Wednesday, December 26, 2018


Christmas came and went.  Parts of it were very pleasant.  Parts of it were incredibly difficult.  I have not one, but two disabilities, and other physical difficulties.  After eating processed and ready made food for year straight, I decided to fix lasagna...a meal I haven't fixed in about 25 years.  It took 5 hours and those 5 hours were full of stress and struggles.

Earlier in the day when delusions ran abound, and I actually thought that the coming dinner would be easy to fix, I found myself daydreaming...a lot.  I dreamed about Christmases that have passed and about ones to come.  I was pleased to find that I had so many beautiful memories, starting from my childhood and continuing onward through time.  In the future I saw myself with two rabbits on Christmas.  They were not presents.  I had had them for a while. I had brought them lots of gifts.  I was still living with my current roommate (who is sick this Christmas season), and everything was nice.  I was happy.

I know in reality, things may not work out...I know that.  But I think I have a good chance of making this work.  You see, I have a theory.  I think a lot of people are bringing rabbits into their homes without preparing for them, which includes doing research, rabbit proofing the home, reading up on disorders so they can be more likely to notice if something is not right, educating themselves on rabbit behaviors and rabbit communication, and making sure they are financially ready to buy everyday things like food, and financially ready to combat challenges like medical emergencies.  Do most rabbit owners have pet insurance?  I wonder.  I wonder...if everyone took the time to prepare...really prepare for having a rabbit (or any animal they plan to get), would the animal rescues and shelters be almost empty?  Hmmm.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Credit Scores and Healthcare Plans

Pets can decrease stress, reduce depression, raise quality of life, lower anxiety, and even add years to your life. Although some scary, health-related situations can arise with your pet, overall, having a pet keeps you calmer while certainly making life more interesting...and better! 

 But can having pets increase your financial stability?  I certainly believe that.  With a twitch of the nose, and a thump of the feet, Muffin certainly isn't going to expand your wallet.  But it's the commitment to provide Muffin with food, safe and enjoyable housing, and access to medical care that can keep you on the straight and narrow.

I grew up in a middle class economic status that did not transfer to my adulthood, once I moved out on my own.  Through the years, there was one huge barrier after another.  When it seemed like I was almost at the end of the tunnel, and I had finally achieved a graduate degree, lack of experience in my field, lack of overall experience, and the development of a second disability all hit me like a ton of bricks.  As I watched opportunity after opportunity fly out of my grasp, my credit score reached new lows.  It just seemed like something I couldn't control and something that I had to accept.

Enter the least in my mind.  I knew, if I was going to have pets...any pets, things would definitely have to change.  With my two disabilities competing with each other to see which one would be the alpha (lol), and other physical troubles, I made a commitment to lift myself up financially.  Any animal coming into my home would have enough food, health insurance, and a medical emergency fund- in case insurance did not pay for a particular medical problem.  That was exceptions!

Once I made that commitment to my future pets, things just fell into place.  I started approaching my financial difficulties like a person on a mission, instead of someone who had been beaten down by the system.  I contacted some of my creditors, and made plans. And today, only some weeks later, my credit score is up 25 points!  Some potential employers and landlords use credit scores as a measuring stick...fair or not.  Having a higher credit score also increases chances of being able to get a credit card, with a good amount of money on it, that can be used for medical emergencies.

So here's to Muffin and all her friends, "Thank you, thank you, thank you!"
For those of you struggling to provide a stable environment and good healthcare for your pets, these resources may be able to help:

A credit card specifically designed to pay for medical expenses of animals and humans.

Health plans that provide help for small animals (rabbits, guinea pigs, etc.), cats and dogs by lowering your animal's medical bills.

Article about health insurance for rabbits appearing on a website that's about dogs. :-)

Health insurance for rabbits, guinea pigs, other exotic animals, and dogs & cats.  To reach their exotic pet page, click here.

 Helps you keep track of your credit score so that you can get financially healthy.  Provides information for free. 

Tips and Notes
1)  Read insurance information and other healthcare plans carefully.  Don't assume your healthcare plan(s) will be accepted by the animal clinic/hospital you plan to take your pet to.  Don't assume you can combine more than one type of coverage.   Speak to billing offices of the clinic/hospital you plan to take your pet to, and the billing offices of the agencies connected to the healthcare plans you anticipate on using. Ask way in advance.  Don't wait until there is an emergency.

Nationwide states that they are the only insurance agency that extends health coverage to rabbits. Kimberly Alt of the Canine Journal backs up this claim.

2)  Find out if the healthcare agency you are thinking of using for your pet covers medical conditions that are related to a pre-existing condition.    Nationwide expresses that they do not cover pre-existing conditions.  According to Alt, currently, "no pet insurance company covers pre-existing conditions" (2018).

Pet owners who have the Pet Assure plan need not worry about pre-existing and hereditary conditions.  However, this is not an insurance plan and coverage only goes so far as 25% of the cost.  Furthermore, the agency states, "you cannot combine the discount with other discounts or service packages.

 Are there healthcare plans out there, that can be combined with pet health insurance or other pet healthcare plans? Are there any new health insurance companies that actually do cover your pet for pre-existing conditions? Research! Ask questions. Gather good, solid information.

1)  Michigan City Animal Hospital (Oct 3, 20170), How Pets Enhance Our Quality of Life
2) Alt, K. (July 13, 2018), Canine Journal, Best Rabbit Insurance:  Hop Your Bunny Into Coverage Today
3) Nationwide (2018) [conversation with sales rep] 
4) Nationwide, Bird and Exotic Pet Insurance
6)  Robinson, K.M., Web MD, How Pets Help Manage Depression
8)  Oaklander, M. (Apr 6, 2017), TIME, Science Says Your Pet is Good For Your Mental Health

Friday, December 14, 2018

What is a rabbit...really?

