Volunteers’ Bunnies


I’ll admit that one of the vexing things about rabbits is that it seems there is nothing they won’t chew on, and no danger they won’t eventually find. This, of course, is why we rabbit proof. But rabbit proofing isn’t an event, it’s a process. It’s an ongoing process, because sometimes our rabbit proofing measures are no match for our rabbits, and sometimes our rabbits go after things we never imagined they’d be interested in.

I have two rabbits. Harley has lived with me for almost five years, and Bonnie (HRN alum bun formerly known as Olive) joined the family a few months ago. I realize now how I took for granted Harley’s good behavior. He kept mostly to one room of the house, though he could have roamed if he’d wanted to; he didn’t jump onto the furniture; he didn’t risk his neck going after cords that were out of reach.

Bonnie, however, is an entirely different story. Bonnie has made herself the master of the house. Stairs do not deter her. Furniture does not intimidate her. She sees an out-of-reach cord as a test of her mettle. And if there is something she should not get into, you may rest assured that eventually she will get into it. Earlier today I had to fish her out of the fireplace. We had left the fire screen partway open, never imagining that a bunny would be tempted to hop through it. And the indignity she suffered while I cleaned her paws off afterward probably wouldn’t discourage her from trying it again — but unfortunately for her, the fireplace is now securely closed off.

What you see here is a bunny who has climbed up onto the back of our sectional, and who is now trying to decide which would be more fun: to chew on the cord, or use it to pull the lamp down.

What you see here is a bunny who has climbed up onto the back of our sectional and is now trying to decide which would be more fun: to chew on the cord, or use it to pull the lamp down.

Also alarming is the sinister influence she seems to have had on Harley. Of the two of them he is still by far the better behaved, but he has picked up some of her habits. Just a few weeks after Bonnie moved in, Harley began to follow her up onto the furniture. Now he has no scruples about jumping up there on his own.

Harley learned this trick from his girlfriend.

Harley learned this trick from his girlfriend.

So a couple of lessons in rabbit proofing that I’ve learned recently are: (a) A rabbit’s capacity for mischief can surprise you, and (b) even the saintliest of rabbits cannot always resist the allure of the devil.

What are your rabbit proofing horror or success stories? Please leave a comment and share your experiences!

Jackson is a playful little guy. He does the greatest binkies, loves his
greens and wants lots of attention. He is a little shy at the beginning
but warms up quickly. He is very friendly with other buns and would be a
great bonding candidate. His only bad attitude is cooking hay soup in
his waterbowl. He gets spoiled in foster care. However, he deserves his
own forever home. He should not have to share his time.
He has very soft and silky fur and cannot really decide if he wants to
be a lop. His ears typically stand in a 75 degree angle. Very unique. My bunny Oliver is concerned about Jackson’s charm. That’s why he
contributed the following to the blog:
I am writing to you about my fosterbrother Jackson. Bunny parents and
bunny girls out there, you do need to adopt Jackson as soon as possible.
He is such a stunning cute little guy (at least that’s what my
girlfriend Marlo says) that I am afraid he will steal my mom and Marlo
from me. Please come by my home to meet him. I will lead you to him. I
promise that you won’t be disappointed by his charm.
Thank you, Oliver.

Thanks to fostermom Corrina for writing this blog.

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This is what 3 mostly free-range bunnies look like in the morning. They are all HRN-adopted bunnies. Actually, they graciously adopted me. I live in a small apartment, and 3 bunnies (plus a cat) was initially a bit of a struggle, but I’ve managed to fit everybun quite nicely. They have a 4 story NIC condo!

Adopt! even if you don’t think you have the space. If I can do it, so can you! :)

http://youtube.com/watch?v=QS-gEHM9zLk

I am always contructing bunny toys (as well as buying overpriced, expensive ones). My latest project involves 2 document boxes, 1 ebay small-medium shipment box, zipties, some newspapers, and hay!

First – I stuck 2 boxes together with zipties, broke down the middle barrier, ripped some holes on the ends for easier bunny entry.
Next, I attached a small box-tube thing above, and stuffed it with hay. Note – they got a hay-avalanche within 2 minutes of initial entry…

Last, I tossed the newspaper in. There is much shredding-goodness!

After getting the email about submitting photos of pets to Chronicle: I found some great old photos of our guys. It’s funny I usually post about our fosterbuns, but I couldn’t resist.

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Nothing keeps Chip from his greens.

The three buddies
Chip, Ginger, and Shadow are best buddies.

