Friday, 29 June 2012

Forage Friday - Burdoch and Coltsfoot

Burdock Burdock is safe to feed in a balanced mix of plants, and in moderation. It's normally found in hedges or on open ground and commonly on waste ground. It has a two year life cycle. In the first year the plant is close to the ground and in the second it flowers and forms seed heads. It can grow to approximately 1.5m tall with large leaves reminiscent of rhubarb, and slightly furry. Our photo shows how one of the lower leaves of this plant dwarfs what is quite a big mobile phone. The root is edible too. The flowerstalk becomes quite woody, so the plant is best harvested in its first year. This is the plant that is included in dandelion and burdock. Coltsfoot Our second edible plant is coltsfoot. Its yellow (dandelion like) flowers appear early in the year before the leaves appear. Flower stalks spring direct from the root and have an unusual stalk, looking as if there are buds all the way along it. The leaves appear after the flowers have withered and again are reminiscent of rhubarb but are very dull-looking, with a silvery and downy back and often silvery lines tracing across the top surface. It's a common plant, found in many gardens and on arable and waste land. It's hard to eradicate once it's established itself. The roots grow deep and shoot out in all directions. The leaves can grow to a very large size. It's a safe plant to feed, as with others, in moderation,and very popular with rabbits, both fresh and dried.

Monday, 25 June 2012

What Bugs a Bunny?

Hoppy Monday Everybun! The RSPCA have launched their new campaign 'What Bugs a Bunny' today. The RWAF are supporting this campaign and we hope that you will too. The RSPCA will be tweeting all day about rabbits, so get re-tweeting, and at 2pm there is a live rabbit chat on their facebook page. Their website has lots of information about the campaign, and to make sure you don't miss anything why not sign up to be part of their rabbit community? http://www.rspca.org.uk/media/news/story/-/article/WhatBugsABunny_June12

Friday, 22 June 2012

It's Forage friday again

Today we're featuring two very common plants that you should be able to find in flower at this time of year. The first is chickweed. It has tiny white flowers and it's leaves are egg shaped and in pairs all along the slender stem. It has a hairy line that runs up one side of the stem. When this reaches a pair of the leaves, it swaps to the other side of the stem, and so on till it reaches the top. It spreads very quickly once it has established itself and some gardeners consider it a nuisance! Although chickweed can't be called a valuable green food because it has no special properties, it is a good source of minerals and vitamins, it is safe to feed it, and a small amount makes a welcome change when other greens are hard to find. It's an annual and can be found in flower throughout most of the year. Chickweed The second plant is the sow thistle, which is also known as milk thistle , because when the stem is snapped it exudes a milky substance. This is a very good and very popular food for small furries, who can eat both the smooth and prickly variety. It's an erect, branched plant and can grow as tall as 4ft (120cm) Sow Thistle We know that some of our readers have adopted or rescued rabbits who are pregnant and they should know that this is a great plant to feed to nursing mother rabbits, but it's entirely safe to feed to rabbits of all ages. Not to be confused with the common thistle which has no feed value for rabbits. Sow thistle is easy to distinguish from the common thistle because of its bright yellow flowers, which are similar in shape and colour to dandelion flowers. They appear in clusters at the extreme top and branches of the plant. All varieties of this plant are equally useful. Some have very smooth, tender leaves, and others are slightly prickly, but not so much that they are painful to gather, and nor will they cause problems for your rabbits. They're best fed when the stalks are tender and juicy, because when they're fully grown, the bottom half of the centre stalk can become hard and woody, so for this reason it is at its best and most palatable when it's a foot or two high. This is an annual plant and it flowers from June to September. Collect seeds to grow some next year, or else you can buy these seeds and many more from both Galens Garden and Rabbit Nutrition websites. To find which plants commonly grow in your area, so you know which seeds to buy, enter your postcode here http://www.nhm.ac.uk/nature-online/life/plants-fungi/postcode-plants/

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Think rabbit rescue

Most of the calls the helpline is taking at the moment are from people that no longer want their rabbits - reasons include pregnancy, children loosing interest and not being able to afford to look after them any longer. Before anyone takes on rabbits as pets, please be sure that you can afford care for them properly, this includes neutering and vaccinating (we estimate total costs are £11,000 over their lifetime) and that you can commit to keeping them for around 10 years - rescue centres can not cope with the number of unwanted rabbits each year. Please please share, to raise awareness of the thousands of rabbits in rescue patiently waiting for their forever homes. Neuter

Saturday, 16 June 2012

More free forrage feasts...

