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Old 09-27-2016, 03:52 AM   #11
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Default My Own Private Beanstalk

I've decided to go for it and adopt another giant. Hence the beanstalk.

Saoirse is still living the circus life under the Big Top. When I'm around (except when I'm sleeping) I take down the tent because I feel bad that she can't see me, and I can't see her. I feel that this situation can't last much longer. I don't feel right about her being forced to live mainly on her own, under a tent where there isn't much light. She's getting bigger too, and will need more room very soon. She's such an affectionate and friendly rabbit, it's just not fair. I know this was always intended as a temporary situation, and she'll be spayed next week or as soon as possible. Still, it will likely be a few weeks more before the hormones dissipate.

So I decided to start looking for available young giant breed bucks. I checked the local shelters first, but the only giant rabbit I found was a New Zealand white doe. She was pre-spayed and it was tempting, but I've read so many times that for bonding pairs it's best to get opposite sexes. So I started checking the local want ad site and breeder listings. The thing with giant breeds is that they're often advertised under the "livestock" section of the ads, as opposed to the pets section. It seems most breeders of giants breed them on farms, even if they're not breeding them as meat rabbits. I guess it's all about space to keep their breeding stock and youngsters. I live in the city so it's often a long drive to get to these places (and I don't drive). But sometimes they're willing to deliver the bunnies for gas money.

I found a few breeders with different breeds available. There was a checkered giant breeder, a giant chinchilla breeder, and several Flemish breeders. I'm mainly looking for a rabbit who looks different from Saoirse. I have a friend who works in a shelter (far from where I am). She's a vet tech. She told me that every so often they get someone who brings in a rabbit of a particular breed to be altered. Usually it's a breed that only comes in a few colours. They have two of them at home, buck and doe, that they want altered one at a time. Usually these are young, immature rabbits. She's seen more than once that people bring in their "doe" to be spayed, then on the operating table they discover no uterus! Owner got their bunnies mixed up and brought their buck in by mistake. And the vet has to charge them for the work that's done. They call the owner in mid-surgery asking them what they want to do, neuter the rabbit while he's under or just close them up and do the neuter another day. One way or another, that rabbit has to be neutered anyway, and it's cheaper to do it while he's on the table than close him up and wait until another time. Either way, it's a very costly mistake! Not a mistake I want to make, putting a poor buck through being opened up for nothing. I know it seems like an isolated horror story but still...

At first I was really impressed by the Checkered Giants. Very flashy looking and I like their full arch shape. But then I started looking into their temperament. I remember asking about them on this board once, and people telling me that they're hard to handle and skittish, and that they're known in shows as being difficult. However, everyone has their opinion from different perspectives. I decided to look for accounts from people who owned them as pets. I looked up various websites and articles about them, and even went on YouTube to watch videos of them. I watched one that showed a judge inspecting a class of them. It was interesting to see that on the show bench the judge makes them walk and run to watch their movement. There were about 8 of them in that class. None of them acted up at all, but then again the judge specialized in that breed and was very skilled at handling them. I found a couple of pet videos showing them in people's homes, but they weren't very informative. But after all that, I found that most people characterized them as "very active" or "skittish" or "tends to run and panic if startled" and "has a temper and can be aggressive" and one that said "sometimes he bites". Only a few said they were sweet or great pets, and even they tended not to recommend them in a household with children. So, reluctantly, I crossed the Checkered Giant off my list. I have cats and dogs as well as other rabbits, and I live in an apartment, roomy but probably not roomy for a giant rabbit who likes to run.

The Flemish breeders I contacted only had sandies, like Saoirse, so I had to decline. I'm surprised how common Flemish breeders are, given this breed's size. But they seem to be very popular, even though from what I read they aren't the best meat rabbits. But everyone raves about their personality and I can't say I disagree! I might very well have taken another Flemish if it had been a different colour.

