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.."


Valerie said...

Any sign that she might like to drink running water? (like, if she's put in the tub and the tub is dripping a little stream of water, is she interested in drinking?) If that were true she might be up for drinking from one of the cat fountains that one can buy... basically a fountain pump in a recirculating container with a charcoal filter.

Dylan said...

I'm a bunny, not a hare, but this is how my Mama made sure I used my litter box. First, she kept me in my cage for awhile to see where I went to the bathroom. Then she put the box in that corner and put my hay next to it because I like to poo while I eat. But I didn't always poo in the box. Sometimes I went next to it. So she put me in the kitchen with my litter box and put some of my poo in the box. That way I knew just where I was supposed to go. And when I did, I got a treat. I love treats. I guess not everybunny (or everyhare) takes to it right away, but some of us do.

Animal Lover said...

Wow; she looks wonderful!

Gradually transition from bottle to eye-dropper given in the same posture as the bottle, then very gradually offer the dropper in a posture that eventually allows her to take water dropped onto a spoon or other utensil she's comfy with. The dropper is there, hovering over the spoon but she finds it more expedient to take from the spoon rather than wait for your slower drops. Then the spoon hovers low over a bowl and she realizes that the bowl is more expedient. It takes much time and patience but you seem to have those in droves.

I hope this helps. Thanks for the new pics and updates!

freyal said...

Finally there is an update! Been waiting so long!
Great Buster is doing well and getting cuter and cuter!
What Dylan suggested is a good idea. What may also help is to wipe the pee right after she pees and put the paper in the litter box. Clean the spot with vinegar to off-set the odor in the urine. The soiled paper in the litter box is a signal that this is the place to pee. Like Dylan said, every time she goes in the litter box, treat her right there!
About drinking, have you tried feeding her with the upside down drinking bottle? Maybe gradually she will get the idea that she can drink from the tip.
Please give me more update! We love Buster!! :)

Freya from Georgia, US

Anonymous said...

I don't know about hares, but our bunnies love treats like dried applies and would do anything for them. They learn rather quickly when food is involved. We put some dirty litter from their cages into the litter box, and every time they jumped into the box to use it we gave them a treat.

For other things you might want to teach buster, you could try clicker training, which is more known for horses, cats and dogs, but there is a book for rabbits. You can find some videos on youtube.

Brigid Cumming said...

Thanks for the update and the lovely photos. Buster has grown so much. Regarding the water problem, will she suck water from a wet washcloth? Or perhaps try outside putting a garden hose on a dribble and seeing if she's interested in that. Regarding litter box training... apparently it's easier once rabbits are older and have been spayed/neutered. If you google "house rabbits" you should get some informative sites.

DrunkBunny said...

Awww! More Buster pics, my day is made!

I don't have any experience with hares (just domestic rabbits), but have you tried giving her milk through a water bottle while you're holding her? Hold the water bottle upright. I agree with "animal lover" - She's used to drinking with you holding her, so I'd guess any transition would be best started that way.

Also, how much drinking do wild hares actually do in the first place? I don't know. In America, hares survive the longest droughts. If you feed Buster fruit, she is getting water through her food (most people don't think about that).

I've always spayed and neutered my rabbits, with good behavioral results.

Cari said...

What if you tried exchanging the bottle/syringe with the upside-down drinking container that she would be using on her own? Hold her, and it, as similar to your normal routine as possible until she gets used to drinking from that. Then start holding it more upright, like it would be if it were just hanging up for her, and so on.

Anonymous said...

for my housebunny- i put some hay in the litter box and put her hay hanger right next to it so she is basically rewarded everytime she goes to the box. always in a corner of the cage (they usually go in one spot) and i would say with a rabbit that is not blind everytime they started pooping/peeing i would immediately pick them up and put them in the litterbox. oh and dried apples are the best.
all i have to do is crinkle the bag of them and the bunny runs in circles then straight into the cage waiting for a treat.
food is the best to train!

free fallon said...

I've heard rubbing a bit of banana on the ball of a bottle-feeder will usually get good results.

And for litter-training, I was going to suggest the urine-soaked paper as did freyal. With my rabbit I kept multiple litter-boxes around the house for the first six months or so, but he eventually just used one in particular and the rest have been eliminated. I also found that he prefers corn-cob type litter as opposed to pine or cedar shavings. When I switched he stopped all extraneous poopings, and I've had no problem since.

