My first pet rabbit
My first pet rabbit, a gift from my parents, arrived at our home in a cardboard box. Not being well off, my father made a hutch from a 3-foot wooden banana crate obtained, from a family friend. He copied the design from one that was for sell in pet shops at the time. Placed at the bottom of the garden it would be the home, for Smokey a Standard Dutch rabbit for the next eight years.
Bedded on straw and fed bran mixed with used wet tea leaves once a day. Smokey was free to run in the garden once a week while I was cleaning out her hutch. Quickly became impossible for me to manage and had to be looked after by mum and dad.
Why am I telling you this very, short but accurate tale of the past? Because in the 1960s this was commonly the way pet rabbits had to live! So up until a year ago, I had not even given Smokey a second thought.
57 Years Later
I now live alone and share my home with my second and third pet rabbits, Babe and Bob. They both live free-range, in my small house, with un-restricted day time access to the back, and supervised access to the front garden’s.
Babe arrived first, find out how, and spent her first few weeks managed in the back garden during the day, and confined to the hutch at night. She could not be left alone in the garden because, it was not totally rabbit proof and most of my plants could be toxic to her.
Keeping an eye on my new friend was not a problem; she followed me around while I made the garden safe for her and escape-proof. She was even right behind me if I went into the house, which with all the electric cables around could prove fatal for her. More work making the house rabbit safe! But I did not mind, I was enjoying her company, and her antics had me laughing again.
From Garden to House Rabbit
Things were going well; except she did not like going in the hutch at night and was resisting more as time went on. Only now did I spare a thought for Smokey my first pet rabbit, and the life she had compared to Babe. Rabbits are not solitary animals, and they need company, the room to skip, jump and run. They keep themselves clean and do not lie in their urine. Babe was showing me that Smokey, had not lived but suffered for eight years!
I vowed that Babe was not going to suffer the same way! Maybe she would be happier in the house at night. We would be together, and only need to be confined while I was in bed. I put a 1.5 x 0.5m cage in the lounge and moved her into the house at night.
She loved it! Spending her evenings laying under the T.V. On the rare occasions she tried to chew the house contents, as rabbits do, was easily distracted with a chew stick. But every night at bedtime I had to fight to get her in the cage!
Free Range Pet Rabbit
Babe just hated to be confined, and I hated confining her. There was only one thing more I could try, leave her to sleep in the lounge for one night. If she severely damages the contents, it would be back to the cage whether we like it or not. Problem solved! I just said good night with a treat turned off the light and went up to my bed, followed a few minutes later by Babe.
I now had a free-range pet rabbit on my bed that night and every night, damage to the household nil. But that all changed when Bob moved in! But that is another story.
Food for thought
Babe hit me like a bolt from the blue from the word go. Having a pet rabbit was never on my agender, especially after my experience as a boy. I knew extraordinarily little about their needs. I now know they are more than food, water and a hutch with a run. Because I let a rabbit teach me how she needed to live, and that pushed me to find out the rest. I started here.