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08 May 2008 @ 12:39 am
Flemish Giant & general care questions  
Hello!  I'm a new member.

We have a ten week old (or so) Flemish Giant named Duke.  We've had him for about three weeks and I'm fairly certain he's doubled his size since then.  He is a sweetheart who loves being pet.

We've been feeding him unlimited pellets and unlimited Timothy hay.

We took him to the vet yesterday for a "well bunny check".  I just wanted to ask some questions and the vet was awesome.  But she said to feed Duke unlimited hay and only about 1/8 cup of pellets per day (as a treat).  This seems to contradict what I've read online at the House Rabbit Society.  I don't want a fat rabbit, but I also don't want to starve my little (soon to be very big) guy.  So...suggestions?

I have a question regarding hay also: I bought a 1# bag of Timothy hay at Petco and the hay had nice long strands.  It looked like tasty hay.  When we ran out I sent my husband to buy more.  He came back with the Petco brand Timothy Hay.  The stuff looks and feels like yard clippings.  Which do you think is better?  Or does it matter?  Duke always ate all of the stuff I bought, but it seems as if there is always leftovers with the new stuff.
 
We are having a small issue with nibbling on clothes.  Any suggestions?  I gently redirect him, so it doesn't bother me much.  But he is officially my six year's bunny and she is scared of being bitten.  He did get through to skin when he was "exploring" her pants.  It was my fault.  I thought he was just sniffing.

What do you use as bedding?  How often do you change it?  Duke is mostly litter box trained, but he does leave pellets in his cage (which seems normal from what I've read).  Should I be scooping out  the random pellets once a day and change everything every couple of days?  He will use the litter box and then suddenly switch where he urinates (to the opposite  side of his cage).  I've been moving the litter box to his "hot spot" where it might be.  Is this correct?

Grooming?  What kind of brush do you use?  The soft hair brushes don't seem as if they would do the trick and the wire brushes look scary.

Duke has a four foot long cage where his litter box, food, and water are kept.  It is a wire cage with a solid bottom.  The door to his cage is left open and his cage is surrounded by a kid's play yard.  It is a temporary solution and we are working on expanding his space.  He can enter his cage when he wants and he also has some room to hop too.  In the past few days he has started hopping on top of his cage to have a look around.  So far, he hasn't made a move to hop *out* of his cage.  But it is a concern I have.  We are in the process of moving, so the house is absolutely not bunny proofed (hence, the play yard).  Tonight when he was hopping down from the top of his cage it seemed as if he got a foot caught in the wire top of his cage.  That seems as if it would be a bad thing.  Should I look at making the top a solid surface for him?  Is he likely to try and jump out?

Duke likes to sit in his litter box (regardless of whether or not the cage door is left open).  Do bunnies like to feel surrounded by something?  If so, what do you recommend to fill that need? I'm fine with him sitting in his litter box, if there is a bunny-need not being met, I'd like to fix it.

Finally, how do you pick up your bunnies?  I was picking Duke up  around the middle, scooping him up, and then holding him close to me and he seems fine with that.  But the vet & co. did this thing where they slid their fingers underneath him and held his feet while they lifted him up.  It seemed pretty nifty, but I can't figure out how they did it and Duke hops away when I try it (but he's fine with the way I was picking him up).  The vet said Flemish Giants can easily suffer back trauma because of their size (weight and length), so I'd like to get the pick up correct now.
 
 
 
Starry-Eyed Dreamerpainglass on May 8th, 2008 03:58 pm (UTC)
Oh flemmies! I had one for a while, but she was too territorial and ended up sending my much smaller dwarf to the emergency room 3 times so I had to get rid of her. I still miss her terribly!

For the hay, stick to what Duke will eat. My Flemish would eat any fresh veggie under the sun, but when it came to hay, she would only ever touch this expensive, sun-dried, organic timothy hay from a local supplier. It cost me far more, but it is much better to spend money on something they'll eat and be healthy eating then to waste money and time buying stuff they'll ignore.

For clothes, I've had (have) this problem with my dwarf. There is just something about a pile of freshly laundered clothes he goes crazy over. I mostly deal with the loose clothes/towels nibbling by keeping them hung up and out of his reach. He also like to nibble my pants. When he is actively nibbling them (as compared to his grabbing and tugging them, which means "PET ME NOW!" or head-butting me- "Get out of my way!") I simply Gently shake the foot/leg he is nibbling on. This has greatly reduced both his nibbling and his accidental biting of myself through my clothes. He's learned I am not a nibble post, but that if he wants my attention by tugging or head-butting, its okay (since I don't shake my leg at these times). Oh, I also bought him a large length of cotton for cheap from Jo-Anns which he uses to scratch, nap on, and bite. He never seems to swallow, just shred. This can also be helped by giving Duke a large amount of willow toys and cardboard toys (My Flemmie LOVED cardboard tubes from toilet paper rolls like they were crack.)

As for bedding, I buy 50lb bags of small animal bedding made from corn cobs. It is small, "soft", odor absorbing, long lasting, clean, and after trying ten billion types, the only thing the dwarf and the flemmie could agree on. It is also cheap! I think I get my bags at my local Pet Supplies Plus Warehouse 50lbs for $15, sometimes $10 if it is on sale. I did notice, however, that my flemmie had powerful pee, and as she grew from a 6 month old to a 1 year old, I started to also buy 10lb containers of Crystals for cats (they are clear and blue crystals that kill bacteria, smells, and absorb pee) and put a thin layer of that under the corn cobs. I went from having a smelly, cleaned daily bunny bin, to having a non-smelly, cleaned every three days bunny bin. But, i would not recommend this if you have a bun who digs, as I am unsure of how safe these are for buns (my two never, ever dig their bins).

As a previous poster said, i don't use a brush, i use my hands. My dwarf gets to sit content with attention and love, and he also gets loose tuffs pulled from his coat. A Win-win. However, my flemmie Loved the wire brushes and would sit for hours if I was using one.

Also, just a warning- Flemmies Jump High! This may seem like 'Duh!', but mine jumped over a chest high fence (and I am 5ft 7inches tall!) I eventually found that anything within 6ft of the ground was "her territory", often coming home to find she'd jumped over chest high gates and would be asleep on the back of tall chairs and sofas. They are also smart, as she learned she could drag boxes in her pen to the edge to make the jump shorter. The only thing I found that could keep my Flemmie where i wanted her was to be holding her or a fully closed door (which she always took offense to). So, yeah, one of these days Duke will realize he can jump (mine was about 8 months old when she realized it for the first time and she jumped a baby gate) and you'll come home to find him out of the area you left him in.

Good luck! Flemmies are wonderful!