HRS MO St. Louis
Bunny Handbook - Lists our services and our recommendations for everything your bunny needs to be healthy and happy.  You will learn what kind of cage a bunny should have, the litter box, the type of litter, the type of hay and pellets, emergency instructions telling you what you must do when your bunny refuses to eat, and so much more. The 15 page book is available for only $5 in the shelter store, or contact Pat Daly to email it to you:  Type "Book" as the subject of your email. Every bunny parent needs this info!

Need help? Are you a bunny parent needing help deciphering bunny's language?  Are you thinking of taking a bun into your life?  Contact us at 314-995-1457 or  Feel free to come to our meetings and ask questions. We are here to help you and your bunny learn the keys to the joys of living with a house rabbit .  Also, if you would like to schedule a HRS Educator as a guest speaker for your rescue group, school or other organization, contact us. We want to help.
Chapter Manager Joy Gioia has handouts on a variety of topics.  For example: You want to develop your relationship with a shy bunny, Joy has a handout that will instruct you. To request a handout on any topic, email Joy:

The "Great Outdoors" is NO place for a pet bunny! Roaming dogs, cats and wild animals are a threat to small animals.  Birds of prey such as hawks, owls & eagles swoop down with amazing speed, strength and agility, grab bunnies, cats and small dogs, taking off with them before we know what's happened.  This happens even with humans standing there.  Horrific for both the pet and their human family.  Bunnies may also be stung or bitten by various insects.  The safest place for bunny is indoors.
Helpful Information page 2
Have the Wild Bunnies in Your Yard Really Been Abandoned?

Mother cottontails stay away from the nest so they don't attract predators to their babies.  Mom will normally nurse the babies twice a day around dusk and dawn when the least amount of predators are around.  Do not disturb the nest.

You can check to see if mom is returning by putting several strings across the nest in a tic-tac-toe sort of pattern and then checking it the next day.  If the strings have been moved, then mom is coming back.  She scratches away the covering of the nest while hovering over it and looking like she's just eating grass to fool anyone watching.  The babies nurse from underneath.  She then scratches the covering back over the nest and nonchalantly continues grazing as she moves further away from the nest; again to fool any predator watching.  She doesn't know how to put the strings back into place properly so they'll be all messed up.

You can also tell if mom has been there (if it's necessary to handle the babies,) by looking at their tummies.  If they are wrinkled and empty looking, mom has been lost to a predator or a car, etc.  She normally would not desert her babies.   If the tummies are rounded, then she's still around somewhere.   If the tummies are rounded and you have handled the babies, you can put one tiny drop of vanilla or cologne on their foreheads to confuse the human scent.  If you put too much then the predators and ants will smell them. Baby bunnies have no scent to attract either.  Baby bunnies are normally in the nest for about 4 weeks before going off on their own.

If mother rabbit does not return, do NOT attempt to make them pets. They have different needs than domestic rabbits and generally die in captivity.  Take the babies to Wildlife Rehab Clinic. They have moved to High Ridge at 1864 Little Brennan Road, phone: 636-677-3670.   They have a  good cottontail survival rate. Website:
Life saving bunny info! - Wash those vegetables!

“Rabbits are extremely more susceptible to salmonella than humans. Lettuce with a level of toxins that wouldn’t hurt a human - and therefore would not be recalled - could be fatal to a bunny,” Joy said.  She reminds us to always wash our greens by thoroughly rinsing them under running water.  Wash them even if they are bagged and “pre-washed.”  Gut stasis is a serious matter.  In fact, it’s a life-or-death matter to a bunny,” Joy said.  Afterward, a person might say, “My bunny stopped eating, and then she just died.” Gut stasis is a slowdown or stoppage in the muscle contractions that push food and liquids through the intestines.  Bacteria then proliferate and emit gas that causes severe pain.  The liver, whose job it is to detoxify poisons, is overloaded.  Liver damage is often the ultimate cause of death.

