Sunday, 30 September 2012

Butt Nothing

Sundays in my house are almost always about the same two things. Relaxing from the tiring week just finished and receiving disapproval for delivering breakfast late.

"I'll listen to no more of your excuses. I shall expect to see you PROMPTLY at dinnertime..."

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Potato Checks

My days of shovelling bunny poo for most of my time when I am on-site at the Rescue may be over. I have recently been 'upgraded' from cleaner to 'health-checker'. (Though I may well be downgraded again if Caroline reads yesterdays blog post.)

I'm not sure our residents are overly happy about this though. Despite extensive experience with my bunnies and the odd grooming or injury checking at the Rescue I have a long way to go before I have the level of confidence and competence that they have come to expect from Caroline.

I am getting better with experience and no doubt by the time I've checked them all at least once the improvements will be noticeable. But I'm afraid that's of little comfort to those bunnies that had to go first...

"Hmmm...why do I get the feeling this is not going to be the high quality manicure I was promised in the brochure"

Friday, 28 September 2012

Sick and Hurt

"Ouch. Oh, also, owwwwwch."

I made myself feel sick with my own incompetence this week.

On Wednesday I not only discovered that Jemima had somehow lost a thumb claw (again) but that it had happened some days before and become infected. What made me feel particularly bad was that once I'd found the injury and rushed her to the vets, it dawned on me that I had actually spotted the signs earlier in the week and not put the pieces together in my brain.

So, dear Jemima, I am very sorry I let you down and as recompense I will now forgive you for biting a hole in one of my last un-chomped pairs of trousers just minutes before I set off for work.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Jubilant Joining

Something we often find ourselves explaining to people is that for a couple to be happy they don't necessarily need to be of similar size, age or breed.

As if wanting to demonstrate this, a few days back little Bumper decided to bust out of his cage (thanks to a faulty door) and bond himself with giant Jubilee. Having turned down at least three other bucks (including Whisky), Jubilee seemed to want to demonstrate that even apparently un-bondable buns can fall in love when they meet the right one.

"Ah, waiter, two jumbo breakfast specials, please. And my wife will have the same."

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Happy Pet

As you will all know, bunnies need environmental enrichment and places to hide. A very useful (and cheap) item for this purpose is, of course, a cardboard box. However, finding such a box that is truly approved of by one’s buns can be tricky. Our two had a nice big box earlier in the year which they were very attached to but had eventually chewed so much of it away that we kept attempting to replace it. We’d find a new box at a garden centre, bring it home and install it in their run taking out the old one, only for the new box to be rejected and them to sit looking fed up in spots they don’t usually sit. After several attempts we eventually found another one big enough to be deemed appropriate. They soon began ‘renovations’ again so who knows how long it will last.

“This is more like it. About time too, Mrs Two-Legs!”

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Little Devil

I took this little bun to the vets recently for his vaccination. The vet’s first words were to the effect of ‘Wow, he looks like a character…like a little devil’. She later seemed to decide this might not have been the right thing to say and revised her description to ‘mischievous’.

“Do I look mischievous to you?”

So far I think my description would be ‘enthusiastic’. He’s also a proper little boy and displays classic flirting behaviours – running ten non-stop loops around my ankles is not uncommon at the moment. He’s booked in with the vets to be neutered this week and I’m hoping he doesn’t become too sedate, but it needs to be done of course so that he can have a friend.

“Did I hear the word ‘vets’? You’d better not take me back there or I will show my devilish side”

Monday, 24 September 2012

Perfectly named bunnies

Sometimes the bunny names that Caroline comes up with are just perfectly suited to the bunnies.

