Why You Should Not Kiss A Rabbit

Dr. John Kaya
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Wednesday - January 20, 2010
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Hawaii is such a cool place to live. The reasons for this viewpoint are numerous, but I’ll cut to the chase - food. With all the cultures that blend into our island paradise, the delicacies in our neighborhood are endless. Malasadas, chanko-nabe, kalua pig and pancit are just a few of the tasty morsels that come to mind. If the above dishes sound foreign to you because you’re a recent transplant to the Islands, heed my advice and check them out. That being said, not all ethnic dishes appeal to the masses. Some things are an acquired taste. The same holds true for our domesticated animals, as you will soon see. The following is a true story although the names and furry faces have been altered to protect the innocent.

It was a cool spring day, and Mr. Tom brought his rabbit “Hip-Hop” in for an annual physical. It was the first time we were seeing Hip-Hop and, as usual, we needed to get a good history on our new patient. Mr. Tom started by describing the bi-level bunny condo that Hip-Hop lived in. It had wall-to-wall hay and a bunny ramp to the loft on the second floor. The litter box was in the corner on the first floor, and he was proud to say that Hip-Hop was toilet trained within a month’s time. Hip-Hop not only lived in this bunny dream house but could run free in a fenced-in yard for one hour each day. When running about, he would eat grass, lick the dirt and chew on the bark of a papaya tree. Hip-Hop’s diet was comprised of free-choice timothy hay, approximately one-fourth cup of a commercial rabbit pellet diet and a small bowl of vegetables every night. The vegetables varied each night, but consisted of items such as leafy greens, carrots, carrot tops, broccoli, basil, parsley, wheat grass and ti leaves. According to Mr. Tom, Hip-Hop had no problems whatsoever, except for one.


 

“Doc, I try my best to provide a good home for my little buddy, and I offer him a wide variety of food.” I nodded in agreement. “For some reason, he still feels a need to supplement his diet.”

“What do you mean? Does he forage around your house?” I asked.

“Well, yeah. He does pull on the carpet fibers and chews on the electrical cords, but there is something else.” With a grimace Mr. Tom continued, “Hip-Hop eats his own poop.”


I could smell it coming (metaphorically, of course). I reassured Mr. Tom that everything was just fine with Hip-Hop. Rabbits often need to eat their own feces for nutritional reasons. Rabbits defecate normal dry round stool, but they also pass soft dark green “night feces.” It’s called night feces because many times this stool is made at night. They get essential vitamins and protein from this type of stool. It’s definitely an acquired taste and seems like a repulsive habit, but it’s important for their well-being. Admittedly, eating your own poop may seem strange, but on the wild side it may be business as usual.

Pet tip: A proper diet may be the best thing you can do for your rabbit. Limit the amount of commercial pellets, feed as much timothy hay as your rabbit desires and offer a wide variety of fresh vegetables.

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