Wendy said...

Yay Buster, we loves ya!


DH(A HA)PD said...

afraid i don't have any advice - just wanted to tell you how pleased i was to see a buster update. i check just about daily in hopes there is one and no such luck!

keep up the great work!

rabbitowner said...

Yay for Buster! She looks fantastic guys! Careful with cat litter as I know its bad for rabbits as it can irritate their respiratory tracts. Not good either if they eat it. Try recycled newspaper bedding. Corn on top is great. Def. hay in litter box to entice and reward with poops. When you see her pooping, pick her up and put her in her box. Constantly show her where it is by putting her in it, since she can't see. Love you Buster!!

eikoleigh said...

I don't have any advice as I've never had a pet rabbit. Just wanted to say that Buster looks great and it's so nice to see her growing up.

Good luck with getting her to drink on her own. I think folks have posted some good advice (sounds like it to me anyhow). Hopefully one of the suggestions works out for you and Buster.

Frankie said...

To add to drinking water suggestions, if you dip greens (grass, lettuce) in water that can give her more moisture.

Comment about using cat litter - I am a rabbit volunteer in California, USA. We mentor new rabbit adopters they should not use clay or cat litter for rabbits. This probably applies to hares as well. The cat litter contains dust that can get into rabbit lungs and cause great damage, also if they accidentally eat it that can cause intestinal problems. Best to use torn up newspaper, wood stove pellets or wood shavings (not cedar). Also, we understand cabbage may lead to stomach aches, lettuce is fine.

We love your blog and all the photos of Buster! She's a wonder and beautiful. So glad you have decided to continue caring for her.

Frankie said...

Water - maybe you can dip some of her greens in water (grass, lettuce) to give her more moisture as well. Sounds like she started drinking from the bowls, some rabbits, maybe hares too, are secret drinkers and don't like people around when they drink. Mine are like that.

A comment on cat litter in litter box - I have heard clay cat litter can be bad for rabbit respiratory system, dust gets in their lungs. Could try wood stove pellets, or torn up newspaper, or wood shavings (not cedar) instead.

We love your blog and all the photos of Buster! She is a wonder and beautiful. So glad you have decided to keep and care for her.

Frankie said...

Water - you could dip your greens (grass, lettuce) in water to get more moisture for her. Some rabbits are secret drinkers, so maybe her beginning to drink from a bowl is a good sign, she may not want people around when she drinks.

Comment on cat litter in litter box - we understand clay cat litter can be bad for rabbit respiratory system. Better to use wood stove pellets (that break down with moisture and smell good), or torn up newspaper or wood shavings (not cedar).

We love your blog and all the continuing photos of Buster. She is a wonder and beautiful! So glad you have decided to keep and care for her.

Audrey said...

Please do NOT use cat litter for Buster, it has tons of dust in it that can be harmful to his sinuses and lungs.

ffleur said...

Perhaps crafty Mz Buster has a reason for continuing her milk bottle in the morning. Cleverly she knows if she never learns to drink from an upside-down bottle or bowl, she will get to continue her soothing and nurturing morning bottle and cuddle with mommy?

DreamQueen said...

We use this stuff for our bunnies' litter called Yesterday's News. Not sure if it's available in Ireland by that name but it should be in some form. It's recycled newspaper and super absorbant. Dylan's process for litter-training is what we used with our bunnies. Good luck!

Claire said...

Hello - love your blog. Hi Buster!

Have a look at - the Drinkwell water fountain created for indoor use with cats and dogs, and I'm sure suitable for hares too!! I have 2 cats and they drink plenty of water using this fountain - it just requires a filter change every 6 weeks or so and we wash it out weekly. You can hear the water gently gurgling as it falls - this may be useful as Buster will not be able to see the fountain. We bought it for approx $60 (Australian) on the net. Best of all if Buster could get used to this, she could drink at any time and you won't have to keep holding a bottle for her.

Best of luck!

pointaeus said...

