Monday 27 October 2008

We need your suggestions to get Buster drinking on her own!

Hi all,

apologies for the delay, I know it's been a while and many of you are looking forward to more updates!
Buster is doing well.. I'm sure you'll agree she's grown since you last saw her!

First off, I'd like to answer some questions you've been asking:

Q.: Does she ever hop like a bunny or does she only walk around on her hind legs all the time?
A.: Buster doesn't walk on her hind legs, however, she likes to stand on them while sniffing around. I think it gives her better perception of what's around her in terms of noise and smell.
Having said that, she doesn't hop either, rather, she lopes.

Q.: Is she still drinking her morning bottle?
A.: Yes, we still give her milk in the mornings and water in the evenings. Buster never learned to drink on her own even though we provide her with fresh water in a bowl and in a drinking bottle every day. Hand-feeding her milk and water twice daily are her only means of fluid intake.

Q.: Does Buster hop?
Or she likes to stand on her hind legs?
How are her eyes? Are they still deteriorating?

A.: Re. the walking, see above. Her eyes are still the same, not getting any worse but not getting any better either.
Q.: How does she get around?
A.: By memory

Q.: Because Irish Hares are endangered, are there any plans to breed her? Is her eye condition a genetic problem or just one of those random development errors? Would breeding be too complicated/make the release of the buns impossible?
A.: We've no plans to breed her yet as she is still too young. I remember reading that hares only become adults after the first year and Buster is just over 5 months old. Re. the eyesight, we think it was just a random birth defect and might not be genetic but the truth is we don't know and we hope for the best.

Q.: Have you ever considered making a bunspace fo Buster?
A.: No, we didn't, but we'll probably stick with this blog for the moment.

Q.: I have a sense that she might be a real character. Is she intelligent?
A.: Buster is very curious, the moment you put something new in a room she's there investigating it! That includes finding her stash of treats and removing them from the bags and having a merry little feast when we're not home.
She's now learned to go to the garden and come back to the house on her own: she was always afraid of the step from the kitchen onto the patio but my husband has built her a ramp and she now comes and goes as she pleases when the door is open (she's always guarded).

Q.: Do you let buster roam freely about the house? what about when she does her business? have you litterbox trained her like i hear you can?
A.:Any suggestion on how to train a rabbit or a hare to use a litterbox, please advise! :-)
Buster has a litterbox which she does use from time to time. We put in cat litter at the bottom and corn seeds at the top, however, she's not trained and a brush and pan are always at the ready!

Q.: Will you be spaying her?
A.: We'll seek advice from the vet re. spaying, she's going in for a 6-month check up next month so we'll be asking them.

Okay, I hope I answered all your questions! If I didn't or I left out any questions, please let me know.
Now, onto the drinking problem!
We'd like to ask for your suggestions with regard to getting Buster to drink water on her own.
We have tried giving her water in a bowl (pure water or mixed with apple juice), we have tried the drinking bottles (the upside down ones with a metal tip) and we tried with a feeding bottle however Buster does not drink on her own!
Currently Buster is fed milk in the morning through her feeding bottle and water in the evenings through a syringe with no needle.
We need Buster to be self-reliant for fluid intake.
If you've any advice on how to do this (we already tried what's been suggested so far) please let us know!

Now onto the part you're all looking forward to.... the pictures! :-)

This is Buster in the mornings taking her milk bottle!

What you see under her chin is a wool cotton disc (the make up ones!) so she does not get any milk on her fur.

Buster: "It's not a golf ball, it's my tail!"

Buster: "You need to be aerodynamic in this Irish wind..!"

Buster: "What do you mean I'm getting too big??"

What's missing??

Getting hard to find a comfortable spot..

Buster: "Ahh, found it.."

Wednesday 1 October 2008

September pictures!

First of all, apologies for the late post, I've been quite busy lately and haven't had the chance to update the blog. On the other side, I've 3 weeks worth of pictures so I'm sure you'll forgive me :-)

Buster is doing well..
she's settled back in well after her week away at the vet clinic.
She's developed a liking for our indoor plants and she's quite keen on chewing the earth and leaves! Yesterday she actually climbed into the flower pot!

She also has developed a taste for shoes and jeans! (especially when you're wearing them!)

We heard that hares like bark, so we gave Buster a large branch to nibble at.. turns out she's really fond of it and it's nearly time to find another branch for her!

"Hey, what's cookin'?"

"What do you mean it's not for me?!"

"I wonder where they keep hare food around here.."

"Ok, let's try these presses.."

"Are you sure that casserole is not for me?"

"Let's see what's in this drawer"

"I'll just have a little nibble"

"Ok, maybe another one.."

