Frequently Asked Questions
Devoted to the questions Hot Cross Buns receives regularly.
Feel free to contact us with additional questions!
I need help deciding between a buck (male bunny) and a doe (female bunny). What are the main differences in behavior?
Does vs. bucks is a huge area of personal choice. Generally speaking, bucks tend to be more mellow and laid back, especially after being neutered, but waiting until that point can be interesting. Bucks can spray, display courtship behavior like circling their favorite person in an almost herding-like fashion, and, of course, hump anything they can hug to their bodies.
If we have a buck who sprays, that behavior usually begins around 7-8 months of age at the earliest. We tend to see it more in our older herd sires who are telling us they want to breed. Since we find homes for our babies when they are young, it is difficult to pinpoint an exact percentage of bucks who would actually spray prior to being old enough to be neutered. We have had a few bucks stay with us until they were 6+ months of age before finding their forever homes, and they did not exhibit spraying tendencies. I would conservatively guess that 15% of bucks would spray before 6 months, while about 60% of un-neutered bucks will spray after 12 months of age. Neutering makes a huge difference.
When does reach sexual maturity, they tend to display behaviors indicating their need/desire to breed, as well. Digging in the corner of their cages, lunging when you reach into her cage (as though protecting a litter of babies), nipping, and pacing (hopping around in circles) tend to be the more obvious issues. These, too, will dissipate after being spayed, so they wouldn't be long-term problems.
Does can become nippy at 4-6 months, if they are going to develop that tendency at all. One day, you could have a perfectly lovely, well-behaved little girl, and the next day you could be wearing a bandage on your hand because her body started producing hormones that make her vigilant in protecting herself and the babies she could be carrying (in her mind). Plum Bun and Molly are rabbits we have to watch carefully before handling in their cages, even when they are not pregnant, because they are cage defensive. When they are out of their cages, they are totally fine, relaxed, and sweet, but they have very strong mothering instincts that we need to be aware of at all times. Again, since we find loving homes for the majority of our babies who are spayed when they reach 6 months of age, it is difficult to estimate what chance a doe kit would have in developing this tendency. Based on the numbers in our own herd, our best guess would be 25%.
It's mainly a matter of what you can deal with until they are old enough to be altered. Bucks can be messier and more embarrassing, but does can be a bit more unpredictable and can nip. It is very important to note that not all bucks and does will develop these issues.
One more thing to note is that vets usually charge less to neuter bucks because it's a much less invasive procedure, and is less risky. Bucks tend to bounce back more quickly following neutering, as well. It can cost a bit more to have a doe spayed and her incision site will need to be monitored carefully for signs of infection. It can be difficult to entice a doe to eat and drink within 24 hours of the procedure, but she will do much better if you have some special herbs on hand, like parsley and cilantro, to entice her to take a few nibbles and keep her GI tract moving.
Generally speaking, no. We prefer for each bunny to be placed separately so he/she has the best possibility of happily bonding with his/her new family. After the first bunny has been altered at six months of age and has time to recover from surgery, we invite you to contact us to begin the placement procedure for a second Bun.
We don't place two bunnies of the same gender at the same time because they often end up fighting and causing injury to each other, especially as they mature into adult rabbits and have hormone flare-ups. Even same-gender litter mates become bickering balls of fluff shortly after placement and may end up needing to go to the vet due to injuries. Bonding same gender rabbits who have been altered can be a very long, difficult process, and we find that bonding opposite gendered Buns goes more smoothly and typically has much happier results.
The only exceptions to our "one Bun at a time" policy are if you are:
*adopting an already bonded pair who are being re-homed together
*adopting an already spayed/neutered rabbit who is being re-homed or retired from our rabbitry at the same
time a baby rabbit of the opposite gender is being placed with you
*adopting two already altered, opposite gender rabbits to bond after placement
Am I allowed to get two bunnies at one time?
Does my Bun need a companion?
The answer to that question will depend upon how much time you are able to spend with your bunny each day and what type of temperament you bunny has. If your bunny has a lot of time on his/her paws, you may want to consider adding a companion Bun to your lives. If your bunny is blessed to have your attention for the majority of the day and loves to hang out with you, chances are you Bun is perfectly happy with your company and thinks of you as his/her companion.
A more quiet, reserved Bun might benefit from having a more outgoing friend to encourage bravery and confidence. A more outgoing Bun might do well with a calmer friend who could teach him/her about the joys of cuddles and snuggles.