As you will have gathered, gorgeous foster buns Clarence and Cora (who I am just a little attached to) went back to the rescue a few weeks ago so that we could do a course of meds for Caroline on another bunny pair. So, after saying goodbye to Cora and Clarence and settling them into a nice clean hutch, I packed Glamour and Majestic into the car and brought them home. In my opinion they both have perfect names. Majestic is a handsome dalmation rex who pulls some suitably noble poses. (An online dictionary tells me that Majestic can mean ‘Having or displaying great dignity or nobility’, ‘Belonging to or befitting a supreme ruler’ or ‘Superior to mundane matters’ – not sure Glamour would agree with the ‘supreme ruler’ bit). And Glamour has a very glamourous mane of hair. They are very well behaved bunnies and no trouble at all to have to stay (injection time with Glamour involves considerably less stomping, grunting and running away than with Clarence). Here are a few photos of them awaiting snacks.

Glamour: “What am I missing? Budge over!”

Glamour: "So, where are these snacks I hear rumour of?”

Majestic: “Get your fluff out of my face!”

Sunday, 23 September 2012


I need to make a slight amendment, and possibly an apology!

Earlier in the week, super-duo Indy and Rasta featured individually and I told you they were so friendly I thought they would home easily. I was sort of right. When I spoke to Caroline yesterday I discovered they had already been reserved even before I took those photo's!

So congratulations to their new mum Jo, who hopefully I didn't confuse too much, and sorry for not being up to date. Indy and Rasta will make a delightful, and no doubt hilarious, addition to your family!

Saturday, 22 September 2012

At You?



"What? Did I do something cute again?"


Friday, 21 September 2012

Gavin and Stacey

"Am I sniffing the air searching for food, peering towards the horizon looking for predators or just posing for a photograph?"

"Oh, did you think I was going to tell you? Aren't you funny."

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Rasta Bunny

Indy, yesterdays acrobatic French Lop, is proving to be another instant favourite with the volunteers at the Rescue. This is largely because she has that dog-like in-your-face confident personality that is rare in bunnies.

Her husbun Rasta is an equally loveable character so I can see the two of them receiving lots of attention while they are with us, but with both being so friendly they will hopefully find their forever home very quickly!

"So I might be moving out again soon? Really? And you don't think maybe you should have mentioned this before you let me unpack and start re-arranging all the furniture?"

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

The Big Drop

"Look, the thing is, I'm perfectly OK with you lifting me onto my kennel to take a decent photo before I go to my new home..."

"'s just that, you see, and I feel awfully silly asking but, well, I'm only little and..."

" you're done , I couldn't by any chance trouble you to lift me back down as well I suppose?"

Monday, 17 September 2012

Taking the Top Spot

I miss little Tombo. I do always make a point of spending time with him at the Rescue of course, but it's not the same as having him running around the house.

Meanwhile at home, one of his sisters has taken over the job of being first to pounce on me for the chance of snacks. And when the girls are out playing and I'm stuffed headfirst into their cage trying to clean it and feel little paws and teeth being applied to my ankles to get my attention, I always know exactly who it is. Sweet but mischievous little Arrietty.

"Friendly? No, you misunderstand. Hungry."

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Makeup Day Play

"Extended garden play time? Well I guess that almost makes up for this mornings late breakfast. So now I almost feel sorry for leaving those poos in the hall for you to step on."

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Perplexed Files

"See Scully, I told you there was such a thing as alien life. It's uglier than I imagined though..."

Friday, 14 September 2012

Brother and Sister Unite

"Thanks for bonding me with my brother. We are getting on really well. I am now the second most important thing in his life."



Oh, right, of course.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Treasure Hunter

Here's a scenario you can expect to experience if you adopt bunnies.

One day your little fluffsters will not be where you expect to find them. Just as you start to wonder what could possibly have caused them to break from the tight schedule of their rigid daily routine, and a split second before (if you are lucky) you break into an anxious sweat and start to panic, you will hear an unfamiliar noise coming from another part of your house. Immediately you will know - mischief is afoot.

If house bunnies came with a book of instructions, no doubt there would be a whole chapter about how you should never leave packets of food or bags of hay where little paws and mouths can reach them. The lounge, shortly after this picture was taken, looked much the same as the lawn.

"Oh look, self service buffet!"

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Mr Snotface

Ladies, gentlemen and little fluffsters that read this blog, I am afraid we have had a complaint in the Big Ears, Tiny Tales post bag. (Which is technically an email folder. With one message in.)

