Self discovery via Leporidae

As part of the life enrichment kick I’m currently attempting, I’ve decided to do something I’ve wanted to do for years.

I’m adopting a cute widdle fuzzy wuzzy bunny wabbit.

Rabbits are a prohibited pet in Queensland, so I spent my girlhood with boring animals like dogs, cats, chooks, cows and skinks, quietly wishing I could have a rabbit or pony or mice, like the kids in the Enid Blyton books. I always told myself when I buy a house, I’ll get a couple of rabbits, a dog, another cat, and plant a vegie patch. And I tell myself I’ll buy a house when I find a job I like better. And I’ll find a job I like better when I’ve saved a bit more money. And I’ll save a bit more money after my 30th birthday trip to Cook Islands. In a nutshell, I’m a ridiculous overthinker and need to learn to live in the ‘now’ occasionally. I’ve spent 29 years preparing for Future Inga, and you know what? Bitch never shows up.

And that’s where Bunny comes in. Bunny is a gift for Now Inga.

Having never owned a bunny rabbit before, I’ve spent the last few months doing stacks of (internet) research so I’m fairly confident I know everything there is to know in theory.  Don’t give adult rabbits lucerne hay as it contains too much calcium, don’t pick them up by the ears, don’t let them overheat, watch out for mozzies and foxes. The problem is, when I’m confronted with a bunny in real life, my immediate instinct is to squeal like a tween at a Bieber concert, squish my face into it, tie ribbons on it and cram it in my handbag. I don’t think that’s proper rabbit handling technique. The cat sure doesn’t appreciate it.

So I’ve bought  a lovely double storey hutch, a couple of litter trays for when Bunny is loose in the house, some wicker baskets to chew, boxes to play in, citrus wood chips, meadow hay and matching powder blue water and food dishes. All I need is a spare couple of hours on the weekend to drive to the shelter and pick out a second hand rabbit. Everyone I speak to seems to think I’m going a bit overboard with the preparations, but I figure if I’m going to be giving one of Mother Nature’s creatures a home for the rest of its natural life, it’d better be a great home. Although maybe you shouldn’t mention that to my cat, who’s been yowling at the back door for the last thirty minutes while I eat rice crackers and drink tea.

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32 thoughts on “Self discovery via Leporidae

    • Hi Mike, I’ve heard of that. Hardcore bunny-proofers encase their cables with this protective PVC stuff. I’ve decided to opt for ‘don’t let Bunny roam the house unsupervised’.

  1. Oh, I hope you find a lovely bun for your home! And not letting them run unsupervised is a great idea! They can find all kinds of things to chew on and shred that you might not want shredded.
    But from the videos I have seen the buns love their time to roam the house, too.

    My daughter found a great guinea pig at the shelter near her. Shelters are the best place cuz some really great pets come from people that just got tired of taking care of them, which is sad.
    Good luck!

    • The common thread on all the bunny advice sites I’ve been to is that buns need to be a part of the family and socialise with their peeps – stuffing them in a hutch in the back garden is fairly frowned upon in the rabbit community.

      I’m definitely a shelter supporter. Pet shops are evil.

  2. Oh my god I am so happy for you!! (That bunny will be so lucky). I love the oversized (Netherlands?) breeds, of course rescues are a must. Just so you know, there is tons of misinformation out there. I had a bunny as a teen and we did pretty much everything wrong even though we had books and stuff. Let me ask my friend B for a good resource (she runs a rescue). House Rabbit Society may be a good place to start.

    STrangely enough, bunnies have always hated me. I try to appeal to them but alas, it does not work. 😉

    • Oh I’d LOVE one of those big ones, so much bunny to squish!! The hutch I have isn’t quite big enough though, and I think they’d need more exercise than I can provide. Please do pass on any info your friend has, much appreciate it – I’ve been getting most of my info from various rabbit shelter sites.

      Haha, you have no bunny mojo then? I’ve always been a cat person, so maybe they won’t like me either!

  3. “Don’t pick them up by the ears”

    Oh well, there goes one potential source of amusement for me when I’m alone in your house.