Sugar being cute with shaved belly
Sugar flopped out after her spay. She’s showing off her shaved tummy.

Shadow the speed bump
Shadow is the speed bump bunny.

Little Binky Girl
Sugar is our amazing binky girl.

We hope you enjoyed!

~ Erica and Andy, HRN fosterparents

This weekend Matt and I finally rejoined the ranks the the rabbit fosterers. We also brought home Cheyenne, who will be living with us permanently as a sanctuary bun since she is now almost completely blind.

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Winona mid-leap – she loves to dance

Our two new foster-buns are Tatum and Winona.

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Tatum relaxing in the willow basket

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Winona flopped beside the willow basket

Here’s a quick sketch of yesterday evening’s activities and some observations on the girls’ personalities. (I promise there will be pictures coming very soon of these two sweet little girls.)

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Tatum is currently being given antibiotic ointment for conjunctivitis so she has at least 3 sessions a day of ointment application and snuggling. (The snuggling is to keep her occupied for 10 minutes after putting the ointment in so she doesn’t just groom it off. But she also really loves to snuggle, so this is no hardship.) Last night while we were snuggling, Tatum decided to groom my face. I was so thrilled.

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Tatum is a real sweetie and I am really looking forward to finding her a good home. I hope we’ll be able to find an adopter for her who already has a rabbit and is looking for a companion. Tatum would dearly love to have a friend.

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While Tatum was getting her medicine, Winona got to run around and play in the giant pen we’ve set up. Watching Winona move around the pen confirmed her new nickname in the household; Mz. Muppet. She’s got a very expressive and distinctive face, but her loose-jointed way of moving really makes her look like one of Jim Henson’s better creations.

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Winona is very social, gentle, and affectionate. Though more active than Tatum, she’ll still happily stretch out in your lap for some attention. When you scratch between her ears and down her jaw, she tooth-purrs. Her purr is louder than any bunny I’ve ever met before, it sounds like a pair of castanets! Like Tatum, I am looking forward to finding a loving adopter for her. She’s such a sweetheart and she really deserves a good home with people who will enjoy hanging out with her.

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After the foster-buns had been settled in for the night, we went upstairs to spend some time with our own buns. We offered our terrible trio (Beanbag, Lookout, & Echo) a bit of romp time but they weren’t feeling very active and quickly retired to their cage. Since the trio opted out, we decided to give Cheyenne her first chance to expand her knowledge of her new home.

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Cheyenne settling into her new home

It was completely fascinating to watch her “map” her surroundings. When she was first put down, she slowly sniffed the area and walked around bumping into things to figure out where they were. Cheyenne walks with all 4 feet when she’s first exploring an unfamiliar environment. Sighted rabbits don’t normally just walk one foot in front of the other; when moving slowly most rabbits still hop with the hind feet and walk with the front. (Once they speed up, they gallop in a fashion very similar to their close cousin the horse.) You could see through the pattern of where she went that she was creating landmarks in a mental map. Every time she re-confirmed the location of her landmarks, her movement between the landmarks would become more confident and natural. Eventually, she knew how enough of the space was laid out that she could move around it almost as naturally as a sighted bunny. It was incredible to watch her creating a mapping algorithm. I’m very curious to see if she will remember the map 24 hours later.

Cheyenne’s explorations around the room seriously upset both Holly and Lookout. Holly would frantically dash back and forth at the front edge of her cage grunting at Cheyenne when she passed by. Matt used the squirt bottle to let Holly know that her behavior was inappropriate and she eventually calmed down a bit. (Being wet and needing to groom is a great distraction from bad bahavior.)

Lookout was exhibiting the same possesive behavior as Holly but she was also chasing Beanbag and Echo away any time they tried to come near the front of the cage. We tried to squirt her a few times, but it didn’t really slow her down. Eventually Lookout got so upset that she was bullying Bean & Echo even when Cheyenne was nowhere near the cage. At that point, I took her out of the cage and spent the rest of Cheyenne’s romp time soothing her, telling her that I understood that she was doing her job and protecting her warren.

Unfortunately with Lookout out of the cage “protecting the warren” suddenly became Echo’s job. Echo is a friendly and curious bun. She was very distressed by being responsible for the safety of the warren. But being next in the heirarchy meant that she was in charge while Lookout was away. It was obviously upsetting her. Rather than continue the cycle of upset, we decided it would be best to put Cheyenne back in her cage and let everyone calm down. Hopefully all of the rabbits will eventually become accustomed to each other’s smells (since they share the same romp space) and the territorial behavior will calm down as it did when we first brought Holly home. Till then, we’ve decided that when Cheyenne is given romp time we’ll confine the trio to the top 2 floors of their cage so they don’t get so upset by her invasion into “their space”.