We know we want to have two rabbits eventually. What would the process to get them look like?
If you would like to be matched with two Buns to bond, the process would look something like this...
*Complete the New Bunny Questionnaire, receive approval, and join the waiting list (if necessary)
*Adopt your first Bun and enjoy bonding with him/her. Have your bunny altered at roughly six months of age and allow him/her to recuperate and get accustomed to his/her new hormone levels.
*Once your Bun has been spayed/neutered, please contact us via email, notifying us of your desire for a second bunny and telling us all about your first Bun's likes/dislikes/quirks, etc. and let us know when you will be ready for your second Bun. We will communicate with you about which temperament should be the best fit to compliment your first Bun's personality.
*We will work to match you with your companion Bun of the appropriate temperament and you will take your second Bun home, but he/she should not be bonded to the first bunny until after the second Bun has been altered.
*When the Bun has successfully been spayed/neutered and has had a couple of months to recover and heal, it's time to work on the actual bonding process. Our favorite bonding resources are listed below.
We want to learn more about bunny bonding. What resources do you recommend?
Bunny bonding is a very exciting journey to undertake, but it does involve time and careful planning for a truly successful bond to form. We recommend a slow and steady approach when possible, but acknowledge that there is a time and place for "speed bonding" or "stress bonding".
Below are links to some of our favorite bonding resources.
This PowerPoint link has wonderful information about bonding rabbits. It is quite comprehensive, so have a snack and beverage handy before starting to read through this one! :)
I need help finding a rabbit knowledgeable veterinarian. Where do I look?
Our first stop in finding bunny savvy vets in Ohio is https://www.ohare.org/wordpress/vets/
This resource was complied by the Buckeye House Rabbit Society. I do not know how frequently it is updated, so please call any potential vets to make sure they are still with the practice listed.
If you live in another state, use your search engine to look up the House Rabbit Society for your state. You should then be able to find information leading to a veterinarian listing.
Rabbits are considered "exotic pets", so if you cannot find a vet near you on the vet listing, you might want to let your fingers do the walking and look for listings in the yellow pages or online which advertise a doctor who works with exotic pets. Be careful and make sure he/she knows the proper types of anesthesia and antibiotics that are rabbit safe before you are in an emergency situation.
Word of mouth recommendations by other bunny owners can be a helpful way to go.
If you have a county extension office with an active 4-H organization, you could call their office and ask if they know of a good rabbit vet they rely on for their programs, or if they could direct you to the person in charge of running the rabbit show at their county fairs. It may take some legwork on your part, but your county extension office can give you a wealth of information.
Do you ship rabbits? Do you meet people partway?
No, due to the nature of our personalized bunny-matching process, our schedule, and homeschooling commitments, we do not offer shipping, nor do we work with transporters, nor are we able to meet people partway. We meet each client face-to-face and make certain they are comfortable with their new rabbit, have them fill out paperwork, and watch them interact with their new pet before accepting payment.
What kinds of treats are safe for my rabbit to eat?
Hot Cross Buns follows the belief that treats (other than old-fashioned rolled oats) have no place in a rabbit’s diet until after he/she turns six months old. We prefer for their new families to have the joy (and responsibility) of determining which foods are the right treats for their Buns.
We recommend starting with the treats on the Green Light List. Work your way through it slowly to learn what your bunny likes, and what sits well in your bunny’s tummy. Give a small amount. Holland lops are small and shouldn’t weigh more than 3.5-5 lbs, so a little goes a long way. If you see any signs of abnormal or mushy poo balls in your bunny’s cage, stop feeding whatever treat was introduced most recently and cross it off the list, so you don’t give it to him/her again. Just give your bunny hay and water for a day or two until his/her tummy settles down and the poo balls are back to normal again.
There are some important things to remember about a bunny’s diet. Conventional wisdom says that 80% of the diet should be made up of hay and pellets, leaving 20% for foods that fall into the “treat” category. I tend to lean towards 90% hay and pellets, and only 10% treats. Another thing to remember: Too much sugar, calcium, and phosphorus are very bad for rabbits. The vast majority of foods on the Yellow Light List are high in at least one of these. Pick your Yellow Light List treats very carefully. Choose one fruit per week and one veggie/seed/herb per week to keep your bunny happy and healthy. Again, introduce only one treat at a time so you can see any negative reactions and adjust the list accordingly.
