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Rabbit--I think she's bored, depressed

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
My daughter has a 9 month old rabbit that doesn't seem to be thriving like she once was. I haven't had a rabbit in years but unless I miss my guess she's just plain bored and maybe feeling depressed. She's hanging out in the back of her cage and just seems to have lost her usual lively enthusiasm. Then the moment I take her out and let her down on the grass she starts exploring and soon gets back to her happy, leaping self again. She tried to run off when I went to catch her this morning to put her back in her cage so that speaks volumes to me as well.

She's currently outdoors in a hutch protected by a screened in porch. Keeping her inside with our 17 1/2 pound aggressive male cat really isn't an option, although I could probably bring her inside in a pet taxi on the kitchen counter while I'm working in the kitchen. She does need supervision and/or a very high degree of protection when outside because we do have a large population of feral cats in the neighborhood as well as an occasional dog comes wandering through.

Any ideas for dealing with this? I'd love to see her happy again.
post #2 of 9
Rabbit novice...lol.. hour 48 of having one... TOYS>>>?? Is she cool enough warm enough as the weather turns in many areas??
post #3 of 9
I agree with Sharky...try some toys!
You might have to try a few different ones to figure out what she likes. Some are diggers, some are tossers and some are chewers and some love 'em all!
Look back in this forum...there was a thread with a great link to homemade toys.
post #4 of 9
Do you not have a room she could go in or the cat, even if just to let her run around for a couple of hours in your home. I'm sure that would make her much happier to have run & play time and have you interact with her. You can build a large cage with level so that cat will stay away and the bun can get up on the higher levels. Just a thought. Also maybe another bunny friend. www.rabbit.org has tons of ideas for various things. Check it out & good luck.
post #5 of 9
When I used to have outdoor rabbits they had a large enclosed run with their hutch as an integral part of it. Big enough to be able to have toys (a football ie. soccer ball was always a firm favourite), with a sleeping area and sheltered outdoor area in the hutch part of the enclosure, space to sleep/sunbathe on top of the hutch, and of course a chickenwire floor to the enclosure to prevent burrowing but still let the grass grow through for grazing. We'd let them run around the garden loose once a day, but the run was big enough for them to get exercise and play with toys, they were also harness trained.

In the south of England our climate is mild enough to keep rabbits outdoors all year round, if it gets cold where you are then you won't want to do that, but if your rabbit cannot have free run of the house I suggest building a large outdoor cat-proof enclosure that you can put her in for some outdoor exercise during the day at least when the weather is mild enough.
post #6 of 9
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the ideas everyone--I'll do what I can for her now in terms of toys and getting her out of there for exercise and play time. Until a month or so ago she seemed happy enough with her cage situation and 3-4 good visits with holding but she definitely needs something else. I bought her some baby teething keys a few weeks ago and those were met with great enthusiam but that didn't last.

We are changing weather to colder but so far she seems more comfortable with it. We protect her cage from wind at night and on windy days but my husband is working on plans for a larger hutch to give her inside/outside options with heat (we'd take her into the garage during really cold periods). I talked to him last night about making it big enough to include another rabbit to possibly give her some company. If we got the floor of the screened in porch cleaned out she could probably have some run around time in there, although the concrete floor is going to get real cold here soon.

I'll need to think some more on how to bring her in some. Is there any possibility that "rabbit smell" around the house, floors, etc. would make an already feisty cat territorial (spraying) or is that behavior reserved for other cats only? The times when I brought her in because of the heat, my cat stood vigilant watch trying to get a handle on that rattly cage on the counter.

Thanks again for the ideas--I'll check out the website.
post #7 of 9
She's bored and lonely. If you have to keep her outside, talk to rabbit rescues about finding a friend for her. They might be able to help you with that. She'll need to be spayed, of course.

Toys and more attention are a must. I switch around my rabbits' toys so they get something new (or something they haven't seen for a while) every few weeks. This has a great list of cheap toys rabbits actually like:

Try to get her out of the hutch every day, even if it's just to let her run around the porch while you sit on the floor with her.

She might be less lonely inside your house, where she can see people more often. NIC cages are great- cheap and easy to build plus you can build them however you like. I attach hardware cloth (fine wire mesh) to the outside to keep kitty paws out. I have no idea if your territorial cat would start spraying (is he neutered). Maybe you could do a test run before you commit to it?

Here's a great website on making indoor cages:
post #8 of 9
Thread Starter 
Well, I have good news to report! With just a few days of stepped up exercise, interaction, and some new toys, we have a much happier bunny on our hands. We've checked on her often and haven't seen her moping in the corner even once--she's active and interactive again.

I remembered we had some wire and stakes leftover from our gardening days up in the attic so I hiked that down and turned a wasteland flowerbed that is adjacent to her screen porch into an enclosed run. Yesterday's attempt was pretty feeble and she escaped like in 3 seconds but today she had a 25 minute romp. It's 12' x 4' so it gives her plenty of room to stretch. This should also help my daughter who has been terrified she'll escape when loose outside. I can see now that her regular cage needs to be larger and more interesting. I took her in some hay this evening and piled it in a corner thinking she'd like it as bedding but when I checked just now she'd spread it out all over the place. Just like a kid to unmake the bed!

Toys--a vitamin bottle with a few pebbles inside and a large whiffle ball, the latter which she keeps tossing into her food dish. We'll add some more and rotate them, that's a good idea.

Between our allergy/sinus/ear situation (4 surgeries, 16 years of shots) and being wall-to-wall in this house, I'm not yet seeing a good solution to keep her indoors. If temps were more moderate here I'd be happy to try bringing her in for a few hours a day for company but I live in Illinois and I think the temperature differences would be too much of a shock for her. I brought her inside this summer on high heat index days but always to the warmest room of the house and returned her when it had cooled down at night. Temperature differences in winter would be far greater than that, though. Right now I'm thinking more along the lines of making the screen porch more of a play area where my daughter can spend play time with her. If that doesn't work, we'll look for Plan B.

Thanks again for the suggestions--I'm *really* glad I checked in here.

Oh, one more question about a companion--she's my daughter's 4-H bunny (a Havana) and we'd prefer not to have her spayed quite yet. Do two does work out well as roommates, or is that more dependent on the temperament of the rabbits involved?
post #9 of 9
I know I am coming in a little late on this one so you may have already figured out a good solution. I wanted to answer the last question you asked, about getting her a companion. From what I have learned over the last few months, it seems that male-female bonds are a lot easier then trying to bond two bunnies of the same sex. That being said, you could look into getting a male bunny that is already neutered so you could avoid unwanted babies. It is also important to note that you would have to have two seperate hutches for atleast the first part of the bonding process. You can't assume the bunnies will get along right away (most don't I'm told). Also, you are right about the temperment thing, it pretty much depends on the personalities of the bunnies. Most HRS and humane societies offer bunny dates though so you could take her in to meet prospective buddies and see who she gets along with best.
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