    Excellent project. Do you need me to send batteries to put in your camera?

    • Haha, thanks Lauri 🙂 Photos are a pain, I hate uploading photos from my camera onto my PC. I need some kinda wireless doohickey so I’m not messing around with tangled USB cables.

      GOF, you stay away from my rabbit! I’m already getting a flood of “name him Stu!” jokes from my work colleagues.

  4. Did you meet Geologywoman? http://geologyexists.wordpress.com/
    She swears to keeping TWO bonded (spay/neutered) bunnies together as pairs… she runs a small (steadily growing) bunny-rescue in the UK.
    I had pet bunnies back in the dark ages when I was a kid… they have finnicky digestive tracts and need exercise… bit like horses do… and up here in the near arctic, they easily get pneumonia, but… I suspect you’re near bunny-heaven climate-wise. They need stuff to chew on to wear their teef down… fruit-tree twigs were always well received… but furniture, skirting boards and doors are fine too… they also like bossing others around… wait.. lemme find an illustrative video for you: http://youtu.be/qeuL5IGimCQ

    • No, I haven’t Drude! I’ve seen her floating about though, I’ll have to pay her a visit – thanks for the tip 🙂 I’ve read a few articles about keeping two rabbits as companions, and the shelter has a few bonded pairs for adoption. I’m just a bit apprehensive because I’ve never even owned ONE rabbit before, so I’m not sure how I’ll go with two!

      Our winters aren’t too bad, it rarely gets below freezing. Summer may be a problem, but on really hot days I can just cart bunny into the air conditioned office with me.

      That video was hilarious!! I can’t decide if the rabbit was just trying to play with the sheep, or was taking genuine pleasure in wreaking chaos. I hope I get one with an attitude like that!

    • Thank you, Drude! I am still on the flaxseed, it has been a lifesaver, no more hot flashes and my hair is gorwing in quite thickly.

  5. When I first read this I thought, “Wait … isn’t there a huge rabbit problem in Australia?” … and you answered that in paragraph #3.

    I had a pet rabbit when I was young, and he did just fine with the cats and dogs. He had his own little hutch out in the yard, but we’d let him run loose outside (we had a very good fence) when we were out there, and we’d bring him into the house on occasion – but ALWAYS supervised.

    Have fun.

    (Future Inga sounds like such a drag, I’d give up on her.)

    • If you did all your research on youtube, you could easily draw the conclusion that cats and rabbits do nothing but snuggle, play and clean each other. I’m going to assume that’s EXACTLY how it will be for my cat and bunny, and if they do otherwise I’m throwing them out in the street.

      Future Inga’s ignoring me because she’s chilling in Ballarat, hopefully with a hot, wealthy lover.

  6. Buns are a lot of work, but they are very fun and satisfying, especially if you let them run around. I hope you have hard floors. Not only will they leave wet spots on carpet, but it also gives them excellent traction. Nothing’s funnier than watching a fuzzy bun trying to make his way across a slippery wood floor. He’ll get there, but it just takes a while longer. 🙂
    Sounds like you’re very well-prepared. We want pics!

    • I do have a tiled area, so I suppose I’ll get to have a laugh at bunnies expense. All my indoor plants are in there though, so it’s probably just as well he won’t be able to move so swiftly. I’m heading up to the shelter tomorrow arvo, will definitely post pics if I find one! (or if they let me have one)

  7. I wish you and bunny all the best! Larger breeds tend to be more mellow and the big lops are such gentle creatures. It will take time for the bunny to come to trust you but have patience. Netherland Dwarfs are balls of energy and can be hilarious. I do recommend adopting a bonded pair if they have some, they keep each other company whilst you are away at work.

    • Thank you so much for popping in, Geologywoman! The lady at the shelter recommended a female Silver Marten to me – she’s beautiful, litter trained, and deals well with cats. The rabbit that is, not the lady at the shelter.

      I’ve moved all the plants up onto stands or tables…I’m not sure how high rabbits jump, can they leap onto dining tables from the floor like a cat?

