Listen up! This is important!
In lieu of Hurricane Sandy knocking on our doorstep I figured this post was warranted (we are fine by the way!). While storms like these are old hat to us (we get flooded at least once a year living in a river valley), it is always essential to be ready for emergencies in case things do decide to take a turn for the worse. In the past year I’ve experienced earthquakes, tornadoes, bad thunder storms, snow squalls, and hurricanes. These tips are just from my experiences in caring for a rabbitry through bad weather and getting everyone through it safely. These tips apply to most small animals and rodents.
1. Have a carrier for every rabbit.
All of my carriers are equipped with their own dishes and rest mat. Carriers are always have a nice layer of fresh hay for the rabbit to lay and munch on as well to keep them occupied. My carriers are big enough for even my largest rabbit to stretch out and turn around in. Buy the biggest carriers you can find and afford. I purchase all of mine at rabbit shows directly from rabbit supply vendors (support your local small businesses!). Otherwise you can find these vendors online and they have a greater selection of rabbit-tailored products in comparison with the big chain stores such as Petsmart, Petco or Fosters&Smith. Please see my post here of recommended rabbit suppliers. You could make your own as well from stock wire. Most of mine are from Kammalops. The carrier below is a 12″ x 24″ x 14″ and Lincoln is a 9 lb. rabbit. Technically this carrier is made for giant breeds (+14lbs.) but the bigger the better! Every carrier should have a permanent tag on it that has your basic information and your veterinarian’s phone number. For every rabbit I purchase or keep I calculate its true cost. The true cost is what it actually costs me to keep the rabbit plus its own supplies (such as its own carrier, cage, etc). Don’t purchase additional rabbits if you can’t afford the extra supplies that they need! It’s easy to hand over $50 for a rabbit initially but remember it may actually cost you $250!
Lincoln showing off his carrier.
2. Have an emergency evacuation plan and a diaster kit ready for multiple scenarios.
With our weather technology one should not be caught off guard. If there is a chance of bad weather headed your way, quickly assess your situation and ask the following questions: What is the worst that could happen? Are you ready for the worst? Do you have an exact plan so you can delegate quickly if needed? What supplies do you need?
Your carriers should always be ready to go as you may not have time in a sudden emergency to clean them if necessary. Anytime I use a carrier I immediately clean it so its always ready. For Hurricane Sandy I did put all the rabbits in their show carriers for the night and during the day while I was at work. I did this in case there was significant flooding and we had to evacuate. It also allowed me to be prepared in case someone else had to evacuate my animals and I wanted them to be able to do that without confusion. While they were not the most comfortable as in their cages, their safety was more important to me. I also had gallons of water on hand if we were without power and water. I would have enough water for 3 days for your rabbits (depending on how much they drink). I go through about 2-4 gallons a day. The rabbits stayed in their shed as our basement would have not been safe due to possible flooding. In something such as a tornado the rabbits I have pulled the rabbits in with me in the basement. I keep my show supplies in a small container. This doubles as an emergency kit of supplies that is always ready to go for emergencies.
Some things to include in your emergency kit:
-electrolyte solution for overly stressed rabbits (Pedialyte)
-small bag of rolled oats for stressed rabbits (prevents loose stools)
-ID card for every rabbit with their name, photo, tattoo #, your information, vet information
Ready for evacuation at a moment’s notice!
3. Always have extra feed on hand.
My feed is kept in a bin that is easy to grab and take with me if necessary. Don’t get caught in an emergency without rabbit food (or the ability to go get it). When you buy your feed make sure you always have 1 bag in storage. Just rotate your bags as old, moldy feed is just as bad as no feed. Have a garbage bag on hand that you can fill with hay to take with you. On another note, rabbits can just survive on hay for a short while if necessary. As mentioned before, have enough water to supply your rabbits for 3 days and bring with you in case of evacuation.
4. Get friendly.
This is where knowing your fellow local breeders/rabbit folk may be essential to the well-being of your rabbits. Have a contact already established beforehand that is able to house your rabbits for you in case of evacuation. Placing your rabbit in a boarding facility among other animals would be very stressful in an already stress-filled situation…not a good idea. This can also just be someone with the facilities to keep them safe and is able to take in a bunch of rabbits. The latter may be a better option to avoid possibly disease transmission between rabbitries. Have this relationship in place well before you ever need to use it and reciprocate the favor if you are able. These relationships can be life-savers and can give you peace of mind even in other situations such as a move or other life event (such as family illness) in which you may not be able to care for your rabbits for an extended period.
A prepared rabbitry has relaxed rabbits even in the worst weather!
5. Have ID cards for every rabbit.
Have your pedigrees and rabbit records all together in one binder so you can grab it easily or store it safely all in one place. For emergencies, have 2 sets of ID cards or information sheets on all the rabbits you own. Have one set for your records and another set to give away. It is also useful to have this information saved on your computer and uploaded to the internet so it can be accessed anywhere such as google docs. These cards or sheets should have the rabbits name, a photo, identifying marks such as their tattoo number, your basic information and your veterinarians contact information. On their carriers it is easy to attach your rabbitry business card and your vet’s business card which covers the important basics! In case you are evacuated and the rabbits are left behind, these cards will be life-savers if rescue workers have to go in and get them. Of course if you are prepared then hopefully you would have evacuated the rabbits long before it gets to this point.
Have your emergency kit ready now and extra feed/water on hand. Have a plan for every weather condition. Don’t wait until the threat of weather makes you take action. Keep updated as the storms pass through your area and make the decision to act before rather than later. Evacuating many animals on top of your family will take extra time and it is better to be over-cautious than to have regret. Risking your life over saving your animals is a choice I never want to have to make. If there is a serious chance you think you will have to be moved from your home then do it before the authorities issue the evacuation.
Do you have any other suggestions/tips?
How did everyone weather the storm?
Max snuggled in for the storm.