Large Rabbits!

Recently we’ve seen an increase in overweight rabbits entering the shelter. This can be due to being fed the wrong diet or to being shut in a small hutch with little or no exercise. Rabbits are very intelligent animals and should have a large hutch and access to a large run at all times to stop them from becoming bored and depressed!

Diet

Rabbits need a diet full of fibre to stay healthy. Their main diet should consist of grass and hay, but other food items such as commercial pellets and fruit and vegetables can be fed as well. To provide a balanced diet for a rabbit it should be receiving unlimited amounts of hay and/or grass, at least a mug full of vegetables, mainly leafy greens and/or safe and washed wild plants, 1-2 small (1”) pieces of fruit and 1 table spoon of grass based pellets (2 for giant breeds) daily. Foods meant for humans, such as biscuits, can not only cause rabbits to become overweight but make them very ill, items such as biscuits contain dairy products and flour which rabbits can’t digest.

This image shows what a rabbits diet should consist of.
This image shows what a rabbits diet should consist of.

 

Accommodation

Rabbits are social animals that need a lot of space, so the amount of space needed depends on the number of rabbits that will live in the enclosure. A pair of rabbits will appreciate a 10ftx6ft enclosure with a 6ftx2ftx2ft hutch, obviously if bigger can be provided then the better. A larger group of rabbits will need a larger area to live in. Rabbits should be able to stretch up right on their hind legs without their ears being flattened by a roof, this should be taken in to account when choosing accommodation. The amount of space also depends on breed of rabbit, for example a continental giant will need much more space than a Netherland dwarf. You know your rabbits are happy when they binky everywhere!

 

The original binky bunnies. Of course wild rabbits are happy, they have all the space they want and a natural diet!!
The original binky bunnies. Of course wild rabbits are happy, they have all the space they want and a natural diet!!

 

 

Problems with obesity

When a rabbit is overweight there are a lot of heath issues that may appear. As well as shortening the rabbits lifespan the rabbit may encounter problems cleaning itself, leading to fly strike, overgrown claws due to lack of movement and an unhealthy gut due to not being able to eat its caecotrophs and/or being fed things that is bad for it. Rabbits will be much happier and healthier kept at the correct weight and fed limited healthy treats along with unlimited grass and hay and a small amount of pellets to maintain a good weight. healthy weights will vary between different breeds and size of rabbit.

Cleo is another very overweight rabbit to come in to the shelter recently. You can see how overgrown her back claws were too!
Cleo is one of the very overweight rabbits to come in to the shelter recently. You can see how overgrown her back claws were too!
This is Pickle, one of the overweight rabbits to enter the shelter recently.
This is Pickle, another one of the overweight rabbits to enter the shelter recently.

 

September 20, 2014Permalink

Piggys, Piggys everywhere!

51 Guinea Pigs and Counting

The shelter has recently taken in a huge number of guinea pigs. We currently have 51! Unfortunately the number is due to rise and some cannot be rehomed yet, as most of the females are pregnant and the single males need to be neutered (at great cost to the shelter!) This is because many people do not realise that guinea pigs are able to breed from a very young age, 3-4 weeks, are not sure how to sex them properly and that female guinea pigs can become pregnant again immediately after giving birth for up to 15 hours!

My Experience

I have experienced this myself at home. I gave a home to three guinea pigs from the shelter when we had an influx just before Christmas in 2010. I took on a Mum with her two young daughters. They had been with the father and their brother until they were separated when entering the shelter at 5 weeks old. In February, the mum gave birth again and the two daughters also gave birth a few weeks later. I had 11 guinea pigs at once! I kept a female baby and the rest had to be rehomed through the shelter.

Please Be Responsible

It is so important to have males neutered and to separate males from females at 4 weeks old at the very latest. It doesn’t take long for things to spiral out of control and the poor females end up stressed and ill when giving birth to so many litters. We have had some females at the shelter that have given birth to stillborns because they are too young or have given birth to too many litters.

