to clean them off easier than water bottles and you could stack tons of them compared to bottles as well. So I will let you know how that works out for us.
The next great thing about his heat... is the bugs. Hooray. Flies everywhere. Which means flystrips. And if your me and have a curious fluffy young dog... it means disaster. I can tell you this... the stuff in the flystrips stinks something awful and I am on a weeks worth of bathing and it's still not gone.
Besides flies, pay attention to your rabbits. I noticed a doe was jumping all over, not in a happy binky kind of way. So I went and observed her. Took a minute, then I realized, Earwigs. I really can't stand those things. I have also had spiders startle our rabbits as well. Hoping to move everyone out so we can do a good spraying soon.
One last thing to be careful with in this heat are your nestboxes. It is their instinct to make them fluffy and cozy. Just as your babies can die from the cold in the winter, they can also over heat in their nest box in the summer. If you notice yours have tons of fur, you may want to remove some to be on the safe side and check the babies often to make sure they are't too hot.
I couldn't resist a few photos of our cute babies. We are loving this group. Looks like we have 3 does and one buck. Of course Trouble Maker couldn't sit still for the photo shoot. She's actually one of my favs from this litter too, but she refuses to show off for anyone. Our sable was our surprise baby out of Boo and she is one of the sweetest babies we have raised. Gotta enjoy them all this week because we know what phase is in store.... The uglies.
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