I agree for the litter training that confinement and multiple pans helps, but truly, a spay does wonders. Most baby buns really don't "get it" until a bit older and espc. post spay/neuter. Be wary when the hormones do kick in, as it may change her behavior as well. Intact female rabbits can be quite aggressive, territorial, grumpy, nippy. But we love them anyway & the Sx seems to really help calm them down. No less active, just less aggressive. I think there were many great drinking suggestions, and I do wonder that "Mz. Buster" isn't just relishing her mommy-time in the morning. She didn't get to be with her own mama, after all.

Emily said...

Dana Krempels, Ph.D.

"Wild rabbits drink water from standing or running sources, as most other mammals do. They also lick foliage that's wet with dew or rainwater, and they get a great deal of the moisture they need from the water in the plant tissues they ingest.

Some species of lagomorphs, such as desert-dwelling cottontails and hares, can get by with very little water, though they will drink it when they can get it. Average daily intake of water for a typical, healthy mammal is about 90-100ml per kilogram of body weight, including *all* sources of water."

Didn't you say that when buster got really thirsty she drank from her bowl? Maybe it is an instinctual thing, since hares graze and pick up a lot of their water from the grass that they eat. Did the vet or the Irish Hare. org people have any suggestions? I hope you can gradually train her.

Cecilia said...

I love Buster! It makes me all teary to see pictures of her. She is so lucky to be in your family. I love seeing the pictures of her and hearing how she's doing.

Lookfar said...

I really enjoy following her story. thanks for blogging.

dreamcarr said...

I am going to ditto someone and say that she's probably getting all her fluids from your bottles and doesn't feel compelled to drink otherwise. Rabbits/Hares really aren't "drinkers" and seem to like to not get into the drinking thing until they feel they really need it. So, I would first try to just cut back on the fluids gradually and eventually turn the bottle into a treat more than a necessity. There is probably a bit of comfort and babying going on here too - so i can see how this could be an endless cycle of her begging for more bottle and you feeling bad about giving her less, but shes a grown girl now and this is something the momma would have push her away from a while ago.

pointaeus said...

More Buster!
More long legs and bipedalism!
We want it all, when you have time of course.

hitched said...

Thank you for the update! I can't wait to hear more Buster news and see more photos.

zhakora said...

I enjoy reading about Buster. I hope she's well.

Anonymous said...

Buster is absolutely adorable, is she as soft as she looks?
I don't have a rabbit, but if Buster has any 'liquid' accidents, Simple Solution is brilliant to remove all stains and smells (I use it for my cat!)

Anonymous said...

I raised a little of 2 week old kittens, and at the end of 6 weeks when they should have been weaning off the bottle and onto water (not just stepping into it) and solid food. It was suggested to me to make the semi-solid food sweet with a little bit of the milk. Have you tried getting Buster to drink the formula milk out of a dish? That was the first step with my kittens, they wouldn't touch the food before I started addiing some of their sweet formula milk to it. Eventually they realized what the dish was for, and of course it transferred into knowing that the water dish was for drinking and not stepping. So I would say put some of her treats in a dish and put some of her milk in one next to it, if she drinks the milk out of the dish then maybe you can exchange it for water. Of course if she doesnt use it right away and its regular milk/water time, wait a while before you give her the bottle so that she searches out an alternative means of fluid.

Chi said...

I don't know if this will work with a hare but I have used this technique with my old bunny (he died in May eight years old) who was taken from his mother before he learned how to feed and drink by himself.

1. Take water or milk (since they tends to like it better) on your finger.
2. Place your finger in front of her. If she dosen't lick your finger try to put it in her mouth.
3. After she gets the point about licking your finger, try to place your finger in front of the nipple on the waterbottle.
4. After a while with this I could take my finger away and Lurifacks would think that it was my finger to (he didn't have good sight on one of his eyes so maybe this will work for you to since she is blind).

If she reacts because the nipple on the bottle is could maybe you could get it warmer in some way?

Anyway good luck!

Anonymous said...

Hi there!
It seems like you've got lots of suggestions, so I just wanted to mention that you're wonderful people and the love you show for Buster is absolutely amazing! Thank you for showing how caring people can be. Good luck!! Can't wait to hear more.

Tea said...

