5 Things You Should Know – Part 457

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Here are 5 things you should know.

1. A lot of harm is done during Autism Awareness Month, and many autistic people want to change it to “Autism Acceptance Month” instead.

Lots of people are eager to pull out their wallets and share posts about autism this time of year, however, what many don’t know is that April is a difficult month for a lot of autistic people, and much of what’s done by well-meaning folks wanting to help autistic people actually hurts.

Many ‘autism orgs’, despite backing from big-name companies and celebrities, are widely disliked by actual autistic people and have done a great deal of harm. In April, “Autism Awareness Month”, massive amounts of money are pumped into these orgs and their campaigns despite mass condemnation from the very population they claim to serve, misinformation abounds, and autistic voices are drowned out.

Some good rules of thumb for whether you should support an autism org:

  • If they use puzzle piece imagery, this is a red flag. Many autistic people do not like the puzzle piece due to the implication that we’re missing something or are puzzles to be solved, as well as its strong association with a particularly controversial organization.
  • They should always have a significant autistic presence on their board, and ideally be created by autistic people.
  • Avoid orgs that use negative/dehumanizing language in relation to autism. Referring to autism as a tragedy or epidemic, autistic people as burdens, or encouraging parents to “grieve their lost child” are all red flags.

If you want to help or learn more about autistic people this month, rather than neurotypical-run orgs or friends with autistic children, try to seek out actual autistic people. Listening to autistic educators, supporting autistic creators and signal-boosting messages from autistic people are all great things you can do this April, and if you do donate, make sure it’s to an org that actually centers autistic voices, be they typed, signed or spoken.

The hashtag #ActuallyAutistic was created by and for autistics as a way of finding and listening to autistic people about matters concerning them.

2. Domino’s is taking and selling your info without your permission, automatically. In the app, section go to tabs and press “Do Not Sell My Info” to stop this.

3. Exercise and the endorphins released rewires the brain and allows you to experience more joy.

Depression and anxiety are prolific. If you don’t struggle with them yourself, likely someone close to you does.

When you exercise, you provide a low-dose jolt to the brain’s reward centers—the system of the brain that helps you anticipate pleasure, feel motivated, and maintain hope. Over time, regular exercise remodels the reward system, leading to higher circulating levels of dopamine and more available dopamine receptors. In this way, exercise can both relieve depression and expand your capacity for joy.

https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/five_surprising_ways_exercise_changes_your_brain

4. Dementia and Alzheimer’s diseases are often misdiagnosed and the person may have normal-pressure hydrocephalus (a curable condition with surgery). This will save someone’s life one day.

Visit here to learn about the similarities between NPH and dementia.

Visit here to learn about NPH.

5. With Easter fast approaching, rabbits live 10-15 years and require quite a bit of time, effort, and most importantly, space. If one is abandoned, most die within 24 hours. Please do your research before getting one as a pet.

Lots of people get rabbits on/around Easter and think they are low maintenance, easy pets that they can just cram in a tiny cage and forget about. When they realize rabbits are not as cuddly as cats and their medical care is far more expensive than they thought it would be (rabbits need to go to exotic vets), they abandon them. Pet rabbit breeds left to fend for themselves outside normally die within 24 hours.

It pains me that there are next to no resources for abandoned bunnies. Most shelters will not accept them due to their specific care needs, so even when “saved”, they often end up being put down. There are a few national house rabbit society chapters in most states, and there are some amazing individually operated establishments out there, but for the most part… it is all about cats and dogs. Please, please do your research if you or anyone you know is thinking about getting a bunny. They are wonderful, caring creatures with huge personalities and make great companions. Problem is, that most people do not know the proper way to take care of a bun. This is not necessarily anyone’s fault, but at the end of the day, if a rabbit dies due to neglect, it does not matter if it was on purpose or not.

