Category Archives: Paris & Rome

Developing Trust

I wish that I could take a picture of him but every time I move, he sits up and opens his eyes to see what I am doing.

I attempted with the camera but when he hears the zoom sound, he sits up and checks what’s going on.  I tried with the phone but zooming on the phone camera is shite and results in a pixelated “WTF is that?” kind of picture.

One day, one day, I will get a good photo of him sleeping and I will show you.  It is the most sweetest thing ever!

It is an honour and a privilege to witness Paris Bunny sleeping because:
a) He is moody.  Sometimes he’ll let you touch him, sometimes he won’t.  Most times he won’t even let you look at him and he sneaks from box to box to keep his “out in the open” time minimal.
b) He is overly cautious.  If you place anything new in his area he will stare at it for ages and then creep up to it halfway and then run away.  He does this process over and over, getting closer and closer until he finally gets close enough and familiar enough with whatever it is to realise it’s not going to hurt him.
c) He is skittish.  Lots of times he’ll run away at the tiniest sound and hide in his box (which is in his hutch) aka his panic room.  In this box, he can’t see you, you can’t see him.  Best of all, you can’t touch him.  The box is small and dark and for him, safe and he stays in there a lot.  It’s his favourite to sleep.
d) Being a prey animal, bunnies tend to sleep with their eyes open so they can see danger coming.
e) To help them escape quickly and run if danger comes, they tend to sleep with all 4 feet firmly planted on the ground
f) They tend to keep their vulnerable parts protected (tummy to ground so you only ever see their back, head close to body so their neck isn’t too exposed).

So… when I glance over to see Paris lying down completely on his side, on his blanket, feet stretched out, exposing his white belly, gently breathing, laying in his hutch (outside of his box), there is an automatic “awwwwwww” that comes out of my heart and a real sense that “We’re doing something right.”

Afterall, a skittish, scaredy-cat bunny doesn’t end up that relaxed just ’cause.

Today, I witnessed him in a deep sleep.  His ears twitched and so did his legs (like a dog shakes its leg when presumably running in their dream).  His eyes were completely shut and then he started tilting his head back and moving his mouth around like he was mumbling or grinding his teeth.

If he tilted back any more he would have ended up rolling onto his back.  Of course, as soon as I moved to attempt a picture he lifted his head and opened his eyes.

Not wanting to disturb him to the point of making him get up and hide, I just sat there in silence and watched him.  Eventually, he closed his eyes again and put his head back down to sleep.  His sleeping position looks so much like that of a human baby on its side!

This is one picture I’ll have to patiently wait to capture.

Meanwhile, I am chuffed with being able to watch him.  He’s basically shown me that he feels safe enough to allow himself to be that vulnerable, in my presence.

He’s not quite like Rome who flops right by my feet if I’m sitting in his area or by my head when I lie down on the floor.  Paris still keeps a distance which is why I’m having so much trouble with zooming the camera!

But to allow himself a deep and blissful sleep even when I’m around does make me a proud furbaby parent.   We are developing trust.  He is happy, healthy, feels safe and relaxed.  That’s all I could want for my furbaby!


Holiday Planning with Bunnies

Ever since we got the bunnies, we haven’t been on  holiday.  Not once.  Day trips yes, but not a weekend trip.

There was only once that we were away from them during the night because we missed the last train home and we came home to eaten furniture and quite a few broken electrical cords.  It was very expensive to repair.  Never again.

This is the first time we haven’t gone on holiday in a whole year.

Last year, Tones was on a plane almost every month for work and on top of that, we managed to go to New York, Rome, Sydney, Las Vegas and Costa del Sol.

This year, we’ve been…. nowhere.  Well, Tones went to Dubai and New York for work but that’s it.

To tell you the truth, I haven’t noticed.  Not until now that I have to plan a holiday, have I noticed.

I guess this is what it’s like to have kids, kind of.  What I mean by that is that you’re so preoccupied with the daily activities, a whole year can go by without you noticing.

So, what’s it like planning holidays when you have bunnies?  Stressful.  First and foremost is finding a bunny-sitter of course!  No, you can’t just dump them with anyone.