Occasionally you may find a treat that leaves your bunny with painful gas. Bunnies can’t burp or vomit, so whatever is hurting its tummy has to work its way through the entire digestive system. We strongly recommend that all bunny families keep a bottle or two of infant gas relief drops (a brand like Mylicon drops) to help settle bunny’s tummy. Give the bunny the dose recommended for smaller babies and gently massage your bunny’s tummy. Try to keep your bunny moving to help the gas work its way out. A bit of fresh parsley may help settle the tummy, too. If you ever have questions or concerns about your bunny’s health, please feel free to email us and we will do our best to help. email@example.com
If your bunny reacts badly to a food on the Yellow Light List, cross it off and add it to your Red Light List so you remember to not feed it to your Bun again.
Green Light Treats
The treats listed in this section are safe for bunny’s daily consumption. As always, when introducing a new treat, give a very small amount and observe the bunny for any gins of digestive distress (diarrhea, teeth grinding, acting “off”) for 24 hours before giving that treat to the bunny again.
Basil - any variety
Blueberries (fresh) - give only one or two berries per day
Bok Choy - for bunnies over six months only
Celery and celery leaves
Dandelion leaves and flowers (if not chemically treated)
Oatmeal - rolled old-fashioned variety (raw, never cooked) - this is the only treat approved for baby rabbits
Oats (whole, unprocessed) - Rabbits over six months only
Yellow Light Treats
The treats in this section are for very occasional giving only. Many fruits are bunny-safe, but they are high in sugars, so need to be limited carefully. Choose only one of these treats to give on one special day each week. Watch for signs of tummy upset.
Apples (do not give bunny any seeds, which can be toxic)
Beets - greens, tops, and root
Bell peppers (green, yellow, red, orange, and purple are safe)
Broccoli Leaves are safe (never give bunny broccoli, which causes painful gas)
Carrots and carrot tops
Cherries (remove pit and give only one or two cherries)
Collard greens (tiny amounts only)
Crab apples (no seeds)
Cucumber (tiny amount as it has little nutritional value)
Dill and dill flowers (avoid seeds, though, and give only small amounts every few days)
Grapes (no more than two at a time, washed and cut into small pieces)
Green beans (may cause painful gas, so observe carefully if you choose to feed)
Kale (tiny amounts to rabbits over six months only...high in calcium)
Lettuce (dark green or purple varieties)
Orange peels (better than oranges)
Orange (tiny amount)
Peach (remove pit)
Peppers (remove seeds carefully)
Pineapple (fresh only)
Plums (remove stone)
Pumpkin seeds (very rare treat)
Radish and radish leaves
Raisins (very rare)
Raspberry (fresh) and raspberry leaves
Spinach (small amounts)
Sunflower seeds (high in fat, so go easy)
Tomato (do NOT give tomato plant leaves or vines to bunny...they are toxic)
Turnip and turnip greens
Watermelon and watermelon rind
Red Light Treats
The following treats should NEVER be given to your bunny, as they are toxic to rabbits or your bunny will be unable to digest them, causing him great pain and distress.
Avocado - poisonous to rabbits
Bindweed - poisonous to rabbits
Nuts - all varieties
Potatoes and Potato Skins
Why do you require your rabbits to be spayed/neutered?
Early in our rabbitry's existence we realized that we wanted to be a reliable, knowledgeable source of information, support, and encouragement for our bunny-loving clients. We realized our favorite people to work with were those seeking pet bunnies to adore and pamper. Far too many people think that breeding rabbits is a quick way to make a buck, but it really is not. They fail to understand how much time, attention, and veterinary care is needed for breeding rabbits, so they fail to provide the necessary care. We don't want that kind of a life for any of the Hot Cross Buns, so we decided to require spaying/neutering at six months of age for all of the baby bunnies we place. Every older rabbit we retire from our breeding program will be spayed/neutered prior to being listed, to ensure that they are in the very best of health before going to their new homes.
Spaying/neutering makes litter box training easier, opens the door to having multiple pet bunnies, and has increased health benefits. We want the very best life imaginable for each Bun and this includes finding responsible homes who will commit to having their pet bunny spayed/neutered.
My younger daughter, who is the co-owner/operator of Hot Cross Buns, suggested the spay/neuter requirement when she was 10 years old. I admit to being concerned that it would be a turn-off for perspective clients, but we have been overwhelmed by the support and encouragement we have received from people who are glad we implemented such a requirement.