rabbit advice

Discuss the art of Children's Entertainment with your fellow performers.

Postby Umpa Duze » 03/17/10 02:58 AM

Hi All,
Leaving aside the question of whether one should use a live rabbit in kids show, I am wondering if anyone has a recommendation as to a rabbit breed that is not too large (mini rex, dwarf breeds?), that tends to have a calm, gentle, and affectionate personality that would be good with children.

Thanks,
Umpa
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Postby Dick Christian » 04/05/10 09:45 AM

Umpa,

Sorry to be so long in responding. I've been using the classic production of a live rabbit in my empty top hat to close my family and children's shows for over 30+ years (not the same rabbit of course). IMO the only way to do it is as described; i.e., don't use stupid boxes or other props that no one will believe are empty, etc. -- just a top hat which you introduce in its collapsed state, then "pop" open, show clearly empty and produce the rabbit. In my personal routine, after showing the hat empty, I produce an egg, 6 colorful silks and a can of pork and beans from the hat, then show the hat empty again just before the rabbit appears in the hat when the kids say the "magic word."

I've found that the ONLY suitable breed of rabbit to use is the "Netherlands Dwarf." They only grow to 2 1/4 - 2 1/2 pounds (the perfect size for the top hat), are easy to train and care for, friendly, calm, gentle and like to be petted. Typical lifespan is 6-7 years although I had one that lived to 9. In my experience, the females seem to be a bit more docile than the males, but I have used both with no problems for over 30 years.

One important note: be sure that the rabbit is "empty" before you take it to the show(s) -- i.e., give it food and water when you get home after the show(s).

Hope this helps.
Dick Christian
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 04/05/10 11:22 AM

I would be remiss in my duties as the husband of a Registered Veterinary Technician (that would be like an RN except that critters are her patients) if I did not speak up here.

There is more to adding a bunny to your magic show than getting the right breed and prop and knowing not feed and water them prior to a show.

Before buying a rabbit (or ANY animal for that matter), learn everything you can about the animal. Buy a couple of books and read them. Go online and research them. Learn the proper ways to fully care for and handle the animal. (For example, bunnies should never be handled by the ears or back alone, they should be held from underneath with their back legs held securely so they dont kick.)

Learn what you will need to comfortably house the little guy (or gal). Understand that animals need time outside of their enclosuresplaytime if you willbeyond just the time it will be on stage. That means its also taking time away from your day. Are you prepared and able to make that sacrifice?

Make sure you have a qualified veterinarian in your areaone who knows rabbits. Dont be afraid to ask around; a good place to learn about the local vets is at your local animal shelter.

And again, do all this before getting the critter. Animals are a tremendous responsibility, and you need to make sure that you are ready and willing to completely devote yourself to its care.

Dustin
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Postby Dick Christian » 04/05/10 01:43 PM

Dustin's points are all valid, well taken and should be heeded by anyone who plans to keep any live animals (including birds) whether or not they are intended to be used in performances.

I assumed, perhaps mistakenly, that such issues were a matter of common sense that anyone asking the question posed would understand. By doing so I was overlooking the fact that few things are as uncommon as "common sense."

Thank you Dustin for reminding me.
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 04/05/10 02:33 PM

Dick,

I was just adding to your good, practical, performance advice (which really was the question). And I am also not implying that Umpa doesn't already understand what I wrote. It's really meant for the masses.

Dustin

(Whose daughter works in a shelter and his wife is an RVT: Critters are their lives.)
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Postby Umpa Duze » 04/10/10 03:30 AM

Hi All,
Dick thanks so much for the recommendation for the "Netherlands Dwarf." In between posting and your response I found a little one for the act. Dustin please assure your wife and daughter that there will be no happier creature than my bunny who is sitting on my lap as I type. A friend who is a rabbit breeder showed up one day with the little fellow. He is Mini Rex Velvet who was has been frolicking with the breeders children since early on. A very calm and sociable rabbit to be sure.

Thanks again for your comments and help.
Umpa
Cheers,
Umpa Duze
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Postby Matt R » 04/22/10 06:21 PM

One of the biggest challenges with Rabbits is they don't tolerate heat very well. The smell makes them not great for indoor keeping and heat can be a big problem for outdoor (I think 80-85 degrees is their upper limit.) In talking with animal shelter folks, they get a ton of rabbits from people who thought they'd be great pets. From what I've seen, they are best kept outdoors but you need to use frozen water bottles (2-liter bottles) so they can keep cool in hot weather. Try to find a animal rescue place near where you live and talk to the people about rabbits and get the low-down first. This would also be a great place to find a bunny if you decide to get one.

As for using a hat verses another box production, I think the hat may be more mystical but not necessarily more entertaining to children. The kids will probably just remember the rabbit and not the trick anyway (IMHO).
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Postby Jim Sisti » 04/22/10 07:56 PM

I had the honor of sharing a stage with Dick Christian a couple of weeks ago and he closed his set with the rabbit from hat production. I must disagree with the contention that the apparatus doesn't matter. The audience, including the adults, in what was a large auditorium were clearly stunned by the rabbit's appearance apparently out of nowhere. I doubt that a drawer box or a similar contrivance would have garnered that kind of reaction.

I always thought the trick was a bit cliched but in Dick's hands, it was quite magical.
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