I change their litters (4 of them, they have 2 litters each) daily.  We feed them and change their water, twice daily.  They have approx. 15 hrs run time, daily.  Albeit, much of it spent sleeping.  In that time, they get groomed, petted and just time spent with them so they don’t feel lonely.  Sometimes I feel like I don’t spend enough time with them.  I just wouldn’t expect any of our friends or neighbours to do what we do.

Enter, the bunny-sitter.  People paid to house, feed , water and spend time with your bunnies when you’re not around to do it.

Who knew it would be so hard to find one?

There are plenty of people advertising their services but after checking availability 2 months ahead of time, some were already booked out.

Some places you could tell were tiny and because we have 2 bunnies that have to be kept separate, we have to pay double for all accommodation.  So, if we pay for each of them to have double length hutches, then we’re effectively paying quadruple for both bunnies and even then, the space just seems so small.

We went to look at a “bunny hotel” yesterday and although very clean, the space was tiny.  Here I am feeling guilty that our bunnies don’t have enough run space and then I see up to 8 bunnies being kept in less space than we keep 1 of ours!

We just couldn’t bare to leave them like that for the time we’re away.  They’re not meant to be kept in a tiny box.  It’s meant to be a holiday, not a prison or punishment for them.

There seems to be a huge misconception that because bunnies are small then their area should be small too.  It’s so far from the truth.  They are tiny beings with huge amounts of energy and their space must reflect the size of their energy, not the size of their physical bodies.

So I’m going back and forth with various people attempting to find one that will give them the space as well as the love and care they will need while we’re away.

I told Tony that we weren’t allowed to book any place that was less than the quality of our own flat (for us).  It looks like these standards have translated to the bunnies’ welfare too.  We just cannot bare to put them in a space smaller than the space we’ve given them.  Not if we already consider the space we’ve given them, quite small.

Rome’s in the hallway for crying out loud.  It shouldn’t be that hard to give him that much room!  They’re supposed to be 5m squared.  He gets just about that incl the stairs and bathroom.  This is why I let him run in the bedroom sometimes, just so he gets more space every now and again.

Paris gets approx. 4.5m squared in the lounge plus the ability to jump on and off the couch but he’s not fenced in so if he wanted to, he could venture another few metres squared on his own and explore the dining/kitchen area.  He’s just a very lazy / non adventurous bunny (lucky for us and the furniture) who keeps to the 4.5m square and barely uses that.

Still, I’d prefer his space to be his choice ie if he wants to use it, it’s there.  If he doesn’t then at least we haven’t confined him to a tiny space and he’s just decided, on his own, that’s all he wants.

Did you know you could hire someone to come visit your home and so you can keep the bunnies at home and someone just comes to feed them?  It’s really expensive, more expensive than taking them to a full time bunny hotel/sitter and they only actually visit for 30mins at a time plus they have full access to your home when you’re not there.  I don’t think 30mins is enough to give the bunnies the affection they need plus I’m not into giving random people access to my home when I’m not around.  So nope, not going with that option.

Who knew finding a bunny sitter would be this hard?  Well, it’s either that or we’re just super picky / finicky parents.  My God…. can you imagine what we’d be like if we had human kids???!!!

So… I’m still searching.  I hope to find and book one soon otherwise I’ll be in a right panic.  They’re out there… somewhere and I will find them!!

Well Behaved Bunnies

It’s finally happened.  I can actually say my boys are well behaved.

What does that mean?

It means:
1.  No more banging and biting the cage wires during the night.
2.  No more peeing anywhere except their designated litters.
3.  No more bugging out each other.

There used to be a time when Paris would visit Rome next to the fence that divided their areas.  They would sit there and stare each other out.  Rome would flop and pretend how wonderful his life was.

Paris would wait and stare at him.  Rome being very impatient would always flinch first and poke his nose through the fence to bite it or to smell Paris.

Paris would sit and wait for this opportune time to bite Rome’s nose off.  He has managed with one bite to make Rome bleed a constant stream of blood from his nose.  I really thought the end of his nose (the little triangle that twitches) was going to fall off.

But… since that day, Paris hasn’t come to taunt Rome and Rome cannot go beyond the fence to taunt Paris, so it’s all been good and quiet.

