Rabbit Bonding Progress Report

We finished the new cage!

Three photos of a large dog crate tricked out with a jumping shelf, litter box, grass mats, cardboard mats, water bottle, water bowl, and hay bowl

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!

Advertisements

Bonding!

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?

And now, a final word (Condo Saga Denouement)

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.)

five shots of the rabbit's habitat

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!

The End (Condo Saga Part VII)

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…

Image of a two-level cube condo with accessories and a little black and white rabbit

To clarify a few things about the above image: The side facing us with the little door in it, let’s call it the South side, opens up entirely. There’s also another little door within it, right in front of where the rabbit is sitting. The East side is the one that would crumple when the big door was open. The image above shows four spring clamps holding the South side together, but really there were eight. The top floor and jumping shelf were held up with dowels (not pictured). They were made of plywood covered in linoleum, with grass mats affixed in strategic places to give the bun traction whilst jumping up or down. You can read more construction details by reading other posts tagged cube condo.

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

New Game, Old Game

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…

We Discovered a New Game

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.

A Happy Rabbit

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.

The World According to Chance

According to the Chancellor, there’s an uncrossable barrier in our hallway, right before the steps down to the bathroom and kitchen. Certainly, it can’t be crossed; realistically, it shouldn’t even be approached.

Granted, that first step is a little daunting. It’s wooden, and edged in corrugated metal — not too comfy for bunny paws. It’s a little deep, and irregularly-shaped — even some humans have struggled with depth-confusion. So, I wasn’t especially surprised when, in the first few weeks, as Chance took to the hallway and attempted to take our bedroom, he steered clear of the steps. I wondered when he’d breach the divide, but I wasn’t surprised.

Now that many months have passed, I am surprised. Our last rabbit, who was just half a pound bigger than Chance, never hesitated at this (or any) step. He found it awkward, often scrabbling on the way up, but it didn’t phase him. And Chance doesn’t struggle with any jumps in his living area, like the steps in his condo, and our sofa. So, what’s up, Chance?

two illustrations: one, rabbit-POV facing the invisible boundary; the other, a blueprint of our flat

Not that I’m complaining. It’s convenient to have a neutral zone, in case of future bunny dates.

Never Trust the Bun!

One of the things I wanted to write about before — this happened last month:

This is a warning to be ever-vigilant!

So out of the blue, after showing zero interest before, Chance starting nomming on the rug beneath his condo.

(A bit of background: the rug is slightly bigger than the condo, so the edges extend beyond its walls. This is best practice because edges are generally attractive to rabbits: for nibbling, pulling up, etc. So, Chance can’t access the edges from inside his cage; but, while outside his cage, they’re fair game. I watched him closely for the first couple weeks… and then became complacent.)

It sounded so much like he was eating hay, I didn’t notice at first. I wouldn’t have noticed when I did if I hadn’t happened to walk by and, in a perfunctory glance, notice the oddness of his position, so focused and crouched he was at the edge of the rug, with paws beneath and head down… Bunny!! What the eff, bun?!?

He got two or maybe three chomps in before I chased him away. With my last rabbit, I was prepared for this kind of thing: you crouch behind the rabbit, brace him against your body; you open the mouth with a fingertip at each side; and then you just keep your fingertips in there until, through the action of the tongue which I think is intended to get your fingers out, anything in the mouth is brought to the fore and easily removed. But this new guy, I’m not as confident in my handling — he zigs when I think he’ll zag, and he resists so much sometimes it’s a little frightening.

Needless to say, the rug was swallowed. (Damn beast.)

Of course, I kept an eye on him. A day or two later he came down with some pretty bad gas, which may or may not be related. This was his second case of gas with us, but the first was quite minor (and only suspected, really). Both times, he took the massage like a hero — actually flopping over and stretching wide to ease my access. Quite nice to help a bun and have him know you’re helping! This time I gave two doses of simethicone, too, which he mostly licked up from the bowl. Really, he couldn’t have made it any easier on me. Luckily, he didn’t let his discomfort impact his eating, and by the next morning he was back to normal.

Big sigh of relief!

And lesson learned! Now we watch him closely around the rug (even though he’s since gone back to his old ways of ignoring it), and we’ve removed all visual obstructions so that we can see what he’s up to from the sofa. And I put a tile down over the bitten area because I know: once-bitten, forever-attracted!