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New Pet Rabbit: how 1 changed my life

introduction

I had no intention of getting a new pet rabbit, but fate had other plans. I love animals and have been around cats, dogs, and horses for a substantial part of my life. But given my unsuccessful experience with a childhood rabbit, I held no desire for a pet rabbit now.

Table of Contents

my childhood pet rabbit

My childhood rabbit, a gift for my parents, arrived at our home in a cardboard box. Not being well off, a friend gave my father a 1.5 metre long wooden banana crate. From which he made a rabbit hutch, based on the design of one for sale in a pet shop. Placed in the garden, this hutch would be my new pet rabbit’s home for eight years. Bedded on straw and fed bran and oats mixed with tea leaves once a day.

She was only free to run in the garden once a week while I was cleaning her hutch. Thus, quickly became difficult for a six year old to manage. Hence, her care became mum and dad’s responsibility. So why am I telling you this concise but accurate tale of the past? Because in the 1960s, forcing a pet rabbit to live this way was common practise. Now, until recently, I’ve not given her a second thought.

A quick trip to town.

April 2018 was the start of my life of leisure with a pension. But I must admit my life had become dull with a lack of routine. So just over one year on, in June 2019, I took the car for a quick visit to town. Now, I hate paying for an hour in a car park when I would only be 10 minutes. Therefore, as I had many times, I made for the customer parking in the retail centre just up the road. Parking right outside, a well-known national chain of pet shops.

However, they use CCTV to monitor the parking and never miss a chance to issue a fine. So going immediately into the town could cost me £70 by the time I returned. Hence, I entered the pet shop first, to look at the rabbits and guinea pigs. Without knowing the effect, one four-month-old black and white rabbit, would have on me.

new-pet-rabbit-glass-pens-in-the-pet-shop
Glass rabbit pens in the pet shop where I first met my new pet rabbit.

New pet rabbit - Tempting fate

Just inside the door, there are two glass rabbit pens, male and female, side by side. But I could only see one new pet rabbit and the nearest pen seemed empty. Thinking, ‘ there’s nothing to see here today’, I was about to move on. When a blur shot around the pen and stopped at my feet. I look down to see a gorgeous black and white Dutch rabbit, standing on its hind legs, looking at me.

Now that rabbit had done what no human ever had. Sent me into an instant emotional meltdown. So, we stood there gazing at each other for a few minutes while an argument started in my head. ‘ Buy her’! ‘ act your age; you are a stressed out grumpy 60 year old, not six’. ‘ Go on, get her’! ‘ Why do you want a child’s pet’? ‘ Where are you going to keep her’? I left the shop, went to town and back home with this argument still raging.

Arm twisting

I arrived home and had just put the kettle on to make a cup of tea when the phone rang. It was my wife; we live apart but have stayed married, and we are good friends. So I told her about the rabbit during our conversation. Her response was; “I knew there was something, you sound happier than you have been in a long time; you should buy it.” I listed all the reasons I had against taking it on. But her arm twisting response remained the same. “You should buy it”, and the call ended with me promising to think about it.

So, I finish making my cup of tea and took it to sit in the garden. However, my neighbour was in her garden and we stood talking over the fence, yes, about the rabbit. She agreed with my wife, and offered me the unused rabbit hutch in her garden. Now, having the same feedback about how others see you in under an hour, must make you think. I knew I was unhappy, but believed I had covered it up nicely. I was mistaken, so maybe I should get that pet rabbit.

fate wins

An hour later, feeling like a 6 year old, I was back at the pet shop! To buy the black and white female rabbit that was about to change my life. The helpful shop assistant advise me on feeding and care with no mention of neutering. However, she gave me a voucher for a free health check and inoculation with the in store vets. Feeling elated, I left with my new rabbit. Back at home, my new pet needed 24 hours to settle in before I handled her. Therefore, I would have the time to collect the rabbit hutch and wash it out with disinfectant. Then it will be at least a day before it will be dry and ready for her to use.

Temporary accommodation

So for now, she would have to stay in my humble entrance hall. I put a bedding layer in her toilet, hay in the hayrack, then filled a small drinking bowl with water. After letting her out of the pet carrier, I left her in the hall and went to get the hutch. It took me over an hour to collect, clean, and disinfect the house. Now it was time to check on my unnamed hairy houseguest.

My new pet rabbit was peaceful, and no sign she had done anything more than lay by her toilet. I checked on her every hour until I went to bed. But it was late in the evening before there were signs of movement. She had eaten some hay and used of toilet, I would sleep easier now. In the morning, I went down to check on my new rabbit. Opened the door and for the first time she rushed over to greet me.

bonding with my new pet rabbit

It had not been 24 hours, but I got down on all fours and gently stroked her head. Not knowing I had adopted the head down position, rabbits used to ask for a groom. So it was a surprise, but pleasing when she treated me to a bonding head groom.

bonding-with-babe-treating-me-to-a-groom
Bonding, Babe's turn to treat me to a bonding groom.

After bonding, she followed me like a shadow, and enjoyed her newfound freedom in the garden. She ran around, jumping and twisting, only stopping to inspect parts of her new domain. This high speed entertainment continued for an hour before she launched herself into the air and dropped to her side. Where she stayed perfectly still. I thought she was dead! I walked towards her, thinking the exertion, after living in a cage had been too much for her.

But when I reached her, and was about to bend down, she jumped up and ran off. Now I know that’s a Binky, and the first of many things I need to learn about my new pet. When my rabbit finally slowed down, she spent the rest of the day grazing, exploring, and resting in the shade. Then, she followed me into the lounge in the evening to lie under the television I was watching.

new pet rabbit - litter tray problem

At bedtime, I picked her up and took her out to her house in the garden. I knew it would not be big enough for her as she grew. But it was apparent it was too small already; I could not leave her in there! So, I had a hairy hopping guest sleeping in my entrance hall until the new hutch arrived three days later. But she had only used her new toilet on her arrival for a poo. She had not peed, and I assumed her tank did not need emptying.

The toilet had been behind the front door, but I did not want it there for the next three days. So, I moved it away from the door. Waking the following day to find she had not used her toilet. She had used the corner where it had been, so now I had a problem.

The problems were that the toilet was new and did not smell like a toilet. And rabbits like to eat while answering the call of nature. But she could not reach the hay because I had moved her litter tray. So, it was all my fault! But surprisingly easy to correct. I scented the litter tray with the tissue I used to blot the urine from the carpet. Put a thin layer of small animal litter over the tissue, topped with a layer of hay. Then put it where she had peed. Problem solved.

New Hutch

The rabbit hutch arrived as expected late on the third day, flat-packed. But unfortunately, it was the next day before I had it fully assembled and ready for her. At least now, my rabbit could have the freedom of my back garden during the day and her villa overnight. While I went back to work in the garden with my new found friend, helping me make it rabbit safe.

Conclusion

The first few days have given me just a glimpse of the road ahead. But, as I did, jumping in with both feet without checking the depth is dangerous. My house and garden were not ready for a rabbit. Fortunately, I could quickly make my house and garden safe for one. Which would have been difficult had I been working and living on my own. My life now, with a rabbit safe house and garden, has continued to improve. I have a routine and a reason to get out of bed every morning. Well, my long eared friend needs her breakfast! I have quiet company, affection, and entertainment all wrapped up in one hairy hopping housemate.