Health

Crate-Side Manner (Lady Chronicle part 2)

When we learned that Lady probably,

most likely,

but not certainly,

(no the vet could definitely not be certain),

had cancer and that all signs suggested it had spread to her lungs, 

I felt lost.

The vet, a stranger I'd only gone to because our regular vet was out of town, spoke quickly. She'd called with test results a full day later than she'd told me she would, and now spoke with the speed of someone who wants to get an unpleasant task over with.  She explained, "The x-ray showed a large medicalwords in her abdomen blocking the flow of medicalwordsmedicalwords, resulting in medicalwordsmedicalwords leg." That, for what it was worth, was definitive.

 

Lady in her favorite spot under the rocking chair trying to bathe but knocked off balance by her swollen back leg

"So there's a tumor in her abdomen and something that should flow through her leg and on to other parts of her body can't because of it." I offered hesitantly. "That's why her leg is swollen." The vet made a sound indicating agreement and repeated some of her previous medical words as if they would now hold meaning for me.

The vet continued. "Test results were consistent with but did not definitively conclude that medicalwordsmedicalwords. The x-ray and test results together suggest medicalwordsmedicalwordsmedicalwords. A biopsy would be required to be absolutely certain." She paused pointedly there.

"And anesthesia is pretty risky for rabbits and Lady is elderly," I finished for her. 

"Yes."

Silence.

"Let me see if I understand. All signs indicate Lady has cancer that can't be operated on because it has spread through her body. But you can't be 100% positive because the test for that would probably kill her?"  I added quickly before she could add her equivocating word soup.

"Yes."

Silence

Silence

This was no longer awkward, it was maddening. I understood that all the equivocating and medical jargon was an effort to be precise and not make a diagnosis she couldn't back with facts. She also didn't know me. She didn't have any idea how I would take this news, this bad, bad news.

Fine. 

But why the hell was I, the emotionally involved party, now in charge of moving the conversation forward? She was the professional. She was the one with the experience and information. This should be her responsibility.

"OK, so what now?" I asked with an edge to my voice.

Lady snuffle nosedLady with cancer and the added indignity of "the snuffles", a respiratory infection

"The usual course in treating medicalwords is surgical removal, which is not an option in this case due to medicalwordsmedicalwords." 

I remembered those smudges on the lungs in Lady's x-ray and made a sound indicating comprehension. She continued, "Chemotherapy has been developed for cats and dogs, but it has not been found to be effective in rabbits."

As disapointing as this news was, at least I understood it. 

"What. Do. We. DO?" I emphasized the last word. I wasn't asking how we return Lady to health or even how we extend her life. I jut needed a plan, a step by step guide to making her  final days as easy, joy filled and comfortable as possible. 

"Keep giving her the Metacam for pain relief and monitor her for any signs of distress. I will send a copy of her tests to your regular vet."

It wasn't until I hung up the phone that I realized I had no idea how to spot distress in an animal whose every instinct is to mask it. 

 

 

 

 


Is a Little Knowledge Worse than None? (Lady Chronicle part 1)

About a month ago we noticed that Lady's left hind leg was a bit swollen.  She didn't flinch or run away if we touched it, but rabbits are horribly stoic so we feared she might be in great pain and hiding it.  Alex and I put her in her carrier and hurried to the 24 hour vet a couple towns away.  I hadn't been back there since the night we had to put down Fergus. I did my best to reason away my feeling of foreboding. The vet on duty that night wasn't an exotic specialist, no great surprise, but she could rule out a broken leg. A fracture was still a possibility, so she recommended we see our usual vet the next day.

The next morning I dialed our vet, feeling hopeful that we'd have some answers in an hour or two. Unfortunately, our vet was out of town.  My body sagged a little as the receptionist listed other specialists in the area.  Not for the first time, I wished rabbits weren't considered an exotic species. What must it be like to know that if your usual vet is unavailable, her colleagues are equally trained to help you?

I called a couple places before finding one with an exotics specialist on duty on a Saturday.

The walls of the waiting room were decorated with fabric panels covered in frolicking dogs and cats. I could see an alcove full of leashes, kibble and toys. How often did they treat an animal that wasn't a dog or a cat? My own vet's walls had paintings of creatures ranging from kitten to cow and everything in between. I knew the decor didn't necessarily reflect the vet's knowledge, but it left me wondering whether the receptionist had heard me correctly when I made the appointment for a rabbit.