What vegetables should I feed my bunny?  (Beware of gas or soft fecal poops when introducing any new food.) Many vegetables you can find in your local grocery store are fine for rabbits.   The following are a few exceptions:

Can cause gas or are very sugary: DO NOT FEED -
Green beans, White and red potatoes, Beets, Fresh corn, Fresh peas

Dangerous, contain compounds that destroy nutrients: DO NOT FEED - Sweet potato, Cassava, Bamboo shoots, Maize, Lima beans, Millet, Bracken fern, Tea leaves, 
Coffee plants

Dangerous, contain toxins: DO NOT FEED - Rhubarb leaves, Raw lima, kidney or soy beans, Onions (2), Citrus peels

Can cause impaction: DO NOT FEED - Whole seeds, Nuts, Grains, Dried corn, Dried peas

Things to watch out for Carrots and root vegetables are high in sugar and may cause cecal problems or gas in some rabbits. Celery and rhubarb stalks contain strings that should be removed before feeding. Alternatively, cut the stalks into small pieces.  Iceberg lettuce has a reputation for causing diarrhea in many animal species. Iceberg lettuce is NOT recommended. Romaine is better.
(1) Much of this was taken from a post by HRS Educator Sue Smith, Ph.D to a private mailing list.
(2) Toxic to horses, dogs & cats, assumed to be toxic to rabbits.
Did You Know?
~ Stale food pellets put a bunny at risk! Fresh pellets contain moisture and dissolve quickly in a bunny’s tummy.  But, when you open a bag, air starts sucking the moisture from the pellets.  Dried-out pellets absorb liquid from the bunny’s tummy and intestinal track and can cause very serious health problems.  To be safe, when you open a bag of pellets, leave in only what your bunny will eat in a month. Freeze the rest in one-month portions.

~ Both male and female bunnies should be spayed/neutered. Unfixed males are prone to testicular cancer and unfixed females can develop uterine cancer.  Spays and neuters can be performed at any age as long as a bunny is healthy, but older bunnies should have blood tests to confirm their health status before the procedure. 

~ Many cat toys are made of rabbit fur.  (Some are also made of dog and cat fur.)  Many people who love their cats don't even think about what it is, they just know their kitty likes it.  We need to educate cat guardians about fur toys.

~ Cute little statues and trims on clothing are often real fur from rabbits, cats, dogs and other animals.

~ Some major Hobby stores carry whole rabbit skins/pelts, you can even hold the little tail nub!  This is from one of our volunteers: "It was sickening, like holding the skinned fur of my beloved black bunny, Buster. I was angry and in tears.  When speaking to the cashier, she suggested I contact the company management, which I did. The representative of the company was contacted and responded with a pseudo religious ramble about animals being ours to use however we want.  I will NEVER set foot in any of their stores again.  Being closed on Sundays for their employees to spend time with family seems to be the limit of their compassion."

~ Be aware when you shop. Talk to the manager and email/call  the home office, and if need be, take your business elsewhere and LET THEM KNOW WHY.  Rabbits are one of the many creatures who are treated as throwaways.

~ In addition to the cruelty involved, many rabbit fur items (especially cat toys) come from China where a deadly rabbit disease can continue to live on the fur and cause a truly horrible, hemoragic death to any domestic rabbit which comes in contact with not just the fur, but any place that the fur has been: like walking across a place on the floor where the toy has been or the human hand who has held the toy, etc.  It can be tracked on the soles of shoes and carried to other homes where the rabbit crosses the same path as the shoes.  Although it cannot be passed to humans and is not harmful to humans, it is easily carried into contact with domestic rabbits and there is no cure.

~ Don't be shy, the rabbits (and other animals) depend on you!
- All animals deserve closure, whether the animal is bonded to a human who dies or bonded to another animal.  When one of your bunnies passes on to Rainbow Bridge, be sure to let their bondmate sniff and spend a little time with them so they can understand what has happened.  If this is not done, the remaining bunny may become very stressed trying to figure out what has happened and where their bondmate is. They are much like humans when we suffer trauma from not knowing what has happened to a loved one.

- Reminder: Cover ALL (TV, computers, lights, anything) exposed electrical wires with the split plastic tubing. Bunnies are attracted to electric wires. Chewing into these can cause electrocution and start a house fire. Supervise bunny at all times. The plastic tubing can be found at the Bunny House shelter and at hardware stores and some pet supply stores.  Pull all wires up and out of bunny's reach even if covered.  Make sure bunny can't get behind washer/dryer, stoves etc. to the power cords. You can't be too safe!

- Bunnies ingest a lot of hair when grooming themselves.  Help your bunny move hair and hay through his gut by serving him washed, wet greens. A good variety is romaine, green leaf, red leaf, parsley and cilantro (no iceberg, no spinach). Bunnies need a big water bowl, not a water bottle. Little critters like hamsters and gerbils can hydrate their tiny bodies with mere drops of water, but even the smallest buns need a bowl of fresh water. 