Finally, I talked with a breeder of Giant Chinchillas. She has one buck available, he's 9 weeks old and now he's going to be mine! He'll be pedigreed and tattooed. His name will be Rupert, she wants to put it on his pedigree. The breeder says they also have sweet personalities. I watched a bunch of YouTube videos from proud GC parents showing them playing as house rabbits. One even showed a play gym the owner made out of a small table by hanging chewable toys from the table top, Bunny goes under the table and reaches up at the toys. I'm going to make one of those! I'm not sure when Rupert's coming, but I'll be getting everything ready tomorrow. I'm going to move Saoirse to the gated hallway and he'll go in the pen she was in. He's smaller than Saoirse so I don't think I'll have any escape problems for a while. If I do, then he'll be under the Big Top until they're altered and ready to meet each other. From what I read, the Giant Chins don't get quite as big as Flemish anyway. But - they have those wonderful huge ears I love! She sent me a few pics of him grooming himself after his supper tonight.

So I'm all excited now - even though tomorrow will be a busy day!


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Old 09-30-2016, 02:48 AM   #12
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Default Rupert settles in

Yes I decided to call my new GC boy Rupert. It took me over a week to think of a name for Saoirse, but his name popped into my head when the breeder asked me for a name to put on his pedigree.

It was a long bus trip to meet the breeder and pick up Rupert, three buses from two town transit systems. When I got there she warned me that he wasn't in a good mood because she tattooed him earlier that day. She gave me a bag of his pellets and another bag with red pellets. She raved about how great the red pellets are for them, and told me to sprinkle some on his regular pellets. I had to ask on RO to find out what they're called and whether they're really good for them - not really (they contain a lot of corn). I'm going to switch him to alfalfa pellets and hay instead. About three quarters of the way home it started to rain and there was one more bus transfer. I took a cab the rest of the way instead, poor Rupert didn't need a two hour bus ride home with rain.

Before I decided to get a Giant Chinchilla, the breeder was raving at me about how sweet natured and friendly they are. So far Rupert hasn't lived up to that hype. I'm spoiled, when I first got Saoirse she was friendly right from the moment she got home. So it was a disappointment when he wanted nothing to do with me, but I take it in stride. The poor guy has gone through a major change from a breeder's cage to a whole hallway to himself, with TV noise in the background, me going through his area to get to the bathroom or bedroom, and nosey cats visiting him all the time. Saoirse on the other hand was living in a home with two kids and was given the run of their house, so she's used to living at home in human company. Even the kids were able to pick her up.

And those nosey cats are Sphynx, who are very persistently and imaginatively nosey! They're used to Zelda and Stewart, and one of them (Mitsou) comes into my bedroom with me to visit Saoirse. So they're like "Hey! Mom brought us another pet to play with!" Luckily Rupert doesn't seem to mind them. My other Sphynx, Yoko, has a habit of approaching other animals (including me) and rubbing her face hard on their faces, while rolling over on her side. She did this to Rupert last night, and to my shock, he just sat there and let her do it! I gave Rupert an upturned tub with a door cut in it (tubloo) as a hide, and sometimes Mitsou goes in there and sits with him. I caught Yoko sitting on top of the tub, Rupert was lying behind the tub against the wall and she was gently swatting at his ears. Rupert just flicked them when she swatted, but didn't leave. I also put a fleecy blanket in his pen so he'd have something to snuggle with, I usually put a stuffed toy in with the rabbits but I'm all out of big stuffed toys. He tends to ignore the blanket, but Mitsou finds it handy when she's in there. Often one or more cats just sits in the pen, and the cat and Rupert ignore each other. So Rupert has no reason to feel lonely.

He's scared of me though, so I'm not forcing myself on him. I did lie down on the floor outside one of the gates this afternoon, ignoring him. He came out of his tubloo and sat on the floor watching me. I was careful not to look at him and pretended to ignore him. After a while I pretended to wash my face. He didn't seem to react but he didn't run away either. Later on, I came out of the bedroom and he was out of his tub. I went into his pen and just stood still. He came over and started sniffing my pants and feet. I stood there and pretended to ignore him again. When he was finished, I slowly continued walking down the hallway and this time he didn't dive into his tub or behind it. I've tried offering him a small lettuce leaf, he ignored it but ate it after I left. Baby steps for the baby!