Food

Timothy/grass hay (70%-80% of diet)

Fairly straightforward. Basically, any high-quality GRASS hay you could feed a horse can be fed to a bunny. They should have access to a fresh, unlimited quantity in an easy-to-reach place 24 hours a day. Without having food constantly moving around in their gut, a rabbit’s GI health rapidly deteriorates, leading to GI stasis. If left untreated, GI stasis almost always results in the death of a rabbit.

IF YOUR PET BUNNY HAS NOT EATEN/DRANK WATER IN ~12 HOURS CONTACT YOUR RABBIT SAVVY VET IMMEDIATELY, THIS IS A MEDICAL EMERGENCY

  • Do make sure it is grass hay, though, as other hays, such as legume hay (alfalfa) are very protein-heavy/calorie-dense and can disrupt a bunny’s fragile digestive system.

NOTE: Hay should be easily accessible. There are several results on google/amazon of poorly designed feeders that are either too small or poorly designed, making it far too difficult for a bunny to get their food. There is no danger of overfeeding hay, so providing more than they can eat is recommended.

Fresh veggies (10%-15% of diet)

Although not completely necessary for a healthy diet, fresh greens are very healthy for rabbits. They provide many micronutrients as well as fiber and hydration. Here is a great list of rabbit-safe veggies. Please be aware that some rabbits do not tolerate certain veggies as well as others, so it is recommended to introduce new veggies to rabbits in small quantities to ensure it will not cause runny stool.

It should also be noted that rabbits are incapable of expelling excess gas (farting/burping), so any veggies that cause gas in humans should be fed in extreme moderation, or avoided entirely.

Pellets (<5% of diet)

Pellets are fairly high-calorie, nutrient-dense foods that rabbits love. They should be fed in very limited quantities if your rabbit is a healthy adult or senior bunny who is maintaining weight well. It is very easy to overfeed pellets if not measured, so ensure that you are keeping track of how much you are feeding as well as the weight of your bun at their regular vet visits.

Be careful where you buy the pellets, as there are some less than scrupulous feed suppliers who sell rabbit feed that is not only unhealthy but can be dangerous to feed. Many of these come in high fat, high sugar formulations, and prey on well-meaning families who are simply shopping at a big box pet store.

Two brands that I stand by are Small Pet Select and Oxbow. When searching for rabbit pellets yourself, always ensure they are high fiber, and low protein/fat.

Sweet treats/treats in general (0%-5% of diet)

Rabbits have a voracious sweet tooth and will go absolutely bonkers for treats. Fresh fruits, such as bananas, blueberries, strawberries, and apples are favorites of my buns. There are also a plethora of manufactured dry treats available to buy.

As stated before, rabbits have a very sensitive gut, so make sure you keep these to a minimum. Overfeeding sweets/treats can offset the gut biome of a rabbit and ultimately lead to GI stasis.

Small Pet Select has a great variety of treats.

Never feed your bunny yogurt drops, pop-corn, bread, crackers, nuts, or seeds.

Water

Rabbits require ~50-150 mL/kg of fresh, cold water per day, meaning a 2kg rabbit can drink about as much water per day as an 8-10kg dog. They can little picky, so providing them with fresh water twice per day increases water intake, which is important for GI health.

Sipper bottles are “okay” but not recommended. Heavy bottomed ceramic bowls are preferable, as rabbits “slurp” water like a horse, and anything that can be done to increase water intake is recommended.

Habitat (or Rabbitat, if you will)

It is difficult to understate how much space rabbits need to ensure their health and wellbeing. At a minimum, they should be provided with a space about four times the size of their body, assuming they are allowed several hours of unrestricted free time outside of their enclosure. If primarily confined, the bigger the better.

If confined to a cage, the flooring should always be either hard plastic or other hard surface. Wire grate/metal cage bottoms will damage a bunny’s sensitive paws, and left untreated, can lead to infection requiring amputation.

Rabbits enjoy playing/hiding/bounding about, so if space permits, creating a jungle gym of cardboard boxes will provide hours of fun and enrichment for your little friend.