- Another way to help keep hair from blocking bunny's gut is gently using a "Furminator" grooming tool on them weekly.  Our Bunny House shelter has them for only $25, well below retail price. You'll be amazed at the amount of loose hair that is hiding under your bun's coat

- Fireworks (and other loud noises) are not fun for bunnies! Protect your bunnies from loud noises by muffling the sound of firecrackers or other loud noises with the noise of a radio or television.  Bunnies are easily stressed by any change in routine.  A startled bunny may stop eating and slide into Gut Stasis, then death.  If your bunny stops eating, it is a medical emergency that requires a vet visit ASAP.  A "wait and see" approach can result in death in as few as 12 hours.

-  Make sure your bunny's abode isn't in direct sunlight.  With their fur coats, bunnies feel the heat much more than we do and sunlight streaming through a window can cause heat stroke, even when a house is air-conditioned.

- Some bunnies, especially the Rex breed, are prone to developing sore hocks.  Periodically, examine the soles of your bunny's rear paws to see if the fur has worn off and red sores are evident.  Ulcerations and cracks in the skin pose a health risk because they are entry points for bacteria.  A good healing remedy is Zymox Topical Cream - Hydrocortisone Free.  You can find it on-line. It is wise to keep a tube on hand to apply to any cuts or scratches.  Be sure to get the Hydrocortisone FREE Zymox.  It is also great for healing any scratches or surface wounds on rabbits.  Pet Nutrition Products sells a one ounce tube of "Zymox Cream without Hydrocortisone for Dogs and Cats" for $9.49, plus shipping/no tax. For our bunnies that are prone to sore hocks, we place a layer of fleece padding in their cages, rather than the rougher rugs we typically use.

- Lop-eared rabbits are prone to ear infections because their floppy ears cover the ear canal, keeping it moist and habitable for germs.  You can keep the ear canal dry with Zymox OTIC Solution without hydrocortisone. The product can be found online from Pet Nutrition Products:  866-473-8432. A small, 1.25 ounce bottle, "Zymox OTIC Solution without Hydrocortisone for Pets" was $12.89 plus shipping/no sales tax.  The National HRS website offers advice for applying ear drops: "Rabbits like to have their ears stroked. They generally are not big fans of having liquid squirted down there though. That means that sometimes rabbits are most uncooperative about this procedure.  You can try administering ear drops while on the floor, but it's often easier to do it on a tabletop where you can secure her with one hand."  "The first trick with ear drops is to get the nozzle pretty close to the ear's actual opening (never push anything down beyond the opening.)  That way, when the rabbit shakes her head, the medicine will go down into the ear instead of all over your kitchen.  The second trick is to try not to hit the inside surface of the ear with the nozzle itself.  This tickles and it will make the rabbit shake her head, which makes it very hard to aim.  Once the drops are in, you can massage the base of the ear to help it go down and get spread around."   "A portion of the outer ear is composed of a bent canal that goes vertically and then almost horizontally to lead to the eardrum.  This portion of the ear is prone to buildup of earwax and debris, which may then become a breeding ground for infection.  Many rabbits can deftly clean out any accumulation with a back toenail, but lops and infirm rabbits may need a bit of help.  Since the ear canal has a bend, this can be done fairly safely.  Your veterinarian can show you how."   Some up-eared rabbits are also prone to earwax buildup, a good reason for twice yearly vet check ups.

- A busy bunny is a happy bunny.  Some buns love to shred phone books. To contain the mess, put a phone book, minus the covers, in a tub and let your bun rip and shred to his heart's content.  Always provide plenty of fresh hay and rabbit safe toys to keep bunny busy and stimulated.

- Does your bunny's litter box need cleaning?  Pour vinegar into the box and let it set overnight.  The crusty crud will dissolve.  You can then wash it away, dry and fill with nice clean litter.  Have two boxes so you will have a fresh clean one for bunny while the other is soaking.
Click on the HRS National Bunny for info on rabbits, their care and to find a chapter near you.
National Website
Why contact companies who test on live animals?
Click HERE or on photo to see why.

Not recommended for children.
Wondering if your favorite companies are cruelty free?

Click on the graphics to find cruelty free companies & cruelty free shopping guides!  
Visit this link to learn how to take care of a pet rabbit:
A Bunny Who Refuses Food Is A Bunny In Crisis!        Click HERE to learn how to deal with this deadly situation.