"And a little bit of this too"

"It wasn't me!"

"I've never seen this plant before in my life!"

"It's good to be the Queen!"

Buster has green fingers!

"I think I'll prune this plant a little bit"

"this too.."

Buster just out of the shower (just kidding!)
In Ireland it's rain season all year round!

Friday 12 September 2008

Thx for all the comments! Some answers to your questions..

Wow I still can't believe how many comments Buster has received in the last few days!
Your comments are all wonderful, thank you so much!

I will try to answer some of the questions that you've been asking... but first.. I want to show you all what Buster is doing right now:

Yes, she's taking a nap as usual!

Okay, back to the questions:

Q.: Have you bunnyproofed?
A.: We've tried to as much as we could, all electrical cables have been removed and I always have to make sure I don't leave anything around for her to eat, I've often found she chews on jacket sleeves that are left at the back of the kitchen chairs.
Once I had a pile of clothes for ironing that I had left on a kitchen chair, let's just say that Buster helped reducing the number of items that had to be ironed as she chewed on shirts and t-shirts and whatever she could reach!
Thankfully she doesn't nibble curtains, furniture or carpets..
Occasionally, she climbs on vases and eats the earth and leaves, but I think that's okay for her to do as it's all roughage.
To show you what I mean...

Q.: Did the eye specialist ever tell you what causes his (or her) retinas to deteriorate like that?
A.: To be honest, just for Buster eye sight alone, we brought her to 4 different Vets so far (the last being the eye specialist) to try and get a definitive answer. Nobody seems to know much about it and we've heard different opinions.
The first vet 'flicked her fingers' in front of Buster, she reacted and the vet concluded she had sight (eh, really)
The second vet examined her eyes with a small light and did not pronounce herself either way.
The third vet examined her eyes with a light also and agreed that Buster pupils are permanently dilated and do not react to light, hence the retina not developed theory.
Finally the 'eye specialist' said that Buster has very little sight on both eyes, but just enough to see lights and shadow, no more.
Having said all this, Buster has been at home with us for 4 months now and ever since she was a little ball of fluff we noticed that something wasn't right as she kept on running into things, she did not see a wall or a door in front of her.
Hares are supposed to have great eyesight, so we knew there was something wrong with her eyes. We initially thought it was cataracts but we've since been told the damage is all at the back of the eyes, that she was born this way and she was most likely abandoned by the mother.

Q.: Will you guys get to keep her? Or perhaps this would be too much to take on permanently? (or possibly they won't allow you to)?
A.: Yes, this is a decision we faced few months back. The plan was to release Buster once she was weaned (hares are usually weaned at 6 weeks of age) but we've been told that being blind, release was not an option.
So the three options we were suggested were to either keep her (we already had the Irish Hare Org. approval), or to give her to the Irish Hare Org. which is based in Northern Ireland, or to put her down.
The Irish Hare Org. had offered their help and support should we decide to keep her, and so we did! Buster's been with us ever since!

Q.: Are you sure that's a hare? That leg length to body ratio looks more like a deer or moose.
A.: LOL, yup, I know, she's some legs on her!

Q.: Is Buster still drinking her morning bottle of milk?
A.: Yes, unfortunately she is. And the reason why I say unfortunately is because she relies on her morning bottle as her only mean of fluid intake. Buster never learned to drink on her own. We have tried all ways we could think of: we got one of those upside-down bottles with the metal tip, we used a drinking bottle and tied it upside down (just in case she didn't like the metal tip and preferred the soft teeth), we used sauces and cups of water; nothing ever worked and she never drank on her own.
So for weeks and weeks we gave her a milk bottle in the morning and in the evenings we fed her some water (either in a small syringe on the side of her mouth or on a bottle).
Only last week, after collecting her from the Vet Clinic, Buster was incredibly thirsty, so she took a full bottle of milk, followed by a full bottle of water, and then she approached (for the first time!) the cup of water and she tried 'eating' and 'biting' the water. For about 20 seconds she knew water was what she wanted but she didn't know how to lick it. Eventually she figured out how to lick it and she's been at it for a full 10 minutes!
We've since stopped giving her a water bottle in the evenings, as we wanted her to get thirsty and drink on her own. Unfortunately she hasn't been seen drinking since!
So for the moment, we're still keeping up the milk.
Her bottle of milk in the morning consists of:
- 1 and a half scoop of Welpi (puppy's formula)
- 1 capsule of Acidophilus (to keep her guts healthy)
- 12ml of fresh cream (hares milk is naturally very fat)
- 30ml of cooled boiled water

Buster stretching her back legs!