The message reads as follows:

Dear Mr BHV. Thank you for your lovely blog post about Cora and Clarence, but WHY IS THERE NO PICTURE OF CLARENCE??!! Are you some big poo-face that smells of bunny wee? Please remedy this IMMEDIATELY or I shall have to tell everyone what you did at the Xmas party that time you got a lift and turned up smelling of cheap vodka...

I am paraphrasing, but you get the general gist.

So just for you, mystery complainant that until recently fostered him, here is your picture of Clarence. And for once he appears to be relatively snot free, though since I remember his face being covered the second before I took the picture, I suspect if I check the sleeve of the top I was wearing...well anyway, here's your picture.

"Nice's washable, right?"

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Total Setup

It becomes clear when you talk to people looking for a partner for their house rabbits that there are some wildly different ideas out there about what having a house rabbit means.

Most people seem to want house rabbits for the same reasons - more interaction, more a part of the family, safe from predators, safe from extreme temperature changes, easier to keep an eye on when they are sick. It is just the bit about actually housing them where we start to differ. What it often comes down to is how you choose to strike the balance between bunny freedom and people convenience.

Personally, I would start by looking at how (and whether) I can provide what I would consider a minimum reasonable amount of space for them, make sure I can fulfil that, then grow it until it starts to hurt. The ultimate goal with house bunnies is a cross between gerbil and cat - a base for them to call their own where they can hide away and not be disturbed (like the gerbil has when they are in their cage) but also free to roam the whole house at will so they can run about and exercise when it suits. And find interesting places to nap. Achieve this, via hours of bunny-proofing cables and maybe a few lessons learned about destroyed furniture, and you will end up with bunnies that do this:

HRS The Binki Returns!

(Clisk the link above to watch on YouTube and yes, I know I've posted and forwarded this link a thousand times, but it's just so great!)

And who wouldn't want to live with those happy bunnies??!!

With my house bunny Whisky, his sicknesses and knack for smearing soft poo across the floor before eating it has led me to not quite give him 24hr free-roaming rights to the house, but then his own room is about twice the 60 square foot minimum that we recommend to people anyway. When he is not sick and leaking, his door (the modified stair gate with mesh to prevent heads getting wedged) is open for much of the morning and evening (poo-eating is a largely afternoon activity for Whisky). He loves racing up and down the stairs and occasionally joins me in the lounge to, well, lounge about doing mostly nothing. Which is all good and leads me to today's question - since Whisky spends so much time around the other parts of the house, why are so many of my pictures of him in his room?

I really don't know. I think it's probably a combination of light, which is probably better in his room than any other in the house, and that when he's in other rooms I am usually busy doing other things. Like sleeping, eating or preparing food. Or cleaning out bunnies.

Well anyway, and I am aware I am waffling on somewhat here, the task I have set myself for the next two weeks is to only take Whisky photo's out of his room, even if that means grainy pictures in my dark house. Starting with this one.

"You want a picture? Picture my butt. I'll throw in the tail and feets for free."

Monday, 10 September 2012


I sort of feel sorry for Clarence and Cora, being turfed out of their five star foster accommodation so Vicki can care for the next pair that need daily meds. In particular, I know how much their temporary foster parents had become attached to them - the amount of attention they will get back at the Rescue, living alongside 100+ other bunnies, just won't compare.

So in the interests of their welfare, I think it's only right that I ease them back into the routine with some extra attention and nose rubs. If anyone asks, that's why I'm sat on the floor of their aviary making a fuss of them. Providing a smooth lifestyle transition, for their benefit. Honest.

"You again? Don't you have hutches to clean? Or at the very least, parsley to feed me?"

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Archimedes Bunny

We have another crazy bunny at the Rescue, a big cuddly French lop called Archimedes. A bundle of contradictions, when he's not growling and lunging at people for trying to stroke him uninvited, he seems to like flopping out at volunteers feet and almost demanding attention.

Mostly, he's hilarious, though it did add an extra level of difficulty to health checks. While I was trying to clip nails of wriggly bunnies, I also had to watch I didn't step on the huge grumpy pile of fluff under the grooming table.

