Friday 18 December 2009

'S No Fun

Well, not much activity on this blog for a few weeks. I mostly blame the weather. We have just lived through a month of rain, which has meant miserable bunnies staring out from underneath hutches and inside sheds not wanting to come out and play (well, the sensible ones anyway). But the rain has now passed, replaced with frost and snow. Oh joy.

And not just a little bit of snow. It kicked off with about 10cm in 6 hours. So this weekend I am, basically, snowed in. I cannot get to the Rescue (in fact Royston has been on the news as one of the worst hit towns in the region) so I have taken up residence on the sofa for a few days with the TV, my laptop and occasionally some very grumpy bunnies.

The snow appears to have brought great joy to many of my colleagues, neighbours and friends, who are spending their days away from work/school frolicking in cold wet sludge. Caroline tells me the bunnies at the Rescue are also enjoying themselves, running madly about and playing in the curious white blanket that covers the ground, the like of which many of them have never seen before.

My own opinion of snow is more like that of Alex P. Keaton. And, once again proving that Caroline does an excellent job matching bunnies to people, S+J are totally with me on this.

Santa has been grumpy for weeks as the temperature has been gradually dropping. One morning he failed to notice me come in with his breakfast as he was so busy re-arranging the hay in his bedroom to try and make himself warmer (also partly my fault – I may have over-compensated with the straw earlier in the week and they pretty much had to burrow their way back in to go to bed). He doesn’t like the cold. When he woke up to thick snow Friday morning, he peered at it suspiciously from the doorway before seeming to decide that he was “cold enough thank you very much” and disappeared back inside refusing to come out of the shed for the rest of the day.

Jemima also hates snow. With her short Rex fur already giving her little protection and consequently regular problems with sore feet, she can’t bear to walk on anything cold or wet. She came bounding out, but as soon as her feet hit the snow she panicked, flew across the garden at great speed and disappeared into the house. When it came time to put bunnies back in their house, I couldn’t persuade her to come out of mine.

We all became a little more accustomed to the weather over the course of the weekend. By Sunday, all three of us were willing to spend up to several minutes in the garden, though it was inevitably followed with some quality time indoors in front of the radiator. Once her nose was dry, Jemima went on to her daily task of making all the hay disappear, while Santa decided to work on his on-going project to find the highest lagomorphically-accessible point in the lounge. Via a pile of cushions, the back of the sofa and a bookshelf he managed to surpass his previous record by about a foot and seemed very proud of himself.

It doesn’t look like the weather is going to clear this side of Xmas, which probably means more days of disapproval from the little ones, but at least I am having more time to spend with them. Still, I can’t wait til the roads clear and I can get back to the Rescue – or maybe Santa (the other one) will bring me a new 4x4 car for Xmas? Here’s hoping.

Tuesday 24 November 2009

Copper Bunny : Saved

Thankfully, it looks like the Tacoma and Pierce County Humane Society have had second thoughts about ending the life of poor little Copper Bunny - they have now released Copper to a local rabbit sanctuary in Gig Harbor.

The Rabbit Haven Sanctuary is a larger operation than ours, having around twice the number of rabbits in their care (and I thought breakfast-time at our rescue was crazy!). So it looks like he is in good hands with expert bunny people who can give him the proper love and attention he needs.

For the latest updates on Copper's progress, check out the Rabbit Haven website, where you can also help Copper and other bunnies like him by making a donation to the sanctuary.

Many thanks to the Rabbit Haven Sanctuary for kindly giving us permission to use their photo of Copper on our blog!

Monday 23 November 2009


Yesterday I had the bitter-sweet pleasure of "Claw Day" with S+J, which to the casual observer is a cross between amateur manicure and professional wrestling. The plus for me is that during the procedure I get to cuddle my bunnies as if they were teddy bears. The down side is they hate it, hate it, hate it and are quite prepared to convey this point using all available forms of communication. Depending on their mood, this could include grunting, scratching, stamping or even biting. This month I got off fairly lightly. Beforehand, there was a moment where both bunnies simultaneously realised that the preparation of grooming tools and coiled body language could only mean one thing. A brief cartoon-style chase followed, involving some clambering behind the sofa by all parties. After the event, Jemima decided to explain to me that the post-clipping-reward-snack was of insufficient proportions, chomping down hard on my coat and trying to drag me across the room. It may have been a coincidence that this was in the direction of the tub of pellets from which she felt she should be further rewarded.