They are also toilet trained.  Apart from the odd poo that flicks out of their litter when they jump out too quickly, or the wee that has run down an incline and ended up on their foot so they leave little wee foot prints on their towel/mat, 99% of the poo and wee is in their litter which means no more floor wiping and constant sweeping on my part.  YES!!

They are also neutered and their hormones have died down meaning they’re much more chilled out than when we first got them.

Routine!!  It’s the best thing.  They know they’re going to be let out in the morning so they just wait patiently until it happens!  If I’m late at getting them out of their cage, they actually go to sleep while waiting!  So no more banging to say “let me out!”

Also, to go to bed, all I have to say to Paris is “bed time” and he jumps into his hutch without a fuss, quite excitedly because he knows “bed time” also means he’s going to get fed.  Sometimes he even does a little binky dance where he binkies and jumps in and out of his hutch multiple times.  Really, he’s just trying to be where the food is, faster.

With Rome I just say “Ready to go to bed now, Rome?  Come on then!” and he’ll do a binky and then run behind / alongside me in the hallway, down the stairs to the bathroom, through my legs if I’m going too slow for him and straight into his litter.

One time I must have walked too slowly because he actually grunted at me while behind me as if to say “Beep Beep!  Get out of my way!” and then ran through my feet in a real rush getting to his litter long before I got down the stairs.  “C’mon!  I’m in my litter, hurry up!!”

He’s in the top bunk of the hutch so we need to carry him in.  He hates being picked up so, we lift him while he sits in his litter.  No need for chasing him, no need to stress him out with getting grabbed, lifted and manhandled every night.  Instead we’ve worked out our little travellator system.  It works really well!

He still defies me sometimes, well, only when he knows I’m angry at him and will make him do something he doesn’t want to do.   Specifically when he bites the base of the bed and my punishment every time is to kick him out of the bedroom.

I say “Rome!  Come here!”  He will only come half way and then he’ll sit there and groom himself while staring at me.  His eyes will also close half way like a death stare as if to say “You’re not the boss of me, I don’t have to do what you say.”

I stay patient with this because at this point, even though he thinks he’s got the upper hand, he’s not biting the bed anymore which was my goal.

Eventually, after multiple times of “Rome… Come here!”  in different intonations, even though he doesn’t want to, he will come and I will usher him out of the bedroom and close the door.

I think the biggest influencers for getting them to be this way were neutering and routine.   They’ve definitely made life a lot easier by being well behaved and obedient for the most part.

People say that for bunnies, Netherland Dwarfs are the closest in behaviour and personality to cats and dogs.  It’s why I chose this breed.

Tony uses them as therapy.  He’ll just sit quietly with them and pat them for AGES.  Rome will sit still and let Tony pat him for longer than 30mins at a time.

All in all, I’m really happy with the way it’s all turned out.  We’re really enjoying the bunnies and their company.  I don’t even mind the occasional cheekiness because it shows  personality and keeps us entertained.


Learning about health via the bunnies

Sickness – this time it’s not just me, it’s the bunnies too.

Every morning when I go to let the bunnies out, as soon as I open the hutch door, Paris jumps out.  He never misses it, he’s out like lightening, his timing is impeccable.

Every morning when I feed the bunnies, as soon as it’s Paris’ turn to get his nuggets aka pellets, he runs, jumps and scurries everywhere in excitement.

This morning however, he ignored the opened door.  When I put his food out, he came outside to smell it tentatively, as if it were foreign.  He then ran back inside his hutch.

I took the food and put it right in front of his nose and mouth and he rejected it.  He sniffed it and turned his head away.

Not a good sign for a bunny.  They will never turn away their food, especially their favourite treats, unless they’re sick.

Immediately I got worried.  A bunny who hasn’t eaten in 6 hours must be taken to the vet immediately except, I didn’t know how long he hadn’t eaten for.

So I watched him.  Meanwhile my nose was running and I started sneezing over and over.  I figured I was just cold but this happens every single time.  I always think I’m just cold… but then it ends up the beginning of some kind of illness.  FANTASTIC.

You know, I already upped my probiotic intake?  So I’m not quite understanding why I keep getting sick.  Perhaps it was because we were out in the cold and rain for 3 days in a row.