Once we were in the exam room, Lady couldn't wait to get out of her carrier and explore. It was that love of exploring that had made me suggest the name Amelia (for Amelia Earheart) when we first got her.  She hopped right up on the scale, her feet sliding every which way on the smooth surface. I looked at the ruler-like markings on the scale and wondered how the vet could possibly tell if a small animal lost or gained a little weight. A quarter pound change either way is significant when your whole body weighs less than five pounds.


Lady scale

Lady both charmed and scared the vet tech by hopping from the exam table to the slippery scale and back again as if she were exploring at home.  I could almost see a thought bubble over the tech's head with the words "Please don't fall. Please don't fall". Lady clearly preferred the higher vantage point the scale provided, so I bribed her to stay put by rubbing her head while the tech and then the vet asked question after question.

"Is she eating? Pooing? Where does she spend the day? Could she have been dropped? Where is she at night? Could she have jumped off something high? Have you noticed any change to her behavior? What do you feed her? Could she have taken a bad jump off something high? Could something have fallen on her? When was the last time she saw a vet? Is she free range or in a pen?" I started to feel like I was at fault for not having security footage of her comings and goings. In the end they gave her a physical, took her temperature (which she really did not appreciate) and an x-ray.  Swollen

The tech scooped Lady up in her arms and they disappeared through a door into the mysterious world of "employees only". I tried to read a book I'd brought, but couldn't concentrate. So I read and reread a flier about  the importance of caring for your dog's teeth.

Soon enough they returned and the vet pulled up Lady's x-ray on her computer monitor. "There are no broken bones or fractures, which is both good and bad news." How can that be bad news I wondered, but I would soon find out. The vet switched to a closeup of Lady's abdomen. Her anatomy appeared utterly foreign, so different from a human's, her ribs were the only familiar landmark. The vet was discussing possible explanations for some faint marks on the lungs. I'd clearly missed something. The marks looked like water spots on a glass, nothing substantial. 

"But how is that related to her leg?" I asked.

"Ah. The edema in her leg is due to the tumor in her abdomen. It's blocking the flow of..." I didn't so much stop listening as stop hearing her. The large pale blob on the x-ray that I'd assumed was an organ, was actually a tumor! No wonder her poo had been smaller lately; her intestines were probably squooshed. "The tumor could be benign, or it could be related to the mottling on the lungs. We will know more after the aspiration." I nodded dumbly. The vet and the tech stared at me as if waiting for something. "May we do the aspiration?"

My mind raced.  An aspirate in linguistics is a consonant pronounced with a puff of air.  How could blowing air tell them anything about a tumor? Had they already explained it and I missed it? I wished Alex were there with me. "Sorry. What exactly does 'aspirate' mean?" She explained.  I understood enough to give permission, and then I was alone again, reading brochures about proper tick removal methods. 

They returned with Lady and said they'd be in touch on Monday, 48 hours of uncertainty and fear from now. I thanked her and paid the bill. 

The car felt very full as I pulled out of the parking lot. Lady happily shuffled about her carrier, tipping it slightly this way and that as she searched for the choicest bites of hay. Thoughts of how I would explain her condition to Alex when I barely understood it played on a loop in my head.  A bottle of Metacam, pain reliever, rattled in the cup holder. As the vet prescribed it she'd said, "I don't know if it will help, but it can't hurt." In that case, I wondered, was the prescription more for Lady's comfort or my piece of mind?

Why did rabbits never have a crisis when our vet was available?   

And what about Lady's leg? It would be two days before we'd know anything. Two days before any treatment could be considered. Would her leg just keep getting bigger and bigger? Could her skin split from the pressure? Nah, the vet wouldn't have let us go if that was a possibility.  Right? I replayed the visit all the way home, trying to connect the dots of how we'd gotten from "no broken bones" to "tumor". 