On Claw Day last month, Jemima decided much earlier in the proceedings that she was unimpressed with my efforts. Before I could even start on the first paw she came to the conclusion that her grunts of disapproval were being unfairly ignored and felt she needed to explain in terms I could not ignore. She promptly chomped my hand.

As a part-time bunny-wrangler for the Rescue, being gently (and not so gently) chomped by bunnies comes with the territory. I doubt there's a single long-serving volunteer here who hasn't been caught out by a nervous newly arrived individual, a bunny who has seen a hand coming into its home and mistaken breakfast delivery for an attack or territorial invasion. Even Caroline, after years of being able to predict when a bunny is grumpy and about to pounce, has been caught out a couple of times checking-in new arrivals. Then there are also the bunnies who, like Jemima and countless others, are not at all aggressive but use light chomping just to tell you something, usually that you are in their way or to stop ignoring them!

Flora, Jemima, Bigwig and Bruce. Friendly,
adorable, but very, very chompy.

My point is, as bunny people, being chomped is a common occurrence that is driven either by utter, desperate fear or to convey something to you that you just don't seem to be getting. Not surprising then that this story of a bunny at an American Humane Society centre that has been scheduled to be put down for biting one of the staff has been enraging the rabbit-loving community across the globe:

Link: Doomed Local Rabbit at Komo News

See also the update here.

Komo News' explanation of the incident seems to be that the severity of the bite, requiring the recipient to seek proper medical attention, is the centre's justification for terminating the rabbits life. However, the American Humane Society have subsequently released their own statement suggesting that the bite was not the reason for ordering the termination, only one of the symptoms of the rabbits dire physical and mental condition:

Link: Response by the Humane Society

Since I find it hard to believe that an organisation so dedicated to animal welfare would take the decision on a bunny's life lightly, I want to believe the Humane Society's version and suspect the original story is yet another case of sensationalist journalism. On the other hand, why when approached by local rabbit rescues with offers to take Copper did they not communicate the facts of the case sufficiently to prevent further protests, or provide them the opportunity to have the rescues own rabbit experts offer a second opinion and thus avoid becoming the villains of this story? According to their official response:

"Every year, the Humane Society receives about 90 rabbits, finds homes for about 70 of them, and has to euthanize about 20 for medical or behavioral issues."

This sounds to me like they are digging themselves a bigger hole. Surely:

  • 22 percent is quite a big proportion to consider a lost cause (I will check our figures and respond later with a comparison)
  • Medical or behavioural issues? So does this mean they DO terminate bunnies who are just grumpy from mistreatment, rather than provide the costly long term rehabilitation needed to rehome them?

Whatever the real situation here, I am pretty sure that the Pierce County Humane Society will be finding their working practises coming under very close scrutiny over the coming weeks.

NOTE: Since writing this entry I have discovered that the page I linked to on the Tacoma and Pierce County Humane Society website has become unavailable. Read into that what you will. I will leave the link as-is for now in the hope that it returns...

Friday 6 November 2009

Mystery Bunny

Mystery Bunny Gets Snuggly

It makes me very sad to have to report this, but we have heard that our beloved Mystery Bunny has died. Mystery Bunny went out to adoption with her husband Majestic and it seems that she was tragically killed by a fox.

For the whole time that Majestic (who Helen has taken to calling Moo because of his cow-like markings) and Mystery were at the rescue, Mystery was particularly friendly towards me and would always come and say hello as I walked past. If I went in to their run and sat down on the grass she would clamber over my legs, snuggle into me and demand to be stroked. The two of them were absolutely adorable and the news of Mystery's passing was particularly painful for me to hear.

To help everyone remember her as I do, as the very special bunny that she was, I am posting this my favourite picture of her(above). Mystery, you were a very special bunny and you will be sadly missed.