I almost renamed him Sinatra after I got a close look at him. Rupert has pale blue eyes! The breeder told me that Giant Chinchillas are occasionally born with blue eyes. And right now his eyes aren't the only blue things he has - his left hind foot is blue with tattoo ink. So is the inside of his ear of course. His foot reminds me of one of those coloured rabbit feet that we used to find in gum machines when I was a kid. Except it's a LOT bigger! I'm curious to know how big he will get compared to Saoirse. Right now he's younger than she is and smaller - but not a lot smaller. He's already bigger than a standard dwarf rabbit. But his ears aren't nearly as big as Saoirse's. Makes me wonder if the "Giant" in "Flemish Giant" refers to their ears!

Litter box training seems to be taking its own baby steps. A couple of hours after Rupert arrived in his pen, I found a couple of big puddles. I took a thick wad of newspaper and soaked up the pee, then tucked it underneath the hay in his litter box. I sprayed a bit of vinegar on the spots and wiped it up. Since then he hasn't peed anywhere except his litter box. So there's a victory! He's still left a scatter of poop here and there, but for the time being I'm letting it stay there so he feels like he's marked his home as his. He's pooping in the box as well.

My other concern was how Zelda and Stewart would react to Rupert's scent. His hallway pen is around two corners from where Zelda/Stewart's castle is in the living room. Think of the letter U, Rupert is in the left "arm" of the U, and Zelda and Stewart are in the right "arm". So I know that they can smell him there. So far I'm seeing a lot of periscoping, especially if they hear a sound from that direction. But other than that, they're acting normally towards each other.

Pics!


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Old 09-30-2016, 04:28 AM   #13
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Aww, poor guy just sounds a little uncertain about his new surroundings, but it's encouraging that he isn't reacting negatively towards your cats. Don't get too discouraged with his initial lack of friendliness. You could see quite a change in him once he settles in and gets used to everything. I have a doe that was very unsettled when she first came to my home, wasn't friendly at all. Grunted and boxed me, I even got a nasty bite from her with the locked jaws of death. And now she is the friendliest little thing, much friendlier than her babies which I raised from birth. She's the first to hop up and give me kisses, while her grown babies just hop up to see if I have something tasty to eat then take off if I don't(little brats ).

So even though a new bun may seem a certain way at the start, you really can't get a good sense of their true personality until they have fully settled into their new home.
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Old 09-30-2016, 04:20 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by JBun View Post
Aww, poor guy just sounds a little uncertain about his new surroundings, but it's encouraging that he isn't reacting negatively towards your cats. Don't get too discouraged with his initial lack of friendliness. You could see quite a change in him once he settles in and gets used to everything. I have a doe that was very unsettled when she first came to my home, wasn't friendly at all. Grunted and boxed me, I even got a nasty bite from her with the locked jaws of death. And now she is the friendliest little thing, much friendlier than her babies which I raised from birth. She's the first to hop up and give me kisses, while her grown babies just hop up to see if I have something tasty to eat then take off if I don't(little brats ).

So even though a new bun may seem a certain way at the start, you really can't get a good sense of their true personality until they have fully settled into their new home.
It's ok, I'm not discouraged. I've adopted many pets over the years and a lot of them needed extra time to adjust to their new surroundings. The only one who never adjusted was my Italian Greyhound, who had spent the first three years of his life in a filthy puppy mill cage, and he had basically gone feral. He was terrified of humans for the 5 years I had him, and could not be housebroken.

Today Rupert came up to me again as I was walking through his pen, and sniffed my feet and legs. I'm letting him decide how much contact he's comfortable with. The main thing is that he's eating and spending more time outside of his tubloo.
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Old 10-01-2016, 01:31 AM   #15
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Default Quick pic

Today Rupert's coming along. He's not quite as shy and comes out to sniff me when I go through his pen. The cats are spending a lot of time there too. Today Victor the Siamese went to visit for the first time. His main reason was to nibble some hay from Rupert's litter box. Then he took up residence on the tubloo.