Perhaps not much sleep each night has finally caught up with me.  Perhaps it’s been my diet.  We’ve been out and about with friends from overseas so I’ve just eaten anything and everything.

Most likely, it’s a combination of all of the above.  We’ll see how this progresses.

Meanwhile, ignoring my runny nose, I sat and watched Paris while googling his symptoms.  He didn’t eat, drink or go toilet.  He didn’t want me to touch him (this part is normal) but the abnormal part was that he couldn’t be bothered running away like usual, he just sat there in a ball.

GI Stasis – when the gastro-intestinal tract slows down causing the bunny pain via gas and build up of toxins in the gut that he can’t get out.  Usually caused by lack of fibre (if you give them too many treats, wheat, sugar etc).

It made no sense because I feed them Timothy Hay, which is their main source of fibre, every single day without fail.  They haven’t had any treats other than apple twigs (dried branches from an apple tree) and blackcurrant leaves (dried leaves from a blackcurrant plant) and oat hay.

Also they’re on an all natural pellet now which is wheat and grain free and made specifically of Timothy Hay, which I also weigh before giving them.  No overfeeding my bunnies these days.  Rome’s double chin made sure of that.  I’ve been weighing out their pellet servings precisely so they never get more than 30g of pellets a day.  It’s been like this since they turned 6 months old and they’re now already 1 year 2 months.

Another cause of GI Stasis is their teeth becoming too long – they won’t eat if their teeth are too long.  Makes no sense again because that’s what all the hay and twigs are for, to keep their teeth ground down.

Last cause – fur ball.  Highly likely because they’re moulting at the moment.  They can’t vomit or cough it out like a cat so the fur can collect and clog up their GI tract.

So I attempt to brush Paris to check how much fur he’s actually losing and find there’s hardly any fur on the brush.  How could he have a fur ball when he’s not moulting heavily?

2 hours pass and he hasn’t moved.  I start searching for vets that are closer to us than his current one but then he moves.  He creeps outside tentatively and eats a pellet.  He only eats a few and then runs back inside the hutch.

He sits in his litter.  I’ve never been so relieved to see him go to the toilet.  He jumps off and there are only 2 poos in there.  2!! And they’re covered in jelly/mucus – a sign that there’s something wrong with the GI tract.

I don’t yet panic because he starts to run around and eat all the other pellets.  So I chase him a bit for grooming to get as much fur as I can off him.  Even though the brush collects hardly any fur, I know that getting him moving around is good for his bowel movements.

I then pin him down to massage his stomach.  He doesn’t like it and keeps running away but I feel his tummy is like a hard bubble.  I finally get him still, I massage his belly softly, hoping to get any gas to move around and then I let him go.

About 15 mins later, he was in his litter again and he pooed.  It wasn’t as much as usual but enough for me to know he was ok.  All his poo was covered in mucous and chained together with fur.  It was his fur after all.  Note to self:  more regular brushing is required.

He also started eating his Timothy Hay again and then proceeded to run around and binky in his play area and he even had a drink of water.  Thank God.

He’s gone to sleep now but at least I know I don’t have to take him to the vet anymore.

So what did I learn about health from a bunny?
1.  Fibre is really important.
2.  A healthy gut is super important.  The moment anything compromises it, it causes all sorts of discomfort.
3.  When sick, stay off treats.  Stick to simple food, fibre and water.
4.  Always celebrate being happy and healthy again with a few binkies.
5.  Being observant for the signs of discomfort, resting and letting your body do what it does is the best way to get better quickly.

So, now that the bunnies have gone to sleep.  It’s time for me to do the same.

Good night!

My Bunny Rules Over Me

Have you every heard a bunny growl?

I can’t believe that I’ve been so easy on my Rome rabbit that he now has the audacity to growl at me!

How rude!

Both rabbits have been growling at Tony for a while.  Paris growls at Tony because he attempts to pat him while he’s eating.  The growl is to say, “My food!  Get away and stop bothering me while I’m eating.”

Rome growls at Tony every time he takes his shoe away from him.  Yes, Rome acts very much like a dog in many ways, one of which is he enjoys chewing Tony’s shoes.  “Not your shoes.. MY TOY!!”