Thursday 5 November 2009

FYI, Ears : Found

"Erm,thanks for finding my ears, but are
you sure you put them back on straight??!!"

Saturday 31 October 2009

Older, Wiser, Cuddlier

Amigo Bunny (age 8)

Choosing a pair of bunnies to take into your home might be one of the hardest decisions you ever make. It is almost certainly the hardest decision you will make when you visit the rescue. You are essentially trying to pick new family members and they need to fit in with the ones you already have (or at least fit in with you and your own peculiar ways!).

Everyone who comes to us has their favourites - giants or dwarves, rexes or lion-heads, lops or "uppy eared" rabbits. Some people like rabbits that demonstrate a strong sense of fearless independence. Most are even more taken by the bunnies who already show a friendliness towards humans. And just as there are thousands of different rabbit types, so are there thousands of different people types to want them and love them.

Having narrowed it down to just a few pairs, it is often the case that people will pick the younger, cuter ones. So today I am going to offer some advice on why you should perhaps look closer and not rule out our more mature residents as your perfect match!

So, why might you pick a pair of older bunnies? Here are some things to consider:

  • An older bunny will tend to be more laid back. They are more likely to chill out on the rug with you for the evening than spend it trying to run up the curtains. Of course, they might also be less likely to eat the curtains.
  • They tend to be more appreciative of (or at least willing to tolerate) human attention.
  • Remember you are not just adopting a rabbit for your benefit, you are giving a good life to a creature who has been mistreated or abandoned. For an older rabbit this probably means either more years of mistreatment, or perhaps abandoned after years of loyalty. Doesn't this make them MORE deserving of your love?
  • Unlike a baby or adolescent bunny, the older ones have been through their experimental stage and have already truly found themselves. It is much easier to gage their personality from meeting them.
  • Because of their more sedentary nature, older bunnies will often make great house rabbits.

In the case of Amigo and his new partner Lucy-Liu there is an even better reason to want to take them home. They are just so very, very cuddly!

"Darling, stop eating the curtains - the
neighbours are staring at us again!"

Saturday 10 October 2009

Thieving Rascals

"Honestly, when they asked me if I wanted to move to the Rabbit Residence Rescue I took one look at the brochure and said 'Sure, looks like a nice place to live - good location, lots of tasty grass to eat, space to run around.' But I guess I should have at least dropped by to check out the neighbours before putting my paw on the dotted line. It's not that they're not friendly, it's just that, well...let's just say you wouldn't want to leave your favourite carrot lying around unattended. Of course I learned this lesson the hard way. I took one little nap and when I woke up some mischievous little scamp had made off with both my ears! I tell ya, I am so mad I could...[yawn]...I could...zzzzzzzzz"

Don't worry new babeh bunneh, we'll find your ears for you while you take a gentle sunny snooze...

Saturday 26 September 2009

Slow Day

Today was less productive than it could have been. Days like this are not unusual - heavy rain, wind and even warm sunshine are our enemies when working outside. Anyone who has tried throwing wood shavings evenly across a hutch floor in gale force conditions will know what I mean here. But there is one thing outside of the weather that is GUARANTEED to slow every single volunteer as we go about our daily chores. One thing that causes us to drag our feet every time we pass through the yard, to dawdle whenever we are within a few feet of the new arrivals barn. New. Baby. Bunnies.

I wonder how many I could fit in my pocket without Caroline noticing...

Insert Breakfast Here

"Yes, yes, just place the food in the bowl, you don't even need to look you've done it a thousand times, just pour it in!" [opens mouth]

Monday 21 September 2009

How clean is your bunny house?