This week we are featuring two very common plants that are great for feeding to your rabbits and are all over the place at present. Again, these can be dried and kept for the winter when tasty natural foods are hard to find. The first is Cleavers. It has several names - Goosegrass, Sticky Weed, Claggy Maggie..perhaps you call it something equally fitting where you live. Photobucket This plant needs no introduction as we have all found it stuck to our clothes after a walk at some point, no doubt! It is an exceedingly common plant, and it is safe to use. It is thought to be diuretic, and to have tonic properties, but it may take some rabbits a few goes to get used to the taste. The second plant is Common Hogweed, also known as Cow Parsnip. Photobucket This plant is a member of the carrot family and can grow up to 3 metres tall! It can be found on grassy verges and open woodland and has very large leaves. Only the leaves and stalks should be fed, not the flowers. It is regarded by some as one of the most valuable wild plants for rabbits and has no harmful properties, as long as the flowers are not used. Please don't confuse this with the imported Giant Hogweed, which is far bigger and very caustic to even touch. Common Hogweed is a native species and perfectly safe both to touch and for your rabbits to eat. Giant Hogweed generally grows along watercourses and can grow to over 5 metres tall. You can read about it here http://www.ceh.ac.uk/sci_programmes/documents/GiantHogweed.pdf Make sure you can identify hogweed and do not confuse it with other similar looking but harmful plants like fool's parsley. These are covered in more detail in the following books (please remember prices include postage) http://www.rabbitwelfare.co.uk/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=207 http://www.rabbitwelfare.co.uk/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=982

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Rabbiting On

We've had an e-mail from a lady that read Rabbiting On in her local vet practice and as a result went home and improved her rabbits set up to allow them access from their hutch and to a safe exercise area, and she is thrilled at how much happier her rabbits are. Our website is full of good advice such as this: http://www.rabbitwelfare.co.uk/pdfs/Basic20rabbit20set20up[1].pdf We know our members value Rabbiting On and the advice it and the website contain...but wouldn't you like to share that with somebody else? Can you persuade one friend to become a member? Perhaps buy them their first year's subscription so they'll realise what they've been missing? Or perhaps treat your vet to a membership and help us spread the word about rabbit welfare? Please look at our website for more details: http://www.rabbitwelfare.co.uk/join/index.php

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

June Rescue Pages Updated

Greenleaf Animal Rescue operates in the northwest of England. We've featured them here on our Featured Rescue page, including some of the lovely rabbits in their care, desperately seeking new homes http://rabbitwelfare.co.uk/rwf/?section=rescues.html Cotton Tails is in Wiltshire and their founder Mairwen Guard MBE tells us below about their work and some of their rabbits CottonTails® rabbit and guinea pig rescue (registered charity) has been running for almost 20 years, and during that time we have helped and rehomed thousands of unwanted and abandoned rabbits. Our speciality is our bunny speed-dating service, where we organise and assist in matching up lonely rabbits with compatible partners. All our rabbits are neutered and vaccinated before adoption, and our website is packed full of useful and interesting information about all aspects of rabbit care as well as details of rabbits and guinea pigs currently available. Details to go with the photos attached, but full details are on the website: Peter – a delightful very small half wild neutered male, now about 8 months old. His Lionhead mum apparently escaped from her hutch into the surrounding fields and gave birth to a litter a month later. The owner could not find homes for the babies, so Peter and his siblings arrived here. Peter will either be matched with one of the females here or will find a home as a friend for someone’s lonely neutered female. Photobucket Tom – Tom is a neutered male and he lives with his life partner Alfie, his brother. They make a lovely pair and are gentle yet amusing to watch. They are about 9 months old and will make fantastic pets. Photobucket George – George is now bonded with his daughter, who has yet to be named. George is about 18 months old, and his daughter is 8 months old, and both are neutered. They make a pretty pair! Photobucket Doe – Doe is a very attractive neutered female dutch rabbit who has been bonded to Zeb, a rather handsome neutered male lop. Both are around 18 months old. Doe is particularly friendly and will even tolerate being picked up! Photobucket Family of Belgian Hares – This family of 6 Belgian Hares arrived rather unexpectedly as the situation was urgent

Friday, 1 June 2012

Today is Binky Day!

Today is Binky Day. Today is the day your rabbits can celebrate by showing their joy in a-bun-dance. We've celebrated by making this video from clips sent to us by our supporters http://www.rwaf.org.uk/joy (There's a longer version too, which is even more binkytastic!) Please use one of the photos from those sent to our Facebook (or one of your own) for your avatar today on Facebook, Google +, your blog, your email ID, your forum profile, your Twitter account...whatever formats you use. Ensure your own rabbits are joyful enough and have the space and the happiness to binky for themselves. Tell everybody you know that a binky is a rabbit showing joy in a-bun-dance, and let's raise the profile of happy rabbits with them all.