They didn’t growl at me unless I was attempting to groom them (they hate the brush) and get annoyed at my persistence but even then, it was more like a grunt than anything else and it was only after many attempts at dodging and running away from the brush.   The lunge is usually at the brush, not at me.

That is, until yesterday.  Paris is still the same, he still grunts but that’s as far as he goes with us.  I used to think this was pretty bad but not anymore.  Not after Rome’s behaviour yesterday.

Rome thinks he’s top dog, alpha wolf and yesterday, his grunt turned into a growl and what sounded like barking!!!  How very dare he!

Rabbits live in a hierarchy and it seems that Rome has nominated himself as the head.  Tony and I who he once held in high regard (he used to lick/kiss our noses) have now dropped down to the bottom rungs of rabbit existence.  We no longer get kisses or any form of affection and instead get demands.

Whenever we ask Rome to do anything he doesn’t want or tell him off for doing something we don’t like, he vocalises his anger at our insubordination.

I find it a bit scary.  These bunnies are so weird.  I’ve never had vocal bunnies before.  I’ve never had bunnies willing to bite me to put me in my place either but these guys will lunge, bite and growl just to express their displeasure and believe me, it’s not due to any kind of anxiety from mistreatment or abuse.  They just like to throw their weight around and show dominance.

Speaking of which, Rome is a 1kg ball of fluff.  I am 50 times his weight.  I could sit on him and crush him and yet, he lords over us.

After he eats, he likes to get groomed.  So if you don’t groom him after he’s eaten, he bites on the fence to get your attention.  Once he has your attention, he gives you a look.  The look is “I’m ready for my pat now.”  and he’ll wait patiently for you to turn up to sit next to him in his area.  Once you’ve done that, he walks around and picks a place where he wants to plonk down.  He will then sit there and expect you to pat him.  You then pat him until he doesn’t want a pat anymore which he will indicate by sitting up and walking away.

That’s the process.  If you stray away from any of this what you will get is incessant fence biting and depending on how annoyed he gets because you made him bite the fence for ages / sit and wait for ages, he’ll either bite your ankles to reprimand you, make you pat him for even longer, or both.

That’s not all.  You MUST feed him, pet him, play with him FIRST.  You are not allowed to pay any attention to Paris beforehand.   It’s ok though because Paris knows the procedure and sits patiently waiting for his turn.

If you don’t go by these rules, Paris gets antsy (hell hath no fury like Rome’s scorn and Paris knows it) and Rome gets vicious.  Rome’s fence biting becomes loud and he’ll push and pull the fence violently which scares Paris and he will just keep doing this until you go to his area.  After which you get the normal punishment – he will bite your ankles or make you sit with him and pat him for ages or both.

Stick with the rules and feed him / groom him first and nothing happens, he’ll happily chill out while you spend time with Paris.  Sometimes he’ll bite the fence as if to say “OK I’ve changed my mind, I want more patting before you go and feed Paris… HEY!!  It’s still my turn!!” but if you ignore him at this point, he’ll understand you’ve gone by the rules and will stop biting the fence and just go and sulk.

Have you seen a rabbit sulk?  Rome is genius at it.  He even gives you a look and turns his back to you before lying down, pretending to lie down and love life but really he’s keeping an eye on you to make sure you see him doing it.  Amazing.  There ain’t no sulking like a Rome rabbit sulking.

So why did he bark yesterday?  Because he ran under the bed, his new place to hang out.  It was all fine until he decided to bite under the bed.  He’s done this before.  I yell “HEY! Stop it!” and he does.

Yesterday however he didn’t.  I yelled “Hey! Stop it!” he stopped for all of 1 second and went straight back to biting the bed.  “HEY!!! ROME!!! NO!!” STOP IT!!”  to which he stopped to look at me and then continued to bite the bed.  “ARRRGHHH!!!! STOP!!! NO! No biting the bed!”

At this point I should explain that he is actually under the corner of the bed that is up against the wall and therefore difficult for me to get to.  I had to jump onto the bed and put my arm between the bed and the wall to get to him and you know what he did when I did that??