This week I was put in my place by Nestle, an adorable agouti Dutch bunny! As I entered his residence, I knew I was about to receive some serious schooling. “We decided to take a corner each, so there will be some SERIOUS wee-scraping required over, here, here” he seemed to be saying as he darted around me. He took charge of the dustpan – using his paws and mouth to position it in the perfect place to scoop up all the bunny mess. I obviously just wasn’t getting it right. By dashing between the bag and dustpan he made sure that I wasn’t sloppy and all the mess went into the rubbish bag. So helpful! When all the cleaning was done he inspected the corners and nudged me appreciatively: “Not bad for a human, I guess”. After I had bedded up his house he checked that the hay was in the right place, adjusting it to his decorative fancy, then dived into the fresh readi-grass –“munch, munch, munch!!!” He seemed satisfied that I had done a pretty good job… or maybe that was just the readi-grass talking.

Saturday 12 September 2009

Bunnies Talk

It would appear that some scheming has been going on in the New Arrivals Barn. You will recall that several weeks ago I was thwarted in my attempts to take a decent picture of Puzzle Bunny. Well it seems that he found it such a wheeze that he has been passing some advice around his comrades.

Hobnob Bunny

Josie Bunny

Could this be the start of all-out bunny revolution? Watch this space.

Tuesday 8 September 2009


I own a house. This is pretty much a necessity for me. When a letting agent asks what your basic requirements are and you start with "Somewhere where it's easy to clean woodshavings and hay from all the floors and surfaces, and where tiny fluffy creatures are welcome to chew everything within two feet of an accessible surface..." it rarely goes well from that point. So I own a house. There are currently six of us living at the property, usually harmoniously. But today, while I was preparing breakfast, someone broke one of the most important of the house rules and I need to figure out who. So let's look at the suspects.

First up is one Mr Santa Bunny. A wiley character this. Take your eye off him for a second and when you turn back he'll be looking straight back at you, eye-level, from atop a bookshelf. (Look down and you will see a pile of anything you had inconsiderately left on the shelves that might have slowed his ascent.) A definite candidate for mischief this one. But now that I think of it, I know for a fact that at the time of the incident he was in the shed diligently throwing everything from inside out on to the lawn. So I guess it wasn't him.

Our next suspect is the huge black lump known as Jemima Bunny. She has a different party trick to Santa - turn your back on her for a second and she will make anything resembling food in a 10 metre radius disappear. Vegetables, leaves, electrical cable. Nothing that will fit in her mouth is safe. But again, now I think of it, at the time of the incident Jemima was in the garden rapidly digging her way to Australia, so I guess she's out too.

Ahhh, Megan Bunny! My little angel. Sweet, timid and gentle. When she wants something she will politely come and ask for it. Megan was definitely in the vicinity at the time of the incident. She certainly had the opportunity to commit this offence, but not the motive. She loves positive attention and treats and wouldn't risk jeapordizing either. Megan is my little angel and certainly not the rule breaking type. So I don't think it's her.

And so we come to Whisky, crazy, crazy Whisky. So crazy but also so very, very cuddly. Imagine if you attached an out-of-control rocket to a teddy bear and you will start to get an idea of what Whisky bunny is like. He hurtles around the place with his cute little ears bouncing and flapping all over as he goes. Then he stops for a bit and does the cutest little bunny stretch-and-yawn you ever did see!!! How could I possibly blame him for anything???!!

Well, if it wasn't me and it wasn't any of these four little rascals, I can only conclude that it must have been the lodger that decided to wee on the lounge floor. Ho hum. Maybe I'll just have to switch to lino and forget about it.

Saturday 29 August 2009

Photo Day

I love photo day. I get to take a break from the usual tiring chaos of feeding and cleaning. I get to spend time bonding with the bunnies. And of course, for the new arrivals, there's the taking them out of their temporary hutches and carrying them to the photo table (ahhh, bonus cuddles!).

The bunnies seem to like the change in pace too, though I'm sure that has more to do with the extra treats than the chance to get their pictures onto the www.

Not all bunnies are keen though. This week I would especially like to thank Puzzle Bunny for making my Saturday afternoon task so challenging, what with the wriggling and the thinking his "best side" for a photo was the end with the tail. Then to top it all off, when I got home I discovered this was the only decent shot of him I'd managed to get:

Nice one Puzzle Bunny. Perhaps we'll have another go next week eh?