 

 


Hay Management

IMG_3915Spot has lived under our shed the last two years

In case you've missed me saying it before, rabbits need an unlimited supply of hay in order to stay healthy.  Those cute bags of rabbit granola/cereal they sell at the store are tempting bags of gastric distress.  They look a lot like human cereal with brightly colored treats dotting the brown roughage.  The difference is that the neon marshmallows in human cereal aren't good for us, but they aren't going to land us in the emergency room.  That's not the case with rabbits.  The "treats" are usually corn or dairy based, two foods that the rabbit GI system is not designed for.  They may not cause a problem the first time a rabbit eats them, but eaten consistently there will be.   Plain pellets, such as these from Oxbow are a healthy diet supplement.  Some owners mistakenly think they are equivalent to dog kibble, but these are too rich to fill that role.  It's unfortunate, since that would make living with rabbits much tidier.  Nope, rabbits need to eat a pile of hay roughly the size of their body each day to ensure good digestive and dental health.  It also reduces the chance that they'll chew on your furniture.   

The good news is that hay smells really good, unlike canned dog or cat food.  I grew up across the street from a horse barn so the smell of hay reminds me of long summer nights playing flashlight tag and days spent riding my bike and building forts.  The problem with hay is that it gets e.v.e.r.y.w.h.e.r.e!  It's impossible to grab a handful of hay and put in it in a hay rack (a.k.a. manger) without some falling on the floor.  Then there's all the hay the rabbits pull from their racks and toss to the side in search of the elusive perfect mouthful.  I don't really mind if they make a mess of the hay in their pens, they will often return to it for a snack, but the upstairs rack is in our dining room.  It is our least used room, but it would still be nice for it not to resemble a barn.  Each time we feed the bunnies or refill their water, we walk on hay.  Bits cling to our socks, spreading the hay from one end of the house to the other.

We've tried a variety of hay racks designed for small animals.  The slats, whether metal or wood, are too close together for a rabbit's snout, even Lady's slim one.   I tried cutting off alternating slats on a wooden rack, but the rabbits ignored the openings and messily rummaged through the hay sticking out on top. 

Lady troughLady using the Kaytee Small Animal Hay Manger, Large

They had plenty of room to grab a bite from the front of the rack but they weren't.  I started to wonder if rabbits were drawn to the hay that looked more like the tall grass they'd find in a field.  But they also seemed to like eating the hay they'd spread across the rug, easy to reach like the cut grass of a lawn.  Could they be hardwired with a memory of what grass (food) should look like?  I felt a bit like Jackson Galaxy, the cat behaviorist on Animal Planet, only I was trying to decode rabbit behavior.   If I observed the rabbits' habits enough, I was sure to find a solution that pleased everyone in the house, right?

We removed the hay rack and replaced it with a light metal bucket intended for the displays of fake flowers, a Dollar Store find.  Lady loved it.  

IMG_0131Lady with the Dollar Store bucket in the morning

Each day she'd use her teeth to pull the bucket out from where we'd wedged it between the litter box and a bookcase.  Once free, she'd grab the bucket with her teeth and flip it, sending the hay flying! 

IMG_0124Ten minutes later

It took Bella a little longer to think of doing this, but in the end it was clear that the bucket was just a toy that briefly delayed the inevitable hay storm.  The bucket tossing was utterly adorable and a lot of fun to watch, but a real pain to clean up after.  Disheartened I rehung the tiny wooden rack.

IMG_0131Bella feeling rather proud of herself

There had to be a way to contain the hay.  I became a bit obsessed, viewing every garden, kitchen and craft container as a potential, if unconventional, hay rack.  Would a metal shower caddy work?  What about a metal egg basket?  I finally set aside my Yankee desire to make-do and splurged on a larger (and more expensive) hay rack.  When that still didn't solve the problem I looked for ways to at least make cleanup quicker, in other words, less annoying. 

I tried using the mats they sell to go under cat and dog feeding areas, but they were too small.  Ditto rubber boot trays.  For a while I spread a blanket over the area, thinking cleanup would be easier if I could simply gather up the blanket and give it a shake outside. It wasn't.  What we needed was a hay-rack-friendly version of the enclosed litter boxes they sell for cats.  If the area were enclosed the hay wouldn't travel.  If I bought a large plastic storage bin and cut off one end to make an entrance, it just might work.  I set about trying to come up with a way to cut the plastic without leaving any sharp burs the buns could get hurt on.

A few days later I was breaking down cardboard boxes to put in the recycling bin and stopped, sizing up the box in my hand.  It was big enough to fit a litter box (bunnies like to fertilize where they eat) and the sides looked high enough to serve as hay-retaining walls.  I cut off both ends (one to fit around the hay rack and one to serve as entrance) and  put the litter box in.  It all fit quite nicely.  One unexpected benefit was the way it hid the litter box from view.  