Just before I snapped the pic, Rupert and Mitsou were nuzzling each other. Of course by the time I got back with a camera, they had moved, as animals usually do!

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Old 11-03-2016, 02:08 AM   #16
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Default Long time no write

Haven't had much time to write lately, as my life has been busy - not necessarily in a good way. First of all, one of my molars split in half down to the root, of course right when I could least afford a dentist bill (I don't have a dental plan). At first it was only a minor inconvenience, until a few days later when it got infected. I was having to pop Advil all the time and didn't want to eat or do much of anything. Eventually someone told me that a university dental school downtown offers low cost dental services to the public and I got the tooth taken out a few days ago. They confirmed it was infected but refused to prescribe antibiotics. It's still pretty painful now, they wouldn't prescribe painkillers either.

Next, the super came to my door because a tenant moved out and left "some budgies" behind, would I take them off their hands? They know me as "the bird lady" because of the parrot I used to have. I went in and found a filthy, small cage with a dirty nest box attached to it and six budgies crammed in. I'm guessing four of them are the offspring of the other two, as most look alike. I decided to keep them, because I miss my African Grey parrot that I had to rehome a couple of months ago (new neighbour wouldn't stop complaining). I had to go and buy a proper sized flight cage for 6 budgies (second hand) and all the stuff they needed. Overall, it didn't cost as much as I thought. It's been more than 30 years since I last owned a budgie. I'm really glad I kept them, because they're hilarious to watch when busy, and their warbling sounds are nice during the day when it's quiet. Yesterday they were all passing a lettuce leaf all over the cage, including flying up to the top of the cage with it in their beaks, then dropping it, where another was waiting below to catch it.

So now to the rabbits. Saoirse is getting bigger, fast. She's still as friendly and sociable as ever. In fact I could tell she was getting lonely in the bedroom. In the meantime, Rupert's shyness was getting no better. He was developing a habit of panicking and darting around blindly when I approached or entered his hallway pen, and since it's the hallway to the bathroom I have no choice but to cross through it many times a day. I had hoped he'd get used to this and become less shy, but it seemed to have the opposite effect. I guess he didn't feel like he had a safe place of his own. So, I swapped the two rabbits and Saoirse is in the hallway now.

Rupert seems much happier in the bedroom. He still has his Tubloo but doesn't use it as often now. Unlike Saoirse, he doesn't try to climb out of the pen, even though he's big enough now to stand on his hind legs and put his paws over the top. I make a point of going in there often because I want him to get used to me. I always give him a small treat, like a banana chip or a raisin, when I go in. The idea is to make him associate my presence with good things. I alternate treats with offering my hand so he doesn't just approach me to get a treat. He's a lot better now and comes to me when I enter the room, however, he has yet to let me rub his nose or pet him. The good news is he doesn't panic anymore. I let Mitsou come in with me once or twice a day so the two can visit. Usually the two just sniff noses.

Saoirse is a different story. She loves her new home and all of her cat and dog friends. The gates on either end of the hallway are steel, with vertical bars. She puts her head and neck through the bars, looking to get out (or find something to chew), but luckily she's already grown big enough that she'll never fit through. Not for want of trying, though. But, she never tries to climb over the gates. When I walk through the gates, she often tries to come through with me, and she's pretty persistent about it. Unlike a cat or dog, she doesn't back off if I gently press her back with the inside of my foot. Once she managed to squeeze past my foot, but she didn't go far and didn't kick up much of a fuss when I gently guided her (with my hands on her sides) back in to the pen. I think she thought I was about to pick her up and decided she'd prefer to just go where I wanted her to instead. She has a few cardboard boxes in her pen to play with or hide in, or chew on. The cats perch inside or on top of the boxes and hang out with her. Saoirse is on good terms with all. The dogs (both small) aren't allowed in her pen, they're content to sniff her through the bars - and eat any of her poop that they can reach. The cats, on the other hand, prefer eating her hay.