He lunged at my hand and barked.  Yes.  He produced 3-4 loud, deep guttural sounds one after the other then lunged at my hand and I got scared (and then angry).  I had no idea what to expect but felt that it was the warning before a bite.  I couldn’t believe he actually threatened to (and he would follow through if I persisted) bite my hand.

That was going too far.  Even dogs don’t lunge at their human companions while barking.  We don’t ever hit them so threatening to bite me is very insulting.  I growled back at him which didn’t stop him from biting the bed or scare him in the slightest.

So I got the vacuum cleaner out and turned it on to scare the crap out of him.   It’s the only thing that got him out from  under the bed.   I’m annoyed that I had to resort to the vacuum cleaner.

It’s very inconvenient to pull out of the cupboard and carry around to where he is and then plug in.  By the time I do all of that, God knows how much damage he’s done to the bed.  I can’t see because the damage is next to the wall underneath the mattress.

Where did I go wrong?  Maybe I’ve been too gentle on him and now he thinks he can get away with anything but where’s the half way mark with discipline when he ignores yelling?

I make loud noises sometimes by thumping, clapping or hitting the floor or bed to startle them but he just ignores me.

I remember one time back when I was a kid, our pet rabbits got under the fence, ran over to the neighbour’s yard and ate all their flowers.  When my neighbour came out and saw them, he took off his shoe and started whacking them, he managed to whack one rabbit on the back, one on the bum and another right on the head.

The one that got hit on the head never let anyone touch her ever again and would run away from all humans.  😦  It did however, get the job done because the bunnies never ran over to his yard from that point on.

I don’t want to do that.  We never hit our bunnies.  Paris has responded to my yelling.  Now I don’t need to yell at all.  I just have to say “Paris, I’m watching you!” and he’ll stop but Rome is something else.

He is combative, vocal and dominating, all 40cm of him including his ears 😉 and he knows we wouldn’t hurt him so is taking full advantage of this.

It’s now clear to me that I haven’t given him clear and appropriate (for him) repercussions for his bad behaviour.  So I’m not letting him in the room anymore for starters.  Give them an inch and they take a mile.

This cheeky one needs to learn some manners and I now have to start getting creative with how I enforce boundaries.  I must somehow convince him (and myself) that “He’s not the boss of me!!”

The Boys Turned One!!

It wasn’t much of a hooha, I didn’t even take pictures of them.  What kind of a furbaby parent am I?

It’s because Rome’s birthday coincided with the boiler maintenance and I had to clean the house and keep the boys in the hutch for most of the day.

Paris’ birthday was a couple of days later but he was in a mood.  He kept getting scared, ran away from any inkling of a pat and wanted to be left alone ALL DAY!!

I did give them a tonne of treats though, enough to make them super fat, obese even, if it weren’t just for a day.  I think they must’ve thought they won the jackpot when it happened.

I really thought rabbits would stop eating when they got full but these boys scoffed down those treats like it was nobody’s  business.

I also introduced them to new things like apple snacks (dried apple sprinkled with thyme according to the ingredients) and I accidentally bought and gave them some snacks which I thought were Alfalfa because they were called Alfalfa snacks but when I looked at the ingredients (after I gave it to them whoops!) it was mostly wheat and sugar!!! argh!!!

Needless to say, they LOVED it but I’m going to consider those snacks, the equivalent of a birthday cake and won’t give it to them ever again, well, maybe next birthday unless I find something healthier or make my own!

Rome was just like a kid.  He couldn’t decide if he wanted to run around or eat so, he’d run around as fast as he could, come back, take a bite of his treat and then run off again.  When I say as fast as he could, I mean FAST with skids, dodges, high jumps and everything.  He was happier than happy and really loving life on his birthday.  It’s as if he knew and was celebrating being alive!  Either that or the treats made him hyperactive 😉

Paris wasn’t the same.  He was more shy than ever which makes me think he must have had a traumatic birth OR it wasn’t actually his birthday when we thought.  He actually withdrew so much I felt really rejected because all my attempts at giving him affection were flipped off.

He’d take his treats and run away with them, to eat them in private, or wait until I wasn’t around before he’d come out to eat them.  He was so disconnected, neither Tony nor I were able to pat him for the entire day and so, he spent his birthday alone.