IMG_0337

SolutionHand Made Hay Manger (Large) from Small Pet Select, the subject of a future post

As you can see, it's not perfect, but it's the best system we've come up with so far.  The wall does a nice job of corralling the hay when Bella starts rooting for her beloved "grass tops" (the nutrient rich seed heads).  We still drop some hay as we refill the rack and Bella still carries off hay bits caught in her fur, but all in all it's an improvement. It'll do...for now.


A Christmas Surprise

IMG_8160

"Trish!  Something's wrong with Bella!"  I dropped my book and raced to the living room.  Alex was on the floor, with his head under the coffee table.  This ostrich impression would have been funny under other circumstances, but the worry in his voice stifled my laughter.  I got down beside him and stared at Bella.  She was upright, but her head was slipping from side to side, as loose and out of control as a bobble head.  All I could do was stare at Bella's eyes, giant with fear, scanning left right, left right, loose marbles in her swaying head.  I showed her my hand and called "Bella.  Pet pet?"  Her ears pricked forward a bit but there was no attempt to come to me.  Her head continued to slip back and forth as if utterly out of her control.  

In the other room I could hear Alex calling vets with 24 hour services.  "Is anyone on who is trained to treat exotics?" he asked each one.  Rabbits are the fourth most common pet in the US, but their care is a specialty within veterinary medicine.  I lay down on the floor, inching toward Bella, making myself as unintimidating as possible.   An animal in pain is unpredictable and I had no desire to see what damage her teeth and claws could do.  But Bella didn't back away.  She didn't grunt or thump.  Now I was close enough to see that her body, usually a straight line from her nose to her scut, was curved unnaturally into a C.  Alex appeared at my side.  

"We can go to the place we brought Fergus.  They can call an expert if needed.  Or we can go to the vet school.  It's about double the distance..."  

"I think we have a better chance of getting someone who knows about rabbits at the vet school."  I pictured Fergus' body going limp as the drugs went through his system.  The way his body, in a moment went from familiar to alien, a mass of fur and meat.  It had been the right decision to put him down, but...was Alex thinking about that night too?

"I agree.  I'll get the address."

IMG_0884

We drove through the deserted Christmas streets a little faster than the law would allow.  We sped by house after house lit by televisions and Christmas trees.   Radio off, the only sound in the car was the British GPS woman doling out directions with a frustrating lack of urgency.  Couldn't she give a little more advance warning so we wouldn't keep missing our turns?

It's impossible to see a black bunny in a dark car, so I opened the carrier a bit and slid my hand in.  For a split second I feared touching her.  What if I touched a body, the life gone?  The fur was warm.  I pressed more firmly and felt more than heard the undulations of her gut in action. I reached for her silky ear and gently rubbed it, hoping to hear her teeth tap with pleasure.  Nothing.  I stopped petting and a heart beat later I felt the familiar bump of her forehead against my hand, demanding more.  She couldn't be too bad off then, could she?  

Somewhere on that forty minute ride Alex asked, "Did you see her when you got home?  She was fine when I left for my parents'."  And with that, the search for a cause, a missed symptom, something we should have noticed moved from interior monologue to a conversation.  I remembered Alex's sister, a scientist who works with mice, talking about how they hid any sign of being sick until they were too far gone to hide it any more.  "One day they seemed fine, the next they'd be dead.  They're prey animals".  Oh yes, we knew about prey animals.  

"Did she jump off anything? Was anything knocked over?"

"She doesn't seem to be in pain.  She's letting me pet her and you picked her up."

"She was a little slow to eat her breakfast, but she ate it." 

"Remember I told you how funny she was this afternoon, slinking arou

 

nd the living room like it was unfamiliar territory?  Maybe something was wrong then." 

"Sometimes she just acts funny.  Bunny logic, you know?"

Silence surrounded us as we passed empty shopping plazas, dark car lots, miles and miles of tar and concrete.  I rested my head on the carrier, one hand absently caressing Bella.  There were a few cars on the road, but I felt like we were separated from everyone else by the joyless reason for our outing. IMG_2399

Then, in a move worthy of a Dickens story, my mind jumped to people I knew or knew of who had seen more doctors than santas this Christmas season.  John.  He'd been sick for weeks and probably would be for some time to come. Marc who had come mighty close to death as everyone else counted their blessings and ate pie.  Dave.  No Dave was quietly doing a bit better now.     

