I think I am in danger of helping to perpetuate the bizarre notion some people have that a bunny is a kind of animated cuddly toy. Blame Whisky, cos he kind of looks like one most of the time, so very very cute and adorable. Most of the time. When I post pictures to Facebook I can almost hear the delighted child-like squees of many of my non-bunny-parent friends, as they fight back urges to head straight to the pet store to get one of their own.
This is not exactly a good thing. So many of the bunnies at the Rescue are here because someone thought they were buying a cheap low-maintenance novelty, often for their children, only to discover they have gotten themselves a complicated and expensive little animal that requires quite a bit of hard work. Every day, for the rest of its 12 year life. The feeding, the hours of cleaning, the vet visits. Eventually deciding it is not what they signed up for, these people wash their hands of this inconvenience they have created in their lives by dumping it (and their adorable rabbit) on us.
Of course, dear readers, most of you have your own little fluffy bank-account-emptying, stress-inducing free-time-hoggers of your own, so you are well aware of the responsibilities that come with parenting bunnies. For the rest of the world, I present here to you the side of Whisky's life, over the last year and a bit, that isn't in the cute pictures.
NOTE: There are pictures - they're just not very cute (you'll have to click the links in the text to see them - I've hidden them away so as not to disturb the casual visitor).
- First, there was the puss-filled eye infection that needed twice daily flushing for many weeks, which he hated.
- Then, cleaning soft poo from out of his bottom fur daily while we figured out what part of his diet didn't agree with him.
- Scrubbing wee out of the carpet when a strange smell (or bunny) caused the litter training to be temporarily thrown out the window.
- The (sometimes multiple) daily litter tray emptying, cleaning and refilling. And all the other cleaning - so much cleaning!
- Washing, grating and chopping vegetables every morning for his breakfast because he has no front teeth.
- The recurring fur mites, because he struggles to groom himself and has a poor immune system.
- The snapped ligament in the toe on his left foot that makes it stick out 90 degrees sideways, cause unknown.
- The abscesses he had operated on in his face and ear that needed 30 minutes of flushing twice a day for more than a week.
- The emergency vet visits when his nose closed up, his face was a mess of puss and snot, he struggled to breath and wouldn't eat. This went on for weeks and involved cultures being taken, tests and almost every type of anti-biotic indicated as possibly helpful being thrown at it.
- The day the vets told me the anti-biotics were starting to lose effectiveness to clear his nose and he would probably have to be put to sleep.
- The long drives to see a more specialised rabbit vet, who managed to find the cause of most of his more serious health problems (a corkscrewing tooth root growing through his nose and above the roof of his mouth). This included more tests, a scope up his nose and a series of X-rays.
- The discovery that part of his lower jaw is missing, wasted away through some bone disorder.
- The long and difficult surgery to remove the tooth root, which involved cutting away, lifting off and re-attaching part of his face.
- The months of recovery from the surgery.
- The damage to his ears and tummy, because he has limited bunny social skills and fights any rabbit we try and bond him with.
- Having his perineum ripped open by another rabbit (another failed bond) and having to be stitched back together.
- The months of coccidiosis and associated digestive problems triggered by being around other rabbits at the Rescue (during the bonding attempts) combined with his poor immune system. This included a fair amount of rear-end leakage and some heavy-duty bottom and floor cleaning.
- The five days last month he spent sneezing blood when we thought something awful had happened around the site of his surgery, but turned out to be a needle-like piece of a plant he'd inhaled that was stuck inside his nose.
- The many, many vets bills, totalling around 2000 quid in a little over a year.
So that's a peek behind the curtain of being a bunny parent. Cute, huh?!