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Update on Hazel the rabbit! How he's doing with his head tilt. And meet our new little cutie, Apollo!

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Thanks to Skillshare for supporting this episode of Animal Wonders.

The first thousand people who click the link in the description can get a two-month free trial of Skillshare’s Premium Membership. Hello everyone, welcome back to Animal Wonders!

I’ve gotten quite a few requests for updates on Hazel our rabbit with head tilt, and as promised I’m letting you know how things worked out with him. I also have other exciting news! As the title says, I’m happy to introduce our newest little rabbit, Apollo! [CHEERY INTRO MUSIC].

So this is Apollo, and he’s 9 weeks old. He’s a Netherland Dwarf rabbit which means that he’s only going to be about 2 lbs, so not much bigger than this. We got Apollo about a month ago when a friend contacted us.

She said she had seen our video about our rabbit Hazel getting head tilt and wanted to make sure that everything was okay. She also said she had a baby rabbit that was looking for a permanent home. So, baby animals are usually super cute and it’s always exciting thinking about getting a baby, but it’s important to take a step back and really think it through because as we all know, baby animals don’t stay babies forever.

So we had a decision to make, and obviously we chose to take this adorable little guy in, but let’s take a step back so I can share what happened with our other rabbit, Hazel, and why we got Apollo. Introducing the rabbits of Animal Wonders! Okay, we were about a month and a half into treatment for Hazel’s head tilt, caused by the parasite by E. cuniculi.

Hazel had been introduced to Bigwig two months previously, and about 2 weeks later. Hazel had a serious case of head tilt, which we immediately began treatment for. We had extended the original 30 day treatment into a 60 day treatment because while we were seeing improvements in his ability to move around and eat on his own, we were hoping to get even better results.

Now, Bigwig had been living in a separate space so Hazel could have time to focus on healing while we continued to assess his quality of life each and every day. And finally Hazel was doing well enough it was time for him to move back in with his buddy. Before making the move, we decided to rework the rabbit’s living area so that Hazel could have an easier time managing his new disability.

Which meant, they needed a home with more open floor space, so we chose to set them up in an 8' x 4' walk-in room. When we first reintroduced Hazel to Bigwig, Hazel was a bit overwhelmed with all of it, and Bigwig was happy to see Hazel but got spooked by the unusual way Hazel was moving. See, rabbits with head tilt will sometimes move differently than they would if they didn’t have head tilt.

To give you a better understanding of what this means, here are some ways Hazel moves. Sometimes he hops in circles. Sometimes he does full body rolls.

And sometimes he takes a bit longer to get control of his body and then make it move the way he wants to, which kind of looks like extended pausing. It took about two days for Bigwig to get used to Hazel’s new way of moving, and then he was totally fine with it! So the reintroduction went great!

And the rabbits were doing well in their new space. Hazel still needed to be hand fed Critical Care to keep him at a healthy weight, but he was eating more and more on his own. Hazel was having trouble getting to his litter box to pee, so keeping them clean was more challenging.

To fix this, we tried setting up the litter box in new ways and eventually added a second smaller litter pan and cut the front lip down to make it easier for him to get into. So everything was settling into routine, and we were happy that Hazel was doing well enough that his quality of life was no longer in question. But the biggest issue we had was that whenever we picked Hazel up, his head would turn completely upside down again and he would get very dizzy.

This meant that it was unlikely he would ever be able to travel and give public presentations again because he would just be uncomfortable being held and presented. And it would be pretty difficult to teach about rabbit adaptations and their role in ecosystems if we were mostly focused on why his head was upside down. So Hazel having a permanent head tilt was a major factor in our decision to get Apollo.

Now, let’s talk about Bigwig. He has come such a long way, and he’s much more comfortable being held than when we first got him. He’s become a great ambassador for his species with the public presentations we’ve been able to do.

But we will eventually start to do more public presentations than Bigwig can handle on his own, so we needed another rabbit to share the load. Originally that would have been Hazel, but since I’m not comfortable having Hazel travel to shows anymore,. I was very interested when I heard about Apollo.