The strangest thing happened this morning. We had our buns out running around the house with a gate separating the foster buns. Somehow our boy Shadow got out and we found him next to Jasmine’s cage flirting away. Shadow already has a mate, Sugar and usually the two are inseparable. Even when we bonded them there was never any fighting. It was an unusual case in which we came home and Sugar was in Shadow’s pen – they had bonded without our help. But today a love triangle was formed. I picked up Shadow from beside Jasmine’s cage and placed him back next to Sugar. Sugar must have smelled Jasmine on Shadow because she attacked Shadow and the two were in a brawl. Andy and I were shocked! Talk about jealousy. I quickly intervined and then put them back together. They ignored each other. Shadow tried reconciling by shoving his head under Sugar but she just bit back. How dare he be with another bun! They spent some time apart and then Shadow attempted to give her kisses. Eventually Sugar gave in. What a soap opera to watch. It was sad that they were upset at each other but I couldn’t help but laugh because the behavior seemed so human-like. Bunnies never cease to amaze me :-)

~Erica, HRN fostermom/volunteer

Does your bunny make noises?

It is a common misconception that bunnies don’t make noises (except for the loud shriek that the only make if they think they are going to die…I have never heard that). But bunnies do make noises…at least, mine do!

I have had Eve for a long time now and she make cute noises sometimes when she is giving me kisses (very quiet) and she also makes purring noises (tooth-purr) when she happy.

However, when we adopted Dorian in March, we found out there was another level to bunny-expression. Dorian is a bit of a feisty little guy and can be a bit difficult. He has the dwarf attitude and also knows he is cute. We think he might have been a victim of bad-handling as a young-bun as he is fearful and moody sometimes. Anyway…on to the noises…

Dorian grunts often and fairly loudly! He does this when he is upset…this can be anything from not wanting to be touched to not getting a treat quickly enough (i.e. I am walking with the treat towards him and this is just not happening fast enough). He also grunts when I feed the hamster…he and Eve LOVE the hamster’s food (yes, it is harmless to rabbits in small amounts) and they both can’t imagine that I would feed the hamster first. Dorian also grunts when Eve tries to steal food from him. The cutest, though, is when I am eating something tasty like an apple and I choose not to give him a piece. He keeps grunting and then will eventually stomp. It is absolutely hilarious.

Dorian’s grunts sound like “mmrmph…”. It is a funny little noise! My husband and I have taken to using Dorian grunts ourselves to express our disatisfaction at everything from traffic problems to being late for rehearsals to being cold. We think it is pretty cool that Dorian has taught us some new vocabulary.

The funniest thing is that Dorian is very tiny…a little over 2.5 lbs! Yet, he has this huge personality and will tell you, very vocally, when he is upset.

I would love to know about other rabbits who make noises. Does your bunny grunt?

~Rachel: HRN Member/Volunteer

Beanbag’s favorite way to nap is to take a mid-morning and afternoon snooze in the sunshine in his litterbox full of hay. He tucks his paws in and snuggles down into the hay and puffs up his fur to catch the warmth of the sun. Our front room where the bunnies live is very sunny so his fur gets nice and toasty warm. His eyes close most of the way and his nose is still. His ears stay flat down against his head unless a noise catches his attention, then he’ll lift one ear and turn it toward the offending sound to see if he should bother caring enough to get up and investigate.

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At a bit over 7 years of age, it is definately his perrogative to take a nice snooze in the sunshine. We’re moving tomorrow (we just bought our first house!) and the bunnies will have a bedroom all to themselves. We made sure the room we chose for them was the one at the front of the house so they will still get lots of sunshine. I’m looking forward to watching Beanbag migrate across the room, following the warm, sunny spots on the wood floor. (My first rabbit, April, used to do this on lazy Saturday afternoons. You could watch him move from couch to carpet to shading plant as the day went by. It was wonderful.)

Tapsi is a German bunny.

I moved to Boston for a job last year. For the beginning I left my two bunnies Tapsi and Lopsi with my mother in Germany. I just wanted to get settled first. Unfortunately, Lopsi, who was a very cute Holland Lop, started getting heart problems. He just had very bad days and nobody really knew why. Suddenly, in May, after I was at home visiting, and preparing everything for their trip to Boston, he felt asleep and did not wake up any more. I was devastated. My vacation was over and had to leave back to Boston.