Sunday 16 August 2009

Warning To All Volunteers and Visitors

Mystery Bunny

This is an urgent warning to all volunteers and visitors to the Rabbit Residence Rescue. Please be on the lookout for Mystery Bunny, pictured above. If spotted this bunny should be approached with absolute caution and if possible avoided completely.

When cornering a human, she is likely to attack with:
  • Paws placed delicately on the legs
  • Nose nudges
  • Friendly "cuddle me" eyes
Victims of her attacks report feeling a warm sense of joy and general cuteness, responding with head strokes and lots of attention. But it is at this point that Mystery will strike, becoming even more adorable, demand more attention and rendering her victims incapable of escape or carrying out even the simplest of tasks (such as cleaning out).

We regret that this advice comes too late for two of our volunteers this Saturday who ventured into Majestic and Mystery's run unawares and eventually had to be retrieved using long poles with hooks.

Message Ends.

Friday 31 July 2009

Pick of the Bunch...

In all honesty, I'd never even dreamed of owning a bunny.

My parents were not animal lovers so their idea of owning a pet extended to anything that was cheap and not a mammal. So I had little experience of caring for any creature, let alone such fascinating and intelligent creatures as rabbits, when I took home my first...

The whole idea of owning a bunny (if one can truly own these little tikes!) came from a pure, selfish enjoyment of watching wild rabbits bound around in our new cottage garden and an intense desire to cuddle one. Sick of listening to my yelps of "Look there's another...!" my long-suffering partner stated that he was going to buy me a bunny.

Sadly, I think most of us tend to purchase rabbits on impulse - usually for children and without ever really thinking or knowing the amount of responsibility involved. I was so excited that I decided to get my hands on every bit of information I could about caring for rabbits. I was amazed to learn how much was involved in caring for them. Stupidly, I imagined that a few handfuls of carrot and a hutch was all that was required.

How wrong could a person be!

We forget that domestic rabbits have been bred for so many decades now that they are not immune to the same types of disease as wild rabbits. All domestic bunnies must be vaccinated against myxomatosis and VHD every year, at least. They also require require regular check-ups at the vet. Yes, just like cats and dogs do!!! Not to mention a variety of hay and grasses to allow them to continually grind down their growing teeth and keep their delicate digestive systems healthy. A responsible rabbit owner should know the types of veggies and plants that our poisonous to our beloveds, be able provide them with a home indoors (imagine my amazement in discovering there were such things as 'House Rabbits'!) or outdoors with at least 6ft x 5ft of space for running and binkying about...the list of ownership requirements goes on.

However, none of this deterred me in my quest to own a bunny and so, on a sunny Saturday morning my partner drove me to a local rabbit breeder to buy a rabbit...

We arrived at a lovely farm house only to be led to a large dark shed where around 20 large hutches were filled with rabbits, far too many to be housed together comfortably. It was dirty and cobwebby, and knowing what I know now, could only be a sad existence for the bunnies living there.

Still, in my excitement to own a rabbit, I never really considered the prospect. The pleasant young lady assisting me brought out a wooden box which when opened, was filled with a variety of 8 week old bunnies. All beautiful and looking for a home.

I had read that any baby rabbit that is shy when you first attempt to stroke it is likely to remain so forever. Absolute rubbish! Imagine being 8 weeks old and having a massive hand looming over you - it would scare anyone! Still, being a newbie, I took heed of this advice and tried to find a bunny that seemed interested in me. Luckily for me, one of the last rabbits brought out was a 'buttterfly' patterned mini lop. Rather than shying away from me, this little nosey-bonk peroscoped up on his little hind legs and licked my hand.

Our fate was sealed. He was my pick of the bunch...

Friday 24 July 2009

A Sad Loss

It is with a very heavy heart that I have to report the sad loss of our darling Viola Bunny.

Born into conditions of neglect she was saved, along with her siblings, and delivered into our loving family at the rescue. From birth she suffered from “splay legs” affecting her mobility and it was a condition that was to worsen over the few short months of her life. But what a surprise it was to us that one so afflicted was to be such a spritely soul, always desperate to play with the other bunnies around her and racing round at surprising speed considering she only really had her front legs to get her moving. She also seemed to relish the attention of the two-legged members of the rescue family and was always happy to tolerate our cuddles and the silly baby noises that would pour out of us every time we visited her.