The funniest one of Saoirse's friends is Mitsou. Tonight I caught Saoirse licking Mitsou. Mitsou is a Sphynx cat, so hairless. She's also about half the size of a standard cat even though she's three years old now. Saoirse on the other hand is at least twice the size of a standard cat. When Saoirse licks Mitsou, she wrinkles her skin up. That causes Saoirse to try to nibble her gently. I guess she feels the need to clean between the wrinkles. Mitsou looks offended and turns her face towards Saoirse (the way cats do if something irritates their skin) but she doesn't move away, so I guess that means Mitsou doesn't mind being groomed by a rabbit. Saoirse even licks her bottom clean!
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Old 11-03-2016, 06:37 PM   #17
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Pictures of Saoirse grooming Mitsou are a must!
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Old 11-04-2016, 04:39 PM   #18
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Pictures of Saoirse grooming Mitsou are a must!

Catching them at it while a camera is in reach is another story!
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Old 01-13-2017, 09:39 PM   #19
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Default Goodbye to Rupert

Another long time no write. I've had a couple of health issues including a 2 week bout of the flu which I'm still getting over the dregs of.

I ended up deciding to rehome Rupert. I tried everything to tame him, but the only progress was that he would take (snatch) treats from my hand, or briefly sniff my hand, but either way he would always dart away after. I had no luck getting him to allow me to touch him, even briefly with one finger. Nose rubs were out of the question. He would panic if I made any sudden move near his pen. I'd sit for hours in the pen with him, reading. He never once made any attempt to approach or sniff me. I brought the cats in to visit him, but he started darting into his hide at the sight of them as well. I wondered if the shyness may have been caused by a health issue such as pain from bad teeth or an injury from panicking, so I took him to my rabbit vet for a checkup. He's in perfect health, nothing physical wrong. The vet thinks that he was never handled or socialized as a baby, and that as a result he will never be comfortable in a pet situation. There's no way he would ever have made a good house rabbit, he'd have just hidden in a corner and then I'd have had a hard time rounding him up when it was time to go back in his pen.

So I decided to find a breeder who would take Rupert. He's pedigreed with papers and tattoo so could be used for showing or breeding. I did NOT want a meat breeder because I was afraid he might end up on the dinner table. In the end I found a guy who breeds Flemish and New Zealands for show and pets, and wanted to take on another large breed. I asked him to send me pics of his rabbits and rabbitry, everything looked good and clean, and the rabbits looked healthy and had all the food and water they needed. So Rupert will be a "foundation sire" living in a hutch with other rabbits. I didn't take any money for Rupert, the breeder just swapped with me for a 6 week old male Flemish. The breeder hadn't sexed the babies yet, so I checked him when I brought him in, and I'm 90% sure he's male. He's pretty tiny "down there" so I'll take another look in a couple of weeks, to be sure.

So now I have a very cute and fuzzy new bunny. I'd love to pick him up and cuddle him and carry him around the house with me, but of course that's not a good idea right now. Once he settles in, however, I'll make sure he's handled and socialized, both with me and the other pets. He will also be neutered in a month or two. It's hard to believe he will grow up to be as big as, or bigger than, Saoirse. He's a bit shy which is understandable. I'm not bugging him too much today so that he can settle in on his own. He's in Rupert's cleaned former pen in the bedroom for quarantine. A little while ago he was binkying around the pen, and I've seen him munching pellets and drinking from the water bottle, so he's doing OK. He uses the litter box, but also poops on the floor, I've scooped most of it into the litter box but I understand he's just "decorating" his new digs. I'll have to think of a name for a black male bunny who came to live with me on Friday the 13th! (And no, he won't be named after Jason Voorhees).

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Old 01-13-2017, 09:58 PM   #20
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Just a quick update since I wasn't allowed to edit my last post. I've decided to call the little guy Oscar. I've always liked the name, and I think it suits a big black bunny.


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