Q.: Did you build the rabbit run and if so, will you photograph it in a future blog entry?
A.: Unfortunately we haven't got around to build her a run. However, we did get a hutch. Rabbits hutches were not suitable for Buster as they are on two levels with a 'stair' connecting the two, and we thought it would be too dangerous for Buster as she might 'walk' from the top floor right into the hole where the stair is, from the wrong side, in which case she'd fall. So instead we got her a large wooden kennel with a door (vs a flap). The idea was to use the kennel as a hutch where Buster would find shelter in rainy and cold days. The reason why we haven't built the run is that we're starting to doubt whether it's a good idea for Buster.
There are a number of cats in the neighbourhood and our next door neighbour has two dogs. When the dogs play and bark Buster gets very agitated but the real issue here are the cats. We fear that the cats will be all around (and sitting on top of) the run and Buster will die of a heart attack, stress or gut dysfunction (caused by stress). This is the reason why she's at home most of the times and in the evenings she's let out in the garden always guarded.

I hope I have answered most of your questions, if I've left out something, please let me know.
BTW, all advice is welcome re. Buster, if you have any suggestions on how to wean her off the bottle, or getting her to drink on her own or regarding the run outside and what's the safest option for her.

Thursday 11 September 2008

Some big news....

Well... first of all let me say I'm overwhelmed by the huge interest that this blog has generated (literally overnight!), and I'd like to thank each and every one of you that has posted about our little Buster here, on Cute Overload :) and on other sites and blogs!

Ohh Buster look at the camera.. there's an audience here for you!

My husband and I are only honoured to have the chance to care for this little guy and we're thrilled and amazed every day watching Buster's behaviour and we feel lucky and privileged to have the opportunity to care for such a beautiful creature.
Even though we have tried our best to look after Buster, the road hasn't been uneventful and there have been ups and downs but Buster has always faced each challenge and bounced back!

Just before I give you some updates on Buster, I'd like to bring up a couple of points that have been raised in comments on this blog and on Cute Overload regarding Buster:

- Irish Hares are endangered species and my husband and I are fully aware that leverets should not be picked up from a nest. However, I'd like to reiterate that Buster was found in the middle of a road, he was extremely skinny, dehydrated and needed immediate care. We also tried to return him to the nearest safest spot to where he was found but after a number of hours with regular checking we felt it best for Buster to retrieve him and get him to a vet as soon as possible.
When I brought him to the vet that day I was told 'not to get too attached' as he had gone for very long without food and was going into a hibernation state and was not going to last much longer.
As you can see, Buster is now 16 weeks old and he's thriving!
Also, we've been keeping in touch with the Irish Hare Organization ( ever since finding Buster (and we still send weekly and fortnightly updates) and have received great advice and support by Mike Rendle from the Irish Hare Initiative. Mike's knowledge has contributed enormously to the rearing of Buster.

- A second point that I'd like to raise is regarding Buster's diet. I have come across a comment posted on this blog which suggests that Buster is not receiving appropriate food and is instead fed on treats.
Let me reassure you that Buster receives a large amount of fresh roughage, ranging from fresh long grass (changed twice a day, once in the mornings and once in the evenings), various leaves and branches, bark, cabbage, carrots, Oat Hay, Western Timothy Hay, Orchard Grass Hay, Brome Hay, Dandelion, Parsley and Mixed Fine Herbs.
As a supplement Buster is also given dry oat and rabbit food.
Occasionally, Buster receives treats but the majority of Buster's diet is appropriate.

Now.. onto the latest with Buster!

Buster was 16 weeks yesterday (we believe he was born on 21st May 2008)
Hubby and I have gone on vacation to Italy for a week and Buster has been kindly cared for by a local vet in a Veterinary Clinic (thanks Susan!)

An eye specialist has visited Buster and has agreed that he has very very little sight on both eyes so he 'might' see lights, shadows and movements only.
He agreed that the retinas in Buster's eyes never developed properly and the damage is at the back of the eyes, so he can't be operated.

Here's the big news...!!
We were initially told that Buster was a boy, but apparently it's "almost" impossible to determine hares gender (hares can contract their genitalia so it's very hard to tell).
Only last week when Buster was left into the Vet's care, we've been informed that there's a high probability (80%) that Buster might be a female!
My husband added that as grumpy and demanding as Buster was, Buster could have only been a girl!!

Some more pictures!

Buster can stretch up to my knee!

ahhh good stretch!!


Buster takes a big mouthfull of grass!!

Ahhh.. isn't he (oops! she I mean!) cute??!

Buster is asleep on my arms! :-)

Zzzzz.. Buster loves sleeping