Rabbit Rescue’s system is: one month living in separate rooms, and then a move into the same room (different cages), and the dating begins!
I’ve read lots of other systems. Like, speed dating before you bring the second bunny home. And first dates immediately, but up on a table. Car trips together (shared trauma).
This is my first time! It’s all news.
We finished the new cage!
We submitted our application!
Rabbit Rescue responded with five suggestions based on Thomas’ personality, and how we want another small bun. We read their profiles, narrowed it down to three, and asked about their approximate locations. We narrowed it down to one! — she also happens to be their top choice, and their Feature Rabbit. She is a blue-eyed white named Serena.
We’ve just been put in touch with her fosterer. I can’t wait to meet her!
I’m so excited about this !! We’ve begun concrete plans to bond Thomas with a mate.
I’ve wanted to do this for a long time. I wanted to foster a bonded pair to begin with. Of course, I don’t regret Tom! but I’d love to see him with a bunny friend. He seems the type for it. He’s so affectionate, but fearful. I hope another rabbit could help ease his insecurity. (I know, it could also add to his stress, if they don’t get along. I hope not!)
I contacted Rabbit Rescue last week and we’ve started the conversation. At home, we’ve started setting up the secondary rabbitat in our bedroom. We already renoed the room — de-cluttered some, played with layout. Now we have to replace our clothing racks (we already have some picked out at Walmart), and finish bunny-proofing (the only thing I’m not sure about is the exposed sections of wall where there’s a telephone cord; otherwise, we’ll be making ample use of wire grid squares attached to furniture legs).
We have to set up the cage too, and a few play areas around the room. We have the cage — another dog crate, but smaller (2′ 2″ high, 3′ wide, and 2′ deep) — but not much else. The plan is to put in a shelf, like we’ve done in Thomas’ cage. (And later, when the rabbits are fully bonded, we’ll attach the two crates with wire grid squares to make a double-wide!) I don’t really have any firm ideas about enrichment (play areas, structures, etc). New litter box, new dishes… a couple more willow bowls, maybe some grass mats… It has begun!
The only other thing is our savings (for vet emergencies). We set a goal — we’re almost there!
I’m so eager to hear Rabbit Rescue’s suggestions for a mate for Thomas! Who will it be?
I wrote about the end of Tommy’s cube-condo this summer, so now I’ll say a bit about what he moved into.
A dog crate! A big one: 2′ 7″ high, 4′ wide, and 2′ 5″ deep.
We put in a top shelf (only 1′ 9″ wide). We might one day put in a more complete second floor, although it would have to have walls where the doors are (because that would be a pretty long jump to the hardwood.
For his comfort, we lined the floor tray with layers of corrugated cardboard. (We’ve been looking for this stuff for years! We finally found some at Rotblotts.)
I made a ramp to the top shelf, which I think is pretty fun. It’s almost more like a bridge. It’s made from a set of fiddlesticks with one end on the shelf, and the other end on a low cardboard box. I put a grass mat on top of the box for traction. The grass mat and the fiddlesticks are attached to the side of the cage with zip-ties, so they won’t slip out from under Thomas’ feet. (I drilled some holes into the sticks to run the ties through.)
Thomas likes using the ramp, but we found he was also jumping down from the shelf to the ground floor directly. Even with the corrugated cardboard, I felt it was too hard a surface to be jumping down on, so I bought a cheap yoga mat and put that below all the cardboard. I also added a few extra layers of cardboard. Since he likes to rip up the cardboard, I check every day to make sure he’s not getting close to the yoga mat. (I don’t know if he’d eat it or not; our last bun definitely would’ve.)
The corrugated flooring is not the easiest to sweep. There are patches where lower layers show through, and loose squares here and there, which make it even harder to sweep without getting hay and litter caught between the layers. We do our best. I assume every so often I’ll have to take everything out and re-do it. I expected as much. I wrote in my last habitat post about how Tom sometimes pees over the edge of his litter; now when that happens I just cut out the soiled parts and insert new patches below the lowest layer. (And I do the same when an area is made wet by spilled water from his dishes.) Maybe not the best system, but an improvement over having to replace the entire floor each time it happens!
You may have noticed the second litter box in the pictures above. We have his normal litter box in the far right corner (it’s a modified plastic storage tote). When he started peeing outside the box (as mentioned in my last post, he started peeing beside his litter box last month — and not by leaning over the edge, but actually standing outside the box), I put the small store-bought corner box to try and block him. For the most part, it’s worked (just two accidents). He pees in both boxes every day. I stuff the hay deeper in his main box, and don’t use any in the smaller one, so that he can’t stand outside the box and eat hay.
For outside the cage, we have a selection of boxes and tunnels. We switch it up, you know, try to keep him guessing!
It’s been so long since I’ve written, I’ve really gotten out of the habit! I’ll have to break my update up into different posts. This one will be about Thomas’ health.
He’s still having bladder problems. We were in and out of the vet’s all last month because of sludge. Like before, the problem never got too bad — always plenty of normal urine, never any signs of pain. He started peeing outside the box at one point, I think because of stress. A urine test indicated no infection but lots of calcium. He’s on a pellets-free diet now, and still yesterday there was a tiny bit of sludge.
Eventually, we might have to learn how to do subQs at home, and how to express a sludgey bladder. For now, we’re trying to encourage him to drink lots of water and get lots of exercise. Also we track what he eats, and we’re going to start looking for correlations between sludge and any particular veg.
For encouraging water, he’s got his bowl and bottle, he eats plenty of hay (because rabbits that eat lots of hay typically drink more water than those that don’t), and sometimes we spike his water with a tiny bit of apple juice. We’re also looking for a cat fountain, because we’ve heard some rabbits like those.
For exercise, someone on Etherbun suggested agility training. I like it! I’ve started looking into clicker training.
We thought it over a long time, and I was sad to see it go after having put so much work into it, but finally it was the right thing to do.
Problems: The floor, an indoor/outdoor rug, was gross. We’d already replaced it once, and we couldn’t keep it clean. Mainly the problem is the opening to his litter box is a bit too wide, and he sometimes pees over the edge — so the rug would get stained, and I just couldn’t clean it.
Also, it didn’t make the best use of space. Maybe in another room…
And the structure just wasn’t strong enough. When I’d open the big door, one side would buckle entirely. I thought about reinforcing it with dowels, but given the other problems…
Lessons: Take this video more seriously.
So, what now? We’ve moved in a dog crate, a huge one. We’ve put in a shelf, some fun accessories. I think the bun likes it. But that’s another story…
I got some video of the game described last post. Tom liked this game a lot, but no more! We took down his cube condo this weekend and replaced it with a dog crate, and there’s no more corridor between the bars and wall. I’ve stuffed the paper under the cupboard beside his cage for now, but that’s going too (we’re fixing up the living room). My mind is churning about a suitable replacement…
I stuff a bunch of crumpled up pages from the Yellow Pages behind his cage, and he digs them out. Fun for everyone. I’d like to try the old small-box-inside-big-box trick, but with the small box stuffed with crumpled up yellow pages, see how he likes that. I even saw him binky behind his cage yesterday — it’s a pretty narrow space, so it was a binky limited to the vertical axis, but he managed it somehow! Oh, buns.
Thomas jumped off the sofa and looked toward the sideboard. We usually put down a towel for him under there, some hay etc. It wasn’t there because I’d recently cleaned the room. I got up to get the towel — he followed my movements with his eyes, and when I approached with towel in hand he danced. So cute! I love these moments of sympathetic communication. Now he’s under there, attacking his hay. Good bun.