Although that makes me sad because I never think one should spend their birthday alone, if he got to spend the day how he wanted, then that’s what mattered.

He seemed pretty happy the next day and he’s been really  happy with being petted every day since.  Maybe the sugar in the treats made him tired and grumpy?  Go figure.

I’m just happy that they’ve learned to eat fruit!!  They’re now eating dried pineapple and papaya too!

Anyway, they are now 1 year old, fully grown adult bunnies with funny and uncannily opposite personalities.

Ah the dichotomy.

I can tell you that we love them both just as much as they hate each other!  (in other words, for life!) ❤

Why Bunnies? Why Two?

When we tell people we have bunnies for pets, we actually get asked, “Why bunnies?” and when they hear about the crazy things we have to deal with, they will ask “Why did you get two boys?!”

I’m going to explain here so I don’t have to repeat myself over and over.

I had rabbits as pets when I was younger, I found them to be super intelligent, very loving and quite cheeky.  Other than the chewing and the occasional digging, they are quiet.  They can also be litter trained and they clean themselves so you don’t have to wash them, they run around themselves so you don’t have to walk them and the extra bonus is that THEY ARE SO CUTE AND FLUFFY!

Why boys?  Because boys in my experience were always nicer and more accommodating.  The girls were fiercely territorial and quite violent (lunging at and biting you and other rabbits) in comparison.

What I didn’t remember was that my experience was only of what bucks (male rabbits) were like with the does (female rabbits) and humans, not with each other – I’d never had 2 boys!!

Tony has never had pets in his life and wanted a dog so we went to Battersea Cats and Dogs Home to see if there were any suitable companions.  All the dogs were HUGE and the little ones were so energetic they might as well take up the space of a big dog.

Also the little one that was there kept pissing everywhere in its excitement and I wasn’t really looking forward to having to clean up piss from all over the floor constantly.  Little did I know I’d end up with that situation anyway with 2 boy rabbits!

Our place isn’t that big so we knew it just wouldn’t suit to have a dog cooped up inside.  I hate going outside in the freezing cold but I know if there was a dog, I’d be the one to have to walk it outside every single day for a couple of hours of play.  I’m alright for this in the summer but definitely not in the winter.  No yard means compulsory and multiple outdoors visits in the cold for me too and I wasn’t keen on that at all!

I’d settle for a cat.  Except, well, I’m allergic to cats.  On a good day, I’d get the sniffles after many hours with them.  On a bad day, I find it hard to breathe with only a tiny bit of fur (not even the cat) present.

So rabbits it was.

We picked them up and they arrived in our home on 31st December 2016.  They were 3.5 month old boys.  They are not brothers but they were kept in the same play area together and looked like they got on.  They were the only two in their play area and were snuggled up to each other.

Thinking of getting only one, we decided that 2 were better together so they could play and keep each other company and snuggle together when they needed more warmth.  We also didn’t want to split up their friendship if they’d already made one.  So, we got them both.

The advantage of having one bunny is that because they are social animals, the one bunny will want to interact and so the bond between you and the bunny will grow quite quickly.   You can then dedicate all your time to this one bunny and train them to do little tricks.  Rabbits learn very quickly!

The disadvantage is that if you are not around to give it the time and interaction and affection it needs, the bunny will get quite lonely, bored and depressed.

Rabbits are very social beings, if you think about how they live, they live in warrens of large groups.  They are used to having company.

If you keep a rabbit by itself, you have everything else in your life including it but… all it has in its life is you and you don’t even speak its’ language!

As much as we think we’ll be enough, I don’t think we are ever going to be the same as another bunny friend.

When there are two bunnies, they are great emotional support for each other and can encourage play and confidence in each other plus they get to display normal bunny behaviour with someone who understands their language perfectly.

They have each other as well as you, so psychologically and emotionally, it is much better for them.  Though, bonding and interacting between you and them can be slower.

What I didn’t factor in however, was that having two also means the possibility of them fighting and not getting on at all, as they got older,  which is what happened to us.

This is more painful than having one, on any given day.  Now you have 2 individual rabbits that need your time separately!  So, this is when the whinging and all my stories of fisty-cuffs comes in.