Then there it was.  A big, red, glowing Emergency sign.  Through the window I could see the receptionist look up at the approach of our car. 

A surge of gratitude for the vets who work Christmas, who care that much about animals' well being, made me teary as I checked Bella in.  I almost hugged the doctor who took her from me.  We'd done our part.  We'd gotten her there.  Now we'd wait.   

Animal hospital 12252018
  


Reliable Rabbit Resources

Do you remember the documentary Roger and Me?  It was about how General Motors' departure from Flint MI devastated that city.  In it Michael Moore, then an unknown, interviews residents.  If you've seen it, you likely know where I'm going with this.  There's a scene where Moore interviews a woman who sells rabbits from her home, for "pets or meat".  It's only about 2 minutes of the movie, but it became the 1989 equivalent of a viral meme.  I think of that scene whenever Pinterest shows me a pin about how to dress rabbits - and I'm not talking about cute hats and sweaters.  

Jennas rabbits 10182014-001
Rabbit tractor allows grazing

 

I accept that many people raise rabbits for their meat.  Rabbits reproduce quickly, their meat is lean, they are small and their feces can be used as fertilizer.  In poor countries where malnutrition is a serious problem and protein is hard to come by, raising rabbits for food makes sense.  I personally can not imagine eating rabbit now that I've known and loved these curious, fun-loving, affectionate creatures, but I'm not going to tell other people not to. 

No, I'm bringing this up because much of the advice regarding rabbit care is very different depending on whether you are looking to care for many rabbits, inexpensively, for a short period of time or a couple very healthy rabbits for ten years or more.  This is a problem cat and dog owners don't run into.  Most of the books I've borrowed from my local library network are intended for farmers.  Even books intended for pet owners are often outdated, suggesting diets and housing that veterinarians now know are not in the rabbits' best interest. 

So I've written up a short list of reliable resources for people with pet rabbits.  I'll continue to add to it as I find more.  If you know of one I missed, please let me know in the comments.

  • Rabbit Advocates - A quick overview of rabbit behavior. Consider it the Spark Notes version.
  • Save a Fluff - This website from the UK focuses on feeding rabbits.  The section on why hay is so important and how to choose the best hay is especially good.  
  • Too Many Bunnies - Great information about rabbit communication, behavior and grooming.  It's written by people who foster and rehome rabbits.
  • Rabbit Archives - The MSPCA provides an introduction to rabbit ownership, interesting facts and the most common reasons why people surrender pet rabbits.
  • House Rabbit Society - You can't find anyone more dedicated to pet rabbits than members of this nationwide group.  If you're considering getting a pet rabbit, this site is a must read.
  • Rabbit Care with Amy Sedaris and Mary E. Cotter, Ed.D., LVT.  - Amy and Mary created a series of Howcast videos dedicated to caring for your pet rabbit.  Amy is a long time rabbit owner and Mary is a licensed veterinary tech (LVT) and rabbit expert.  Their video on clipping nails gives the best advice I've seen anywhere.
  • My House Rabbit - This website, written by two rabbit owners was very helpful to us when we first got Lady.  Some of the diet advice differs from what we've read elsewhere, so be sure to get your information from multiple sources.
  • Here's Why Easter is Bad for Bunnies - This article comes from National Geographic.  It explains how rabbits have become "one of the most abandoned pets in the United States".  There is also an adorable video of the photo shoot for the article.  
  • Regarding the Secret Life of Rabbits - Penny Collins draws cartoons about her life living with three rabbits.  It is hysterical and spot on.
  • My Rabbit Board - An eclectic mix of most things rabbit related, is the best description I can give of my rabbit page on Pinterest.  

Rabbit Jargon (with commentary)

 

Binky - v. + n.  a sudden vertical jump while twisting the head and body in opposite directions.  Often occurs mid run.  An expression of ultimate rabbit joy.  The word 'binky' is misleading.  It sounds cute and babyish (like a beloved blanket or pacifier), whereas the rabbit binky is athletic, like the midair twists of a bucking bronco.  In fact, Alex and I call them 'broncos'.  

Buck - n. male rabbit.  

Bunny - n. rabbit  I know you didn't need that defined, but I'm curious how we ended up with two such different names for the same animal. I suspect there's a backstory of invasion and language mingling (this is why we raise 'cows' but eat 'beef'), but for now all I can say is that I'm looking into it.