      I think it’ll be one big learning curve for both me and Bunny – really looking forward to it 🙂

      • Most bunnies can jump 1 metre up… so tables are not necessarily safe.. their eye sight is not stellar though, so they wouldn’t necessarily get the idea to jump that far up onto an unknown surface unless there’s a really good reason. Their eyes are made to detect predators, so they cover pretty much every angle around them… but there is very little overlap between the visual fields from the two eyes right in front of them… that means they have lousy depth perception… they use their whiskers for distance measures a lot of the time… You’ll see them bobbing their heads up and down and stretching the whiskers forward when trying to figure out what’s right ahead and how far away it is. Their claws are no good for climbing either.. I’d say anything she can reach with her nose while standing on tippy toes she’ll probably jump on top of sooner or later, but ten cm higher she’d need a really good reason to try out.

        • I spent some time with them at the shelter today, and I’m just amazed at how they get into EVERYTHING. Sniff this, chin that, TIPTOES!! Sniff, nudge, chin, clean face, TIPTOES!! They seem much more inquisitive than cats, that’s for sure.

      • Depends on the bunny (for tables)…we have a couple who will leap onto tables, and when Vuvu lived in the house, she climbed everything, and I do mean everything. There were no barriers for her. She ate the cord to our air conditioner, Masha’s shoes, flooring, rugs, and more. She grew bigger and bigger…she never did like living inside so we built her and Max a long, intricate run ending in a large two storey house.
        We have 8 house rabbits now and I can say as much as I adore them all they are a lot of work – just like 8 cats would be – so I suggest for the working person to have two bunnies.
        Silver Marten is beautiful – Bibble is Silver Marten – and buns can get on just fine with cats. Being female she will be extra opinionated but my Frida is my soul mate of the bunnies. Beware for your electric cords, take precautions and never underestimate what she can get into. Black her from getting behind the fridge, dryer, etc. You can use small wire barriers – the best buy is a roll of chicken wire and just roll it into tubes that fit very snugly next to appliances. If you are more of an aesthetic person and would dislike that look, you can cover them in fabric or something first. Some people house cage buns and I am ok with that as long as the cage is big and they have lots of toys. The best thing to do is have a bunny room that is bun proofed and she can hang out in when you are at work/asleep. You can either shut the door or have a baby gate. Choose a room without carpet if possible – some buns will destroy carpet by digging on it. You can not “train” bunnies to not do something, just like with cats. Never think she will not eat your clothes, do not leave them where she can get ahold of them (I lost my favourite trench coat this way).
        But she will reward you with hilarious moments, lots of love, and the honour of stroking her lovely soft head.
        Sorry I could write on this all day! : )

        • Oh don’t apologise, I feel like I’ve stumbled onto a gold mine of information here! As Amelie pointed out, there IS a lot of misinformation around, and it’s great to get some practical pointers. I don’t have any uncarpeted rooms I can leave her in unsupervised, but the shelter lady pointed out I can buy these indoor fence panels to cable tie to the front of the hutch so she has a bit of a ‘front yard’ to stretch her legs in while I’m at work.

          Thank you for the link to Big Ears Sanctuary 🙂

  8. one more thing – hay is the best litter. NEVER use cat litter. Get a big litter box and change it once a week. We use underbed storage boxes without the lid, like from Ikea. Hay is the most important thing for her to eat. She will eat from one side of the box and poo and wee in the other end. I add fresh hay on top around mid week – daily for giant Hermie.

  9. are you putting the hutch in the house? this can work well actually, and yes, the fence thing is good but not outside, an open top fence is an invite to predators.

    • The hutch is designed for outdoors, but yes it’s indoors. The shelter I went to will only adopt out bunnies if they’re to live indoors. She seems happy to just chill out with me by the tv – the hard part is getting her back into the damn enclosure!

      • I am so happy you are letting her be a house rabbit. They are such good company. What you can do is lure her with a nightly treat. A small slender piece of carrot, or broccoli, or some other tasty thing she will follow you for. You can buy bunny treats at the pet shop. Do not buy those granola things, they are very bad for their digestive tract. They are not meant to eat birdseed.

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