Sometimes when it’s quiet, and I’m in a relaxed state, I think about what life will be like when I finally get my rabbits. It feels nice to picture myself feeding them, petting them, and even giving them proper rabbit massages.

But how much do I really know about rabbits? Let me just start with the basics. What is a rabbit…really? If someone were to ask me to define the term, rabbit, I might say something like, “A rabbit is a warm blooded creature…a mammal…with four legs and a roundish tail that hops” (the animal, not the tail, lol). Yet, this definition seems inadequate to me. A search on the web for completeness brings about more questions. A.T. Smith of Britannica states that a rabbit is “any of 29 species of long-eared mammals belonging to the family Leporidae, excluding hares” (2018).  However, it goes on to say that a jackrabbit is a hare, not a rabbit, and that rockhares and hispid hares are actually rabbits. Hmmm. Time to back up a bit and take a different approach.

Using a taxonomic approach, one can see the many classifications that include rabbits, starting from the broadest group, Kingdom Animalia, which is the animal kingdom, down to the domestic rabbit species.

Rabbit Taxonomy:

  Kingdom: Animalia (animals)
     Infraphylum: Vertebrata (the vertebrates)
        Class: Mammalia (the mammals)
          Order: Lagomorpha(pikas, rabbits, and hares)
            Family Leporidae: rabbits and hares
             Genus Lepus: hares 
             Genus Oryctolagus: domestic rabbits
                Species:  Oryctolagus cuniculus: the domestic rabbit species

The domestic rabbit is one species within Genus Oryctolagus- the only species.  In spite of that, there are many different breeds of rabbits residing in homes within the United States:  Flemish giant, dwarf Hotot, Havana, New Zealand, Dutch, lionhead, and mini lop are just a few of them.

Rabbits are in the same family as hares, but they are certainly different from them. Think of them as cousins. Hares are larger than rabbits, especially the ears and hind legs. When hares are born, they have fur and they can see. Give them a little resting time after the birth and they’ll be ready to go! Rabbits are the opposite. Bald with closed eyes, they simply can’t do for themselves. So Mom steps in to nurture them.

It's not uncommon to see a wild rabbit outside alone.  However, when that rabbit goes home, it's a totally happening social scene!  Hares?  Not so much.  Many rabbits live underground.  They take care in building their earthy homes, as they have different rooms and multiple entrances, which may be hidden by trees and shrubs. Hares seem to be more daring, as they build their homes out in the open, such as on the prairie or in the dessert. Of course, are some exceptions to the size and environment rules. Flemish giants are rabbits that are…giant. And dessert cottontails are rabbits that live…in the dessert!!

What about pikas? And how do rodents fit into all of this? Pikas are lagomorphs, so they share the order of Lagomorpha with rabbits and hares, but not the family of Leporidae. Instead, they are in the family of Ochotonidae. On their site, Britannica explains what pikas are, stating that they are “small short-legged and virtually tailless egg-shaped mammal found in the mountains of western North America and much of Asia. Despite their small size, body shape, and round ears, pikas are not rodents but the smallest representatives of the lagomorphs” (Smith, 2018).

Back in the 1800s, rabbits, hares, and pikas were actually considered to be rodents! Instead of belonging to Order Lagomorpha, they were classified under Order Rodentia! But general differences in dental, skeletal, digestive, and reproductive systems, lead scientists to remove lagomorphs from the rodent order. However, the pika, with its short, round ears and pointed face, does indeed look just like a rodent…just like a rodent! And the viscacha, with its long, upright ears and lengthy whiskers, looks like a wise, old rabbit. It’s actually a rodent. Isn’t nature grand?

To see a pika, cousin to the rabbit, please click here (and then go down the page).

To see a viscacha, a rodent, please click here.

1) Arizona-Senora Desert Museum, Rabbits and Hares 
2) Animal World, Pet Rabbit Index 
4) House Rabbit Society, Lagomorph Species 
5) Andino Expediciones (Apr 2013), Viscach 
6) ITIS Report, Oryctolagus cuniculus 
7) Smith, A.T., Encyclopaedia Britannica, Pika 
8) Smith, A.T., Encyclopaedia Britannica, Lagomorph 
9) Smith, A.T., Encyclopaedia Britannica, Rabbit 
10) Rafferty, J.P., Encyclopaedia Britannica, What's the Difference Between Rabbits and Hares? 
11) A.G.C. (1994), B.M.W.(2000), P.D.P. (1994), Smith, D. (2005), Introduction to the Rodentia 
12) English Oxford Living Dictionary, Is a Rabbit a Rodent? 
13) Zarbock M. (Oct 2017), Flemish Giant Rabbit Breed 
14) The Infinite Spider (Mar 2014), Why Rabbits are not Rodents 
15) Langely, L., National Geographic (Dec 19, 2014), What's the Difference between Rabbits and Hares?
16) *Carlson, L. (Jun 2018), Lennon the Bunny, What Breed is Your Rabbit? 
17) *Carlson, L. (Sept 2017), Lennon the Bunny, Our First Q & A Video! 
*Note: If you visit YouTube clips on Lennon the Bunny, please be aware that according to Carlson, Lennon was raised somewhat differently than other bunnies and therefore, she seems to like stuff or tolerate things that other bunnies don't. Please keep this in mind when viewing Lennon's clips.