Rabbits do not tolerate heat well, and should also be kept inside the majority of the time at comfy 70-75 degrees F(21-24c). Ideally, they should be kept inside all the time, as modern house rabbits have lost their ability to tell poisonous/dangerous plants apart from safe ones and will happily eat something that will kill them. Predators, parasites, and diseases are also obviously a major concern.

And they can be potty trained! There are a few accidents, and sometimes they kick the poo out of there when they are frolicking about, but they are exceptionally clean animals for the most part. ABSOLUTELY DO NOT USE KITTY LITTER, CLUMPING LITTER, CORN COB LITTER, SWHEAT SCOOP LITTER, CLAY LITTER, OR PINE/CEDAR SHAVINGS. THEY ARE DEADLY!!!.

The exception to the rule on temperature is if your bunny is sick. When rabbits get sick, they can sometimes cool down too much, but in this case, they should be kept warm.

General wellbeing

Rabbits are social creatures, and as much as they will undoubtedly enjoy frolicking around your legs and getting their ear scratches, they are going to do much better with another bonded rabbit. Even if you can dedicate large amounts of time to your little friend, they can become lonely or depressed, and much like humans, loneliness, and depression cause a number of negative health effects. The bonding process is not as easy as simply putting two rabbits in a room, and can be a fairly long and difficult process. Much like not everyone in the world gets along, some buns just are not meant to be friends. However, when it is successful, and it will be given enough time, your bunnies will be much happier for it.

Rabbits are also naturally energetic, playful, and curious. In order to remain stimulated and happy, they are going to need some toys. They love to knock down toilet paper/paper towel rolls, throw around baby stacking cups, or baby keys. They will dart in and out of cardboard tunnels or navigate mini mazes made from them.

If they get bored, however, they are probably going to look for something to chew. Not only is it an engaging/enriching task for them, but it also helps keep their teeth filed as rabbits’ teeth never stop growing. The best thing you could give them is soft, untreated wood that WILL NOT SPLINTER. Treated wood can poison a bun, and splintered wood can injure them. In the worst case, a splintered piece of wood could cause an abscess to form, which is very dangerous for rabbits.

Small pet select has a wide variety of chew toys that are safe for Rabbits. It is a bit of a guessing game on what they will like, so you might find yourself buying several toys they never touch. It is, however, very important for them to feel stimulated, otherwise, they will find other outlets for their chewing. This includes your carpet, baseboards, tv remotes, gaming controllers, keyboards, and power cables. Power cables are particularly dangerous, as chewing live power cables will likely burn your poor little friend’s mouth. So make sure you have bunny proofed your home.

In 99.999% of cases, rabbits absolutely do not like being picked up. If you pick them up they will not see the giant who brings them bananas. They will start going into “prey” mode, and try to get away, so make sure you’ve got a firm, safe grasp of your bunny before you lift them. If their legs are left hanging, their strong back legs can break their backs, and they will have to be euthanized.

Rabbits should also ALWAYS be neutered. Male rabbits can become aggressive and will mark territory with a rancid smelling musk. Female rabbits can also become aggressive, and if not neutered, will almost certainly develop fatal uterine cancer before the age of four. So please please please get your friend fixed asap. Most vets would recommend any time after six months of age.

NEVER EVER BATHE YOUR BUNNY, their fur makes it very difficult for them to get completely dry and they will become hypothermic. The only time it is ever appropriate to bathe them is if they have severe diarrhea and have made a mess. In that case, you MUST be very sure they are completely dry.

P.S. Please do not buy your rabbit from a breeder. More often than not, they are kept in squalid conditions and horrendously abused. There are plenty of buns available who would not otherwise have a home.

https://myhouserabbit.com/ – tons of great information

https://wabbitwiki.com/wiki/Main_Page – community run page with lots of information on how to take care of your pet bun.

https://rabbit.org/ – The house rabbit society is AMAZING!!! They’re run by people who are not paid and only help because they want rabbits to be happy and healthy 🙂

https://rabbit.org/vet-listings/ – a list of rabbit savvy vets. If your vet is not specifically trained in rabbits, they can very easily miss common health concerns that can lead to death.

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