We’ve managed quite well living with them for 8+ months now.  The fights started in the beginning when their hormones kicked in so we separated them.

They fought again when we tried to make them friends (after neutering) and put them together (forced bonding) but when we realised it wasn’t going to happen and they’d rather kill each other than live together, we’ve kept them apart and it’s all been very calm and peaceful.  They’ve been quite happy binkying about in their own respective areas.

That is, until the other day when Rome got through the fence, intruded on Paris’ area and they fought, unsupervised because we were out of the house at the time.  We came home to a lounge room full of clumps of fur everywhere and drops of blood.

I think it’s fair to say, ours our now enemies for life and will fight to the death if they ever get together for long enough and especially when we’re not around.

Needless to say, we’ve been extra cautious with the fencing and have been watching them when we see them both on either side of the same fence.  They’ve still managed to inflict injury on each other that way.

SO…. if there was any advice I’d give to anyone considering getting a rabbit, I would still recommend getting 2 but I would suggest that when you get them:
a) they are already neutered
b) they are already bonded (after neutering)

I must stress that you choose bunnies who have been neutered FIRST before being bonded.  We chose rabbits that bonded before being neutered and there is a risk that the bond breaks once the hormones kick in and they start fighting for territory or dominance.

It turns out that fighting happens with any sex combination so it doesn’t matter if you get girl-girl, boy-boy or girl-boy combos, when the hormones kick in, anything can happen.  You could be lucky and they remain bonded but it’s hard to tell beforehand what will happen.

If you’re getting them young, choose siblings from the same litter otherwise, just get one rabbit, get it neutered THEN take it to a shelter to go bunny dating, so it can find its own friend/partner for life (preferably one that is already neutered as well).

If I could do it all again, that’s what I would do.

As mentioned, rabbits are quite territorial but females tend to be very protective of their territory (must be the instinct to protect their nest) so I would get a male first, get it neutered, then take it to a rabbit shelter to get a female companion.

When they meet, it will be in neutral territory at the shelter.  They’ll be introduced to several different bunnies but one at a time, to see which is the best match.  When a match is found, they usually stay overnight at the shelter together for a couple of days just to make sure that they really do get on with each other, before you bring them both home.

When you bring them home, the male will be more easy going with welcoming the female into its home territory than the other way around which is why I suggest getting the male first.

We don’t regret getting the two we have though.  Even though they’ve turned out to be more work having to do everything twice and buying 2 of everything and spending time separately with them, they are beautiful boys and it’s been a real pleasure getting to know them.

Paris is lovely and well behaved.  He doesn’t bite anything or go anywhere unless he has permission (except when he’s planning his revenge on Rome).  He will sit for ages and bunny purr when you pat him.  Sometimes however, he’s so shy he won’t let you touch him at all so he rejects all your attention and spends a lot of time by himself just lying around in his hutch.  He takes a lot of coaxing to stick around and would rather hide than play.

Rome is more outgoing so will always greet us for pats but with that personality also comes the need for a lot of attention.  He is ultra curious and will test all boundaries by chewing, pushing, biting, scratching at, jumping over, through, under anything and everything.  It is very entertaining but it also tests our boundaries and sometimes, we end up wanting to strangle him.

They are polar opposites of each other which is why it’s so hard for them to get along but how are you to know this just by seeing them at the pet store cuddling side by side?

Now that we know their personalities, we’ve pretty much realised that you can’t force them to be together if they don’t like each other.

We’re also struggling with the decision to let one go and replace him with a female.  How do you choose?  They’re pretty much family now and both have good and bad qualities about them.

So instead of choosing between them, I dream that one day they can meet their life partners and I daydream that maybe if they had partners, they’d be kinder to each other and their partners would help dissipate any bad blood between them and they could all actually get along together.

That would however, mean having 4 rabbits… like I didn’t have enough work as it is!!  For that we need a bigger place.  Ahhh… nothing like kids/furbabies to get you taking on a larger mortgage hey?   It’s either that or choosing between them!

Have you seen that clip where someone offers $100K for people’s dogs?  Every single person said no.  I feel like this is one of those decisions… hmmm I say I love them but how much do I really love them?  LOL