Sexing Guinea Pigs

Here are some photos to help you learn how to sex guinea pigs properly:

This is a 5 week old female. Notice the Y shape. There is no bump at the top of the Y.
This is a 5 week old female. Notice the Y shape. There is no bump at the top of the Y.
This is a 5 week old male. Compare with the 5 week old female. He has a round prominent bump at the top.
This is a 5 week old male. Compare with the 5 week old female. He has a round prominent bump at the top.

 

This is the same 5 week old male. If gentle pressure is applied above the penis, as shown here, the penis will emerge.
This is the same 5 week old male. If gentle pressure is applied above the penis, as shown here, the penis will emerge.

 

This is an adult female.
This is an adult female.

 

This is an adult male. Compare to the adult female. He has swellings under the hair to the sides (testicles) and a prominent round bump at the top. No need to express the penis, as it is obvious this is male.
This is an adult male. Compare to the adult female. He has swellings under the hair to the sides (testicles) and a prominent round bump at the top. No need to express the penis, as it is obvious this is male.

 

I hope this is helpful.

If you can help us rehome our guinea pigs, we would love to hear from you.

Thank you. Keeley x

September 7, 2014Permalink

First Open Day at Marias Animal Shelter

 

 

Bright Idea

Maria usually holds a big fundraiser each year and it usually takes place in a hall. This year, volunteer Charlotte had a great idea of holding an open day at the shelter, so that people could come and meet the animals, browse stalls, enjoy refreshments and have a go at a tombola and raffle. It would mean people could also reserve animals and give details for home checks.

As part of Charlottes college course, she set about organising the day with help from Maria and the other volunteers.

charlotte doing the raffle
Charlotte doing the raffle

 

The eve of the Open Day

A huge amount of preparation was involved including where to put animals for the day, where stalls would be, who would be there to help, what refreshments would be available, etc.

When all was planned and ready, the volunteers worked hard to get everything out of the back room at the shelter, sort it and set onto tables. It was a big task, as there were some massive spiders in the room! The endless boxes of books did get a bit much for Lee and me!haha

book stall
Just some of the books we turned out of the store room!

 

When evening came, there was still a lot to sort, but it was left for the morning. Maria and her volunteers needed to rest for the big day ahead.

The Big Day

On the morning of the open day, everyone arrived early and set about finishing all preparations. Everything was ready just in time for the gate to open to visitors at 12noon. My Mum, Hazel welcomed the first visitors and enjoyed a busy day at the front gate with people coming and going all day.

Paul & Mum
Hazel at the front gate chatting to Marias husband Paul

 

Most visitors made a beeline for Maria and she had a good chat with lots of lovely people.

Maria chatting to visitors
Maria chatting to visitors

 

 

The refreshments proved hugely popular and Louise in the kitchen enjoyed them too, having sneaky bites here and there!

maria & louise in the kitchen
Maria watching Louise serve the refreshments
maria in the kitchen
Maria with some of the refreshments on offer
enjoying refreshments
Visitors enjoying refreshments

 

The animals were well behaved, except one naughty chicken determined to escape from her temporary enclosure. Volunteer Lee had fun catching her every 5 minutes!

chicken escapologist
naughty chicken walking along the fence looking for a way to escape her temporary enclosure

We managed to rehome four guinea pigs, two chinchillas (to volunteer Jade!haha) and a hamster was reserved.

A Nice Amount Raised

It was a beautiful sunny day (poor volunteers got sunburn!) and it was nice to hear good feedback from the visitors who were surprised to find the shelter bigger than they thought and some were surprised to find it existed at all!

The day went very well and was worth all the hard work. We were very happy and grateful to raise a wonderful £900 on the day.

Thank You

A very big thank you to all the hard working volunteers that made it happen and to all the visitors who helped us enjoy the day and raise such a lovely amount for the animals. Well done Charlotte and Maria….maybe same again next year?!

 

Keeley x

June 1, 2013Permalink