Shanell lost two precious bunnies within weeks of each other and was very worried about the health and happiness of the third bunny that was left behind. She wanted to know when would be a good time to introduce a companion to the lonely remaining bunny, “Star.”

As rabbit owners, we all have to deal with the eventual death of our beloved pets, and the loss of a bunny can be devastating.

Shanell had three female rabbits, all spayed and all sisters, Jersey, Coco, and Star. They had all lived together happily for four years until disaster struck their happy little rabbit house.

Jersey was having treatment at the vets for genetic illness and due to complications with her gut, she, unfortunately, didn’t come home. She died while she was there to the absolute heartache of Shanell.

While still mourning the loss of her precious Jersey, Shanell was struck with another tragedy. Coco, also suffering with the same genetic illness, started to get very poorly, very quickly and had to be put to rest by the vet as she was in an enormous amount of pain.

The Rabbit Digestive System

Plenty of exercise really helps a rabbit’s digestive system. Rabbits must be able to run and jump about with access to a large run or secure garden for at least two hours a day. An hour early in the morning and an hour late evening is good.

Harness training is recommended if access to outdoor space is not available. It’s good to let a rabbit forage for themselves in safe, suitable vegetation and shrubbery and to let them jump around and stretch.

If a rabbit suffers from digestive problems, food portion sizes should be regulated along with sweet treats – these include carrots, apples, fruit and sweet veg for a good rabbit diet.

After Coco died, the vets examined her for the cause of death, at Shanell’s request, and found it to be due to a hardening of the intestines causing the digestive system to shut down. A very serious, but common problem, with domestic rabbits.

Worried for Star’s safety and happiness, Shanell did everything in her power to ensure her loving bunny was not too upset or stressed. However, losing her two bunny companions made Star increasingly depressed, sitting alone in her hutch outside and not eating and drinking as much as she used to.

Shanell was distraught, thinking she was going to lose another precious pet when she was encouraged, seeing glimmers of alertness when Shanell or the family spent time with her, which they were doing much more often, to keep her spirits up.

Star, an English Lop, Lionhead cross, started grooming herself and eating and drinking again, and Shanell put her on a course of probiotics to help with the good bacteria in her gut.

Knowing how important it is for rabbits to have the company of other rabbits, Shanell decided to get a companion rabbit. The introduction of a male neutered rabbit, a mature one over 4 years old, would be an ideal way for Star to move forward and would encourage her to eat and drink more.

Most rabbits that are healthy and well looked after live into double figures nowadays, apart from the larger breeds. So, fortunately, with Star only being 4 years old, she has many more happy days left. 

Later that week, the vet checked Star’s stomach and said that it was nice and soft and there was no sign of the hardness that her sisters had. Coco and Jersey had the same Mother but a different Dad so the genes had obviously not been in Mum.

Natural foraging (in the garden), is great exercise as well as being good for a rabbit’s digestion. The gut is stimulated by movement and giving rabbits access to garden plants such as strawberry leaves, raspberry leaves, and blackberry leaves, are all excellent natural bloat regulators.

Shanell had completely changed Star’s diet with a supplement of Oxbow Critical Care, and had started giving her much more Readigrass and Timothy Hay. She’d also increased the natural mixed greens such as romaine leaf lettuce, collards, kale & Swiss chard and herbs such as parsley and cilantro, which are very good for the gut.

She also gave a piece of pineapple every once in a while to keep the “fur-balls” in the gut at bay. Star was still been syringe fed and was still on special medication to help her digestive system but she was pooping and urinating much better.

Things were looking good! Shanell booked an appointment with the HRS in Massachusetts to look at possible mates for Star. She found three possible new companions for Star and was making a final decision soon.

Shanell chose a gorgeous buck by the name of “Squash” to be Star’s new companion. The bonding process went really well and like all good story endings, they all lived happily ever after.

All is twinkling bright and well in Star’s little universe right now!

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Miranda Hawkins
Miranda currently lives just outside Colorado Springs, Colorado with her husband, 8-year old son, and what she lovingly calls her “zoo.” Miranda grew up in the Midwest and always had animals around while growing up. After graduating from college, she married her husband Sam and they moved to the mountains of Colorado where Miranda became very involved with the regional rabbit rescues.

Currently, her “zoo” includes two dogs, one rambunctious cat, and three indoor rabbits. Oliver, a delightful Black Otter Holland Lop, and Juniper, a gorgeous Opal Satin Angora, are a bonded pair and have been together for three years.

She had the pleasure of adding an energetic Fawn Flemish Giant to her family one year ago, named Sir Gregor. He had been abandoned outside a pet store and was put up for adoption. Miranda feels very blessed to have this lovable lagomorph living amongst her family and is a strong advocate for educating people about rabbits and how special they truly are.

Miranda has put together a team of rabbit lovers and breeders from across the country and hopes you will find the information and resources on the JustRabbits.com site beneficial. She loves to hear from her readers and looks forward to seeing many more people become loving responsible bunny parents.