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Bunnies with Marc Morrone

The Martha Stewart Show, March 2009

Most people think of bunnies as adorable symbols of Easter and don't realize they require special care and can live for eight to 12 years, just like dogs. Unless you've done thorough research and know you can be a very good bunny keeper, do not bring one into your home.

Bunny Breeds Featured on the Show
Lionhead

  • A new breed of bunnies
  • Small to medium in size
  • Has mane of fur around head like a lion
  • Needs careful combing to maintain neat appearance

Dutch

  • Originally imported from Holland
  • Has dark head with white nose and blaze and dark britches

Lop ear

  • A very old breed of bunnies
  • Comes in many color patterns
  • Very flat face and draped ears on each side of the head

Netherland Dwarf

  • The smallest bunny breed
  • Short ears and flat face
  • Comes in just about any color

Flemish Giant

  • Native to Belgium
  • Largest breed of rabbit
  • More self-confident than littler rabbits

Care Tips for Bunnies
Bunnies do not thrive in small cages. They need to stretch out, and that is why a puppy playpen is ideal -- they won't be able to hop out of a puppy playpen.

It's very important for a bunny to spend time out of the playpen. They're social animals and need to feel like they're part of a family. Bunnies prefer the company of other bunnies, but make sure they're spayed or neutered first. Bunnies also enjoy the companionship of humans and other domesticated animals such as dogs or cats. However, the other dog or cat must view the bunny as a companion, not a meal. You may need to keep the animals separated when you are away from home.

Necessities of a Bunny Playpen

  • Door mats made of cocoa fiber 
  • A litter box with a paper-based litter
  • A rack to hold hay
  • A water bottle
  • Heavy crockery dish
  • Chew toys -- rabbits chew on everything; they'll need wood and other items to chew on or else they'll destroy furniture, moldings, and electrical wires

Bunny Nutrition
Carrots are not the proper diet for bunnies. In the wild, they mainly eat grass. We replace that with Timothy Hay in the domesticated state. Supplement the hay with a good brand of pellet food and fresh, dark, leafy greens. Stay away from fruit and other sweet treats sold in pet stores.

Recommended Reading
If you like novels and want to learn how bunnies interact with each other, Marc recommends "Watership Down," by Richard Adams.

Special Thanks
Special thanks to Marc Morrone (parrotsoftheworld.com) for sharing this helpful information about bunnies.

Resources
For more information on rabbits and how to care for them, visit "The House Rabbit Society" at rabbit.org.

 

Comments (13)

  • 30 Mar, 2009

    I agree - I use bunny poops in my garden all the time! And yes, alfalfa pellets are just for babies, they provide the extra calories needed for growing babies. I was confused by the HRS comment - my bunnies have been on the HRS diet guidelines (which is by no means a veg only diet) and I've been lucky to have very healthy buns. Thanks Martha for teach about responsible rabbit ownership!

  • 30 Mar, 2009

    1) Big gardener that she is, I am surprised that she did not mention that bunny poop is great for the garden, and that it doesn't even need to be composted.
    2) The treated pine pellets are better than paper--no smell, and supposedly OK for rabbits.
    3) I was surprised that he recommended alfalfa pellets. Aren't they just for young bunnies?
    4) Kudos on teaching responsible rabbit adoption!

  • 29 Mar, 2009

    I agree, the best place to get rabbit information is ARBA.net, and from anyone unaffiliated with the HRS. The all veggie diet puts animals in horrible condition, and from what I have seen and heard, makes it easier and more likely for your rabbit to get GI stasis or diaharea. Also, It seems to me that the HRS will denounce anything Rabbit Breeders use (with success) even if it is entirely healthy.

  • 28 Mar, 2009

    I have some good info on my web page. I am in Wisconsin and raise holland lops. I recommend joining the WSRBA and the ARBA if you really want to learn how to be a good bunny owner. Thansk

    www.freewebs.com/hollandlops

  • 27 Mar, 2009

    Some statistics from two rabbit owner's websites.
    Bunspace.com: Total bunnies signed up 8873; Signed up today 10; Signed up yesterday 11
    BinkyBunny.com: Total bunnies signed up 3239; Signed up today 4; Signed up yesterday 1
    Raising pet rabbits is rapidly growing all over the world.

  • 27 Mar, 2009

    I have a pet Mini Rex rabbit. One of the first things I did was search the internet for information after reading a book on rabbits that I purchased along with food and supplies for him. In my search I found www.bunspace.com which is a website for bunnies and their owners/parents. (It's kind of like MySpace but the profile is set up for the bunny and he is the one talking most of the time.)

  • 26 Mar, 2009

    Ok now I am wondering why my comment got deleted? I pointed out that the information provided by the hrs, and some of the stuff on hereis incorrect. And it gets deleted? Wood blocks do not prevent a rabbit from chewing on things in your house. You have to bunny proof everything. That means putting things up where the rabbit can't get to them. Otherwise its a good way to get your rabbit killed. I also pointed out that the HRS diet is also incorrect and has been known to kill pet rabbits, cause GI

  • 26 Mar, 2009

    Kudos to Martha she did an excellent segment on pet bunnies, as a life long lover of house rabbits when I saw she was having buns on today I groaned. But she did an excellent job educating viewers on the true needs of a pet rabbit. They promoted the House Rabbit Society and shelter buns! Rabbit lovers spend lots of time focusing on the mistreatment of rabbits in the media so this is a great time to congratulate a show that provided timely advice on the proper care of our furry little friends.

  • 26 Mar, 2009

    Thank you for the wonderful segment about rabbits. I was skeptical at first, but the information was great. Pen living is definitely a great way to house a bunny for optimum floor space and lots of room for their toys and boxes. House Rabbit Society has more informatin at www.rabbit.org The good, and accurate information found on that site is sanctioned by a network of exotic/rabbit veterinarians across the nation. HRS knows rabbits - as individuals - not as caged animals in garages/sheds.

  • 25 Mar, 2009

    Thank you so much for promoting the proper care of bunnies as PETS and not Easter decorations!!

  • 25 Mar, 2009

    Kudos to you for this segment! During this time of year, many people run out and get a rabbit as a novelty, without really thinking about their needs and care. Unfortunately, most end up being let loose once the novelty wears off, where most will succumb to the elements, predators, or man. Thankfully, there are rabbit rescues around the U.S. and Canada who take in unwanted/abandoned bunnies and also educate the public about their proper care. I myself am a proud mom to 2 buns:)

  • 25 Mar, 2009

    As a mother of 2 rabbits, I was skeptical when I saw advertisements for today's show, thinking that it would lead to the exploitation and desertion of more bunnies around Easter time. But thank you, Martha, for having an educational and responsible segment on your show, regarding rabbits as pets. They make great pets when cared for properly, but are too often underestimated as intelligent creatures, and are the victims of being discarded once people (especially children) grow bored with them.

  • 25 Mar, 2009

    I used to have a pet bunny (unfortunately she died a few years ago from an abcessed tooth infection). She was one of the most precious pets. After having her, Pina, for a few years I got a kitten and the two of them became great friends, cleaning each other, following each other around, sharing the same litter box, playing with the same toys. Most people don't realize how smart and lovable a bunny can be. She required a lot of work and a lot of "bunny proofing" but she was so worth it!