"Hey, bring those feet back! I was using them as a pillow..."

Saturday, 8 September 2012

New Whisky At the Rescue?

New bunny at the Rescue. Small, massive personality, totally strokable and adorable, tears round like an excitable rocket. Now who does that remind me of...?

"Like who now? Pah. I bet I'm cuter."

Friday, 7 September 2012

Friday... foster bunny Tombo's last day staying with me, so this afternoon we had some extra play (and cuddle!) time. Of the litter of 6, he has been the friendliest and most confident, therefore always the first in line to bundle on top of me when they thought there was any chance of snacky treats. I will be sad to see him go, but let's hope that back at the Rescue he will be quickly re-homed so he can bring lots of joy to some other lucky family!

"Moving out??!! Well I guess I'd better start packing then. Pass me that plastic tub over there to put my stuff in. Don't worry about the snacks in it, I'll empty those out..."

Thursday, 6 September 2012


"...I never could get the hang of Thursdays."

That's probably enough thinking for one week. It's also been a week crammed full of cleaning and medicating bunnies, so while my brain catches up here's a vintage outdoors-at-the-Rescue Whisky from September 2010.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Wednesday's Thought for the Day

Today's thought is a slightly lighter one. Consider this:

If Matt Smith DOES leave Dr Who any time soon, Whisky would make a terrible replacement.

"Save the Universe? I guess I could do that. Right after this next nap maybe."

The Great Tomboni

Tombo is now living on his own, across from his sisters in my spare room. Because he appears to be reaching that age where he might start liking his sisters a little too much, so they can't be left together anymore.

Which is all fine. I moved him out Monday night and assembled a little pen with a roof to keep him in. The pen has mesh attached so he can't wedge his little baby head in the bars. The mesh also has the added benefit of dramatically increasing the weight, making it (hopefully) impossible for small bunnies to lift.

Wind forwards to 5am Tuesday, when I awaken to the sound of Whisky trying to get my attention from the next room by stamping his little feet as hard as he can. I throw open my bedroom door ready to rush to Whisky's aid, only to come face to face with tiny Tombo. My little house guest is merrily covering the landing with poo while racing up and down entertaining himself.

I scooped up the little escapee and returned him to the spare room expecting to find the pen breached somehow but no - completely intact. I have no idea how he got out. He is clearly the Great Bundini reborn.

"Behold, an ordinary wooden door. But now, marvel as I stand behind it and COMPLETELY DISAPPEAR!!! Until you go and get my breakfast."

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Tuesday's Thought for the Day

Have you ever taken your rabbit in to the vet for a procedure or operation requiring anaesthetic? When you dropped them off, do you remember signing a release form and being told that "there is always a risk"? Ever wondered what the degree of that risk is?

Well I am the sort of person who has thought about it. I don't know why I hadn't found this before, perhaps I didn't know what I was looking for until now, but here's a study into exactly that from 2006:

The Confidential Enquiry into Perioperative Small Animal Fatalities

If you haven't clicked the link above yet, you might want to make yourself a cup of tea first and find yourself a comfy chair. Sitting down is quite important. Because the statistical probability of your bunny dying purely as a result of the anaesthetic is...are you ready? 1.39 percent. That means for every 72 rabbits that go under for, say, just an x-ray, one isn't going to make it. 1 in 72. Wow.

By comparison, the (much disputed) figure for people is more like 1 in 7000. Even dogs (1 in 588) and cats (1 in 417) do much better, though that will surprise no-one.

Do you feel as sick as I do right now?

Well let me make you feel a little better - the representative sample no doubt includes vets with relatively poor small animal skills. If you are the sort of person reading this blog you are most likely also the sort of bunny parent that has sought out one of the good bunny vets, so the actual figure for their practise is probably nearer to 1 in 100.

So my thought for today is this:- What we might want to remember when we are at the vets and asked to choose between "try this first to see if it works" and "knock them out for an x-ray to find out for sure" is that we need to try our best to realistically balance the real risks and make a properly informed decision. If nothing else, it is worth discussing this figure with our vets and weighing up the options carefully.