Hi there,
Our rabbit (a rex) has not used a water bottle or bowl water in three years. She is a free-range bunny who is almost 7 years old and gets all her water from dew on the plants she eats in our back yard. She is very healthy. In some of the photos it shows Buster out in the grass... perhaps that's enough?

PJ said...

I think Buster is so interesting, so different froma rabbit. It's wonderful that you're taking such good care of her. She obviously loves you.

jan said...

Your kindness and caring are wonderful. Could we please have an update on Buster? I hope all is well.

rosie said...

thank you so much for sharing these photos and Buster's story, I really really enjoyed reading about her.

She certainly looks different from bunnies!

I completely agree with Jan - she obviously cares about you a lot!

Can't wait to hear how you go with all these suggestions. Best wishes for a wonderful christmas with Buster and your family!

Cecilia said...

Furry Christmas, Buster. I love you so much. Have a Happy New Year. Sending best regards to your Parents also!

Dylan said...

I hope you had a Merry Christmas, Buster!

Kitty71 said...

Just wondering how Buster is doing! I check back periodically, as I have a particular fondness for rabbits, having had families of them as a child.

Hope all is well.

pla725 said...

Looking forward to updates on Buster. Have a Happy New Year.

Junior said...

Buster is so incredibly cute!!!

We hope she starts drinking on her own soon!

SpottedLop said...

Is it that she actually gets dehydrated when you do not give her the liquid or are concerned that she does not drink much when left to her own devices? These animals get much of their mosture through fresh plant matter and produce. They may not drink so much from the bowl/bottle. My buns get s huge salad and unless it is overly hot or something I don't see a lot of water disappearing from bowls.

if it truly is that she is not drinking enough and actually getting dehydrated you might try flavoring the water with a bit of banana or pineapple juice. As someone else suggested, wetting down her greens will help provide extra moisture.

For the litterbox - I recommend bunny safe litter such as recycled newspaper products or wood pellets. In the US we have Feline Pine, Yesterday's News, CareFresh. Stay away from softwood shavings Pine and cedar). Clay litters tend to be dusty and may cause a problem if ingested, as can dried corn.

I know yu said you weren't makng a BunSpace account, but it's really a great place to get the type of information and advice you are seeking, and there are other wild bunnies on there, not sure about hares, but there are some wild rabbits who have ended up as permenant house rabbits for various reasons.

She's gorgious! I really enjoyed stumbling onto this site.

Rachel said...

Is she drinking yet?

pla725 said...

I hope Buster is doing well.

B said...

She should be able to get plenty of water from her greens and you can sprinkle more water on them. You could try giving her wet greens in a bowl and gradually leave less greens and more water in the bowl until it is just a water bowl. She'll figure out that the bowl is the place to go for water...and that's really how rabbits get most of their water in the wild - dew drops on grass.

Best of luck with her. Too cute :)

B said...

Also, about the litter training--my rabbits instinctively used one spot in their cage (they're house bunnies but I kept them in their cage at first and they still have it as their special place and sleep in there). I think it would be really hard to litter train a rabbit if they have free run of the house initially.In any case, I just put the stray droppings into the litter box in the cage like another poster suggested and they caught on right away. Not many cat litters are safe for rabbits, can lead to cancer and I'd especially avoid anything like that if you are considering not spaying her. Feline Pine or shredded newspaper litters are supposed to be safe.

Anonymous said...

Hello there, I miss news and new photos. Hope you are allright :o))

Hi from Germany ^. .^

Alexandra said...

I hope Buster is alright. Can you tell us how she is doing? :-)

All the best,

pla725 said...

I guess there are no further updates.

Anonymous said...

Hello! I was following your blog since it was featured on CuteOverload last year, and I realize that it's been a while. Whenever you get the chance, we'd love to hear more updates on your precious fur kid. Take care!

mugino said...

Sorry I don't have any advice for helping Buster to drink on her own. But thanks as always for the photos. They really made my day! Btw, Buster reminds me of this bun:

Trade Windows said...

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!

Forbrukslån på dagen said...

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).

hvilken a-kasse said...

Cain is about just such a change from the Goddess to the Priesthood. doubt you'll ever hear a wife tell her husband that she is going to call.

Forbrukslån på dagen said...

It is wonderful to see the pictures of Buster. She is so lucky to have you. thanks for sharing her life and her progress.