by Mary-Kaye Buchtel
Copyright 2007 – All Rights Reserved
(May be copied for free distribution)
We had a problem – one too-fat bunny and one too-thin bunny in the same Rabbitat. Bridgette came to us needing to lose some weight. We tried, but she gained more! Brandon came to us just fine weight-wise, but after abscess surgery and his grueling aftercare, he’d was underweight.
We added a meal and treats for Brandon. Bridgette was so delighted! She‘s very food motivated (surprised?) with no compunctions about stealing food right out of Brandon’s mouth. Now he was still underweight and she was too rotund to clean her “undercarriage”!
We had to figure out how to fatten one while slimming the other. Since they already enjoyed daily supervised exercise hours outside their 8’ x 5’ Rabbitat, the solution for them would have to be food.
Having failed so far, we finally devised new strategies. They were cut down to 1/8 C of BBT pellets and 2 papaya tablets twice daily, plus their veggies. Daily, each rabbit gets an individual “salad” on their own small plate.
Bridgette’s is put in first, so while she’s engrossed in hers, Brandon gets his. Besides greens, on grape day – Brandon gets two big grapes; Bridgie gets a little one. On banana day – Brandon gets a big, thick slice; Bridgie has a thin half slice. He wiggles his face into the greens for treats while she works on her greens. He’s already finished off the best treats before she’s finished and hers and ready to help him clean his plate.
Brandon gets an acidophilus FIRST; she gets a 1/2 tablet second. By the time hers is gone, so is his. (Despite being a smaller rabbit, she eats faster than he does.) Giving him food first lets him finish before she does. Our best trick comes from her love of the apple branches Brandon ignores; it works well to give him some grain and a bit more BBT while she innocently works on her beloved branches in another area of their space. Did you know grain-chewing sounds the same as branch chewing? And everyone’s happy!
She’s finally down to her correct weight, although it took several months. Now she can reach all her parts! Brandon’s at full weight and seems proud of his bunny-linebacker shoulders.
What we learned during 9 months of diet-dinking- around, we learned from the rabbits! What does he like? What does she like? Who eats faster? Who eats slower? How do they behave when fed?
How Brandon behaves during petting sessions (or fails to behave) relates to hunger. Full, he’s mellow. Hungry, he’s cranky and impatient with petting. On those days, he hops onto his shelf to dig. If we don’t feed him anything in response to his request, he bites at the shelf while digging until we finally get the point. This only happens a couple of times a week now since his weight is normal.
Basically, we will have to continue this same feeding program for her to maintain her svelte bunny figure, and he will occasionally require a nice, healthy bedtime snack from time to time.
By tailoring their feeding program to their personalities, behavior, and preferences, we’ve accomplished the seemingly impossible: we’ve slimmed one bunny while fattening the other.