As a Rescue with over a hundred rabbits, our experience of this kind of tragedy is almost inevitable. On top of this, I have my own very personal reasons for feeling anxious, even nauseous, when I drop a bunny at the vets and the nurse brings up the risk. It's why I had to consider if I could sit through a talk about it at the conference. I have only been bunny parent to five of my own rabbits, but during only about my third experience of one of them having anaesthetic, this is exactly how we lost dear Megan last year.

Breakfast time for Megan and Whisky, just a few days before she died.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Monday's Thought for the Day

Rabbit veterinary medicine is some distance behind that of the more popular companion animals. Some very basic things, like simple oral pain relief not being licensed for use in rabbits - I wonder how many bunnies are suffering across the country right now, sat in their tiny hutches in agony because their vet doesn't automatically prescribe it where perhaps they should? And how many of those suffering bunnies will have died a few days from now because of it, perhaps because the pain they are in will stop them eating and they will go into GI stasis, or suffer an unnecessary post-op complication because they missed out on anti-inflammatory medicine?

Like most things, at least in the largely free-market economies that we inhabit in the west, it all comes down to money. Drug companies are businesses. Bringing a drug to market costs a significant amount of money and if the potential revenue is less than the cost of producing it then that means a loss. That's not a business any company wants to be in. Similarly with veterinary training and research, if it is not going to translate into a return in investment then who is going to pay for teaching courses and treatments to be developed?

Rabbits are the third most popular pet in this country, and we are one of the most rabbit-frendly countries in the world, so one would hope that accounted for something. But the sad truth is that for many owners their rabbit is considered a disposable child's toy. They perhaps even bought it as a cheap way to teach their offspring about responsibility and death - they certainly don't care enough about him/her to spend any amount of money on veterinary bills keeping them alive. They may not even notice when their rabbit has a problem or if they do may not bother to take them to the vet. Those of us that do take responsibility for our little fluffy adopted children are in a minority, so demand for proper rabbit veterinary care remains relatively low.

There is a silver lining to this cloud though. Thanks to the efforts of organisations like the Rabbit Welfare Association and the pioneering research being carried out by the University of Edinburgh things are starting to change. (Though that change is slow and even then our own vets aren't necessarily keeping up.)

This is not new information of course, but having listened to talks over the weekend from the very people that are pushing back the boundaries of rabbit medicine it has really brought it back to the forefront of my mind. So today I would ask you to consider this:

Next time you take your little fluffy ones to the vet, that vet may have seen half a dozen other rabbits that day whose owners don't care about them very much and have treated them accordingly. So before they decide what course of action to take with your rabbit, make sure they know just how much YOU care.

"Did he just say the 'V' word? Maybe I'll sit back here behind my hutch until he goes away, just to be on the safe side."

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Subject to New Thinking

"Oh dear, you have that post-conference, thoughtful look. Maybe I'll just go hide somewhere until your desire to perform bizarre social experiments on me has passed..."

Saturday, 1 September 2012

RWAF Conference 2012

The Rabbit Residence team had a great day away from the Rescue today at the 2012 Rabbit Welfare Association conference. It was a fantastic event full of very useful sessions centred mainly around rabbit health and behaviour with presentations from experts in the field. The highlight for me was a session on ethics led by Dr Anne McBride, animal behaviourist and author of "Why Does My Rabbit...?".

We also got to meet some of the wonderful volunteers, owners and key people of other Rescues from around the country, though unfortunately the schedule was a bit too tight to spend a decent amount of time chatting.

There was a great set of stands in the exhibitors hall, including the guys from Runaround and the RWAF's own shop, the Bunny Bazaar.

The Runaround System

And though several of my colleagues got very excited about this stand, I never did figure out quite what this little guy was selling...

"Hey you! You wanna buya dis log? Or a weeka ball perhaps? Or maybe I is selling you this nice-a folding table, no? OK, but you want a good barginz, dis chinchilla be ere all-a day."