As a rescue dealing with hundreds of rabbits over the years, we are of course well aware of the need to take into account the quality of life of a disabled animal. However much you believe in going the extra mile to give all the care to an animal that you can, there is always a point where the suffering is too great and putting them to rest becomes the only option. But where is this point? A decision so deeply important, one of life or death, can only lie with those most informed to make it.

So when we are faced with a disabled bunny we have to listen closely to what they tell us. Are they in pain? Are they unhappy? Have they given up fighting? Animals have yet to learn our languages and so we are forced to do the best we can to learn theirs, and our vets and rescue volunteers have many hours of experience doing just that.

In Viola’s case the decision was thankfully easy, at first anyway. She loved her life and seemed to be completely oblivious that she was different to her brothers and sisters. All she really needed was some loving, thoughtful and experienced bunny-parents that understood her extra needs and were prepared to put in a little extra care. In the mean time, there was no trouble in finding volunteers enthusiastic to foster her while she waited for a more permanent home, knowing how much joy she would bring to them in return! It is also a sign of how loved Viola was that there were so many people willing to donate the time, effort and finances to get her the consultations with rabbit-specialist veterinary surgeons that she needed.

But sadly, this story does not have a happy ending. Early in the week, poor Viola developed a bad case of bloat. After the usual treatments at the rescue failed to alleviate the condition she was rushed to our regular vets for an X-Ray and diagnosis. This was their first experience of Viola and perhaps if they had met her before the bloat they would have been quicker to act. But seeing her this way they seemed reluctant to do anything other than end her suffering by putting her to sleep. Viola was taken home while second opinions were sought from our experts, but a day later her conditioned had worsened still. At this stage we were reluctantly left with little option.

On Thursday 23rd July 2009, Caroline took Viola to the vets for her final journey.

Viola Bunny, you will be deeply missed by all of us here at the rescue.

Viola enjoying the grass and sunshine,
Saturday 18th July 2009

Friday 3 July 2009

Too Hot for Bunnies

Flopsy Bunny

I wanted to blog about some of the things going on at the rescue this week, but quite frankly it's too hot to think. So instead, I think I might just finish re-filling the water bowls then go follow Flopsy's lead and take a nice nap in the sun....zzzzzzzzzz....

Friday 12 June 2009

Tufty and Vanilla Rehomed

Tufty Bunny

This week we say goodbye to Vanilla and Tufty as they are delivered to their new home as house rabbits. We are always pleased to see our little ones move on to happy homes where they will be loved and cared for, but that doesn't stop us missing them. In this case, we will miss our regular Tufty cuddles, for however many times we told him "Bunnies are prey animals, so being picked up is scary for them" he would just shrug his little bunny shoulders and come for some snuggles. Good luck in your new home guys!

Vanilla Bunny

Thursday 4 June 2009

Lesson 1: Most Bunnies Don't Like Cuddles

"Your feeble mind tricks won't work on me!!!"

We had some friends of friends over at the weekend. It was their first introduction to my bunnies and as such a chance to spread the word of the Way of Proper Bunny Care. For people who have only experienced hutched rabbits (just the thought of that makes me feel sad) these situations usually result in genuine surprise when they observe a remarkably different behaviour. "They're more like cats than rabbits!" they exclaim as the bunnies come up to investigate and tiny front paws are planted on human legs as the possibilty of treats is investigated.

On this occasion however, a scorching hot June afternoon, all the visitors could really learn was that sometimes bunnies just like to flop out in the shade and be left alone to nap.

One of this weeks visitors exclaimed "They're so cute! Can I pick them up??". I paused for a second and considered the deep scars on my arms from the last time Santa tried to explain to me that he really didn't NEED to be lifted off the ground to have medicine, be brushed or have his claws clipped. Was this a "learn by doing" situation I asked myself?

"Err...They don't really like that.." I replied almost apologetically. Santa and Jemima eyed us all suspiciously and went back to their nap.