Burrow - n. a hole or tunnel where rabbits live.  It is also the name of the Weasley family's ramshackle home in the Harry Potter series.  Coincidence?  I don't think so.  An average rabbit litter is six kits.  Guess how many children are in the Weasley family.

Chin - v. when rabbits rub the scent glands in their chins on an item to show possession.  I've also read that it's the rabbit version of writing "I was here" on picnic tables and the like.  Fortunately, the scent is undetectable by humans so they can chin to their heart's delight with no problem.  

Crepuscular - adj. active at dawn and dusk (twilight).  Rabbits (like cats, bears, skunks and a host of other crepuscular animals) spend the day dozing.  They may wake up for short spells and move around, but they quickly return to napping.  

 

Lady and Fergus 02152016
Sleepy Lady (left) and Fergus
 

Dew claw - n. a thumb-like claw, on the front paws,  that doesn't reach the ground.  In my experience, rabbits tend to gnaw on this nail, keeping it short enough that guardians don't need to trim it.  Dogs also have dew claw

Dewlap - n. loose flesh and fatty tissue hanging from the neck.  It is more prominent on does than bucks.  When a doe is pregnant, she pulls fur from her dewlap to line the burrow in preparation for the birth of her young.  Before I knew much about rabbits, I looked at Lady's dewlap and worried she might have a thyroid issue.  Just imagine if I'd brought her to the vet to get tested!

Lady screened porch 09142014
Lady showing off her dewlap

Doe - n. a female rabbit.  I bet you saw that coming.

Flopped - adj. a rabbit stretched to its full length in a state of complete relaxation and trust.  Some rabbits literally go from standing to flopping down on their side (scaring uninitiated caregivers).  Others prefer a partial flop.  They sit in typical bunny-loaf position (picture a football with a head), then stretch out Sphinx-like on the ground with their rear legs twisted to the side. In either version, the rabbit is letting down her defenses, choosing a position that would hinder escape.  For a rabbit to trust you enough to allow you to pet her while she's flopped is a gift, a blessing, a golden moment of inter-species trust.  It's as unlikely and sacred as a wild bird landing in your hand.  Flopped, a rabbit's body feels squooshy, boneless, perfect for wriggling through subterranean tunnels or under garden gates à la Peter Rabbit.  

  

Lounging rabbit 052411
Cottontail flopped


G.I. Stasis - n. medical condition where the gastrointestinal system slows or stops working.  Gasses build up and the rabbit stops eating or drinking.  It's a serious situation with countless potential causes ranging from overgrown teeth to a sudden change in diet.  Left untreated, it can kill a rabbit in a day or two.  

If you'd like to learn about early detection and prevention The House Rabbit Society has an excellent article.   Lady has had it twice in the three years she's lived with us.  In both cases a rushed visit to the vet had her feeling much better and acting like herself a few hours later.

Kit (kitten) - n. baby rabbit

Lagomorph - n. "any of an order (Lagomorpha) of gnawing herbivorous mammals having two pairs of incisors in the upper jaw one behind the other and comprising the rabbits, hares, and pikas."  Thanks to Merriam-Webster online for the definition.  I've heard that rabbits are more closely related to deer (sharing a common ancestor) than rodents, but I haven't verified it.  If you happen to know whether or not it's true, please leave a comment.

Pellet - n. 1). a fortified food sold at pet stores specifically for rabbits. 2). Rabbit poo.  There's something both apt and confusing about using the same word for what goes into a rabbit's mouth and what comes out the other end.  In our house we call the food "pellets" and the feces "poo".  Don't worry, you'll get to read a lot more about poo in an upcoming post.  

Scut - n. a rabbit's tail.  This is one of my favorite words in the English language. It's such a funny bit of trivia and the word even looks like the body part it represents, all compact and round.  I'm sure I will write a post devoted to the scut one of these days, but for now I'd just like to point out that the /^t/ sound quite appropriately makes you think of a word with a similar sound and meaning.  You guessed it, 'but'.

Bunny back 070310

 

Thump - v. + n. a loud sound created by the quick raising and lowering of the hind feet, but you probably figured that out since it's a great example of onomatopoeia.  The thump can be an alert, informing other rabbits of potential danger nearby, or an expression of anger (picture a two year old not getting her way). It is not a sign of joyful excitement.  Sorry Disney.  

Warren - n. network of connected rabbit burrows.