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Danger !

by Robert Betts (Age: 71)
copyright 04-25-2007

Age Rating: 7 +
Danger !
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You probably know that wild rabbits dig burrows. You might also know that they chew. Domestic rabbits are no different in these urges. Both are natural instincts which we shouldn't curb but we need to direct so that neither thumper nor his human suffers damage. Sadly, many rabbits end up in shelters or euthanized because their owners did not realize that rabbits chew and how to divert their chewing interest to objects which are appropriate.

Usagi, a rabbit I adopted in January of 2007, is in a Rabbit Rescue at the moment. He's there because I didn't realize that chewing meant chewing the rug I had put in his cage for him to lay on. While he did like to lay on it, he also enjoyed occupying his time by picking the rug apart. I thought that was all that he was doing. Little did I realize that he was also eating the fibers that he had liberated.

A rabbit's digestive system is quite different from ours. First their stomach and intestines are quite thin-walled and easily ruptured. This does not happen as long as there are no blockages. They also have a cecum which is sort of like a second stomach. It is located where the large and small intestines join. It functions as a fermentation vat. Materials which are not very digestible are routed into the cecum. It contains various micro-fauna. On a regular basis cecotropes are expelled. Unlike the hard dry feces, these are soft. They pass the rest of the way through the large intestine They are eagerly eaten as soon as they emerge. When it looks like your bunny is grooming his rear, he probably isn't.

Although this certainly doesn't sound appetizing to humans it is part of a rabbit's arsenal for survival. They have a very efficient digestive system. They can exist on foods which would do humans no good, tree bark for example. However, some things, such as synthetic fibers from a rug are not digestible. The lesson? Keep rugs out of the rabbit's cage and keep a close eye on what he chews or might chew when he is out.

Due to their personality you can never punish or yell at a rabbit. It accomplishes nothing except to frighten him. However I've found that Usagi responds to a firm, "No!" Many rabbits are not so co-operative. In that case use a spray of water while saying "No!" Rabbits are smart and will soon get the idea. Don't go overboard with spray though because a wet rabbit gets sick quite easily.

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        11-07-2007     synclaire232        

That last comment about the water spray was hilarious, I nearly laughed out during class. That was fairly informative. I liked your humor and how you served your point effectively.

Thanks for the good read!

        05-21-2007     Leigh Gilholm Fisher        

Good work! Very informative, I didn't know much about the digestive systems of rabbits aside from they differ greatly from that of humans. Reminds me of how cats can't have sugary or chocolaty things for their bodies can't process the sugar. Dogs have it worse though, certain types of sugar can kill them if digested. I never had a rabbit as a pet, or really knew somebody that had a rabbit for a pet, so I enjoyed reading this. Good work, you made it easy for a person that knows nothing about rabbits to understand perfectly. At least since I commented late I know Usagi got home okay. :) How's Thumper? Forgive me if I got the name wrong. >.< Good work, keep writing! I'm glad you're so dedicated to your animals, more pet-owners need to be.

Leigh of the Commenting Community

        05-09-2007     Frank Fields        

This, also is well done. Addressing a specific subject with enough scientific information, but making it relevant and not over-powering, while coming to a good conclusion and maintaining the piece within interest levels for the readers of the age range noted. A little bit of humor, also, helped to keep it from being a dry, uninteresting presentation. I know more about rabbits now, than I ever did before and I didn't mind being educated. However, Usagi wasn't introduced properly. That is he wasn't identified as being your owner. I didn't know who you were talking about. Well I wouldn't have if I hadn't read your Author's Page, but if Usagi had been introduced, we would immediately have recognized the importance of your subject. More than that, a couple of run-on sentences. 3rd paragraph, the sentence beginning with "They pass..." runs into "they are".... You might want to break between intestine and they. End the one with a period of course and start the new sentence with "They...." In the 4th paragraph, the line " good, bark...." could be broken into two sentences or connected with an appropriate transitional word. Such as, "and."
Beyond those two, I couldn't find anything else to pick at. Those three small things, however, don't devalue the piece at all. It remains a well written, interesting, informative piece. (I hope Usagi returns home soon!)

William :)


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