So that’s why we made the choice to add Apollo into the rabbit family! Since Apollo was so young, there was a good chance he would integrate well with Hazel and Bigwig, and he could grow up experiencing life as an ambassador so he would be comfortable being held, being in front of an audience, and riding in a travel carrier. So, Apollo got set up in a temporary space while he went through a quarantine period to ensure he was healthy.

We also gave him a month long preventative treatment of dewormer to ensure he wouldn’t bring the parasite E. cuniculi with him, which is what caused Hazel’s head tilt. He was eating his hay and rabbit pellets well, but since we offer the other rabbits fresh greens and vegetables, we started offering Apollo little bites of fresh produce so he would have an easy transition. See, rabbits have a sensitive digestive system, and offering an abundance of new foods abruptly can cause GI upset, which can be a serious medical condition for rabbits.

So taking it slow and building up his tolerance to fresh foods was the way to go. After his quarantine period was complete, we introduced Apollo to the older boys. And it went so, so well!

Look at how cute these guys are! [CALMING ACOUSTIC MUSIC]. And look how clearly Apollo communicates that he’s submitting to the older boys. See how he crouches down like that? [CALMING ACOUSTIC MUSIC].

You can see how eager Hazel is to meet Apollo. [CALMING ACOUSTIC MUSIC]. I love seeing Hazel so affectionate towards Apollo. [CALMING ACOUSTIC MUSIC]. Bigwig is grooming Apollo’s head and they’re immediately bonding. [CALMING ACOUSTIC MUSIC].

Look how Apollo nestles in there, feeling nice and safe. [CALMING ACOUSTIC MUSIC]. This was such a heartwarming moment to witness. It was just beautiful.

So this is exactly what I was hoping for when we chose to take in baby Apollo. Introducing adult animals can be challenging, and often younger animals will adjust easier and more completely. And in this situation, we had a lot of factors to try and make work.

With Hazel’s disability, he needed a friend who would be totally comfortable with him, and with Bigwig being a dominant boy, he needed a friend who would be completely submissive. In taking in an additional rabbit, we didn’t want anyone being stressed out with the new living arrangements, so we chose taking in a baby versus an adult and it worked out perfectly! So, Apollo is now in training to be an ambassador for his species and visit classrooms and other events when the time comes.

And Hazel is happy and living his best life with two wonderful friends who are incredibly supportive. I’m so happy with this little guy and how well everything has worked out. Thank you for letting me continue to share our rabbit saga!

I’m hoping we have a nice calm stretch where nothing but cuteness happens for a long time. Now I know that a lot of you are talented artists because you send me fan art of our animals, which I absolutely love! So if today’s video has inspired you to make your own art of Apollo or Bigwig or Hazel and you’d like some help with that, you can head on over to Skillshare to find classes that teach you how to create paintings of rabbits.

Artist Katherine Rodgers teaches a class about using ink and watercolor together to make paintings of animals like chickens and rabbits. She takes a loose approach to painting, which makes the whole experience low pressure and lots of fun. If you want to try making your own fan art of our rabbits or maybe your own animal companion, check out Katherine’s class.

Skillshare is an online learning community that offers membership with meaning. With so much to explore, real projects to create, and the support of fellow-creatives,. Skillshare empowers you to accomplish real growth.

And it makes it easy with short classes that will fit into your daily routine. A Premium Membership will give you unlimited access, so you can join the classes and communities that are just right for you. And an annual subscription to Skillshare is less than $10 a month, and if you’re one of the first 1,000 people to click the link in the description, you can get a 2 month free trial of Skillshare’s Premium Membership.

Thanks for watching! I hope you enjoyed getting to know Apollo. And if you’d like to keep learning about animals and how we’re caring for the other 90+ animals at Animal Wonders, be sure to subscribe and I’ll see you next week!

Bye! [BOLD OUTRO MUSIC].