My Life with Monkey!
Bunnies can make the sweeeeeeetest pets. They can be potty trained, some may come on command, learn tricks, snuggle, follow you and act just like a cat. I say a cat vs a dog because they have selective hearing and will come on their own terms, when they feel like it ; )
So as many of you have seen on my IG story, Monkey is my bunny. He's 6 years old (7 in April) and is a lion head x dwarf mix. Lion heads have fluffy coats and usually untamed fur around their head like a lion, so that's where monkey gets his bed head from. The pic above was the day him at 1 month old at the pet shop. I couldn't' even tell he was a bunny lol
For starters, I wanted to share this post because so many of you have asked me questions on my life at home with Monks, and if he's low maintenance and potty trained etc. So I hope this post will shed a lil more light.
When I got Monkey 6 years ago, it was on a whim! My friend Coco and I had dim sum in Monterey Park (where I originally grew up) and we decided to visit my neighborhood pet shop called Pet Center. I had ZERO intentions of bringing home a a new pet that day but when I saw Monkey's fluffy round face next to a cockatiel cage, I just had to ask to hold him. He was the cutest little bun I have EVER seen. He was all by himself and surprisingly SOO CALM in my arms. I remember calling him Monkey on the spot and the rest is history!
Here are my TOP TIPS for caring for a bunny based on my personal experience with Monkey. Not in any particular order and all supplies mentioned will be linked at the end!
I use a small dog pen as his cage
I got my pen from Petco and it's great because it's adjustable- you can make it smaller or larger depending on how much space you have. I keep monkey's pen in the nook of the kitchen by the window. The cages that pet stores sell that are "meant for rabbits" are a hamsters size...WAY TO SMALL and no room for your bun to move and hop around, so this is why I suggest a Doggie pen :) Also it's big enough to hold a kitty litter which I'll explain in my next tip!
Cat litter box for the win
Yep! Bunnies can TOTALLY be potty trained!! isn't that amazing. So here's the tip. If you imagine a square shaped pen, they will choose their favorite corner to pee and poop. They are creatures of habit so just observe them for a while and put the litter box in the corner that they are going the most in. I highly recommend using a cat litter box vs a bunny litter box because they are bigger with four walls. I fill the litter about 1.5" high. My trick is to cover half the litter with hay. Hay is their main source of diet and trust me guys, buns are super messy with it (kicking it aside, digging through etc) so I found that by doing this, the walls of a kitty litter help keep the mess to a minimum. Also bunnies like to poop while they eat so it just makes sense to have the hay with the litter!
Don't flip your bunny over
Flipping your bun over on their backs causes them to go into a trace, AKA Tonic Immobility. In this state, they are playing dead as a defense mechanism and will remain immobile while they are flipped over. Lots of bunny owners will cut their bun's nails in this position, so they fidget less- BUT I've seen Monkey get immediately annoyed and stressed out afterwards, so I def avoid this position completely. Wouldn't want to cause him any extra stress!
Bunnies don't need baths!
1. They are constantly grooming themselves (neat freaks)
2. The trauma of being wet/submerged in water could be soooo stressful to them that it could even cause death (yikes).
I've never given Monkey a bath and he is always super soft, smells lovely, and clean! If your bun gets 'poopy butt' I would suggest using a wet towel to just dampen their butts/hind legs to clean it.
Some bunnies have more aggressive personalities, some may be shy, or super affectionate. Lots of buns (since they are the lowest in the food chain and are hunted as prey) dislike being picked up for reasons you can imagine! So if your bun kicks and tries to escape while you try to pick them up, you know why- and I wouldn't force it on them : ( Monkey is a weirdo and has no worry in the world LOL and has been calm (falls asleep in my arms) while I'm holding him since I got him at 1 month old. Because he allowed me to pick him up, I did it ALOT and now he's super used to it and knows he gets pets when he's in my arms. I just make sure to hold him in a way where he feels super supported.
Bunny proof your house
If you're thinking of giving your bun free reign in a room or your entire house, there are a few ways to bunny proof it to save you stress and madness later. Do you know HOW MANY IPHONE CORDS monkey has chewed up? Or the TWO times he's SHRED my air conditioner cord in the middle of summer?!?!
Things to get: Plastic wire covers. You can find them at your local hardware store. Wrap ALL visible cords with this...lamp cords, internet/cable cords, air conditioner cord, computer chargers, phone chargers etc.
If your bun likes to chew on walls, corners of walls etc- you can buy plastic corner protectors and/or try a bitter spray, making it taste gross so they bite it less. I've also used masking tape on crown moldings.
When Monkey chews on something he's not supposed to, I clap really loud and say NO! He immediately stops and runs the opposite direction or will stop and stare at me. I repeat this as many times as it takes for him to lose interest in what he's chewing on.
Bunny teeth grow continuously so that's why they need to chew and grind ALOT to wear them down. Safe chewing objects can be cardboard (boxes, toilet paper rolls), untreated wood and tree bark. Give them plenty of chewing alternatives and leave them around the house so they have something to do when they get bored :)
80% of their diet should be fresh hay, then fresh veggies, then pellets, then treats
The majority of a buns diet should be fresh hay. Grass hay of any variety works- Monkey loves Timothy Hay (which I'm super highly allergic too lol), but there's also oat hay and orchard hay. The rest consists of pellets ( I go for organic) and fresh leafy greens ( I give Monkey a handful every morning). Fruits and other bunny treats should be given sparingly- I like to use them to train Monkey or as a reward for doing something good.
I'm all about positive reinforcement, except when he's doing something really bad like destroying cords. So if I want Monkey to come from under the bed, I'll say "come on, let's go, GOOoOOOOd BOY" and he knows that "GoooOd Boy" means a treat, a pet, or something GOOD and he gets super excited to come. I know it can get frustrating at times when they don't listen or doing something bad, but that frustrated energy will cause the bun to not want to get close or listen to you at all. Love your bun up whenever he comes to you with lots of pets and just let them be without forcing anything.
Chinning - Bunnies have scent glands under their chin so when you see them rubbing their chin on objects or you leg - they are claiming it and saying it/you belong to them.
Thumping - when they thump super loud with their back leg, it means they are signaling danger or a threat and warning you about it. It could also mean they are irritated or annoyed.
Tooth Grinding- when you hear soft chattering of their teeth, it means they are super happy. For Monks it happens usually when I'm petting him and he's melting into the floor hahah.
Binky- a super excited/ high energy jump hop! They do it out of pure joy & happiness. I rarely ever see monkey do this, booo but it's such a cute site to see.
Spraying- oh boy. This one is sooo annoying. just happened last night...It's when they spray pee to mark their territory. It tends to happen when he's on my bed or couch, and it's gotten all over my face plenty of times. I try to look for signals when he's about to do it- usually it's when I've petted him for a while and he starts to dig. Thats the cue for me to CLAP REALLY LOUP so he gets distracted and jumps off the couch or bed. Phew!
Be prepared to clean up a lot...ALOT!!!
Bunnies can leave territorial droppings (one or two poops) around the house and they can get messy with their hay- so be prepared to clean up after them everyday with a broom :) It's literally my best friend.
You can go on weekend trips
Unlike a dog, you don't need to worry about which dog hotel or nanny to drop them off at. I always just keep Monkey locked up in his dog pen, leave him plenty of hay, water, pellets and chew toys to keep him busy. In this sense they are low maintenance and can take care of themselves which is nice!
Yay! you made it to the end : ) Hope you found this post helpful and learned a thing or two about my life with Monkey.
If you have any other questions, have a bunny or thinking about getting one, leave me a comment below! Love hearing from you XX