I canceled the bunny Ticket with Pet Air, because I did not want Tapsi to fly as cargo all by herself. My mother was worried, because Tapsi did not eat for almost a week, but then she recovered. I knew that I had to wait over the summer until I could plan Tapsi’s flight as carry-on luggage, because it was just to hot outside (on both continents).

My boyfriend volunteered to fly her over in September. So I bought a ticket for him and Tapsi (she counts as excess hand-luggage) with Delta from Frankfurt via New York to Boston for September 20th. Also, he regularly visited Tapsi at my mothers, just to play with her. She was very lonely. That time, in June, I had already seen Oliver’s picture on the House Rabbit Network Homepage. I knew, when nobody adopts him until Tapsi gets here, he will be her mate. First, I wanted to adopt and elderly bunny. Tapsi is eight and a baby would be nothing for her. Secondly, he has the same facial expression as Lopsi had, also being a slightly overweight Holland Lop.

When September 20th was getting closer everybody was getting nervous. How will little Tapsi take the long trip (14 hours from door to door). She is this very tiny chinchilla colored Netherland Dwarf. We were equipped with about five different health certificates, three different containers and all kinds of medicine. Luckily, everything went very well. Delta Airlines was very friendly and nobody had an issue with the bunny. Tapsi mostly slept in her little Cabin Carrier on the seat next to my boyfriend (they had given him a seat with an empty seat next to him). In New York there was a misunderstanding about little Tapsi being a wild baby rabbit. That is just the way she looks. However, when my boyfriend showed him the Health Certificate with her picture, stating that she was an eight year old pet rabbit, she was all set to enter the United States of America.

In New York I met them at the airport to fly on to Boston. Tapsi was very relaxed. In the middle of thousands of people waiting to board she was sitting in her carrier and chewing greens. For the last hour she was placed under the seat in front of us. We covered her with towels, so she did not get a cold. Arrived in Boston she was still chewing greens. In my apartment I introduced her to her new exercise pen. She ate right away. The first week she just had to fight her jet lag. She was hungry and up at very awkward times, but generally she adjusted very quickly. When two weeks were over, and Tapsi was doing great in her new home, I called the House Rabbit Network with the intention to adopt Oliver. I felt she was ready to be bonded again, after the lonely summer.

The following Saturday Tapsi and I went to Suzanne’s home to meet Oliver (and all the other cute bunnies). In the “dating exercise pen” Tapsi and Oliver liked each other right away, just that Oliver liked her too much. He was very frisky and tempestuous. Too much for the little old lady. However, I decided to take him home. The love was basically there, it just needed some work. I had a large cage set up within Tapsi’s Exercise Pen, so they were separate, but could see each other. The second day I let them together. Oliver kept being frisky, but there were no fights. There were already times when he was grooming her. She enjoyed it. Occasionally it looked like she startled when she looked up, realizing that it was not her old friend Lopsi grooming her, but Oliver. Also, Oliver asked her to groom him. Something Lopsi never did. For the next week, I left them together during the day and separated them during nights. They were doing well and Oliver’s frisky behavior was diminishing. Oliver really enjoyed the good food and that he could run around. Tapsi enjoyed the new companion.
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After the work week was over, I decided, that they could finally be together. I allowed them to be together for 24 hours a day, and both of them are very happy. Tapsi decided that she wants to keep this cute little fellow. Hopefully he will stay with her with the rest of her life. I could not stand her being left alone again. I saw him in the Internet and felt in love with him for Tapsi. I was right: He is the type of bunny guy she likes. After a week he has learned to treat her like a lady.But also he encourages her to be more outgoing.
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Oliver enjoys his new live: eating greens with his companion, cuddling with her and exploring the big apartment we all live in.I would encourage everybody, who has an old widowed rabbit, to bond him/her again. Two unhappy bunnies are two happy one’s now.
-HRN Volunteer: Corinna-

A sad post-script from the editor:
Sortly after adopting Oliver into her home, Corinna lost Tapsi to a sudden heart-attack. For the short few months that they were together, Oliver and Tapsi were very happy. Corinna often spoke of how Tapsi was acting like a younger bunny again because of Oliver’s company. Corinna plans to try to adopt a friend for Oliver from HRN after they’ve had some time to get over their loss.

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